The Legislature has eroded your Constitutional right to use the Referendum to vote on important matters!
In my final terms in the Oregon State Legislature a practice was promoted that deprived Oregon voters of our right of Referendum.
Since 1902 the Oregon Referendum has enabled voters to challenge laws passed by Legislators. To exercise this power, thousands of signatures are gathered in a limited time period. Then the proposed law must be placed on a ballot and approved by the voters before it can become law. A recent use of the People’s power of Referendum occurred when citizens opposed Senate Bill 833, a law that granted Driver’s Cards for those in Oregon illegally.
As you may recall Senate Bill 833 passed by a near party-line vote of 38 to 20 and would have become Oregon law had a few dedicated citizens not committed their time and money to fight it. A Referendum battle was fought, sufficient signatures were gathered to take the proposed Driver’s Card bill to the voters and it was soundly defeated 66% to 34%.
To combat future “interference” by voters from stopping the agendas of politically-connected special interests, our legislative leaders have increased the use of the Emergency Clause to prevent voters from using the Referendum.
An Emergency Clause is a provision intended to enable a bill to become law as soon as it is signed by the Governor. It was created to be used only in a time of emergency, when it is vital to implement a new law without delay.
In short, the Emergency Clause circumvents the delay between the date a bill is signed by the Governor and the date it becomes operative, during which citizens have time to gather sufficient signatures to require a vote on the law by the people.
In the recent 2016 legislative session, to avoid a possible Referendum, our legislative leaders conjured up a creative list of ‘fake’ reasons to use Emergency Clauses on their bills so that we Oregon voters would be deprived of the opportunity to overturn their bad laws. Senator President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek used this tactic to ram controversial, partisan laws through the system and “We the People” can’t do anything about it!
To put into prospective just how flagrant the use of Emergency Clauses has become, in the recently concluded legislative session over 67% of the bills the Governor signed into law contained Emergency Clauses! What were the emergencies to justify the deprivation of the people’s power of Referendum? Silence. Crickets. There were no emergencies, only the abuse of legislative power made possible by legislative leaders and the special interests that support them with campaign contributions.
Emergency Clauses were added to prevent us from voting on controversial bills like the Oregon minimum wage hike, which is similar to a law that has killed thousands of jobs in Seattle, and the coal bill which is estimated to raise our electrical rates by 40%. Even though members of the Oregon Energy Commission and both parties agree that the coal bill will do nothing to reduce pollution, it cannot be taken to the voters because it had an Emergency Clause attached to it.
It’s wrong for the politicians to make up “fake emergencies” and take away our right to vote to overturn their bad ideas.
So how can we stop the politician’s backroom deals that steal your vote? We can sign a ballot initiative petition – “No More Fake Emergencies”
– which I fully support! This proposed Oregon constitutional amendment makes it much harder for politicians to attach an emergency clause that takes away our right to vote by Referendum! If the chief petitioners can gather enough signatures, Oregonians will get a chance to vote in November to limit the use of the Emergency Clause, and protect the rights of citizens to use the Referendum to stop bad legislation.
If you agree with me that the right of Referendum should be protected, please sign and mail in the initiative petition from your computer by simply going towww.nofakeemergencies.org
As our next Secretary of State, I will fully support your right to use the Initiative and Referendum process as outlined in our Oregon Constitution. And I will welcome citizens who seek to use the process as a way to petition our government!