January 17, 2022 - Pre-Session Report
By Norman Turrill, Governance Coordinator
During the January legislative days, the House Rules Committee considered racial impact statements. The Senate Rules Committee considered campaign finance reform. Both committees introduced a long list of new LC bills. There has been considerable movement on redistricting and campaign finance reform.
Since our last Legislature Report, the three lawsuits on congressional and legislative redistricting in state courts were decided against the plaintiffs. In all three suits, challengers had to show that redistricting criteria were not sufficiently followed. Since the criteria are mostly in statute and each must only be considered, the lawsuits failed, as we predicted.
The People Not Politicians coalition is still continuing with IP 34, now in the ballot title process. IP 34 opponents have appealed the AG’s certified ballot title to the Oregon Supreme Court. Since the AG’s ballot title is nearly identical to that approved by the Supreme Court without change two years ago for IP 57, the opponent’s purpose seems to be only to delay signature gathering. However, the Supreme Court will take as much time as it needs to decide, so it may be late February or early March before signature gathering can begin. Some 150,000 valid signatures must be delivered to the Secretary of State by July 8.
Campaign Finance Reform
Because the 2021 long legislative session failed to adopt any campaign finance reform to implement the Measure 107 constitutional amendment, overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2020, Honest Elections Oregon (HE), a collaboration of organizations including the LWVOR, met for months with stakeholders to draft an initiative petition for the 2022 ballot. Negotiations fell through, so HE has filed three initiatives, IP 43, 44 and 45. They will proceed with only one of these after polling and public reaction. In the meantime, former stakeholders have filed another three petitions but they don’t seem serious about them because they have not been collecting any sponsorship signatures. Their purpose seems to only be to head off the HE petitions and to get the legislature to pass something in the coming short session, so they can continue to dominate campaign finance in Oregon.
Rights of Incarcerated Individuals (Marge Easley)
On December 16, Rep. Lisa Reynolds announced she would introduce legislation in the 2022 session to restore voting rights to those serving time for felony convictions. This is a second try for the enfranchisement of incarcerated individuals in Oregon. The 2021 bill, SB 571, passed out of Senate Judiciary but stalled in Ways and Means. Passage of the bill would restore voting rights to 12,000 to 15,000 individuals and allow Oregon to join Maine, Vermont, and D.C. in allowing those in prison to vote.