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Help end legislature's abuse of 'emergency clause'


Did you know Oregon’s legislature routinely thwarts your right, enshrined in the state constitution, to seek to approve or reject newly-passed bills before they become law? You and I can take action to end this undemocratic practice right from our home computers.

The details:

Via a device called the “emergency clause” — which declares, without explanation, a bill’s enactment to be an emergency — legislators can stop Oregonians from seeking to refer a bill to a statewide ballot for an up-or-down vote by their fellow citizens. In 2015, legislators imposed this clause on more than half of newly-passed bills. Among them:

— Senate Bill 932, which credentials illegal-immigrant college students to compete with U.S. citizens for taxpayer-funded Oregon Opportunity Grants;

— Senate Bill 941, which imposes increased bureaucratic regulations on law-abiding gun owners; and

— House Bill 2177, which automatically registers as voters all citizens holding Oregon driver licenses.

Would you like to have had a chance to approve or reject these bills? By saddling them with the emergency clause, Oregon lawmakers took that chance, indeed, that right, away from you.

What can you do? The No More Fake Emergencies campaign is seeking to qualify a measure for Oregon’s November 2016 ballot that would require a two-thirds vote (rather than the current bare majority) of the House and Senate to approve most bills containing an emergency clause. Such a threshold would help keep legislators, except in true emergencies, from denying Oregonians their right to refer and vote on newly-passed bills.

To help, go to nofakeemergencies.com. There, you’ll find a petition that you, the registered Oregon voter, can sign to help qualify the measure for the ballot. Your signature will help end bogus legislative “emergencies” and help restore the voice of you, the citizen, to its paramount place in Oregon’s representative democracy.

Richard F. LaMountain is a Cedar Mill resident

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