Ballot measures differ from most legislation passed by representative democracies; ordinarily, an elected legislature develops and passes laws. Ballot measures, by contrast, are an example of direct democracy.
Ballot Measure 5 was a landmark piece of direct legislation in the U.S. state of Oregon in 1990. Measure 5, an amendment to the Oregon Constitution (Article XI, Section 11), established limits on Oregon's property taxes on real estate.
Property taxes dedicated for school funding were capped at $15 per $1,000 of real market value per year and gradually lowered to $5 per $1,000 per year. Property taxes for other purposes were capped at $10 per $1,000 per year. Thus, the total property tax rate would be 1.5% at the end of the five-year phase in period. The measure transferred the responsibility for school funding from local government to the state, to equalize funding.
The measure was passed in the November 6, 1990 general election with 574,833 votes in favor, 522,022 votes against. It was one of the most contentious measures in Oregon election history.1992 Oregon Ballot Measure 9
Ballot Measure 9 was a ballot measure in the U.S. state of Oregon in 1992, concerning gay rights, pedophilia, sadism, masochism, and public education, that drew widespread national attention.
Measure 9 would have added the following text to the Oregon Constitution:
All governments in Oregon may not use their monies or properties to promote, encourage or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism. All levels of government, including public education systems, must assist in setting a standard for Oregon's youth which recognizes that these behaviors are abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse and they are to be discouraged and avoided.
It was defeated in the November 3, 1992 general election with 638,527 votes in favor, 828,290 votes against.1994 Oregon Ballot Measure 11
Measure 11, also known as "One Strike You're Out", was a citizens' initiative passed in 1994 in the U.S. State of Oregon. This statutory enactment established mandatory minimum sentencing for several crimes. The measure was approved in the November 8, 1994 general election with 788,695 votes in favor, and 412,816 votes against.The sentencing judge cannot give a lesser sentence than that prescribed by Measure 11, nor can a prisoner's sentence be reduced for good behavior. Prisoners cannot be paroled prior to serving their minimum sentence.
The measure applies to all defendants aged 15 and over, requiring juveniles 15 and over charged with these crimes to be tried as adults.The measure was placed on the ballot via initiative petition by Crime Victims United, a tough-on-crime political group. Then-State Representative Kevin Mannix, who sponsored the measure, has since argued that violent criminals cannot be reformed through probation or short prison sentences, and that the time they are kept incarcerated is itself a benefit to society.Ballot Measure 10, also passed in 1994, permitted the Oregon Legislative Assembly to change Measure 11, but only with a 2/3 vote in each chamber. The legislature has done so several times.Legislative Attempts to Alter or Repeal Measure 11:
House Bill 3439 passed June 1995: Added Attempted Murder and Attempted Aggravated Murder.
Senate Bill 1049 passed July 1997: Added Arson I (when a serious physical threat is involved), Compelling Prostitution, and Use of Child in Display of Sex Act. This also allowed for departures from the mandatory minimum sentencing for some Assault II, Kidnapping II, and Robbery II convictions.
House Bill 2494 passed August 1999: Allowed for departures from the mandatory minimum sentence for some Manslaughter II convictions committed after October 23, 1999.
Measure 94 defeated November 2000: Attempt to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing in Oregon; defeated 387,068 to 1,073,275.
House Bill 2379 passed July 2001: Allowed for departure from the mandatory minimum sentence for some Rape II, Sodomy II, Sexual Penetration II, and Sexual Abuse I convictions after January 1st, 2002.
Senate Bill 1008 passed in May of 2019 (pending signature from the Governor): The bill is a major overhaul of many Measure 11 stipulations. Key parts of the bill seek to address the impacts of Measure 11 on youth reported by the Oregon Justice Resource Center, such as:
"Second Look" hearings for any juvenile convicted in adult court after completion of half their sentence. Judges are to consider factors such as remorse and rehabilitation, and may reduce the remainder of the juvenile's sentence to community-based supervision.
Prohibiting life without parole for minors.
Ensuring minors of 15 years or older are not automatically tried as adults for major crimes.Proponents of Measure 11 argued that judges had been too lenient in sentencing violent offenders. They saw the measure as critical for lowering crime rates.
Opponents of Measure 11 argued that judges should be allowed discretion in sentencing and should be able to account for the particular circumstances of a given crime. They also objected to the requirement that many youth defendants be tried as adults.Oregon's prison population increased after Measure 11, and as of 2004, 41% of the growth was attributed to the direct or indirect impact of Measure 11. Crime rates in Oregon decreased between 1994 and 2000, but increased in 2001; opponents of Measure 11 noted that the trend mirrored national trends, while acknowledging that some likely re-offenders were imprisoned as a result of the law.The effectiveness of Measure 11 to deter crime is further questioned when compared to research about mandatory minimums. Research has repeatedly disproven mandatory minimums as public safety tools. For example, a 1993 meta-analysis report compiled from 50 different studies found mandatory minimums’ lengthier prison sentences produced higher rates of recidivism and a tendency for lower-risk offenders to experience more negative outcomes.1994 Oregon Ballot Measure 16
Measure 16 of 1994 established the U.S. state of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act (ORS 127.800-995), which legalizes medical aid in dying (commonly referred to as physician-assisted suicide) with certain restrictions. Passage of this initiative made Oregon the first U.S. state and one of the first jurisdictions in the world to permit some terminally ill patients to determine the time of their own death.The measure was approved in the November 8, 1994, general election. 627,980 votes (51.3%) were cast in favor, 596,018 votes (48.7%) against. An injunction delayed implementation of the Act until it was lifted on October 27, 1997. Measure 51, referred in the wake of the US Supreme Court's 1997 ruling in Washington v. Glucksberg by the state legislature in November 1997, sought to repeal the Death with Dignity Act, but was rejected by 60% of voters. The act was challenged by the George W. Bush administration, but was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in Gonzales v. Oregon in 2006.1996 Oregon Ballot Measure 36
Ballot Measure 36 of 1996 increased the U.S. state of Oregon's minimum wage from $4.75 to $6.50 over a three-year period. The measure was approved by voters in the 5 November 1996 general election, with 769,725 votes in favor and 584,303 votes against. The measure was placed on the ballot as a result of initiative petition.
Proponents of the measure included labor unions, the Oregon State Council of Senior Citizens and some religious groups. They argued that the previous minimum wage was not a living wage, and that many minimum wage earners were trying to support families – see family wage.
Opponents included businesses that employ minimum wage earners, among others. They argued that increasing the minimum wage would increase consumer prices, and increase unemployment as employers would be able to hire fewer workers. They also pointed out that the U.S. Congress had just passed a (smaller) increase to the federal minimum wage.
In 2002, voters passed Measure 25, which again increased the minimum wage. Measure 25 also tied future minimum wage increases to inflation.1996 Oregon Ballot Measure 40 and subsequent measures
Ballot Measure 40 was an Oregon ballot measure in 1996. The measure brought sweeping reforms to Oregon's justice system, generally in an effort to promote victims' rights.
Measure 40 passed with 58.8% of the vote, but was overturned by the Oregon Supreme Court in 1998, on the grounds that it contained more than one amendment to the Oregon Constitution.Measure 40 case precedent has since been cited as the basis for overturning several voter-approved initiatives. Among these are term limits for state office-holders in 2002 and Measure 3, the Oregon Property Protection Act of 2000.
Kevin Mannix, the state legislator behind Measure 40, shepherded many of its provisions through the Legislature as statutory enactments (in Senate Bill 936 of 1997) while Measure 40 was being considered in the courts, placing many of the constitutional provisions of Measure 40 into statutory law.2002 Oregon Ballot Measure 25
Ballot Measure 25 of 2002 increased Oregon's minimum wage from $6.50 to $6.90 per hour and required an annual increase to compensate for inflation in future years. Inflation is measured by the consumer price index. As of 2015, the minimum wage in Oregon is $9.25 an hour. The measure was approved in the November 5, 2002 general election with 645,016 votes in favor, 611,658 votes against.Itemized Measure Listings, Measure 25 page 17 The measure was placed on the ballot as a result of initiative petition.2004 Oregon Ballot Measure 36
Ballot Measure 36 was a 2004 initiative in the U.S. state of Oregon. It amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The initiative passed with 1,028,546 votes in favor, and 787,556 votes against (57% to 43%) in the November 2, 2004 general election.
It is one of a number of U.S. state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions.
On May 19, 2014, the measure was declared unconstitutional by a U.S. federal district court judge, who ruled that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.2012 Oregon Ballot Measure 80
Oregon Ballot Measure 80, also known as the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, OCTA and Initiative-9, was an initiated state statute ballot measure on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot in Oregon. It would have allowed personal marijuana and hemp cultivation or use without a license and created a commission to regulate the sale of commercial marijuana. The act would also have set aside two percent of profits from cannabis sales to promote industrial hemp, biodiesel, fiber, protein and oil.Measure 80 was defeated 53.44%-46.56%.2016 Oregon Ballot Measure 97
Oregon Ballot Measure 97 was a ballot measure in the 2016 election in the U.S. state of Oregon. The initiative asked voters to determine whether or not to impose a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on C corporations with Oregon sales exceeding $25 million. S corporations and benefit companies (companies that benefit society and the environment, as determined under state law) would be exempt from the tax. It was estimated the measure would raise $3 billion annually for the state, if passed.The nonpartisan Oregon Legislative Revenue Office determined that of the some 250,000 businesses registered in Oregon, 951 would be subject to the tax; of these, the hundred largest taxpayers would pay about two-thirds of the monies raised. The same report estimated that wholesale companies in Oregon would see their taxes grow by almost $600 million, a 583 percent increase. Taxes on Oregon retailers would increase by $535 million, a 766 percent jump. Health care firms operating in Oregon would experience a 1,211 percent increase in their taxes, adding almost $100 million per year to the cost of health care across the state.During the state's general election held in November 2016, Oregon voters defeated the measure 59 percent (opposed) to 41 percent.Alaska Ballot Measure 2 (1998)
Ballot Measure 2 of 1998 is a ballot measure, since ruled unconstitutional, that added an amendment to the Alaska Constitution that prohibited the recognition of same-sex marriage in Alaska. The Ballot measure was sparked by the lawsuit filed by Jay Brause and Gene Dugan, after the two men were denied a marriage license by the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics. In Brause v. Bureau of Vital Statistics, 1998 WL 88743, the Alaska Superior Court ruled that the state needed compelling reason to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples and ordered a trial on the question. In response, the Alaska Legislature immediately proposed and passed Resolution 42, which became what is now known as Ballot Measure 2. Ballot Measure 2 passed via public referendum on November 3, 1998, with 68% of voters supporting and 32% opposing. The Bause case was dismissed following the passage of the ballot measure.
The text of the adopted amendment, which is found at Article I, section 25 of the Alaska Constitution, states:
To be valid or recognized in this State, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman.
On October 12, 2014, U.S. federal Judge Timothy Burgess struck down the ban as a violation of the U.S. constitutional guarantee of due process and equal protection. Burgess wrote, "Alaska’s denial of the benefits and dignity of marriage for them only perpetuates this discrimination without legitimate grounds.” Burgess also barred Alaska from refusing to acknowledge lawful same-sex marriages conducted in other states.Alcoholic beverages in Oregon
The U.S. state of Oregon has an extensive history of laws regulating the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, dating back to 1844. It has been an alcoholic beverage control state, with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission holding a monopoly over the sale of all distilled beverages, since Prohibition. Today, there are thriving industries producing beer, wine, and liquor in the state. Alcohol may be purchased between 7 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. As of 2007, consumption of spirits is on the rise, while beer consumption is holding steady. Also, 11% of beer sold in Oregon was brewed in-state, the highest figure in the United States.
Oregon wine production began in the mid-19th century, before it was a state. By 1919, the industry had collapsed due to prohibition, and after prohibition ended fruit wines dominated the industry. The modern era of Oregon wine began in 1961, and the industry cemented its reputation in 1975 by winning a French award. In 2007, wine making was a $207.8 million business. Beer production began in 1852 with Henry Saxer's liberty brewing in Portland. In 1862 Henry Weinhard's bought the Liberty brewery. The company is now a part of the Miller Brewing Company, but it helped Portland to become the microbrewing capital of the world. Portland hosts North America's largest beerfest, and Oregon has produced a number of national and international award winning beers.
In 1844, the Oregon territories voted to prohibit alcoholic beverages. This was repealed in 1845, but prohibition was reinstated in a 1915, four years before the national alcohol prohibition. When national prohibition was repealed in 1933, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) was created. Unlike states that allow liquor sales in grocery stores, liquor in Oregon is sold only in OLCC run liquor stores and establishments that have liquor licenses, and the OLCC has strict guidelines and training to ensure that all licensed venues understand how to safely sell and serve alcoholic beverages. Alcohol and alcoholism are also studied by the state at the Portland Alcohol Research Center.Cannabis in Oregon
Cannabis in Oregon relates to a number of legislative, legal, and cultural events surrounding use of cannabis (marijuana, hashish, THC, kief, etc.). Oregon was the first U.S. state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, and among the first to authorize its use for medical purposes. An attempt to recriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis was turned down by Oregon voters in 1997.
From 1999 through 2005, the ratio of Oregonians using cannabis outpaced the general United States population by 32–45%. In surveys conducted in 1974 and 1975—one and two years after decriminalization—it was found that 2% of respondents said they did not use marijuana or cannabis because they were unavailable, 4% for legal or law enforcement reasons, 53% reported lack of interest, and 23% cited health dangers. The remaining 19% were using or had used it at one time.Measure 91 was approved in 2014, legalizing non-medical cultivation and uses of marijuana. It followed perennial, unsuccessful efforts to legalize marijuana by ballot initiative, including in 1986 and in 2012 which made it to the ballot, but voters rejected.
In 2015, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed an emergency bill declaring marijuana sales legal to recreational users from dispensaries starting October 1, 2015. State officials began working on establishing a regulatory structure for sales of marijuana, and taxing of such sales, with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to oversee it. Effective January 1, 2017, dispensaries were no longer permitted to sell cannabis for recreational use unless they applied for, and received, an OLCC license for such sales. During the one-month span from early December 2016 to early January 2017, the number of retailers licensed to sell recreational marijuana grew from 99 to 260, and hundreds more applications had been received and were being processed.Capital punishment in Oregon
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the U.S. state of Oregon.
In November 2011, Governor John Kitzhaber announced a moratorium on executions in Oregon, canceling a planned execution and ordering a review of the death penalty system in the state. Kitzhaber's successor, Governor Kate Brown, affirmed her commitment to the moratorium.Although Oregon allows for nonunanimous juries in felony cases, all capital cases in Oregon (along with other murder cases) require a unanimous jury verdict.
In case of a hung jury during the penalty phase of the trial, a life sentence is issued, even if a single juror opposed death (there is no retrial).The Governor of Oregon has sole authority over clemency, including capital cases.The method of execution is lethal injection.
The men's death row is located, and executions are carried out, at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. Women on death row are held at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility until shortly before their execution.Land use in Oregon
Land use in Oregon concerns the evolving set of laws affecting land ownership and its restrictions in the U.S. state of Oregon.Oregon Ballot Measures 37 and 49
Oregon Ballot Measure 37 is a controversial land-use ballot initiative that passed in the U.S. state of Oregon in 2004 and is now codified as Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 195.305. Measure 37 has figured prominently in debates about the rights of property owners versus the public's right to enforce environmental and other land use regulations. Voters passed Measure 49 in 2007, substantially reducing the impact of Measure 37.Oregon Ballot Measures 47 and 50
Ballot Measure 47 was an initiative in the U.S. state of Oregon that passed in 1996, affecting the assessment of property taxes and instituting a double majority provision for tax legislation. Measure 50 was a revised version of the law, which also passed, after being referred to the voters by the 1997 state legislature.
Measure 47, sometimes referred to as a "cut and cap" law, reduced property taxes to the lesser of the 1994–95 tax or the 1995–96 tax minus 10 percent and limited future increases in assessed property values, except for new construction or additions, to 3 percent per year. It also instituted a "double majority" rule requiring at least a 50-percent voter turnout for all local tax measures in most elections (partially repealed in 2008 by Measure 56). It strengthened state constitutional limits, first imposed by Measure 5, on property taxes on real estate.
Measure 47 was placed on the ballot by initiative petition by anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore and approved by voters in the November 1996 general election, with 704,554 votes in favor and 642,613 votes against.The law enacted by Measure 47 was amended in 1997, when the Oregon Legislative Assembly referred Measure 50 to voters to clarify that Measure 47 was intended to limit increases in real-estate assessments to 3 percent per year. The measure passed.Oregon tax rebate
The Oregon tax rebate, commonly referred to as the kicker, is a rebate calculated for both individual and corporate taxpayers in the U.S. state of Oregon when a revenue surplus exists. The Oregon Constitution mandates that the rebate be issued when the calculated revenue for a given biennium exceeds the forecast revenue by at least two percent. The law was first passed by ballot measure in 1980, and was entered into the Oregon Constitution with the passage of Ballot Measure 86 in 2000.
The Oregon Department of Revenue distributes the rebate to individuals in what is known to Oregonians as a kicker check. The kicker, which prevents surpluses above a certain size, is a complement to the balanced budget amendment, which prevents deficits.
If the corporate kicker is triggered, the excess is returned to the state general fund to provide additional funding to K–12 schools. This is the result of the passage of 2012's Ballot Measure 85. Prior to that time, the rebate was distributed to the corporations.Trojan Nuclear Power Plant
Trojan Nuclear Power Plant was a pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant in the northwest United States, located southeast of Rainier, Oregon, and the only commercial nuclear power plant to be built in Oregon. There was public opposition to the plant from the design stage. The three main opposition groups were the Trojan Decommissioning Alliance, Forelaws on the Board, and Mothers for Peace. There were largely non-violent protests from 1977, and subsequent arrests of participants.
After only 16 years of service, the plant was closed in 1992 by its operator, Portland General Electric (PGE), after cracks were discovered in the steam-generator tubing. Decommissioning and demolition of the plant began the following year and was completed in 2006.While operating, Trojan represented more than 12% of the electrical generation capacity of Oregon. The site lies about twelve miles (20 km) north of St. Helens, on the west (south) bank of the Columbia River.