Governance

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September 14, 2021 - Week 25

GOVERNANCE Norman Turrill


Redistricting


There was no progress in this legislative session on an independent redistricting commission as in HJR 7, not even a hearing. The People Not Politicians coalition will now have to decide what to do with IP 16.


The legislature did appoint House and Senate Redistricting committees and held a series of hearings, as required by statute, to listen to what voters think about the process and what they think are their communities of common interest. The legislative process continues with the release of census data on August 12, the release of proposed new congressional and legislative district maps on Sept. 3, a series of hearings on the proposed maps beginning on Sept. 8, a special session of the legislature probably starting Sept. 20, and the Governor signing bills for the new districts by Sept. 27, as required by the Oregon Supreme Court.


The legislature and Governor seem unlikely to fail to adopt new district maps by this deadline. However, if they do fail, the process for legislative maps defaults to the Secretary of State (SoS), and the process for congressional maps defaults to a panel of five state judges, appointed by the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. The whole process, including any court challenges, must be completed by Feb. 7.


SB 260, which died in committee, would have required the Secretary of State to conduct study and analyze existing criteria for reapportionment [redistricting] of state into congressional and legislative districts.


Campaign Finance Reform


The strong passage of the Measure 107 (SJR 18) constitutional amendment by the voters during the 2020 General Election allows the legislature to adopt campaign finance limits and disclosures. However, after intense lobbying and multiple hearings in both the House and Senate rules committees, the legislature failed to adopt any new campaign finance limits. HB 2680 A, which would have established a small donor matching program, came closest to passage, but it died in the W&Ms Committee because Senate leadership opposed it. More comprehensive contribution limits bills, HB 3343 (Salinas, Clem) and SB 336 (Golden), also died in committee. Since no campaign finance bill passed this session(!), watch for an initiative petition campaign to soon be organized. We have also heard that a group of senators will also be working in the interim on a new bill to be introduced in the 2022 short session.


SB 261, which would have barred asking for or using campaign contributions to pay legal fees, fines, or other expenses related to unexcused absences, died in committee.


Election Topics


HB 2227, which died in committee, would have prohibited portraits of candidates from being included in voters' pamphlets.


HB 2323 Enrolled, see LWVOR support, prohibits knowingly communicating a materially false statement, including by electronic or telephonic means, with intent to mislead electors about date of election, deadline for delivering ballot, voter registration deadline, method of registering to vote, locations at which elector may deposit ballot, qualifications of electors or voter registration status within 30 days of primary election or special election or within 60 days of general election; authorizes the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to prosecute violation and establishes civil penalty of up to $10,000 for violation.


HB 2385, which died in committee (see LWVOR comments), would have directed the Dept. of Revenue (DoR) to develop, implement, and maintain software and a database related to online tax filing. This relates to the League’s interest in expanding automatic voter registration, in ensuring that any efficiency compatibility is considered, and to ensuring cybersecurity.

HB 2499 A, a major automatic voter registration expansion bill, which would have extended automatic voter registration to Oregon Health Authority and any state agency designated by Governor, died in W&M, despite League support.


HB 2651, which died in committee, concerns political party registration which was separated from Oregon’s 2016 automatic voter registration rollout. Party membership has dropped significantly in Oregon since then, partly because reminder postcards sent as a follow up are often overlooked.

HB 2679, which died in committee, would have allowed persons who will be 17 years old on date of primary election and 18 years old on date of general election to vote at primary election for candidates of major political party with which person is affiliated if major political party has adopted rule to this effect.


HB 2681 Enrolled prohibits moving voters to inactive status due to voters not voting or updating voter registration for any period of time. See LWVOR support.


HB 2684, which died in committee, would have required the Secretary of State or county clerk, rather than the filer, to designate arguments filed for publication in voters' pamphlets as either supporting or opposing ballot measure.


HB 2687, which died in committee, would have required ballots returned by mail to be postmarked not later than the date of election. Required county clerks to announce status of tally of ballots received after election date on third and eighth calendar days after date of election. See HB 3291 below. See League opposition to HB 2226 and HB 2687.


HB 2745, which would have added optional race, ethnicity and preferred language to voter registration, died in House Rules.


HB 2992 Enrolled increases the daily compensation rate for members appointed to boards or commissions from $30, to equal to the per diem paid to Legislative Assembly members, currently $151. The bill also requires state agencies to pay compensation and reimbursement of actual and necessary travel or other expenses to a qualified member who has a certain adjusted gross income for the previous tax year.


HB 3021 Enrolled allocates $683K with 1.83 FTE to support multilingual elections materials and establishes an Advisory Council. Given League voting materials and policy experience, including the 2015 Minority Languages Voting Materials Task Report, we will ask for the League to be included in the Advisory Council. See LWVOR comments.


HB 3047 Enrolled is an anti-doxing bill establishing civil cause of action. See LWVOR support.

HB 3110, which would have required boards of directors of publicly traded corporations to have a specified proportion of female directors and directors who are members of underrepresented communities, died in committee.


HB 3273 Enrolled, the anti-doxing bill prohibiting “mug-shot” release, passed on partisan lines.


HB 3291 Enrolled requires ballots returned by mail to have a postal indicator showing the ballot was mailed not later than the date of election and be received by county clerk not later than seven days after date of election; moves special election from third Tuesday in September to fourth Tuesday in August.


HR 6, passed and filed with the SoS, despite a strict partisan divide, is a statement of the values of HB 2337, with which it shared a relating clause, “Declaring racism as a public health crisis in Oregon”; however, it was scrubbed of all action, as noted in League support.


HJM 4, which died in committee, would have applied to Congress to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution that address campaign finance reform.


HJR 11, which died in committee, would have amended the Oregon constitution for same-day voter registration. See LWVOR historic review, in support.


SB 27 Enrolled is the omnibus elections bill: The League supports some parts of this bill, which was filed pre-session by outgoing Secretary of State Bev Clarno.


SB 60, SB 61, SB 62, SB 63 (all enrolled) are a quartet of Oregon Government Ethics Commission bills expanding the OGEC’s time to act, scope of OGEC subject-matter responsibilities, restricting sources of payments for OGEC penalties, and extending the length of commissioners’ term limits.


SB 249, which died in committee, despite League support, would have allowed county clerks to begin opening and counting ballots upon receipt.


SB 251, which died in committee, despite League support, would have adapted statute on the use of ballot secrecy envelopes.


Three election-related placeholder bills all died in committee: SB 256 study of elections laws, SB 257 study of Voters’ Pamphlets, and SB 258 study of voter access.


SB 259 Enrolled modifies statutory deadlines for redistricting of congressional districts and judicial review. This bill was gut and stuffed earlier when it was a LWVOR-supported study to “elevate consideration of privacy, confidentiality, and data security measures”.


SB 262, which died in committee, would have prohibited salary and per diem payments for legislators’ unexcused absences.


SB 374, which died in committee, would have required that Voter Pamphlet candidate statements’ “material facts” be true.



SB 776, SJR 25 both died in committee, which would have allowed 16 or 17-year-olds (who are registered to vote) to cast ballots in school district elections. We strongly supported the concepts, but we lack a specific position on the numerical voting age in question for each. See League comments for SB 776, and SJR 25.


SB 293 Enrolled calls for a study to develop privacy, confidentiality, and data security measure recommendations. The League supports and would like to participate directly in the study committee.


SB 792 Enrolled protects children’s PII (personally identifiable information) with fish and hunting licenses, tags and permits. See League comments in support.


SB 785 moving the Presidential Primary to Super Tuesday, died in committee. See LWVOR comments.


SB 827, which would have required the Secretary of State to submit to the Legislative Assembly a list of each prospective statewide initiative petition filed for upcoming general election, and required four legislative reports on every initial petition, with the option for legislative hearings on any petition, died in committee. The League opposed the bill, suggesting that the legislature fund the existing Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission (CIRC), to achieve the same goals.


SB 5538 is the $97.5M SoS budget. The League is pleased to see an allocation for specific candidate filing software (ORESTAR) and to anticipate campaign finance regulation changes. We will continue to urge for statewide, online candidate filing with software revisions already underway, as described in HB 3393. See LWVOR comments in support.


SJR 3, which died in committee, would have disqualified legislators from office for 10 unexcused absences.


SJR 4, which died in committee, would have asked voters: Shall we replace the Oregon Constitution’s “two thirds'' quorum requirement with “a majority”, or continue to require a supermajority quorum for legislative action? The legislature cannot act without a quorum, per the 1857 Oregon Constitution. Only Indiana, Texas, and Tennessee have legislative quorum requirements this high – two-thirds. See LWVOR comments filed jointly for SB 261 and SJR 4.


Electoral Systems

No movement out of committee was seen on any of the electoral systems bills that we followed. Six bills were in this category:

SB 343 was a ranked choice voting (RCV) local options bill which had a requirement for the Secretary of State to create and staff a division to help locales purchase RCV compatible computers. See LWVOR testimony. Verbal testimony was given on March 16 (minute mark 48:42) here.

SB 791 and HB 2678 both proposed RCV for nonpartisan state offices and county/city offices where home rule doesn’t apply. See LWVOR testimony for SB 791.

HB 2685 would have required RCV for Overseas and Military ballots.

HB 2686 would have required that voting/tally system machinery statewide accommodate RCV or any electoral system adopted by voters and authorized under state constitution.

HB 3250 would have established STAR (Score Then Automatic Runoff) voting to select and elect state offices (also establishes STAR as a “local option” for counties, cities, districts and service districts).

HB 3241 would establish a Task Force on Alternative Voting Methods.

[Regarding the systems behind these bills, see information chart on STAR voting compared to RCV here on LWVOR site.]

The House Special Committee on Modernizing the People’s Legislature held an informational meeting on April 7 to learn more about Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). There was no bill associated with the meeting, thus written testimony was instead submitted to meeting materials (seen here). Testimony at the hearing was by invitation only; the League testified and it can be seen here at the 1:00 hour mark. Numerous experts testified (including the SoS from Maine and Oregon, members of San Francisco’s Elections Commission, academics and lecturers from several colleges, national organizations including More Equitable Democracy, Oregon AFSCME and many elected Oregon officials).

Informational update work is beginning to our previous LWVOR Electoral Methods studies.


Public Records and Meetings

HB 2278, which died in committee, would have established a Task Force on Government Transparency.

HB 2459 Enrolled: The League testimony in support was submitted to the House Judiciary Civil Law Subcommittee, to define video conference “conversations” in statute to prohibit recording if participants aren’t informed of recording and provides for penalties.

HB 2478, which would have expanded public records disclosure exemptions to include lawyer-client privileged documents, died in committee.

HB 2485, which died in committee, would have required state agencies to reduce public records request fees by 50 % if request is made in public interest, and required state agencies to entirely waive fees if public records request is in public interest and narrowly tailored. Required requests made by members of news media to be treated as in public interest. Required local service districts and special government bodies to make identical reductions and waivers in public records requests fees unless the governing body of records custodian conducts public meeting, deliberates on and resolves not to adopt fee reductions and waivers.

HB 2486, which died in committee, would have required, on or after October 1, 2021, officials of public bodies to grant news media representatives access to scenes of emergencies or emergency police activity that are otherwise closed to the public. Provided exceptions when access may be denied.


HB 2487, which died in committee, would have clarified that a personnel discipline action against a certified reserve officer, corrections officer, parole and probation officer, police officer, or youth correction officer is not an exemption under ORS 192.345(12), and removes or repeals the other two prohibitions relating to public records about public safety officers.


HB 2560 Enrolled requires a governing public body, to extent reasonably possible, to make all meetings accessible remotely through technological means and provide opportunity for members of the general public to remotely submit oral and written testimony. This is a major win for public involvement; usually no more travel to Salem!


SB 92, which would have extended confidentiality requirements for child abuse records to records of abuse of child in care, died in committee.


SB 294, which would have required the Public Records Advisory Council to conduct and publish results of periodic surveys, died in committee.


SB 500 Enrolled establishes Public Records Advocate as an independent office within the executive department.


SB 550, which would have required public body employers to establish privacy protocols for records being released, died in committee.


SB 691, which died in House Rules, would have required SoS oversight for ballot recounts in districts with more than one county.


SB 694, which died in committee, would have allowed counting ballots based on postmark dates. Prohibited individual from collecting and returning the ballot of another individual, subject to specified exceptions. See HB 3291 Enrolled above.


Rights of Incarcerated People


HB 2366, which died in committee, would have restored the voting rights for incarcerated individuals. This bill was identical to SB 571.


SB 571 A, which would have extended voting rights to adults in custody, died in W&M.


SJR 10 Enrolled, a proposed amendment to the Oregon Constitution, will appear on the ballot this fall. It removes the exception for criminal punishment in the section dealing with slavery prohibition. The original bill was amended to ensure that the courts, probation authority, or parole agency can continue to order a convicted person to engage in education, counseling, treatment, community service or other alternative to incarceration.


A companion bill, SJM 2 Enrolled, passed and urges Congress to remove a similar clause in the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. GOVERNANCE Norman Turrill


Redistricting


There was no progress in this legislative session on an independent redistricting commission as in HJR 7, not even a hearing. The People Not Politicians coalition will now have to decide what to do with IP 16.


The legislature did appoint House and Senate Redistricting committees and held a series of hearings, as required by statute, to listen to what voters think about the process and what they think are their communities of common interest. The legislative process continues with the release of census data on August 12, the release of proposed new congressional and legislative district maps on Sept. 3, a series of hearings on the proposed maps beginning on Sept. 8, a special session of the legislature probably starting Sept. 20, and the Governor signing bills for the new districts by Sept. 27, as required by the Oregon Supreme Court.


The legislature and Governor seem unlikely to fail to adopt new district maps by this deadline. However