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These ballot measures seem familiar


   By Tony Ahern
   Publisher
   Ever notice how we often face the same ballot measures, only slightly tweaked?
   Seems the same basic questions are asked in different ways every two years. Do these themes sound familiar: Abortion rights, eminent domain, term limits, local representation on state boards, state spending limitations?
   All are back this fall.
   Measure 43 is the abortion-related measure, mandating 48-hour notice to a minor's parent before an abortion can be performed. Almost always, pro-choice people support measures to make abortions easier to obtain, and abortion opponents vote to make them more difficult to achieve. Many pro-choice backers, however, do support parental notification requirements. Problem is, notifying a parent is not often the best, safest thing for a teen.
   But trying to convince someone to view abortion rights one way or another is futile, like trying to sway someone to share your religious views. As a man, one with no daughter, I won't even try.
   Measure 39 addresses public bodies condemning private property to sell to other private entities. I'm for active local government, but eminent domain is always questionable, even if done for public good, say a highway project. Private landowners shouldn't be forced to sell to a city government so the city government could sell it to a developer who promises to build a mall. This measure would prohibit such condemnations and should be supported.
   Measure 45 is the return of term limits. In the mid-1990s, that was part of the Republicans' Contract With America movement. Term limits have always been a bad idea, always will be, and most of the Republicans who were elected under that mantra didn't take long to forget about it. The voters are the only term limit tools needed. A good public servant should be allowed to continue to serve.
   Measure 40 is the latest effort for those that feel left out to join the party. The party, this time, is the Oregon Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Someone has taken note that nearly all of our judges hail from west of the Cascades, where, ironically, most of the people live. This measure would create districts to make the court land mass representative, with districts created based on population distribution.
   Bad idea. As is, Oregonians can vote on the Supreme Court's entire makeup, not just one from our neck of the woods. Our court situation does not need to be changed.
   This year's state spending limitation measure limits percentage increase in state spending to the increase in state population, plus inflation. Estimates are that it would reduce spending nearly $5 billion from the 2007-2009 biennium. To some, I'm sure that sounds great, but do we want to hit our schools, state police and social services with that? I'm voting no.
   While the usual themes are in full force this fall, there is one somewhat unique measure this year, Measure 42. It would keep insurance companies from using credit scores in calculating rates or premiums. I didn't know they did this in the first place. What's next, using our eighth-grade math scores? I was stupid enough to think that rates were based on our age bracket and driving records. Glad I've been paying my bills.
   One interesting aspect of measures is that often they cut to the quick on basic political/morality questions, and they repeat themselves.