2018 initiatives

The proposed ballot measures circulating for signatures as approved by the Secretary of State. Additional ballot measures could qualify for circulation before the July 6 deadline to appear on the November 6 ballot.

For a constitutional initiative, petitioners must gather valid signatures of 8 percent of the number of votes cast in the previous general election (currently 117,578). For statutory initiatives, 6 percent is required (currently 88,184). A referendum on a law passed by the legislature requires 4 percent (currently 58,789).

1. Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2018

Ballot title: Prohibits spending “public funds” (defined) directly/indirectly for “abortion” (defined); exceptions; reduces abortion access.

Type: Constitutional

2. Grassroots Petitioning Initiative

Ballot title: Secretary of State must enable and accept digital signatures for state initiative and referendum petitions.

Type: Statutory

5. Voters Must Prove Citizenship to Vote

Ballot title: All current voter registrations expire in 2020; registration requires “provid[ing]” citizenship documents/otherwise proving citizenship.

Type: Constitutional

7. Medical Freedom Initiative

Ballot title: Any “person” can refuse “any medical procedure” without consequences imposed by government.

Type: Constitutional

19. Maintain a Citizen ­Legislature

Ballot title: Limits service by state legislators: No more than 8 years in any 12-year period.

Type: Statutory

22. Stop Oregon Sanctuaries

Ballot title: Repeals law limiting use of state/local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

Type: Statutory

25. Corporate Accountability and Transparency Petition

Ballot title: Publicly traded corporations and affiliates/subsidiaries must disclose tax, ownership information, which becomes publicly available.

Type: Statutory

31. A Tax is a Tax Amendment

Ballot title: Expands (beyond taxes) application of requirement that three-fifths legislative majority approve bills raising revenue.

34. Your Paycheck, Your Choice

Ballot title: Establishes employment terms differently for union, nonunion public employees; modifies bargaining, representation, cost-sharing, anti-discrimination laws.

Type: Statutory

36. Keep Our Promises Amendment II

Ballot title: “Public bodies” (defined) must forecast certain revenues, use excess revenues for “unfunded pension liability” (defined).

Type: Constitutional

37. Yes! Keep Our Groceries Tax-Free!

Ballot title: Prohibits taxes/fees based on transactions for “groceries” (defined) enacted or amended after September 2017.

Type: Constitutional

SALEM — When backers of restrictions on assault weapons announced an initiative drive for the Nov. 6 ballot, they echoed a refrain heard for over a century: If Oregon lawmakers won’t act, the people will.

“We know that support for an assault weapon ban has been growing since Sandy Hook,” said Penny Okamoto, executive director of Ceasefire Oregon. “The Legislature has had five years to act on this.”

The gun initiative joins more than 40 other efforts seeking to become part of the state constitution or statutory laws of the state. Created during the Progressive Era at the beginning of the 20th century, the first-in-the-nation “Oregon System” initiative process allows citizens to submit their own laws directly to voters and to overturn laws passed by the Legislature. Any change to the Oregon Constitution passed by the Legislature requires referral to voters. It’s a model that has since been copied by 26 states.

Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, does not support the gun initiative, but says the initiative process is integral to the state’s political life.

“Oregon’s initiative system is ingrained in our state’s DNA,” Parrish said. “I think this option is critical for citizens. It gives them a way to push back on their elected officials.”

The current batch of initiatives is racing against a July 6 deadline to get on the November general election ballot. Dozens have been submitted to the secretary of state, and 28 are active with others in states of the process.

The slate of issues runs the gamut from conservative to liberal, social to pocketbook: abortion restrictions, gun control, grocery taxes, “net neutrality,” undocumented immigration and legislative term limits.

Eleven have been approved to circulate — that’s when people with clipboards start showing up outside of grocery stores and going door-to-door to gather signatures as soon as they receive an official ballot title — a short official definition of the measure.

A decision by Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to allow initiatives to circulate for signatures before getting an official ballot title was blocked by the Legislature during the 2018 session.

Richardson, the state’s main election official and lone Republican statewide officeholder, said the move was needed to remove unnecessary roadblocks to the ballot box. Critics say it was a way to push conservative initiatives with misleadings unofficial ballot titles without the proper vetting by state officials and courts.

The only sure shot to make the ballot is Measure 401, a constitutional amendment passed by the Legislature that would allow municipalities more flexibility in how they finance affordable housing.

Even if they get on the ballot, becoming law is a longshot. From 1902 through 2016, voters have approved just 127 of the 367 of citizen-­introduced initiatives, according to the secretary of state.

Voters have shown a willingness to change their minds. An initiative to extend the vote to women failed in 1906, but passed in 1912. Term limits were placed on lawmakers in 1992, then later knocked down by courts.

Since, voters twice rejected term limits, but it may be back on the ballot this year.

Money has impacted the system. Of the 34 single campaign contributions over $1 million in the secretary of state’s campaign finance records, all but one went to ballot measure campaigns or political action committees engaged in supporting or opposing ballot measures.

Officially, the initiative process is an unalloyed success, as laid out in the state’s official Blue Book.

“‘The Oregon System’ was the creative response to a mix of ideologies and discontents,” the Blue Book says. “It broke the power of many special interests and old political coalitions. It became a model for the rest of the country and was emulated in dozens of states and cities drawing inspiration from the power of a determined citizenry.”

Whatever its flaws, Parrish, the state lawmaker, said it allows for action to be taken beyond the governor, the 30 senators and 60 house members.

“The 91 of us are just people in a citizen’s government,” Parrish said. “The process really does belong to the people.”

— Reporter: 541-525-5280, gwarner@bendbulletin.com