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FAKE LEGISLATIVE EMERGENCIES

 


By Bill Sizemore

July 18, 2007

NewsWithViews.com

A few months ago, Democrats in the Washington State Legislature declared an emergency. They had just realized that the teachers union, their biggest donor, was about to lose a case before the United States Supreme Court. The high court was about to uphold a voter approved law that the Washington Supreme Court had overturned at the Washington Education Association’s request; a law that required unions to obtain an employee’s permission before taking money out of their paychecks for political purposes.

Acting to insure that all of those ill-gotten, coerced political donations would keep coming in from teachers who do not support the union political agenda, Democrat legislators gutted the voter-approved law so that when the Supreme Court upheld it, it would not effect them. So much for the will of the voters.

News of the Washington Democrats’ successful abuse of the emergency clause quickly spread. A few months later, Democrats in Oregon took emergency clause abuse to an even lower level.

The Oregon Constitution states that a bill passed by the state legislature goes into effect 90 days after the end of the session in which it is adopted, except when the legislature declares an emergency. When the legislature attaches an emergency clause to a bill, that bill can go into effect sooner, and more importantly, cannot be referred to the voters via the referendum process. In other words, an emergency clause prevents the People of Oregon from vetoing a legislative Act.

This past session, the Democrats who controlled the state legislative process for the first time in 16 years, went to extraordinary lengths to insure that their left wing agenda could not be countered by the people of Oregon.

As unbelievable as it may sound, Democrats declared an emergency in an unprecedented 26 percent of the bills they passed this session. Was the public health and safety really in danger hundreds of times? Were there really hundreds of emergencies? Hardly. Democrat legislators simply wanted to insure that their outlandish bills were not referred to the voters by means of a referendum petition, so they declared hundreds of fake emergencies

Framers of the Oregon Constitution knew there would be times when it would be necessary for the legislature to act quickly in an emergency. They never anticipated that some day legislators would declare hundreds of fake emergencies, just so they could keep the People of Oregon from voting on issues where the legislature’s will is not the will of the People.

Here are just a few of the many fake emergencies the legislature declared this past session.

They passed an “emergency” bill allowing unions to unionize a workplace by check-off cards rather than by a secret ballot election. This bill allows unions to pressure employees one at a time to vote for a union, instead of letting them decide the matter by secret ballot.

They passed an “emergency” bill making the initiative process more difficult and more expensive.

They passed an “emergency” bill prohibiting development along the entire length of the Oregon Trail, which is more than a hundreds years old. This bill allowed government to deny thousands of property owners the use of their property without compensating them for what government took from them.

They passed a bill calling for an “emergency” second session this coming February, even though the Oregon Constitution requires biennial sessions and even though voters rejected a measure that would have authorized annual sessions. The legislature simply defied the Constitution. This act is the most blatantly arrogant legislative act I have seen. They literally defied the Constitution.

Probably the most dishonest abuse of the emergency clause this session was for a bill in which the legislature wrote blatantly biased ballot titles for measures they referred to the voters. Normally, the language you read on your ballot, which describes the effect of a measure, is written by the attorney general, and even if written by the legislature, can be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court to insure accuracy and neutrality.

This process is set forth in existing law and is designed to insure that if the legislature chooses to write its own ballot title for a measure, as a safety mechanism, that title can be appealed to the Supreme Court. This session, however, Democrats exempted themselves from the law and wrote ballot titles that would insure that voters voted their way.


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From the beginning of the session, it was obvious that the Democrats wanted to get rid of Oregon’s voter approved Measure 37 and the Double Majority law, which voters have approved three times. Before the session closed, they referred to voters measures that gutted those two laws and let opponents of Measure 37 and the Double Majority write the ballot titles for the two measures. In other words, they cheated to win.

Come election time, when voters contemplate how to vote on those two issues, they will be reading biased ballot titles that were shrewdly designed to insure that they vote the way Democrat legislators want. Their ruse will work. Undoubtedly, many thousands of voters who support Measure 37 and the Double Majority will be tricked into voting against their own wishes.

The list of fake emergencies that were called this session would fill several pages. I have named but a few. Almost all of them were declared on party line votes with Democrats providing almost all of the votes. There was only one reason for doing this: To prevent the citizens of Oregon, from having the opportunity to vote on these matters.

It is fascinating to observe how faithfully the major media in Oregon provides cover for Democrats. I have not seen a single news story about this travesty. It is indeed the untold story of the legislative session.

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They may have gotten away with their chicanery this session, but this week I am immediately beginning the signature drive for a new ballot measure requiring a three-fourths majority vote in the House and Senate to declare any future emergencies. It should be no problem to get a three-fourths vote, if there really is an emergency. I suspect emergencies will magically stop occurring under this newly proposed, but long overdue law.

© 2007 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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This past session, the Democrats who controlled the state legislative process for the first time in 16 years, went to extraordinary lengths to insure that their left wing agenda could not be countered by the people of Oregon.