Governing Ourselves

October 17, 2006 0

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians will vote on ten statewide citizen initiatives this November.

One Willamette University law professor suggests we should vote No on every initiative because he believes the system is broken. He’s afraid that so many measures on the ballot will confuse voters. He thinks that 90 legislators are better equipped to make decisions about such issues as state budget limits and tax cuts.

What critics refuse to acknowledge is that our state constitution grants Oregonians the right to govern ourselves. We’ve had that right since 1902, and we’ve voted on more than 300 initiatives since then. Many of these measures would never have been considered by our elected representatives because of political pressures too great to overcome.

For example, women won the right to vote in Oregon by initiative in 1912, eight years before the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant that right nationwide. Recent initiatives that changed the face of Oregon government include Measure 5 which capped property taxes, Measure 16 which allowed assisted suicide, and Measure 37 which restored some of our property rights.

If you really want to send a message to Salem, don’t simply vote No on everything. Study all ten measures, and use your best judgment on each. Your informed votes, yes or no, will send the proper message — that Oregonians can govern ourselves.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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