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AFP Oregon – Initiative Rights Under Assault

June 25, 2009

Once again, the Oregon Legislature is attempting to strip you of your right to refer their tax increases to a vote of the people is under assault. With AFP-Oregon and other groups poised to give voters the final say over the Legislature’s $2 billion in tax and fee increases this Session, an effort is underway by the Legislative majority to confuse voters and try to force them to accept these tax increases against their will.

Realizing that tax increases in a severe recession have never been – and are unlikely to ever be – accepted by Oregonians, the Legislature is attempting to amend HB 2414 so that it will make a YES vote to repeal the tax increases a YES vote to keep the tax increases. Please read the information below, and if you agree, please CLICK HERE to send an email message to your State Representative and State Senator urging a NO vote on this unfair legislative trickery.

A gut-and-stuff amendment to HB 2414 would overturn Oregon history in practice and sow confusion for Oregon voting on referrals. The amendment would require that any state measure referred to the people by referendum include the phrase “Overturns Legislation” in the caption. It requires two “understandable” statements of not more than 25 words in the ballot title. One statement would describe the result, if the state measure is rejected. It must be worded so that an affirmative vote corresponds to a rejection of the state measure and must begin with the phrase – “A yes vote rejects legislation that….” The second statement would describe the result if the state measure is approved and must begin with the phrase – “A no vote approves legislation that….”

If you’re not confused by this, you’re not paying attention, because the amendment is meant to create a fog of confusion in Oregon’s referendum process. Currently, a yes vote means yes to the issue that the people are deciding in their legislative capacity – the imposition of a tax or an environmental regulation or deregulation – and a no means no on the issue. Yes means acceptance of the legislative proposal; no means rejection of the legislative proposal.

The mischievous amendment to HB 2414 overturns both Oregon history and elemental logic in one fell swoop. The guiding principle of Oregon’s referral system has always been that a piece of legislation has no standing if it is immediately referred to voters. Only the voters give it standing and lock a referred measure into Oregon law. That’s why a referred concept does not go into effect until voters have had their say at the ballot box. It cannot be overturned because, unlike legislation that is not referred, it has never been established in law.

The proposed amendment to HB 2414 would change this. Yes will mean no and no will mean yes – an affirmative vote will mean rejection and a negative vote will mean approval – and confusion will reign.

Please send a strong message to the Legislature that this kind of underhanded tactic has no place in Oregon politics. CLICK HERE.

Yours in Freedom,

Jeff Kropf, State Director
Americans for Prosperity – Oregon

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