Four state legislative referrals are worth the support of voters


This election Oregonians will vote for a new president, determine most of Oregon's congressional delegation, elect four statewide officers, and vote for many state and local officials. Numerous state and local measures will also be on the ballot and amongst these measures are four legislative referrals. These referrals vary from simple clean-up measures to major changes in public policy. I believe all four of these measures deserve public support.

Measure 54 amends the constitution to lower the age a citizen must be to vote in school board elections from 21 to 18. In 1948 Oregonians approved the school board election voting age of 21. Twenty-three years later the 26th amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, standardizing the voting age to 18. Oregon soon stopped enforcing the unconstitutional state provision but never asked the voters to remove the clause from the constitution. This is a constitutional clean-up and I recommend a yes vote.

Measure 55 amends the operative date of redistricting plans. The Oregon Constitution requires adjustments of legislative districts every 10 years. Occasionally when new district lines are drawn the sitting legislator no longer resides in their elected district. Measure 55 allows legislators to continue to represent the district from which they were elected till the next election cycle. This is a sensible fix and I urge a yes vote.

Measure 56 would remove the double majority standard for all May and November elections. This standard requires local property tax measures to earn a majority of votes cast, with a majority of voters participating. The original justification for the double majority was that jurisdictions were referring measures to low turnout elections in order to increase success during elections when voters were thought to not be paying attention. However, much has changed since voters approved the double majority. Now citizens are sent a ballot for each election, so everyone has the same opportunity to participate when an election takes place. Philosophically though, there's a troubling contradiction in the double majority requirement: we live in a participatory democracy and thus giving citizens who choose not to vote in an election more weight than those that do is fundamentally wrong. For this, and because of the irrelevance of the double majority, Oregonians should pass M56.

The final legislative referral is Measure 57. This is the legislative alternative to Kevin Mannix's property crime measure (M61). Measure 57 is supported by the Oregon District Attorneys' Association, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, and Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police. Measure 57 is the better way to fight crime because it holds criminals accountable while providing addiction treatment to those convicted. We know that most property crimes are directly related to issues of drug abuse and only through drug treatment can we expect to see any meaningful change in rates of recidivism. Because the Mannix measure doesn't provide drug treatment to offenders Measure 57 is, simply put, a better way to fight crime.

Another major difference between these two measures is cost. The Mannix measure is estimated to cost nearly twice as much as the legislative referral, including $1.1 billion for the constructions of prisons. This comes at the time when Oregon is already one of only five states in the nation that spends more on corrections than higher education. I recommend a yes vote on Measure 57 because it holds criminals accountable and gets to the root of most property and identity theft crimes.

Please remember every vote is important, your vote may well determine the future of our state and nation.

Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, Tualatin, represents Oregon Senate District 19.