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NOT GIVING UP IN OREGON

 

 


By Bill Sizemore

November 22, 2006

NewsWithViews.com

This Fall’s election was a disaster in Oregon. The Spending Limit measure failed miserably and dragged the more popular tax cutting measure down with it. The tax cut received more votes than the spending limit, but still failed by a substantial margin. The Judicial Reform measure, which was sorely needed and should have passed handily, came up short, killed primarily by the low Republican turn-out.

Even Term Limits, which has been on the ballot in 23 states and up until this election had never lost a single statewide election, suffered its first defeat, and it wasn’t even close. Term Limits passed here in 1992 with 70 percent of the vote, but only garnered 41 percent this year.

The most disheartening defeat of the night was the measure that would have required parental notification before performing an abortion on a minor. It is difficult to understand how anyone with common sense could believe a government employee should have the authority to take someone’s minor child to an abortion clinic to undergo a major medical procedure without the child’s parents even so much as knowing that their daughter was pregnant, let alone undergoing an abortion.

Notwithstanding such obvious logic, after the dust had settled on election night, the Parental Notification measure received a disappointing 46 percent of the vote. That was the most disappointing vote of the night. A measure like that should have received 100 percent support, because there was not one valid reason for voting “No.” Nonetheless, emotion prevailed and the supremacy of the government over the family was reinforced in this state.

Moving on, Oregon citizens were not the only ones placing measures on the ballot this year. Government bodies across the state placed dozens of large tax increase measures on local ballots. Some of the bond measures were as large as $100 million or more. Most of the large ones passed and will raise local property taxes hundreds of dollars per year. Overall, it was a good day for the government employee unions and one big bummer for Oregon taxpayers.

In other races, the Republicans, who had chosen a moderate downtown Portland lawyer as their gubernatorial nominee, hoping to win the governor’s seat for the first time in nearly three decades, suffered another defeat. The Republican nominee raised twice as much money as the Democrat incumbent, and yet was creamed on election night.

Republicans also lost control of the Oregon House and on top of that lost additional seats in the already Democrat controlled Oregon Senate, giving Democrats complete control of the legislature, the governor’s office and every statewide office in Oregon with the exception of one lone U.S. Senate seat, held by moderate Republican Gordon Smith, who is up for re-election in 2008.

Overall, it was a night to make a sensible man give up.

So, you say, why did you title this column, “Not Giving Up in Oregon,” when giving up seems to make perfectly good sense? Why not give up on voters who apparently want and deserve the kind of government they are going to get?

Why not quit? Because the other side wants us to quit, and who wants to give them the satisfaction. Why keep fighting? Because whether we win or lose, it is better to make the other side play defense and talk about our ideas instead of theirs’. They spent millions to win their victories, and well, there’s nothing wrong with allowing them to do that.

Why not hang it up? Because hundreds of thousands of Oregon voters voted our way and deserve better government than they are about to get. Those people are worth fighting for.

Why not accept defeat? Because there are still plenty of worthwhile projects to undertake, ideas that a majority of voters will support. Besides, just because voters rejected an idea once doesn’t mean they will reject it next time. Property tax relief was rejected four times in Oregon before it finally passed and began saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

There are plenty of good ideas to pursue. Here are some of the projects we are working on for 2008:

1) We currently are collecting signatures on a measure that each year would allow a property owner to make up to $35,000 in improvements to his or her property without a building permit. Yes, the electrical portion would have to be signed off by a licensed electrical contractor and the owner would have to make full disclosure of all such remodeling to a prospective buyer, but otherwise, what a blow for freedom. Think of it. You could actually go out and nail some boards on the back of your house (or the front for that matter) without having to ask for the government’s permission. (This one’s for you, Stu Miller.)

2) We also are collecting signatures on a measure that would end English as a second language programs and instead require that non-English speaking students in public schools be immersed in English. This would end one of the teachers union’s favorite scams: Keep immigrant students sidelined in ESL courses for six years so the district can collect $2,650 more per year per student.

3) We are collecting signatures on a measure that would require that future pay raises for public school teachers be based in classroom performance, not teacher seniority. And when lay-offs occur, the schools would be required to keep the best teachers, not those who have been there the longest. Imagine that, putting the good of the children above the demands of the teachers union.

4) We are working on a measure to give property owners a break on their property taxes when they turn 65. The measure phases the property tax out gradually as seniors grow older and eliminates them entirely at age 80. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually own your property and not have to rent it from the government, even if you have to wait until you’re 80 years old to do it. This measure is called the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption Act.

5) We are working on a measure to stop unauthorized union payroll deductions for politics, and a measure to end Oregon’s $80,000 income requirement, which currently prohibits building a home on farm land until you have generated $80,000 in farm income for two years. Try earning $80,000 a year in farm income on a five or ten acre parcel without growing marijuana.

These are all good measures and further the cause of liberty. If you want to help with any of them, email me and let me know. Just because Oregon voters were in a sour mood in 2006 does not mean they will be in a sour mood in two years. We should win some next time. Two years of a Democrat controlled state legislature just might give some of our fellow Oregonians a brand new perspective on life. Besides, the Republicans were nothing to write home about, when they were in charge. Many of them deserved a good kick in the rear.

This is the way I look at it: I figure I am good for at least one more election cycle. We’ll wait and see how things go in two years before thinking of giving up. Besides, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Valley Forge, the Alamo, Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, Pork Chop Hill. Now, those were discouraging times and cost some Americans a lot more than money and sweat. Losing a few conservative ballot measures in 2006 in a liberal state like Oregon, well, in the big picture, that’s hardly worth mentioning. You would have to be a crybaby to make a big deal about something like that. And this is not a game for crybabies.

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Anyway, we’ve licked our wounds for a few days now and it’s time to move along. Time waits for no one. Besides, if we won every battle, it would hardly be worth doing. We’re just going to have to fight a little harder next time, and little smarter.

© 2006 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved

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Bill Sizemore is a registered Independent who works as executive director of the Oregon Taxpayers Union, a statewide taxpayer organization. Bill was the Republican candidate for governor in 1998. He and his wife Cindy have four children, ages eight to thirteen, and live on 36 acres in Beavercreek, just southeast of Oregon City, Oregon.

Bill Sizemore is considered one of the foremost experts on the initiative process in the nation, having placed dozens of measures on the statewide ballot. Bill was raised in the logging communities of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, and moved to Portland in 1972. He is a graduate of Portland Bible College, where he taught for two years. A regular contributing writer to www.NewsWithViews.com

E-Mail: bill@otu.org

Bill's Web site: www.Billsizemore.net


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The most disheartening defeat of the night was the measure that would have required parental notification before performing an abortion on a minor.