SALEM — October is usually the quietest month of the year in the Capitol — but not this year. Thursday is the make-or-break deadline for backers of Referendum 301 to turn in signatures to qualify the initiative for the Jan. 23 special election ballot. The referendum would overturn a $530 million health provider tax that is earmarked for funding health care for low-income residents.
Officially, referendum advocates need 58,789 signatures to qualify. But past experience shows that it takes 30 to 50 percent more because many signatures are disallowed for not being state residents, ineligible to vote, have an incorrect address or other issues. The drive, led by Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, is pushing hard to meet the deadline.
Other news around Oregon and beyond:
The even year “short session” of the Legislature is supposed to be the political equivalent of a 20,000-mile tune up on a new car.
Two-year state budgets are approved in July of odd years and by the following February, lawmakers have an idea whether it is hitting its revenue targets or they need to get under the hood and fix problems. The session is limited to 35 days to discourage legislative meandering onto a variety of topics.
It’s a tight schedule and already partisan disagreements are sprouting over what issues to address next year. Democrats are pushing for a carbon pollution cap. Republicans want to tackle the cost side of the PERS public employee benefits. If Referendum 301 gets on the ballot and the health tax is repealed, lawmakers will have to scramble to fill the half-billion dollar void.
With the 2018 election by then just months away, there may be little incentive for either side to budge.
One group hoping to get some traction in the short session are backers of Oregon State University-Cascades. The fastest growing university in the fastest growing part of the state only received $9.5 million of $69.5 million requested during the 2017 legislative session.
The key will be to get Gov. Kate Brown to endorse the idea that the Cascades campus shouldn’t be lumped in with overall Oregon State funding. Any boost would likely come as part of a catch-all budget bill at the end of the session.
Backers also have to walk a careful line. The campus is in the district of Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who is the front-runner in the Republican race to face Brown in the governor’s election next year.
A possible wild card: One of OSU-Cascades biggest competitors for state dollars is the proposed Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at the University of Oregon. It will be up to politics watchers to determine if Knight’s $500,000 contribution to Buehler colors the outcome on university funding.
The mayor of a Portland suburb facing a recall has resigned and said she is moving to Redmond. Mayor Krisanna Clark-Endicott is one of three Sherwood City Council members who face recall over their support of an out-of-state company to run the city’s recreation center, replacing the YMCA.
According to The Oregonian newspaper, Clark-Endicott released a statement Monday saying she had tired of attacks on her integrity and would step down. She noted no complaint had been filed by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, which handles allegations of misconduct by public officials. Clark-Endicott said she would move to Redmond, where her husband, George Endicott, is the mayor.
War chest wars
Updated governor campaign fundraising. Candidates have up to 30 days to report contributions.
Buehler has raised $1.4 million this year and has $1.3 million in the bank. As of Tuesday, he had reported contributions through Oct. 1.
Brown has raised $1.2 million this year and has $1.5 million in the bank. She last reported contributions Sept. 9.
In, out and in-between
Over 100 candidates have registered to run in the 2018 elections, for everything from governor to circuit judge. The sign-up window has been open one month, and it doesn’t close until March 6 of next year. But races are starting to take shape.
Brown and Buehler are among four people who have filed for governor. Five people have signed up to run against U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, though Walden hasn’t registered for re-election. Bend Councilor Nathan Boddie has filed for the 54th House District seat in Bend that Buehler is giving up to run for governor, but no Republican has stepped up to try to hold on to the swing district seat for the GOP. Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney, a Republican, last week became the latest name to say “no” to the 54th race.
Among those absent from the list of registered candidates: House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, who had hoped to be named U.S. attorney for Oregon, and Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, who Monday said he had “no announcement at this time” on whether he will seek another term.
Only in Oregon
Oregon is the only state whose flag has two different sides. Both sides have a blue field with gold highlights. The front features an escutcheon — fancy talk for a shield with symbols on it. Above the symbol are the words “State of Oregon” in a undulating wave line, and below, “1859,” the year the state was founded below. On the reverse side is an image of the state animal, the beaver.
Oregon became a state in 1859, the flag dates only from 1925.
The design is not universally popular. The North American Vexillological Association, a group of flag design advocates, put out a report in 2001 ranking the design quality of 72 state, territorial and Canadian provincial flags. Oregon finished at No. 62.
For one thing, the group doesn’t like words on flags — its No. 1 pick was New Mexico’s sunburst design.
Since then, there have been attempts to redesign the Oregon state flag, but all have failed to win approval by the Legislature.
“You can start a revolution, but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna follow you.”
— Terry Sullivan, a top Florida GOP strategist, on the ability of President Trump to control the populist movement that swept him into the White House.
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