Oregon Ballot Measures 2008: Your Choice is Your Own
Bonnie King Salem-News.com
Oregonians are now receiving their ballots in the mail, and it’s time to take the bull by the horns and make some final decisions on how you will vote in this important election.
(SALEM, Ore.) - While many publications are compelled to endorse measures and candidates, Salem-News.com has opted to take a more elevated view. We present here the measures and what your “yes” or “no” vote will mean, as simply as can be stated. We believe you can be given your own power of choice, and vote your conscience, for yourself, your community, and the greater good.
The ballot will ask you to consider statewide measures dealing with taxes, property, education and more. There are 12 of them, four placed on the ballot by the Legislature, and eight by citizen initiative.
A complete rundown on Candidates is forthcoming. We hope this information is useful in your conversations and even personal debates, encouraging Oregonians to make informed, thoughtful and educated decisions on all counts.
Ballots can be mailed in anytime, or delivered to a ballot drop-off location in your town. They must be in the hands of election workers or in the drop-off location no later than 8:00 PM Tuesday, November 4th.
Postmarks don’t count.
Make your voice heard, get your ballot in on time.
2008 STATE OF OREGON BALLOT MEASURES:
MEASURE 54: Amends Constitution: Standardized voting eligibility for school board elections with other states and local elections.
Yes Vote: Allows youth aged 18-21 to vote in school board elections. This measure fixes an oversight in state law dating from when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. Deleting this unenforceable provision would have no substantial effect.
No Vote: Retains unenforceable provisions that require citizens to be 21 to vote in school board elections.
MEASURE 55: Amends Constitution: Changes operative date of redistricting plans; allows affected legislators to finish term in original district.
Yes Vote: Changes date when new redistricting plans become law, which allows redistricted state legislators to finish their terms in their original district. The measure fixes a timing issue over redistricting which happens once every ten years.
No Vote: Retains current law permitting legislators to be reassigned when redistricting plan results in multiple legislators living in one district.
MEASURE 56: Amends Constitution: Provides that May and November property tax elections are decided by majority of voters voting.
Yes Vote: Strikes down the “supermajority” rule voted into place 12 years ago, giving the power of the vote back to the majority of actual voters. As it is now, more than half of all registered voters are needed to vote in an election to approve measures that require property tax increases, a simple majority of votes is not enough. Some say the current law has been wielded as a weapon against social service and education funding.
No Vote: “Supermajority” rule remains in place, where non-votes have effect of “no” vote in certain local elections where less than 50 percent of voters participate.
MEASURE 57: Increases sentences for drug trafficking, theft against elderly and specified repeat property and identity theft crimes; requires addiction treatment for certain offenders.
Yes Vote: Puts people behind bars with some reason and sensibility built into sentencing. Unlike Measure 61, Measure 57 does not impose minimum sentences for listed crimes.
No Vote: Current law remains in place. Criminals remain behind bars though current law provides lesser sentences for specified crimes and does not require treatment for addicted offenders.
MEASURE 58: Prohibits teaching public school student in language other than English for more than two years.
Yes Vote: Cuts off ESL funding after two years per student, regardless of situation. Some say that this may motivate students to learn to speak English faster, however ending ESL programs when still needed may be negatively seen as punishing non-English speakers, especially those that are slow learners.
No Vote: Retains requiring English courses for students unable to profit from classes taught in English, permitting multiple-language instruction to assist transition to English.
MEASURE 59: Creates an unlimited deduction for federal income taxes on individual taxpayers Oregon income-tax returns
Yes Vote: Eliminates paying state income taxes on money paid to the federal government as federal income taxes. Provides for lower state taxes, but has no answer to how the billions drained from the state’s general fund would be replenished. Only the rich would really benefit, and most taxpayers in Oregon would save about $1.
No Vote: Oregon income tax deductions remain the same, allowing limited deduction for federal income taxes on individual taxpayers’ Oregon income-tax returns, limit is generally $5500.
MEASURE 60: Teacher “classroom performance,” not seniority, determines pay raises; “most qualified” teachers retained, regardless of seniority.
Yes Vote: Determines pay for teachers on performance-based system regardless of a teacher’s seniority. Specific subject training and teaching performance will determine retention if lay-offs occur. Vague in its creation, this measure would cost school districts money to implement (not provided for in the measure), and not give merit to the champion long-term teachers.
No Vote: Teacher pay determination policies remain in place. Current laws allow local school boards to pay and retain teachers by qualifications, including teaching competence, experience, educational attainments, licensure, and seniority.
MEASURE 61: Creates mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain theft, identity theft, forgery, drug and burglary crimes.
Yes Vote: Mandatory prison time for several crimes, even first-time non-violent drug offenders, which means that sentencing is out of the judge’s hands. This would get more criminals of all levels off the streets, but for the general public, this simply means “out of sight, out of mind”.
No Vote: Current sentencing laws remain in effect which does not require that persons convicted of the crimes specified serve mandatory minimum prison sentences.
MEASURE 62: Amends Constitution: Allocates 15% of lottery proceeds to public safety fund for crime prevention, investigation, prosecution.
Yes Vote: Allocates 15% of lottery proceeds to public safety fund; reduces percentage of funds available for other lottery-funded programs. Though advocates say fund should not reduce any of the cash presently distributed, it is likely that lottery money will be decreased to schools and given to law enforcement, essentially choosing prisons over education.
No Vote: Lottery money is not re-allocated, current list of authorized purposes is retained; rejects amending the constitution.
MEASURE 63: Exempts specified property owners from building permit requirements for improvements valued at/under 35,000 dollars.
Yes Vote: Homeowners and farmers will be able to make minor improvements to their homes and farms without a permit. This is something a large share of Oregonians already do, but with legal risk and social stigma. It requires full disclosure of all non-permit improvements to any prospective buyer, but may lead to some unsafe construction.
No Vote: Building permits will continue to be required for improvements at/under 35,000.
MEASURE 64: Penalizes person, entity for using funds collected with “public resource” for “political purpose”.
Yes Vote: Prohibits persons and entities from using money for “political purpose” if collected with “public resource”, commingled with such money; and mandates penalties. This includes employees who will not be allowed to donate money for “political purposes”. This measure appears to be an attack on the political activity spearheaded by labor unions.
No Vote: No change in current law, which does not restrict person’s or entity’s use of money collected with public resources or commingling such money with “political” funds.
MEASURE 65: Changes general election nomination processes for major/minor party, independent candidates for most partisan offices.
Yes Vote: Candidates from all parties (not just Democrat and Republican) run in a single primary; the top two primary candidates compete in the general election. Open primaries would have an impact on the two party system, giving all voters in primary elections a chance to vote for an individual rather than being restricted to those candidates in their own party. (Note: Washington State just held their first-ever open primary.)
No Vote: Current party primary election system remains the same, retaining procedure for the nomination of minor political party and independent candidates to the general election.
A FINAL WORD FROM OREGON'S CAPITOL:
“We honor the Americans who have died over the years to keep us free and preserve this cherished right to vote. But their sacrifice is even more heartening when we see repressed people from around the world waiting in line for hours, even days, to exercise this right we sometimes take for granted,” said Bill Bradbury, Oregon Secretary of State. “Voting offers power. Being an active participant in our democracy is good for America, good for your community and best of all, good for you.”
Sources (Special thanks): The Skanner; Oregon Secretary of State; Oregon Citizens For A Sound Economy PAC
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