In less than 60 days, you will receive your General Election Ballot. We will all be voting on candidates for state and local positions, and a series of policy proposals.
This year there is one legislative referral. Several dozen petitions were circulated but only four collected enough signatures to qualify for your vote.
Five total measures is an unusually light load. Over the last two decades, we have been asked to consider an average of 14 such proposals. But the measures we do have are worth our deep attention. Two of them touch on controversial questions — immigration and abortion. Two of them propose tax amendments to the state constitution. And the fifth measure, deals with affordable housing.
I will not use this newsletter to advocate for or against any of these questions. But I will try to outline the proposals and encourage you to study them as November draws closer.
Measure 102: A referral from the legislature – which was overwhelmingly approved by both Democrats and Republicans. It helps ease Oregon’s statewide housing crisis by allowing jurisdictions, that pass affordable housing bonds, to build more homes by working together with developers rather than separate from them. The idea is to create more housing with the same money by combining funds and stretching them further.
Measure 103: A ballot initiative that bans taxes on “groceries”. This is a constitutional amendment that covers most store-bought food and non-alcoholic beverages. It would apply to taxes and fees and prevent new state and local taxes in the future.
Measure 104: Current law requires new taxes approved by the legislature to pass by a 3/5th “super majority”. This constitutional amendment would expand that requirement to any bills that modify, eliminate, or change the eligibility for taxes, tax deductions or credits, and fees like park passes and vehicle registration.
Measure 105: Repeals Oregon’s 1987 “sanctuary” law which says state and local law enforcement cannot be used to enforce federal immigration law. Current Oregon laws prohibit police agencies from profiling, seeking, or apprehending individuals whose only offense might be a violation of national immigration laws. Our local law enforcement already has a full work-load without having to add the burden of immigration issues.
Measure 106: A constitutional amendment to eliminate public funding of legal abortions. It applies to any woman who receives health care through Oregon’s Medicaid program or public employees’ health insurance. This includes an estimated 250,000 low-income women and 75,000 teachers, firefighters, and other public employees.
When I review my own ballot, here are some of the questions I ask:
* Should a measure to amend the state constitution meet a higher standard than a statutory measure? Certainly constitutional amendments are harder to adjust in the future. Does this proposal absolutely need to be embedded in the constitution?
* What is the potential financial impact of the proposed measure? Voters sometimes approve costly measures that seem good ideas without worrying about how to pay for them.
* Should the measure be taken up by the Legislature instead? Oregon voters love their ballot measures. And special interests love bringing questions directly to voters. But some topics are complicated enough that they deserve compromise, amendment, and detailed scrutiny from legislators — with ample opportunity for public input.
Elections have consequences. I urge you to inform yourselves about candidates and measures in the coming weeks. Please pay close attention to local questions and people running for local offices that will be on the ballot. They often get less media attention but have a daily effect on your community and quality of life.
Last week I completed four local town halls. On Saturday alone, I held two back-to-back in Lincoln County, discussing policy and programs for over four hours. I told attendees, “I’m not here to make speeches. I’m here to hear what is on your mind and answer your questions.”
I love these kinds of exchanges. After four hours non-stop I am pretty worn out. But this is face-to-face democracy. You never know what people are going to ask or what they are going to say. It gives an elected official a good sense of what’s on people’s minds.
Topics raised ranged from supporting the arts to sewage sludge disposal. Questions were asked about housing and homelessness, off-shore drilling, education, job creation, elections and the Electoral College, carbon sequestration, delinquent tax collections, highway and transportation improvements, earthquake preparation, and algae blooms.
I’m so grateful that so many people came out on a sunny holiday weekend to share their ideas and concerns, and to learn more about their government.
This will be my last newsletter until after the November election. But I will continue to be out and about and visiting with the people and communities of our Tenth Legislative District. The Legislative Assembly will convene in January. Until then, I look forward to seeing you, receiving your emails, and continuing these important conversations.
Representative David Gomberg
House District 10
address: 900 Court St NE, H-471, Salem, OR, 97301