Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What are the issues for 2014?

In November, Oregon ballots may be filled with ballot measures.  According to the Secretary of State’s office, 44 initiatives have been accepted and assigned numbers.  Three that are already scheduled for the ballot include two Legislative Referred Constitutional Amendments; SJR 1, which if passed will amend the Constitution to create a fund for Oregonians pursuing a post-secondary education and authorizes taking on debt to finance it; and SJR 34, which also amends the Constitution to allow judges to be hired by the National Guard and by state public universities as teachers.  The third is a Voter Referendum on SB 833 which was passed by the 77th Legislature and signed into law.  SB 833 allows ‘undocumented residents’ to apply to the ODMV for a ‘driver card’.

According to http://ballotpedia.org/, there are fifteen state-wide initiatives currently being circulated for signatures, five of which are measures to amend the Constitution.  Two of those five would be Legislative Referred and would have to be passed in the 2014 Session.  One is an amendment to allow voters to pass property tax levies that exceed the current statewide limits of $5 per $1,000 assessed value for school districts and $10 per $1,000 for all other local governments - something Benton County would be sure to utilize.  The other is an amendment to reset a property’s current taxable value to current market value whenever it is sold - another way to get around property tax limitations the voters enacted through the initiative process. The three amendments being circulated for signatures are Same Sex Marriage Amendment, No Dues Collection by Government Amendment (would prohibit payroll deductions from public employees to/on behalf of any public employee union) and a Prohibition of Public Funding of Abortions Amendment. 

Ten more petitions are being circulated that would result in measures that would create statewide statutes.  They are:
* Get Government Out Of Politics Act - Prohibits public employee payroll deductions if money used as/combined with political funds;
* Affordable Renewable Energy Act - Removes conditional limitations on use of hydroelectric power to comply with utilities’ renewable portfolio standards;
* Right To Vote on All New Taxes Initiative - Requires that a majority of “electors interested” must approve laws imposing or increasing taxes/fees over specified amounts;
* Public Employee Choice Act - Prohibits requiring union membership as condition of public employment; prohibits requiring “fair share” fee payments;
* Two Percent Gross Receipts Tax Initiative - Lifts $100,000 corporate minimum tax cap and replaces it with a 2% gross receipts tax on all revenue above $100 million (worse than a sales tax);
* Graduated Gross Receipts Tax Initiative - Replaces current corporate minimum tax on C-Corps with a graduated gross receipts tax of 0.25% for Oregon businesses with $10 million in sales to up to 1% for Oregon businesses with $100 million in sales (taxing income before deductions);
* Mandatory Labeling of GMO’s Initiative - Mandates labeling of certain foodstuffs that contain genetically modified organisms;
* Privatization of Liquor Sales Initiative - Privatizes liquor sales and allows 10,000 square foot stores to stock liquor on shelves;
* Legalized Marijuana Initiative - Legalizes marijuana in the state;
* Protect Religeous Freedom Initiative - Protects people whose religious beliefs oppose same-sex marriage from participating in such ceremonies.
Sponsorship, petition number and status of these petitions can be found at http://www.oregonvotes.gov/doc/2014_Sponsorship_log.pdf

Locally there are just two petitions.  One is to place the Corvallis ‘plastic grocery bag ban’ on the ballot so voters can decide if it is what they really want.  The City Council initiated the ban as an ordinance without even holding hearings on it.  The Voters for Effective Environmental Policy have gathered about 75% of the required signatures.  If you would like to help gather signatures from Corvallis voters on this petition, please contact Wiatt Kettle at rfvcmc@comcast.net.

The second petition is sponsored by Jerry Jackson and Gerry Tsupros.  It is a county petition to place a measure on the ballot to elect Benton County Commissioners by districts.  Currently, all Benton County voters can vote for all three positions on the commission.  Since Corvallis has about 65% of registered voters, Corvallis pretty much elects the commissioners now.  If passed, Corvallis would become one of three districts and could elect only one of the commissioners, and the other two districts would start getting some representation for a change.
I’m sure you will agree that getting signatures on petitions would be a great way to enjoy the spring weather!  Contact hq@bentongop.org for more information.

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