The measures for the 2008 Oregon General Election have been finalized and posted by the Secretary of State. Following are the measure number, title, and my comments and voting suggestion.
Measure 54: AMENDS CONSTITUTION: STANDARDIZES VOTING ELIGIBILITY FOR SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS WITH OTHER STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS
This is a “house-keeping” measure that removes language from the Oregon Constitution that is in direct violation of the US Constitution with regards to voter eligibility.
Measure 55:AMENDS CONSTITUTION: CHANGES OPERATIVE DATE OF REDISTRICTING PLANS; ALLOWS AFFECTED LEGISLATORS TO FINISH TERM IN ORIGINAL DISTRICT
The Explanatory Statement is not much easier to read than the Text of the Measure. Currently, the operative date of a redistricting plan, an adjustment of the legislative district boundaries for state Senator and Representative, does not correlate with the start of the legislative session so legislators may represent districts to which they were assigned rather than elected. This measure changes the operative date to the first day of the next regular legislative session after it was adopted, which would be after a general election where the redistricting plan was used when voting, thus less assigned and more elected to cover new districts. Confused yet?
Measure 56: AMENDS CONSTITUTION: PROVIDES THAT MAY AND NOVEMBER PROPERTY TAX ELECTIONS ARE DECIDED BY MAJORITY OF VOTERS VOTING
This measure removes the “double-majority” requirement for property tax measures that appear on regular May and November election ballots. With “double-majority” if the majority of qualified voters do not vote, then even if everyone else votes to pass the measure, the measure would fail, essentially making non-action a NO vote. For those of us that take voting seriously (hopefully you do if your reading this), the fact the someone’s inaction negates our thoughtful decision-making should upset us. It does me anyway.
Measure 59:CREATES AN UNLIMITED DEDUCTION FOR FEDERAL INCOME TAXES ON INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS’ OREGON INCOME-TAX RETURNS
From the Explanatory Statement:
Under current law, in tax year 2008, Oregonians who owe state income taxes may deduct up to $5,600 of there federal income tax liability on their state income tax return. [..] Today, most people pay less than $5,600 in federal income taxes and therefore receive the full deduction for federal income taxes paid.
State income tax go into the state’s General Fund, which helps pay for Education, Public Safety and other services. By reducing the amount going to these services from the General Fund, it also reduces the Federally matched dollars going to these services.
With the current state of financing for services such as public education and safety, we should be adding more to these services, not taking from them.
Measure 63:EXEMPTS SPECIFIED PROPERTY OWNERS FROM BUILDING PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR IMPROVEMENTS VALUED AT/UNDER 35,000 DOLLARS
This measure removes the permitting process, and thus required safety inspections, on improvements under $35,000, but with these improvements can cause severe safety issues for the homeowner performing them or subsequent tenants living there. Plumbing, mechanical, and natural gas piping work could be performed by the owner with no-one else examining the work, and electrical work could be performed if a licensed contractor “inspects and approves” the work. These un-inspected improvements could cause serious damage to a home and tenants, even electrical work approved by a “fly-by-night” electrician whom could be very hard to find should problems arise.
The system of permits and inspections protects us, our homes, and our neighborhoods, and should not be subverted.
Measure 65:CHANGES GENERAL ELECTION NOMINATION PROCESSES FOR MAJOR/MINOR PARTY, INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES FOR MOST PARTISAN OFFICES
This measure makes most Primary elections into single races by office, with the ballot showing each candidate’s party registration, if there is one, and which parties endorse the candidate. After the Primary election, the top two candidates move on to the General election. This means that there are only two choices for the General election, regardless of which party they are from.
The question to ask yourself is, “are political parties good or bad for our system of government?” The reason for this question is that by removing the individual party Primary elections, this measure reduces the strength of major political parties, while at the same time possibly counting out the minor parties that select a candidate for the General election through other means. To reiterate, only the top two candidates from the Primary go to the General election.
A possible problem I see from this is in politically active regions where multiple candidates from various parties would like to run in the primary election. Here is the scenario: one Green, two Democratic, and two Republican candidates are running in the Primary. If the major party candidates are equally liked, then the votes could split so that the top two candidates are both Republican candidates, even if the region leans slightly to the left, and thus the Democratic voters will be disenfranchised since they do not have a candidate in the General election. While this might sound good to some, that Green candidate could easily be a Libertarian candidate, and then it’s the Republican candidates that are disenfranchised.
To keep the above scenario from happening, I could also see candidates being coerced out of running prior to the Primary election, and not giving the voters a chance to have there say.
For me, I’m leaning towards political parties being more good than bad, but that the given scenario would greatly hurt our political process by isolating more voters than the current system.