Do you have a good idea for a progressive ballot measure?

By Ted Blaszak of Portland, Oregon. Ted is the founder and president of Democracy Resources, a progressive ballot measure signature-gathering firm and the only such firm that's unionized in the nation.

As Democrats from across the state gathered in Sunriver this weekend, I reminded them that important to remember that elections in Oregon aren't just about the candidates.

Love them or hate them, ballot initiatives are a powerful feature of our state's political landscape.

Conservatives know this, and they'll show us again next November how valuable a tool initiatives can be when they put before the voters some truly destructive policy choices that would limit the rights of unionized workers, tie the hands of our teachers, and force our local police to turn against the immigrant community.

Taking back the Legislature is one battle won; now we should set our sights on taking back the ballot. Let's make the initiative process work for us.

To get the conversation started, Democracy Resources sponsored a challenge at the DPO Summit: "Do you have a good idea for a progressive ballot measure?"

We had some great ideas come across our table in the last couple of days and I thought I'd take the time to share a few of them with you.

Each of these would make our state a better and safer place for working families to live. The voters of Oregon deserve good, balanced policy choices, so my challenge to BlueOregon readers is this:

Do YOU have a good idea for a progressive ballot measure?

If so, let's hear it.

Comments

  • Anon (unverified)
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    No ballot initiatives from non-Oregonians.

  • backbeat12 (unverified)
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    We're talking about amending the Oregon Constitution here, no? Censuring bush in my constitution? That's just silly (he serves a much harsher penalty, but that's beside the point). Most of these issues could be handled by a legislature that does its job.

    The one area I could see is a change to instant runoff voting. But no, I don't want to force uninformed people to vote.

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    No, we're not talking about amending the Constitution -- not necessarily.

    Initiatives can be statutory (like Measure 49) or constitutional (like Measure 50).

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    I think we should cut the commissions that we pay bars and taverns on video poker. Cut 'em in half - and dedicate the money to something good. I don't really care what, but these guys are making HUGE money for.... what, exactly? Sweeping up around the machines, dedicating some floor space, and making change?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    We had the Mother of Progressive Measures on the ballot last general election, and most of the "progressives" who hang out here were against it.

    Does anyone want to propose alternative language for the much-denigrated but much-needed Measure 46?

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    I think we should cut the commissions that we pay bars and taverns on video poker. Cut 'em in half - and dedicate the money to something good. I don't really care what, but these guys are making HUGE money for.... what, exactly? Sweeping up around the machines, dedicating some floor space, and making change?

    Gee, Kari, there's a US Senate candidate from Oregon who figured that out years ago and, when the political system failed, found a legal way to do something about it. You should take a look at him. Oh, wait, never mind.

    %^>

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    -Cut the Oregon Lottery's advertising budget to zero. (Having a state-run lottery is fine, I just can't see the justification for advertising it...)

    -Instant Runoff Voting (as mentioned by backbeat)

    -Making voter registration and other vote-by-mail materials postage paid (no need for stamps).

    -Put some teeth into the old Measure 1 that we passed some time ago, requiring the Legislature to meet the QEM standards for K-12 education funding.

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    oh, and...

    -Abolish the OLCC. (I know they make money for the state, but they're kind of ridiculous.)

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    Stephanie -- Yes, I know Novick did that. He did a great job.

    Doing it through the courts meant that it was a process-decision, and only pushed the number down to something "reasonable" -- which is still too high.

    We should go further, via legislation - either in the building or on the streets.

    (Personally, FWIW, I had hoped Steve would run for the Legislature and pursue exactly this policy. But that's not a knock on Steve. I think he's been kicking ass on this issue for a long time.)

  • brett (unverified)
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    Not sure how many of these would be best achieved via ballot measure rather than legislation, but here's a few ....

    1. How about reducing or even abolishing all property taxes and replacing them with a truly progressive income tax and a carbon tax? Our income tax tops out at way too low a level. Design it so that most voters who aren't millionaires wind up paying no more than they do now in combined property and income taxes, and ensure that it restores the pre-1994 50-50 balance between corporate and individual tax contributions to state revenues.

    2. Public financing of state elections and reasonable limits (say $100 per person per race) on campaign contributions (oregon is one of the few states without limits). Fund the public financing by setting replacement revenue measures (#1 and 4 below) higher than current levels.

    3. Legalize agricultural hemp.

    4. Legalize and tax personal use of cannabis.

    5. Set revenue levels from #1 and 4 higher than current levels and use the surplus to finance a single payer health care system (details available from Dr. Kitzhaber) and a state trust fund for public institutions of higher education. Again, structure it so that most current users will pay less under the new system than they pay now in premiums or tuition than under current arrangements.

    6. allow gas / carbon taxes to be used for alternative transportation (bikes, buses, rail), not just road building for cars.

    7. Replace the corporate kicker with a permanent rainy day fund funded by unexpected revenue surpluses. Invest the fund in socially responsible Oregon-based investments.

    8. Require publicly funded institutions (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.) that buy food to give priority to local farmers, and extra priority to local organic farmers.

    9. A government sunshine law that guarantees that every government agency provide information to journalists at no charge, or at least on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.

    Apologies for lack of detail or even sufficient thinking-through; these are just off the top of my head, more like big-picture conversation starters. Worthy goals, at least?

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    Does anyone want to propose alternative language for the much-denigrated but much-needed Measure 46?

    Sure, Tom. I'll bite. I'll propose the exact thing I did during that debate.

    A very simple measure: No corporation shall be allowed to donate funds to any candidate political committee for any office in Oregon.

    It's constitutional. How do I know? Because that's the federal law, and it's survived for many years.

    Easy to understand, easy to enforce, and clearly progressive.

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    People convicted of the following crimes can not and shall not be premitted any state benifits such as food stamps/welfare, health, job, or education benifits.

    1. Sexual Assualt
    2. Any hate Crime

    What do you think?

    Fred

  • Kimberly (unverified)
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    How about we tax fast food? Obesity, while not entirely the fault of the fast food industry, is a major problem facing Oregon. The cost in health care alone could save us huge amounts and we could use the tax collected to fund all kinds of programs including health care and education.

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    People convicted of the following crimes can not and shall not be premitted any state benifits such as food stamps/welfare, health, job, or education benifits.

    1. Sexual Assualt
    2. Any hate Crime

    What do you think?

    Speaking only for myself, Fred, I think those are both terrible ideas.

    When someone is convicted of a crime and does whatever the penalty is, that should be it. A convicted felon (no matter how heinous the crime) should not be denied basic rights and sustenance just because of his or her past.

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    Kari,

    Cutting the commissions paid out on video poker does nothing but harm the average working man and women in the service industry. Well connected liberal operators like yourself should do what I did. Buy a bar, run the bar and then decide if Oregon is paying to little or two much in video commissions.

    A better idea would be to increase the commissions paid for video poker and create a minimum wage for people that work in the service industry. In other words if a bar has video poker. We allow them to have 35% of the net profits and we require that business owner abide by a minimum wage of $12 per hour or $11 per hour plus medical benefits. If the bar owner decides they do not want to abide by this then we cut the commission pay out to 10%. Two fair and square choices that allows the business owner to grow and the average working man and woman an opprotunity to have a living wage for their labor.

    Fred

  • Kimberly (unverified)
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    People convicted of the following crimes can not and shall not be premitted any state benifits such as food stamps/welfare, health, job, or education benifits.

    1. Sexual Assualt
    2. Any hate Crime

    What do you think?

    I have to agree with Stephanie. Not only should a person be allowed to continue with their life after serving their sentence but they should be encouraged to do so in a way that is most productive to society. The fact that someone would want to better themselves through health, job or education benefits and also take advantage of food stamps while doing so is a benefit to me in that it will make for a better citizen.

    Quite frankly I thought at one time the purpose of jail was rehabilitation. What happened?

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    Stephanie,

    Oregon does not need to invest in people that have little regard for the health and well-being of the average Oregonian. Giving food stamps to a child molester is like a black man saving the life of a drowning white supremist......Ignorant. It is not right, not smart and not a good investment in society. If a rapist is hungry and can not afford to buy food, obtain medical attention or get a job in Oregon. They can always hobo to California, Idaho or Washington state. As for the people that have anger issues. Same diff. Let those people make it on their own in this state or move away.

    Fred

  • Oregon Voter (unverified)
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    Regulate, Tax, and Legalize Cannabis. It would lower crime, produce revenue, and add the ability to set controls (eg. age, amount, etc.).

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    Death penalty for anyone caught standing in the background of a live TV shot while waving and calling someone on a cell phone to tell them to watch them on the aforementioned live TV shot.

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    Back when the American Jail system was created. We hung murders and rapist as long as their victims were white. Rehabbing them was never a goal. Rehabilitation is for people that commit property, drug and other vice or white collar crimes. Rapist, Child Molesters, Bullies, wife beaters and murders. Only time cures what wrong with them (40+ Years) and society should not invest in people that have these.....habits.

    We have good people that work hard, struggle hard and find a way not to commit the type of crimes in which people are harmed emotionally or physically. We need to invest in those people and rebuke in totality people that just do harm in our society.

    Fred

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    How about we tax fast food?

    Aaahhhh, it was only a matter of time.

    Kimberly, please expand on how you would propose to do that exactly. Would you tax food based on the speed with which it is served? Would you tax food based on its fat content? What about sugar content? How would you go about collecting the tax? At the point of sale? What if the McDonald's is especially slow that day? What if you buy a salad? Does coffee count? What about a $12 hamburger bought at a "nice" restaurant?

    Personally, I'd like to see a simple tax on corn syrup levied on its manufacturers or importers. It'd have to be done nationally, but it'd handle the bulk of what serious "tax fast food!" advocates want -- without the silliness implied by the people that propose taxing fast food as an argument against taxing tobacco.

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    OK, folks, let's not turn this thread into a long discussion about theories of criminal justice. This is a brainstorming thread.

  • djk (unverified)
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    Constitutional property tax limits should apply only to owner-occupied residential property, NOT income-generating property.

    Eliminate the kicker rebate. Instead, require that all surplus tax revenue be invested in a permanent education endowment fund.

    Index the gas tax to rise with inflation.

    A 5% hotel/motel tax to fund state parks.

    Expand the bottle bill to cover all plastic, metal or glass beverage containers, and raise the deposit to a quarter

    Adopt the Kyoto Accord targets as state law, binding on the state as well as every city and county within the state.

    Hold gun manufacturers strictly liable for wrongful injuries and deaths caused by their products.

    Formalize the Public Trust Doctrine (common law environmental protection) in the state constitution

    A strong, specific guarantee of "equal protection of the laws" in the state constitution

    An express right to privacy in the state constitution

    Require a 3/5ths majority vote to amend the constitution (unless it's a revision, submitted by 2/3rds of both houses of the legislature, in which case a simple majority of the vote should suffice).

    Lower the threshold for signatures on initiatives for a statutory change, and raise them for a constitutional amendment.

    We can't ban paid signature collecting. However, we can regulate it in the public interest. Oregon should require a rigorous training and licensing program for anyone who will be paid to be a professional signature collector, with the license subject to revocation if the signature collector engages in any form of fraud, including misrepresenting the contents of a petition. (No licensing requirement needed for volunteers.) Allow signature collectors to work on only one initiative at a time for pay.

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    A few ideas: -Raise the corporate minimum tax -Legalize same-day voter registration -Give tax credits to Oregon college students who stay and work in state after graduation (a la maine) -Grants and student debt forgiveness for graduates who commit a certain period of time to teaching, or other social work

  • djk (unverified)
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    Tax fast food? Too many definitional problems.

    Maybe easier to put a sales tax on all restaurant meals, fast food or otherwise. Use the revenue to pay for hunger relief.

    Or -- if you want to tax poor dietary habits -- put a 10% sales tax on all food, and then exempt certain foods as presumptively "healthy." Tax-exempt foods: fruits and vegetables. Bread. Milk. Poultry and fish. Breakfast cereals that don't have sugar or corn syrup as a major ingredient. That sort of thing. Buying tax-free food necessarily means eating healthier.

    Of course, I don't see that one passing a popular vote unless whatever the tax will buy is incredibly compelling.

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    Of course, I don't see that one passing a popular vote unless....

    Let me suggest a way to think about this:

    Rather than coming up with excellent policy ideas that will be very tough to pass, let's brainstorm up some ideas that will start with 85%+ popularity. Even if they're not your idea of the most important or most perfect policy, we can achieve great things for relatively cheap through the ballot measure process.

    Bigtime bonus points if the 85%+ idea gores a right-wing interest group and causes them to spend a bunch of money defeating it. (i.e. what they've been doing to us for years.)

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Way to go Ted!

    Nothing like shamelessly shilling your own for-profit venture under the guise of a political blog. Tell you what - anything you put up I'll vote "No" on just for general principle.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    No paid signature gatherers. First thing I ask is are you being paid? If so, I don't sign.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Just my two cents here...

    Any initiative that passes can not be repealed until after two election cycles (4 years), and any initiative that is defeated, can not be altered in wording and be voted on again in it's original or altered state for the same amount of time.

    In other words, when we say NO, we mean it, and if we say YES, we mean it as well and we just have to live with it if it is found to be a mistake.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Censuring the president is probably the best from a political perspective. Any ballot measure that increases the turnout of Democrats and Democratic leaners is a winner. We should be doing this nationwide. It makes the 2008 election about the disaster of the Bush years. Genius.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    I'd like to see a law that one could only contribute $$ to a political candidate or ballot measure campaign only if one is registered and entitled to vote for said c & c.

    No PAC money, no rich out of state friends, no RSCC, no DSCC...

    'Course, we'd have to amend the US Constitution first, since the last crop of "Justices" declared that Money = $peach...

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    We should get rid of the expungement provisions in the ORS. Telling people that you were never convicted or arrested when you actually were is a down right lie. Even if you have turned your life around, if you made that mistake of getting caught, you just have to live with it and the consequenses that go with it - even if it was a 'long time ago'.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Here's mine:

    1. Increase the threshold required to amend the Oregon Constitution, requiring a number of signatures equal to 20% of those who voted in the previous gubernatorial election to even get the measure on the ballot.

    2. To contribute to Oregon politics, fund ballot measures, candidates, individuals must have established residency in Oregon.

  • Shane Dixon Kavanaugh (unverified)
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    I think it would be great for Oregon to begin exploring a public financing system for legislative and statewide races - something similar to Maine or Arizona. New York City's public financing system is also a great example to look at, especially since the City Council passed legislation in June to further limit the influence of lobbyists and PACs and empower individuals living in the City. Portland's VOE is still new, and I know less about it, but it shows great promise as well.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    How about making it harder for ballot measures to be used to mess up our State?

    1. Double the number of signatures needed.
    2. Require that the minimum number of signatures be divided by the number of Congressional Districts, and each Congressional District then needs to have its full share for the measure to qualify.

    This would return this to what was intended - a correction for an out of control legislature.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Here is an idea - why don't we make it a requirement to have a certain amount or percentage of signatures from every county in the State, not just an amount that you can easily get just in Multnomah alone.

  • urban planning overlord (unverified)
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    Abolish the Oregon lottery. Gambling is a disease and a sick way to raise revenue. The State should have no part in it.

    The initiative should also include a revenue raising measure to make up for lost gambling blood money. I would suggest a 10% marginal state tax rate for all income above $100,000 per year.

  • Kimberly (unverified)
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    Personally, I'd like to see a simple tax on corn syrup levied on its manufacturers or importers. It'd have to be done nationally, but it'd handle the bulk of what serious "tax fast food!" advocates want -- without the silliness implied by the people that propose taxing fast food as an argument against taxing tobacco.

    To be clear I'm not advocating a fast food tax in lieu of tobacco tax. But when one looks at the rational of tobacco tax to pay for health care the same rational can be applied to fast food. I like your idea of taxing the corn syrup but feel that it would do little to change America's dietary habits and ultimately the cost incurred by the state/taxpayer. So perhaps the answer lies in taxing the corn syrup and then somehow taxing corporations that use it. I don't claim to be an expert but our eating habits contribute to an incredible amount of disease and suffering. And if you really want to get down to it, companies that sell their $.89 burgers full of corn syrup bear a huge responsibility for this.

  • Jim H (unverified)
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    I like these already suggested:

    1. Fusion Voting
    2. Instant Run-off

    Also, how about one requiring that any future initiative mandating a voting threshold for certain bills/initiatives has to pass with that same threshold?

    Oh, and let's do away with the double-majority requirement.

  • djk (unverified)
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    No paid signature gatherers.

    I wish. Sadly, the Supreme Court says paying these people is "free speech." But the rationale behind it is that an initiative sponsor has a "free speech" right to hire mercenaries to get a measure onto the ballot. Nothing prevents a state from requiring training, licensing, or bonding of paid signature gatherers, as long as the sponsor can still hire them.

    how about one requiring that any future initiative mandating a voting threshold for certain bills/initiatives has to pass with that same threshold?

    Already in the constitution. Article II, Section 23.

  • Larry McD (unverified)
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    Amen to Anthony and Steve. The first reform would be to make it more difficult to get an initiative on the ballot. The second would be to make it harder to amend the constitution than it is to raise taxes.

    I'd propose that any amendment to the state constitution, not amending an initiative-based amendment passed by a simple majority, be required to meet the super majority standard.

    Obviously I've got a horse in this race since I'd like to see simple majorities repeal several amendments passed in the past decade or so. But it appalls me that it's easier to pass a constitutional amendment than it is to raise money for schools, parks, and infrastructure.

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    1. Get rid of the Double-Majority.

    2. Designate school buildings as "critical infrastructure" for the purpose of systems development charges so that localities can require developers to pay for increased stress on schools due to increased building.

  • you forgot the r (unverified)
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    2. Designate school buildings as "critical infrastructure" for the purpose of systems development charges so that localities can require developers to pay for increased stress on schools due to increased building.

    The legislature passed a similar bill this year that allows school boards to levy taxes on new construction in their district. The board has to opt-in to the levy by voting, and the state has to approve it. The school district can then use the money for capital improvements like adding more classrooms.

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    The incredibly duplicitous ads running against Measure 50 highlight the one thing about ballot measures we all agree on--it shouldn't be so damn easy to monkey with the constitution. I'm with Steve on upping the number of signatures needed to qualify a measure. But, unlike Steve, I think this would actually strengthen the legislature's hand to do the real work of the people, rather than continually spending half their time trying to fix unintended consequences of boneheaded ballot measures.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Fine adults who don't vote?...interesting. Don't they have such a thing in New Zealand? Can't we go further and just put them in jail for contempt and make it a felony?

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    How about one final ballot measure eliminating ballot measures?

    We could replace it with a system where we elect representatives, send 'em to Salem, and they do the people's work there.

    Nah, that's just crazy talk. Never mind.

    Who wants to live in a republic anyway?

  • abe (unverified)
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    Fine people who don't vote isn't that contrary to democracy, people have freedom of choice.

  • Michael Dougal (unverified)
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    Make give every K-12 public student an Oregon constitutional right to a decent education and a class size of 20 or below. When I was in high school I had some classes that got close to 40 students. This is insane.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    How about a fundamental change to our electoral system. The State House would remain divided into single-member districts. But the State Senate would be elected by proportional representation. Each party would put forward a list of 30 (or fewer) candidates for the State Senate. The electorate would vote for a party list. Then the seats would be divided up based upon the votes for each party list.

    Thus, if any party got at least 3% of the vote, it would have a state senator elected from the top of its list. This would allow minor parties to get a foothold in the legislature, where they could float their ideas and get beyond the two party system.

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    Due to global warming no tree shall be cut in the State of Oregon, period. Until further notice.

    If a tree is a traffic hazard, or is about to fall on your house, you can cut it down, otherwise, all trees are precious and are providing in incalcuable service to humankind and other species by providing oxygen - they shall not be cut.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    Here's another electoral idea: scrap the current governor plus bicameral legislature entirely. Go to a British parliament-type system with a unicameral legislature where the winning party would form a government, led by a prime minister. In that way the party who wins would have the opportunity to put forward its agenda.

  • oregonj (unverified)
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    REPEAL the regressive deduction for federal income taxes paid from the Oregon income tax code.

    REPLACE it with a revenue-neutral, but inherently more progressive, deduction or credit for FICA taxes paid.

    Stick it to Bill Sizemore who tries to raise this regressive deduction EVERY election cycle.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Urban Planning Overlord must be from Canada.

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    There is a definite necessity for legalizing industrial hemp agriculture. North Dakota just did it. Ron Paul has a bill in the House to amend the CSA to allow it.

    It's not some subversive attempt to legalize marijuana; it's a practical method of entering the agricultural market for one of the most versatile and useful crops in the world. We already import hundreds of products made from foreign hemp, but our farmers can't make money from growing it.

    Read more here.

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    I'd love to see someone remove Article II Section 9 of the Oregon Constitution.

  • paul g. (unverified)
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    A sales tax. We desperately need a predictable revenue stream.

    And I'm frankly shocked at the number of people who want to limit democratic participation to those who are registered to vote, or make sure that ballot provisions have signatures around the state (without regard to how many people live where), and, yes, those who want to limit ballot initiatives only to "Oregonians."

    Are you telling me that you think you have no right to try to influence who is elected Senator of California, or Nevada, or North Carolina? That is someone asked you for money to defeat Jesse Helms or Tom DeLay, that you should be banned from doing so?

    Gosh. I know we have a federal system but can we get rid of the implication that Senators or House members only pass policy that applies to their own states?

  • Alan Tresidder (unverified)
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    Kari: Cannot make the assumption that just because something is "constitutional" under the Federal Constitution that it would be "constitutional" under Oregon's. Does not work that way. Oregon has a very strong and distinct constitutional structure.

  • genop (unverified)
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    Carl Fisher - OK, I did the momentary research and yeah, that is the most cogent suggestion so far. (not that there's anything wrong with this exercise, I'd rather see it as suggestions to the legislature) An initiative should be the rare occurence when the legislature is unwilling to do the obvious.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Actually, Alan, we DID have a strong constitution at one time...until Sizemore and his selfish ilk gutted it with worthless garbage and has made it almost nothing more than a glorified paragraph of the ORS.

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    Alan Tresidder wrote... Kari: Cannot make the assumption that just because something is "constitutional" under the Federal Constitution that it would be "constitutional" under Oregon's. Does not work that way. Oregon has a very strong and distinct constitutional structure.

    Ah yes, of course, Alan. Thank you. That's an excellent point.

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    You're giving up much too easily, Kari. With one small change, your idea would pass even Oregon's Constitutional muster:

    No corporation shall be allowed to donate funds to any candidate political committee for any office in Oregon, except as provided by an "opt-in" statement from its Stockholders. Any stockholder who refuses to allow the corporation to contribute on his behalf is entitled to the pro-rated monies the corporation donates.

    For example: 75% of XYZ Corp's Stockholders have opted in to their political program. When XYZ wants to give $30,000 to a state candidate, they have to give $10,000 to the 25% of their shareholders who have declined to opt-in, because they are giving a $40,000 dividend, 75% of which goes to the candidate instead of the owners.

    Perfectly fair, reasonable, constitutional, and likely to be strikingly popular - given that there is already such a limit for unions.

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    Interesting idea, Steven.

    I didn't give up - I merely conceded Alan's point that the Oregon Constitution is at play here along with the U.S. Constitution.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thanks Kari and Steven.

    My answer to "Does anyone want to propose alternative language for the much-denigrated but much-needed Measure 46?" is that it needs to be debated. I voted against Measure 46 because although I was part of the Measure 9 campaign finance reform measure, being told "if you don't enthusiastically support 46 to the point of not asking questions about the details, you don't support campaign finance reform".

    That sounds like the sort of bullying the right wingers use--wearing a yellow ribbon shows you "support the troops" even if you support candidates not willing to properly fund veterans benefits.

    It was my understanding that "on the ground" folks like rural county chairs said the details of 46 caused as many problems in rural area campaigning as they solved (were the limits so low they wouldn't allow for a contribution large enough to buy gas to travel from one end of a geographically large district to the other?).

    What was the "doorstep" (25 words or less) message in favor of 46--"we must have campaign finance reform and this is the only choice you have"?

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    Oh, and BTW, the "Require a Supermajority (60%) for tax cuts in the legislature" was the idea I submitted at the Oregon Summit. Call it the "No Tax Loopholes" measure, because it's identical to the way that Tax Increases require 60%.

    I don't know if it meets Kari's requirement that it's instantly popular, but we would have a good chance of selling it to the people: "tax loopholes are put in, and they can't be pulled out".

    Another related idea is to pass a law saying that any tax cut that fewer than 1% of Oregonians actually use can be removed by the Legislature by a simple majority vote.

    Or hell, make it 0.1%. It would probably have the same effect.

  • keith (unverified)
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    Yes, eliminate paid signature gatherers in the state or we could learn how to manage our progressive initiative strategies better. Let's face it progressives have a horrible history on ballot measures in Oregon. I guess the question is, eliminate the competition or out compete them?

    Fast food tax is an interesting concept. Here's how you really do it though. Limit then number of drive-through windows. Look to the example of Ashland.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    How about: "Bills containing language to raise state revenue require a simple majority vote in the Legislature if the bill is to be consequently referred to the voters."

    That would make sure we don't have another repeat of the problems with M50 plus makes comprehensive tax reform more achievable down the road.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    How about some challenge to "at will" employment, the law of the land, where, unless one has a union contract, an employer can fire an employee for any reason. Only one state, Montana, has a law, the Montanta Wrongful DIscharge from Employment Act, which states that once workers have passed their probabtion, they can only be fired for just cause. The challenge is, would unions support this if they actually had to follow it themselves? I've known union bosses who are an anti worker as any corporate CEO ever could be.

    I wish that OR would go back to same day voter registration, which failed to pass the legislature last session. THat would have to be in the form of a const. amdnt. because the 20 day waiting day period was passed by voters as such.

    I would like to see the legislature raise OR's beer tax to fund more state troopers and prevention. If the legislature fails to act again, I would like see that on the ballot.

    FOrget about the sales tax, folks. THat has failed nine or 10 times, most recently in 1993 by 70%-30%.

  • LT (unverified)
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    There are a couple of interesting items in today's Statesman-Journal on this subject. The first is about the ballot measure started by our neighborhood association. Chief petitioner is our neighborhood chair (follow the link and you can find contact information).

    Don't be fooled about Kevin Mannix having his name on it, as this measure originated in our S. Salem neighborhood after discovering that the strip club on the edge of our neighborhood had the right to open and operate and even the city could do nothing about it. You may recall some local Portland news coverage of some lewd behavior in the parking lot of Presleys on S. Commercial. That is the strip club in our neighborhood.

    http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071009/OPINION/710090316/1049

    Keep strip clubs out of our neighborhoods JULIA ALLISON October 9, 2007 Protect our neighborhoods! That is what we are trying to do with Initiative 54. While most of the larger cities and towns in Oregon are the most affected, we cannot deny that the sex industry is growing fast and spreading beyond these areas. May I remind you once again that this is a statewide initiative. We need to give back to all cities and towns the authority to regulate the strip clubs -- away from neighborhoods. Look at Beaverton, recently. A "Ladies Lingerie Club" opened right next to a Jesuit school. And nothing could be done. The same with Presley's last year when almost the whole neighborhood rose up in anger and found nothing could be done......

    And there is an update item about the campaign finance issues debated above.

    John DiLorenzo ( a man who truly doesn't like campaign finance laws) is at it again.

    http://159.54.226.83/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071009/UPDATE/71009027

    Suit says Oregon lobbyists’ gifts are a form of free speech

    The Associated Press

    October 9, 2007

    Lobbyists are challenging tough new limits on their gifts to state legislators, arguing they are protected under the constitutional right to free speech.

    In a lawsuit filed Monday in Salem, lobbyist Fred VanNatta and his Center to Protect Free Speech also seek to overturn restrictions that have been in place for years.

    The suit was filed by attorneys John DiLorenzo Jr. and Gregory Chaimov on behalf of VanNatta and the center, which successfully challenged campaign finance limits in the 1990s. ....................

    Here's an idea--why not have a ballot measure to clarify once and for all the legal status of pass-throughs. Discussion at PCOL and elsewhere raised questions about the legal status of pass throughs. If John Doe is running for office, the checks sent to his campaign don't belong to John himself, they belong to "Friends of John Doe" or whatever the name of the principal campaign committee is. The discussion said that checks written to that campaign to elect/re-elect Doe should only go to campaign expenses of salaries, travel, ads, postage, office rent, etc. ---and not be sent to John's friends Betty and Sam who are running for other offices, or to other organizations or individuals not directly involved with the Doe campaign. If you look on the Sec. of State campaign finance website, you will find legislators who took in a lot of money (some of it from industry lobbyists) and then gave some of that money to other legislators who might have had a hard time raising money. Yes, sometimes those are struggling Democrats, but very often they are Republicans with lots of lobby cash donating to other Republicans.

    Personally, I only contribute directly to candidates. That way I don't have to worry that my money might be donated to someone or some organization or effort I don't want to support.

  • Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com (unverified)
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    For the above bills that would institute policy or law in Oregon that runs afoul of Federal laws, I would another measure that makes it illegal to enforce any Federal law that is not legal in Oregon. i.e., if marijuana were legalized in Oregon for industrial as well as personal use, this law would make it illegal to enforce federal drug laws in Oregon with relation to marijuana. Anybody caught violating the law would have a mandatory 5 years in prison.

    Otherwise, these laws would be meaningless, as federal agents would continue doing their thing regardless of what state law says.

    Make it illegal for the federal agents to do their thing, and all of a sudden the situation changes dramatically.

    Also, allow the Governor to authorize the state National Guard to enforce this law.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    A graduated real-estate sales tax. The % of the sale taxed starts at 0 and increases with the price of the home. That would help cut down on out of control real estate speculation.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    A graduated real-estate sales tax. The % of the sale taxed starts at 0 and increases with the price of the home. That would help cut down on out of control real estate speculation.

  • Ricky (unverified)
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    We need at least a 4% sales tax. I know this would anger so many people, but it would solve more problems than it would create. We need to be making money off of our tourists rather than putting the burden of funding the state completely on Oregonians.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    We need to start pumping our own gas and filling our own tanks like the rest of the country.

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    How about repealing Measures 5/50?

    (ducking)

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    I am with you, Stephanie.

    puts on kevlar

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    We need at least a 4% sales tax. I know this would anger so many people, but it would solve more problems than it would create. We need to be making money off of our tourists rather than putting the burden of funding the state completely on Oregonians.

    I personally will never support a sales tax until the current tax system loses most of it's deductions and credits. I don't believe that people or corporations should be able to bribe the legislature to provide them with special privileges through the tax code.

    As for making money off of tourists, try renting a house at the coast some time and then see how much you have to pay in taxes and fees... I say this because tourists pay a lot of taxes that are just not visible to the locals.

    I would like to see a progressive flat tax with extremely limited exemptions, credits, and deductions and I would like to see some version of this applied to businesses as well. This tax would apply to all income equally. Once we've restored most of the income that has been removed from the tax base, I would be happy to support a sales tax.

  • Nate Currie (unverified)
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    I don't know how "progressive" it is, but I'd love to see the OLCC shut down...

  • Ron (unverified)
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    Require that casinos post on each slot machine or video slot machine the odds for each payoff combination for that machine.

  • Terry Parker (unverified)
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    Here is necessary one: Establish a sizeable Bicycle Tax paid for by (adult) bicyclists only locked into the State Constitution. It is past time freeloading pedal pushers start accepting some financial responsibility and pay the costs for the specialized infrastructure they insist on having and currently use at the expense of non-users.

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    Terry,

    I see you're now branching away from the Sam Adams blog to advance your auto-centric, libertarian ideas. If you have all this free time, maybe a nice bike ride would be a productive way to get some exercise, relieve stress, reduce traffic congestion, and promote environmentally-friendly methods of transportation.

    Or would doing that hurt drivers too much? All that money drivers are paying to "subsidize" cycling infrastructure doesn't come back to benefit drivers AT ALL.

  • (Show?)

    Don't be fooled about Kevin Mannix having his name on it, as this measure originated in our S. Salem neighborhood after discovering that the strip club on the edge of our neighborhood had the right to open and operate and even the city could do nothing about it.

    Sorry, LT, but I'm not fooled by Kevin Mannix having his name on it. This is a conservative right-wing attack on freedom of expression.

    Fortunately, the last time that Gordon Smith and Kevin Mannix tried a measure along these lines, vast majorities of Oregonians weren't fooled. It was Measure 31, referred by the Lege, and soundly rejected by the voters, 52-48.

    It doesn't read like a zoning measure, but that's what the arguments in favor were.

    Here's the thing: A city can absolutely use zoning to prevent businesses from being in certain parts of town. They just can't pick and choose which businesses based on the content of their speech. Regulate based on parking requirements or traffic loads (see Wal-Mart) or pollution generated or whatever you want -- except for the content of their speech.

    You can even make regulations on bars based on the number of bars in a particular zone, or if there's too much noise or garbage, or if their customers are behaving badly (which is usually enough to nail a bad-behaving strip club)... but not just because you don't like the content of the entertainment.

  • Ian (unverified)
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    I have couple Idea's

    1. A carbon tax. This can be applied to all petro fuels and electricity made from fossil fuels. Fuel from Bio fuels and renewable sources for example wind and solar would be exempt.

    2.A flat tiered income tax system below 100,000 you pay 9% above 100,001 you pay a progressively higher tax rate up up to 20%. Of course the standard deductions should still apply.

    1. Get ride of the kicker period.

    2. Tax the profits of the casino's in Oregon at a rate of at least 25% no deductions allowed.

  • Alex Aronson (unverified)
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    1. Oil windfall profit tax to fund renewable energy. (This might actually be a tax voters would support. Who likes oil companies?)

    2. Require paid sick days

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Bonds for statewide acquisition of land.

  • Aaron V. (unverified)
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    Abolish the OLCC except as a wholesaler of liquor. Turn over all liquor law enforcement to respective law enforcement agencies. The OLCC is a prime example of an organization with too little to do, so they meddle. All holders of beer and wine retail licenses will be allowed to sell hard liquor.

    Legalize marijuana, with portions of a significant tax to go to schools, law enforcement, and addiction treatment, with 25% of the tax revenues to be refunded to taxpayers in equal shares (like the Alaska Permanent Fund oil rebate).

    In addition, it is a B Felony (10 years) for anyone to interfere with the legal sale or usage of marijuana under the law, and an A Felony (20 years) to do so while armed. Judges shall have no discretion to give any but the maximum sentence to those who interfere with the otherwise legal sale or use of marijuana.

    The only way I will support a sales tax is if it is used to fund universal health care in the state.

    Public tribunals and suspensions and disbarments for abusive police officers, much like the Oregon Bar can suspend or disbar lawyers.

    And my favorite - declare George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, David Addington, General Geoffey Miller, and others "outlaw", and seize them upon entry into the state for war crimes tribunals in The Hague.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Kari, have you read the current measure? It is NOT written the same way as Measure 31, which I voted against. I read the whole thing before signing it.

    This would come as a surprise to our city council:

    Here's the thing: A city can absolutely use zoning to prevent businesses from being in certain parts of town. They just can't pick and choose which businesses based on the content of their speech. Regulate based on parking requirements or traffic loads (see Wal-Mart) or pollution generated or whatever you want -- except for the content of their speech.<<

    There is police supervision of the area, it is too far away from a playground (but not by much) for any such regulation, and "content of speech" is exactly the problem. It is on a major street, has a small parking lot, there is no pollution generated, except for those living in the neighborhood who thought they were living blocks from a steakhouse until the steakhouse closed and the strip club owner bought the building. How do you ever expect to win the votes of those within walking distance of the strip club by saying "your neighborhood assoc. is wrong, there is another way to solve this problem" without knowing the history?

    Or isn't that your problem because you are a true believer and from your perch in Portland you know everything about the rest of the state?

    If you'd like to come to our neighborhood assoc. or speak to our city council, I'm sure they would like to hear your advice--assuming they haven't already tried everything you suggest.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Kari writes: A city can absolutely use zoning to prevent businesses from being in certain parts of town. They just can't pick and choose which businesses based on the content of their speech.

    You're right, that is the current state of affairs in Oregon based on the expansive free speech protections in the Oregon constitution. But why is that a good thing? I learned in 5th grade that there is no such thing as an absolute right, and even here in OR we don't have absolute free speech. You still can't yell fire in a crowded theater, slander someone, falsely advertise, or even joke about blowing up a building. We accept those restrictions on our speech because they are for the common good.

    So why is it in the common good to allow the sex industry to locate in any commercial zone, anywhere? Almost every other state allows for some regulation of this industry, and the free speech rights of those in other states have not been unduly compromised.

    I don't know the details of this measure, so I won't opine on whether it's good or not. While I wouldn't support any attempt to BAN the sex industry, I would support the ability to regulate their location, within reason. It's not in the common good to have sex shops on every corner, and it is possible to regulate this industry without going down the slippery slope towards censorship.

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    genop- I get what your saying, but mostly I like the idea of a ballot measure, because I'd love to see TV ads for this issue. What would the opposition do? Who would be the opposition?

    I think involving Charlie Burr in some capacity would be appropriate.

  • (Show?)

    On strip clubs: what Miles said.

    The issue goes beyond speech. The "entertainment" is behavior, and more importantly, it attracts a penumbra of other illegal behavior around it -- prostitution, drugs, violence.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    OK...another idea here...

    Change the drunk driving laws from sending offenders to diversion (or any other 'nurturing' program )to just sending offenders to jail automatically. If they are just pulled over - 6 months in jail. If they cause an accident with no injuries - 2 years. Accident with injuires that are not fatal to victim - 4 years (and re-classified as Assult (sp)). Accident where the victim dies - 20 years (and re-classified as Manslaughter). I just get tired of hearing that many drunk drivers are on their 3rd or 4th offense when they offend again. We need to just put them away and not coddle them. Simular procedures do work in Canada, and Canada regards drunk driving as an automatic felony.

  • (Show?)

    You can tell who the republicans are in this thread. All of the ones that are for going after the strip clubs are just to funny. Next these people will be advocating we make zones for gay men and lesbians are able to show PDA's with out risk of a fine or jail.

    Oregon slides down a slippery slope when we start legislating consensual behavior between adults. Regardless. I enjoyed the belly laugh.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Gee, Fred, someone should open a strip club in your neighborhood. It was in today's paper that Presley's strip club is for sale. Maybe you want to come to Salem and buy it.

    Are you saying that by definition anyone who worries about a strip club near an otherwise quiet neighborhood is a Republican? Are you saying you don't want the votes of those folks for a nominee against Gordon Smith? Should the people in that neighborhood not think any Democratic candidate wants their vote?

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Require a supermajority for tax cuts in the legislature

    Well, taxes should always be herd to raise, easy to lower.

    Bob Tiernan

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Chris Lowe | Oct 10, 2007 3:28:30 AM The issue goes beyond speech. The "entertainment" is behavior, and more importantly, it attracts a penumbra of other illegal behavior around it -- prostitution, drugs, violence.

    No it doesn't. Ordinary bars produce more of that than strip joints.

  • (Show?)

    Bob,

    Why should funding state troopers, schools and bridge repairs (etc.) be easier to cut than to invest in?

    We have seen where the "starve the beast" core philosophy of the modern Republican/Conservative ideology leads; ballooning class sizes with worse educational results, cuts in troopers patrolling our highways and rural area and bridges collapsing.

    Why are Republicans so fiscally irresponsible as to not properly fund investing in our infrastructure and our future?

    Why are Republicans so blind to the negative impact to not just society as a whole, but to our economic vitality if we refuse to properly invest in education, infrastructure, etc.?

    Why are Republicans these days nothing but irresponsible, borrow and bombers?

  • (Show?)

    Lots of interesting ideas...

    I would support raising the bar for ballot measures that amend the Oregon Constitution, but I'm not sure about raising it for statuatory. Collecting signatures by congressional district is not a bad idea either, the only problem is that is swings both ways in terms of requiring better organization on truly grass roots level for those measures that aren't being done by a "professional organization".

    I'd like to see something in terms of making funding for higher ed more stable. I realize the legislature boosted the funding this last session, which is great. The problem is during the next down turn, one of the first things that gets jacked up is the tuition for colleges and universities combined with cuts in their budgets.

    Eliminating the corporate kicker

    I'm not 100% sure about the OLCC, but I seems like something that could be eliminated.

    I also would support raising the amount of votes needed in the legislature for tax cuts to the same amount needed to raise taxes.

  • (Show?)

    Or isn't that your problem because you are a true believer...

    In free speech, yes. I am an absolutist when it comes to free speech.

    (Acknowledging that Miles is right that not all rights are absolute - but as long as no one is getting hurt, free speech is OK with me. I might disagree, and I might yell at the top of my lungs that someone is wrong, but free speech is an absolute with me.)

    LT, I just read initiative 54 [pdf] in its entirety. (Thankfully, it's short.)

    I have one question for you: Why is it a constitutional amendment, rather than a statutory law?

  • Aaron V. (unverified)
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    Initiative 54 - congratulations, Kevin Mannix - you've solved the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake problem! Oh, the places that show Super Bowl XXXVIII will be in trouble now!

    And you have to stamp out Oh! Calcutta as well.

    Those would fall under "stripping" under Initiative 54.

    Just like skinheads, Heather Wilson-esque people getting their underwear in a knot about SEX aren't welcome here. Here's a hint, Rethugs - leave people alone. If people outside strip clubs are causing a public nuisance, just like non-strip clubs with rowdy drunks, there are other laws that address the behavior.

    I think it's more the creeping knowledge that somewhere, someone is enjoying themselves is what drives the prudes behind Initiative 54.

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    No R rated movies where you see Sharon Stone's tits (or crotch) or Richard Gere's penis in a fog are allowed under Measure 54.

  • (Show?)

    Measure 54 would have outlawed the Broadway touring company's version of Hair as well.

    So close down those dens if ill-repute known as the Keller Auditorium and the Schnitzer ASAP.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    How about a supermajority to RAISE taxes.

  • Robert (unverified)
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    Hey DJK

    How about holding car makers liable when a drunk driver kills someone?

  • LT (unverified)
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    LT, I just read initiative 54 [pdf] in its entirety. (Thankfully, it's short.)

    I have one question for you: Why is it a constitutional amendment, rather than a statutory law?

    Glad you read it, Kari. I read it before signing it.

    Kari, the reason the neighbors and the city were so powerless to stop the strip club was the free speech section of the Constitution. Hence a constitutional amendment. I think the above suggestion about repealing the OLCC might be a great idea--they couldn't find a reason not to grant a liquor license, even though the city government opposed that license after a packed city council meeting.

    Not that neighborhood pressure doesn't have some power. SJ front page today--the owner of Presley's strip club (the one on the edge of our neighborhood which started all this) wants to sell the business so he can retire to Montana. He has already sold his other strip club. He's asking an outlandish price, though, so no one knows what will happen. This guy lied to the nearby business owners (who include a shoe store and an ice cream store) who are just furious because they thought they were located on the edge of a residential neighborhood. One of the founders of the PAC behind the ballot measure is a well known local real estate person.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Having now read initiative 54 (thanks for the link), I would agree that it's too broad. It should be opposed.

    That doesn't really take away from the bigger point, however, that regulating time and place for the sex industry should be allowed under our constitution, just like we regulate the time and place of protests, parades, guns, alcohol, etc. Why is it that the guy selling porn gets to call it "speech" and do it wherever he wants, but the guy selling alcohol has to a get a liquor license and go through a thorough state review regarding how, when, to whom, etc? Why aren't you protesting the "free speech" rights that have been taken away from the guy selling alcohol?

    Fred Steward writes: Oregon slides down a slippery slope when we start legislating consensual behavior between adults.

    Who's talking about legislating behavior? I'm talking about cities being able to say "Two porn stores/strip clubs within a half-mile are enough" (like we do with alcohol), or "No porn stores/strip clubs outside of 'business corridors' like 82nd Ave., Powell, or Barbur Blvd." Fred, if you can't respond to the argument I'm making, please don't respond to one you made up just for fun.

    [For the record, Aaron V., I'm no stranger to Fantasy or Castle. (Hi mom!) But I'm also not going to buy into the bullshit black/white argument that any regulation of those stores is an assault on free speech.]

  • (Show?)

    Kari, the reason the neighbors and the city were so powerless to stop the strip club was the free speech section of the Constitution. Hence a constitutional amendment.

    Thanks for the honest answer, LT.

    Let there be no doubt -- initiative 54 would reduce the broad free speech protections in Oregon's Constitution.

    I am, for one, not interested.

    What you have here is a building that contains a bar. It's like any other bar, except that some people find the entertainment objectionable. That's certainly their right - but it doesn't harm anyone who is outside the building.

    If the bar is creating problems in the neighborhood - noise, trash, drunk people, criminal acts, etc. - then deal with that directly.

    Miles, I'm sympathetic to the argument that time, place, and manner restrictions might be created that could be reasonable. Sure.

    But I don't trust Kevin Mannix and his friends to amend Oregon's constitutional free speech protections in a rational and reasoned manner. Too much collateral damage on our civil liberties.

    This measure could bar, for example, a Shakespeare production in Ashland - simply because one actor bares one breast.

    For that matter, what the hell does "partially nude" mean? If I'm wearing a t-shirt, are my forearms "partially nude"?

  • (Show?)

    Well, if it's a short sleeved t-shirt, I'd say your forearms are "totally nude."

    Your arms would be "partially nude," though.

    %^>

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Just don't sign any petitions and just vote 'NO' on everything - we'll be just fine.

  • David Wright (unverified)
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    Hmmm... I don't agree with Kari on very much, but I'm 110% behind him on this one.

    LT, what if this were a gay bar instead of a strip club? The surrounding neighborhood might be upset about that, local property values might (might) drop as a result -- should the city be able to place special restrictions on gay bars just because the neighbors aren't comfortable with them?

    Gee, Fred, someone should open a strip club in your neighborhood.

    Interestingly, completely independent of this thread (we were talking about opposition to WalMart) my friend asked if I'd rather live next to a WalMart or a strip club.

    I'd rather live next to a strip club any day of the week, and twice on Sundays. And I don't have anything particularly against Wal*Mart -- I'm not personally a big fan, but I don't want them run out of business -- I just think they have a much more disruptive impact on an area than any strip club would.

    But in any event, what other folks here have said is certainly true -- if the business (any business) is truly causing a nuisance in the neighborhood, there are plenty of existing legal measures that can be taken to address that specific situation.

    Now, from a practical standpoint as a consumer, the overall quality of strip clubs in the state (particularly in Portland) might be improved if the supply was restricted... so that would be one positive effect of such regulations... but I'm perfectly happy to let the market deal with that problem. ;-)

  • TR (unverified)
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    As I understand it, under Measure 50 the bar is set for families making up to $52,000 that could qualify for children’s health care subsidies. Using that same bar, how about a way to increase modest savings investments and help retirees that have small stock portfolios by finding a compromise on capital gains; the first $50,000 annually is tax free. It can be paid for by increasing the corporate minimum tax, increasing taxes on the wealthy, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and ending property tax abatements and other subsidies to handed out to upscale developers and developments.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Kari Chisolm wrote [on alternative M46 language]:

    "A very simple measure: No corporation shall be allowed to donate funds to any candidate political committee for any office in Oregon.

    It's constitutional. How do I know? Because that's the federal law, and it's survived for many years."

    Kari, that might please the unions, but it would not please organizations like NARAL, who, as a nonprofit organization would be covered as well as would for-profit corporations. The US Supreme Court has ruled thusly.

    Alan Tresidder wrote:

    'Kari: Cannot make the assumption that just because something is "constitutional" under the Federal Constitution that it would be "constitutional" under Oregon's. Does not work that way. Oregon has a very strong and distinct constitutional structure.'

    Alan, of course you know better than that. If we amend the Oregon Constitution, the amendment is without exception, constitutional under Oregon law. Kari was correct in limiting consideration to the US Constitution.

  • Jerry Atlansky (unverified)
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    <h2>[Off-topic comment posted repeatedly deleted. -editor.]</h2>
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