Oregon has wrestled with campaign finance reform since at least 1994, when voters enacted Measure 9, which imposed limits on campaign contributions. In 1997, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled Measure 9 unconstituional, saying it violated the free speech rights guaranteed in the state's constitution. Fast-forward to Tuesday, when would-be reformers offered up two ballot initiatives: Measure 46 would have changed the constitution to allow limits on campaign contributions, paving the way for Measure 47.
Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.
An Oregon State Senate commission has approved a framework to provide universal health care in the state and to control costs.
State Senator Alan Bates, who co-chairs the Commission on Health Care
Access and Affordability, called the agreement "the first step on a
very, very long journey." While the Commission has broadly described
the proposal, important details are unclear and questions remain.
Calling it the "first step on a very, very long journey," State Senator Alan Bates, who co-chairs Oregone's Senate Commission on Health Care Access and Affordability, said the commission will draft a bill for the 2007 Legislature that will "make Oregon the first state to provide universal health care with a system to contain costs."
While the proposal has been broadly described by the Commission, important details and questions remain.
Two years ago, Oregon voters were sold Measure 37 as a property rights issue. The measure, they were told, would
close loopholes governments used to regulate homeowners and prevent
unnecessary regulation. Backers downplayed other ramifications that are
now coming to light, ramifications that other states will face if
voters in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, or Washington approve initiatives modeled after Measure 37.
A new poll shows Measure 48, Oregon's proposed spending cap, now opposed by a plurality of voters, 32-42. A lot of voters are still undecided, but the rule of thumb in initiative campaigns is that it is easier to get people to vote no than it is to get them to vote yes. The initiative's backers claim stronger support in internal polling.
Loaded Orygun, which does some terrific investigative blogging in Oregon, has found campaign phone calls being made from a church. The church in question is a 501(c)3 organization prohibited from being engaged in electoral activity. Clearly, that prohibition is being ignored.
Churches can actually lose their tax-exempt status for this type of activity. And with good reason. Religion has much to teach us about values and morality. But God doesn't make endorsements.
Howard Rich, the ultra-rich New York developer pushing spending cap and land-use initiatives in multiple states this fall, has said he does this because he believes in it. But despite cutting millions in checks to make these ballot issues happen, he won't publicly defend the ideas.
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski challenged Rich to a debate over the implications of Measure 48, a proposed spending cap in Oregon.