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Voter privacy, emergency clause initiatives fail to make ballot

EO MEDIA GROUPSALEM — Two initiative petitions — one requiring written consent to release voter information and another to restrict the use of emergency clauses in legislation — have failed to qualify for the November general election ballot.

The campaign for Initiative Petition 49, No More Fake Emergencies Act, failed to submit enough

valid signatures to reach the 117,578 threshold for a constitutional change to the law. The act would have required a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature to declare an emergency when it passes a bill.

Lawmakers have increasingly used emergency clauses in bills in order to achieve a quicker effective date. Adding the clause removes voters’ constitutional right to contest the legislation via a referendum on the ballot.

The campaign submitted 158,456 signatures by the July 8 deadline, but only 113,379 were accepted, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

“We turned in 40,000 more than the number required so we obviously are disappointed with results,” said chief petitioner Eric Winters, an attorney from Wilsonville.

Winters and Jason Williams of Beaverton proposed the measure.

“There has a been a growing trend to keep labeling bills as emergencies when there is absolutely no emergency connection to it,” Winters said. “There is no standard for what is an emergency. Lawmakers may do it for expediency sometimes, but often it is to cut the public out of the process.”

The public is supposed to have 90 days to challenge any new law. Last session, more than half the bills that passed had attached emergency clauses, Winters said.

Initiative Petition 50, the Voter Privacy Act, would have prohibited release of specific voter information without voters’ express consent. Public officials who violated the law would have faced a Class A misdemeanor, according to the initiative proposed by Richard Taylor Whitehead of Aloha.

Next week, the secretary of state’s office plans to verify signatures for IP 67, which allows lottery funds to be used for Outdoor School programs. IP 68, which would prohibit the sale of products made from 12 endangered species, also is on schedule for signature verification next week, said Molly Woon, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state.

By Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau Reporter
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