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Stories about Oregon

Oregon Secretary of State verifies 59,000 signatures for redistricting initiative; courts to decide if it’s enough to qualify

On July 30, 2020, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced that People Not Politicians, the campaign behind the Independent State and Congressional Redistricting Commission Initiative, had submitted 59,493 valid signatures. People Not Politicians submitted its first batch of 64,172 unverified signatures on July 13. The campaign submitted an additional 1,819 signatures on July 17 and 1,063 signatures on July 24 for a total of 67,054 unverified signatures. The signature validity rate for the petition was 88.7%.

A federal judge ruled on July 10 that Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R) had to place the measure on the ballot or lower the threshold to 58,789 signatures and extend the signature deadline to August 17. The reduced number of signatures of 58,789 is equal to the required amount for 2018 veto referendum petitions. The original deadline was July 2, and the required number of signatures was 149,360 valid signatures.

People Not Politicians filed the lawsuit against the state seeking relief from the signature deadline and requirements on June 30. The state appealed the federal court’s decision allowing the campaign to submit signatures after the original deadline. On July 23, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Oregon’s request for an emergency stay on the lower court’s ruling.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) filed an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court on July 29 that has not been decided yet. A panel of the 9th Circuit Court is expected to hear oral arguments for the lawsuit on August 13. It will also be hearing oral arguments for a similar initiative lawsuit in Idaho on the same day. Reclaim Idaho, the sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, filed the lawsuit back in June and a federal judge allowed the campaign to gather electronic signatures and have extra time to gather signatures. On July 30, the Supreme Court granted an emergency stay on the judge’s order.

The Oregon initiative would amend the Oregon Constitution to establish a 12-member redistricting commission. If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, it will be the third initiative appearing on the November ballot in Oregon. The Oregon Secretary of State certified the Psilocybin Program Initiative and the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative for the ballot after both met the original July 2 deadline and submitted more than the required number of valid signatures (112,020).

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Oregon voters will decide on Psilocybin Program Initiative in November

The Oregon Secretary of State certified the Psilocybin Program Initiative for the November ballot after completing the signature verification process on July 8. The secretary of state verified that 132,465 of the 160,963 signatures submitted were valid. The signature validity rate was 82.3 percent.

The initiative establishes the Oregon Psilocybin Services Program under the Oregon Health Authority. The program would permit licensed service providers to administer a psilocybin product to pre-screened individuals 21 years of age or older through a process that consists of preparation, administration, and integration sessions. The initiative requires a two-year development period for the Oregon Health Authority to adopt regulations for psilocybin services and licensing. It also requires that an advisory board appointed by the governor be established to advise the Oregon Health Authority.

The Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS) is leading the Yes on IP 34 campaign. As of the last campaign finance deadline on June 5, the campaign had received $1.2 million in contributions. New Approach PAC, a nonprofit that has endorsed and financially supported marijuana ballot measures, contributed $1 million.

Yes on IP 34 previously announced on May 4 that they would coordinate their campaign efforts to gather signatures with the Yes on IP 44 initiative that was certified for the ballot on June 30.

Yes on IP 44 is sponsoring the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative that would reclassify personal possession drug offenses from misdemeanors to violations with a maximum penalty of a $100 fine or a completed health assessment. It would also establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program.

Two legislative referrals will also appear on the November ballot that concern campaign finance and tobacco taxes.

In 2019, 50.64 percent of Denver voters approved Initiated Ordinance 301, the Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative. The measure made the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibited the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.

Decriminalize Nature D.C., the campaign behind a similar initiative in Washington, D.C., filed 36,249 signatures with the D.C. Board of Elections. The campaign needs 24,836 valid signatures with a certain number from at least five of eight wards to qualify its initiative for the ballot.

A total of 183 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Oregon from 1995 to 2018. Of the total, 47.54 percent were approved.

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Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative will appear on ballots in November

On June 30, 2020, the Oregon Secretary of State completed the signature verification process for the Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative and officially certified the initiated state statute for the ballot. Yes on IP 44 is sponsoring the initiative and submitted 156,009 raw signatures. The state verified that 116,622 signatures or 74.75% of signatures submitted were valid.

In Oregon, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 6 percent of the votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. For 2020 initiatives, the required number of signatures was 112,020. Oregon is one of six states that use random sampling to verify signatures.

The Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative would reclassify certain drug offenses. Possession of a controlled substance in Schedule I-IV would be reclassified from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation. The initiative would also establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue.

The measure would give authority to the Director of the Oregon Health Authority to establish the Oversight and Accountability Council, which would give grants to the government or community-run organizations to create Addiction Recovery Centers. The centers would offer immediate assistance at any hour of the day, health assessments, intervention plans, peer support, and mobile or virtual outreach to clients. The measure would also establish the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund that would receive 20 percent of the funds in the Oregon Marijuana Account every quarter.

In the campaign’s press release announcing the certification, Janie Gullickson, chief petitioner and the executive director of the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon, said, “This initiative will save lives, and we urgently need it right now because the pandemic has exacerbated Oregon’s addiction epidemic.”

Yes on IP 44 previously announced on May 4 that they would be coordinating their campaign efforts to gather signatures with the Yes on IP 34 campaign that is sponsoring the Oregon Psilocybin Program Initiative to ensure the campaigns reached their signature goals. As of June 23, Yes on IP 34 had submitted 106,908 valid signatures of the 112,020 needed. The deadline to submit signatures was July 2.

Citizens of Oregon have the powers of initiated state statute, initiated constitutional amendment, and veto referendum. The Oregon State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively referred constitutional amendments or legislatively referred state statutes with a majority vote of each chamber.

The Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative was the first citizen initiative to qualify for the 2020 ballot. The legislature referred two measures to the 2020 ballot.

Between 1995 and 2018, about 45% (74 of 164) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots during even-numbered years were approved, and about 55% (90 of 164) were defeated.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/Oregon_2020_ballot_measureshttps://ballotpedia.org/Oregon_Drug_Decriminalization_and_Addiction_Treatment_Initiative_(2020)
https://ballotpedia.org/Oregon_Psilocybin_Program_Initiative_(2020)



Dexter appointed to Oregon House of Representatives

The county commissioners of Washington and Multnomah Counties appointed Maxine Dexter (D) to the Oregon House of Representatives on June 12. Dexter succeeds the late Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D), who died May 15.

Dexter represents District 33 in the state House, a position for which she is already running. She won the Democratic primary on May 19 with 39.6% of the vote. Dexter will face Dick Courter (R), who was unopposed in the Republican primary, in the Nov. 3 general election. The unexpired portion of Greenlick’s term ends on January 10, 2021.

All 60 seats in the Oregon House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. Democrats currently hold a 38-22 majority in the state House and an 18-12 majority in the state Senate.

Going into the 2020 state legislative elections, Oregon is one of 15 Democratic state government trifectas. A state government trifecta describes when one party holds the governor’s office and a majority in both chambers of the state legislature. There are currently 21 Republican state government trifectas and 14 divided governments.

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Oregon Psilocybin Program Initiative and Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative campaigns submit signatures ahead of July 2

On May 22, the Yes on IP 34 campaign, which is sponsoring the Oregon Psilocybin Program Initiative, submitted 135,000 signatures, and the Yes on IP 44 campaign, which is sponsoring the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative, submitted 147,000 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State.

Citizen initiative sponsors in Oregon need to collect 112,020 valid signatures by July 2 to qualify a measure for the ballot.

The Psilocybin Program Initiative would create a program and client screening process for administering psilocybin services under the Oregon Health Authority. The program would permit licensed service providers to administer a psilocybin product to pre-screened individuals 21 years of age or older. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (Drug Enforcement Administration |DEA), psilocybin is a “chemical obtained from certain types of fresh or dried mushrooms.” The mushrooms containing psilocybin are also known as magic mushrooms, hallucinogenic mushrooms, or shrooms. As of 2019, psilocybin was classified as a Schedule I drug by the DEA.

The Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative would establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue. It would also reclassify certain drug offenses. Possession of a controlled substance in Schedule I-IV would be reclassified from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation resulting in a $100 fine. Individuals who manufacture or distribute illegal drugs would still be subject to a criminal penalty.

In Oregon, signatures are verified using a random sample method. If a first round of signatures is submitted at least 165 days before an election and contains raw, unverified signatures at least equal to the minimum requirement, but verification shows that not enough of the submitted signatures are valid, additional signatures can be submitted before the final deadline. May 22 was 165 days before the November election date, which means that the campaigns may still submit signatures before the July 2 deadline if the random sample shows they did not collect the required number of verified signatures to qualify.

The campaigns had previously announced on May 4 that they would be coordinating their campaign efforts to ensure the campaigns reached their signature goals. Tom Eckert, the sponsor of IP 34, said, “IP 34 and IP 44 have always enjoyed a supportive relationship with regard to gathering signatures, and that will certainly continue until both campaigns cross the finish line and make the November ballot.”

Two measures have been certified to appear on the Oregon ballot in November 2020 so far. Both were referred to the ballot by the state legislature. A total of 183 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Oregon from 1995 to 2018. Of the 183, 47.5 percent were approved.

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Fagan wins Democratic nomination for Oregon Secretary of State

Shemia Fagan became the presumptive Democratic nominee for Oregon Secretary of State on May 22 after her opponent Mark Hass conceded. As of May 25, Fagan received 36.2% of the votes to Hass’s 35.6%, a margin of 3,343 votes. Jamie McLeod-Skinner, received 27.5% of the vote.

Fagan will face state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) in the general election.

Oregon elections are conducted entirely by mail. Preliminary results released on May 19 showed Hass with a lead over Fagan. By late Wednesday, Fagan had taken the lead as additional mail-in ballots were counted.

Fagan, a state senator, said she “spent her career fighting for working Oregonians, holding big corporations accountable, and speaking truth to power.” She received endorsements from the Oregon AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood PAC.

Hass, also a state senator, said he had “experience in getting big things passed into law” and had “specialized in the very things required of the Secretary of State.” He was endorsed by former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and The Oregonian.

McLeod-Skinner, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, said she was “the only candidate who has developed and implemented policy systems for land, water, and natural resource management.” She received endorsements from the Sierra Club of Oregon and Our Revolution Portland.

Unlike many states, Oregon’s secretary of state is first in the line of succession to the governorship. There is no lieutenant governor in Oregon. Four governors, including incumbent Kate Brown (D), were originally secretaries of state who succeeded to the office following a vacancy in the governorship.

Oregon is one of 14 states with divided triplex control, with a Democratic governor, a Democratic attorney general, and a Republican secretary of state. Incumbent Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R) was appointed to the office following the death of Dennis Richardson (R) in February 2019. Clarno did not seek a full term in 2020.


Oregon state legislative primaries see no incumbents defeated and an increase in competitiveness from 2018

May 19, 2020, was the ballot return due date for voters participating in Oregon’s 2020 primary elections. This year, 16 of the 30 seats in the state senate and all 60 seats in the state house are up for election. There were 33 contested state legislative primaries, six of which were for state senate seats and 27 of which were for state house seats. Twenty of the contested primaries were Democratic races and 13 were Republican. Oregon’s 33 contested primaries are a 32% increase from the 25 held in 2018 and are the most since at least 2010.

In all, 189 major-party candidates filed for state legislative seats in Oregon this year, including 104 Democrats and 85 Republicans. This is an 18% increase from the 160 candidates who filed in 2018.

Both chambers had an above-average number of open seats relative to recent elections. Between 2010 and 2018, an average of 2.2 state senate seats and 9.8 state house seats were open in Oregon each even-numbered year. This year, there were four open state senate seats and 12 open state house seats. This was more than in 2018—when there was one open senate seat and seven open house seats—but less than in 2016, when there were four open state senate seats and 14 open house seats.

Four incumbents faced primary challengers: state Sens. Ginny Burdick (D-18) and Bill Hansell (R-29) and state Reps. Paul Holvey (D-08) and Rob Nosse (D-42). All four advanced to the general election. An incumbent seeking re-election will appear on the general election ballot for 12 of the 16 senate districts and 48 of the 60 state house districts.

Oregon’s only state legislative district with both a contested Democratic primary and a contested Republican primary was House District 32. Located in Oregon’s northwestern corner, District 32 is currently represented by Tiffiny Mitchell, who is not running for re-election. Mitchell was the target of a recall campaign in 2019 that did not make the ballot.

Heading into the general election, Democrats hold an 18-12 supermajority in the state senate and a 37-22 supermajority in the state house. Because Gov. Kate Brown is also a Democrat, Oregon is one of 15 Democratic trifectas.

The winners of the general election will be responsible for drawing up new state legislative and congressional district boundaries after the 2020 census is completed.

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Voters decide Oregon’s state executive, legislative, judicial, and municipal primaries

The statewide primary for Oregon was held on May 19, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020. Due to Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, vote totals are continuing to be reported. Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:

Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General
• Secretary of State: Incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not file for re-election. Kim Thatcher (R) advanced from the Republican primary to the general election. The Democratic primary remained too close to call based on the unofficial results as of May 21. The candidates on the ballot included Shemia Fagan, Mark Hass, and Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
• Treasurer: Incumbent Tobias Read (D) and Jeff Gudman (R) advanced from the primary to the general election.
• Attorney General: Incumbent Ellen Rosenblum (D) and Michael Cross (R) advanced from the primary to the general election.

Sixteen seats in the Oregon State Senate
• Each incumbent who filed for re-election advanced from the primary to the general election. In Districts 18, 21, 22, and 23 no Republican candidates filed in the primary. All Democratic primaries saw at least one candidate file and advance to the general election.

All 60 seats in the Oregon House of Representatives
• Each incumbent who filed for re-election advanced from the primary to the general election. In Districts 34, 42, 43, 45, 46, and 48 no Republican candidates filed in the primary election. All Democratic primaries saw at least one candidate file and advance to the general election.

Three Oregon Supreme Court justices
• Position 1: Incumbent Thomas Balmer won re-election outright in the nonpartisan primary after winning 71.5% of the vote. He defeated Van Pounds.
• Position 4: Incumbent Chris Garrett was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Garrett automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 7: Incumbent Martha L. Walters was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Walters automatically advanced to the general election.

Four Oregon Court of Appeals justices
• Position 1: Incumbent Josephine H. Mooney was the only candidate to file in the nonpartisan primary. The election was canceled, and Mooney automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 9 (special election): Incumbent Jacqueline Kamins was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Kamins automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 11: This race remained too close to call based on the unofficial results as of May 21. The primary race included incumbent Joel S. DeVore and Kyle Krohn.
• Position 12: Incumbent Erin C. Lagesen was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Lagesen automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 13: Incumbent Douglas L. Tookey was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Tookey automatically advanced to the general election.

Ballotpedia also covered local elections in the following areas:
• Portland: The primary for mayor could not be called based on the unofficial results as of May 21.
• Multnomah County: The primary for Multnomah County Commission Districts 1, 3, and 4 could not be called based on the unofficial results as of May 21.

Oregon exclusively uses a vote-by-mail system. Voters may return their ballots to the office of the county clerk by mail or in person. Because of this system, there is no need for explicit absentee or early voting procedures.

Oregon’s primary was the 10th statewide primary to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide primaries will be held on June 2 in the following states:
• Idaho
• Indiana
• Iowa
• Maryland
• Montana
• New Mexico
• Pennsylvania
• South Dakota

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Portland voters approve income tax to fund homeless services and gas tax renewal

Voters in the Portland Metro area in Oregon approved Measure 26-210 on Tuesday, authorizing an income surtax and business tax to fund homeless services. The measure authorizes a 1% tax on household income above $200,000 and individual income above $150,000 and a 1% profit tax on businesses with gross receipts higher than $5 million. The income tax was designed to be on resident and non-resident income earned within the Metro area.

Metro officials estimated the combined revenue of the income and business taxes to be $248 million per year. The tax would take effect in 2021 and expire in 2030. Measure 26-210 required that the revenue raised by the income and business taxes be divided according to the proportion expected to be received from the three counties that make up Portland Metro. Multnomah County was set to receive 45.3% of the revenue, Washington County was set to receive 33.3%, and Clackamas County was set to receive 21.3%. A 20-member oversight committee will be formed to conduct and publish annual financial audits.

Vote totals available as of Wednesday afternoon showed voters approving Measure 26-210 by a vote of 63% to 37%. Voters in Multnomah county approved the measure by a vote of 77% in favor to 23% opposed. Voters in Washington County approved the measure by a vote of 52% in favor to 48% opposed. Voters in Clackamas county rejected the measure by a vote of 53% opposed to 47% in favor. Here Together Coalition led the campaign in support of Measure 26-210. Alliance for an Affordable Metro led the campaign in opposition to Measure 26-210.

Portland voters also approved Measure 26-209 to authorize the renewal of the city’s gas tax for four years at a rate of $0.10 per gallon and dedicate revenues to infrastructure repairs. City officials estimated the gas tax would raise $74.5 million over four years. The $0.10 gas tax was first approved in 2016. Vote totals available as of Wednesday afternoon showed voters approving Measure 26-209 by a vote of 77% to 23%. The measure was approved in each county.

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Perkins wins Oregon’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate

Jo Rae Perkins won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Oregon on May 19, defeating three other candidates. With an estimated 69% of ballots tallied, Perkins received 49% of the vote, followed by Paul Romero with 30.7%, Robert Schwartz with 11.5%, and John Verbeek with 8.3%. Perkins will run in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020 against incumbent Jeff Merkley (D). Merkley ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Perkins submitted a Candidate Connection survey. In her biography, she described herself as “a Main Street American who believes the US Constitution strongly and clearly spells out the role of the US Senate and the federal government.”

Both of Oregon’s U.S. Senate seats have been held by Democrats since Merkley defeated incumbent Gordon Smith (R) 49% to 45% in 2008. Major race rating outlets view the general U.S. Senate election in Oregon as Solid or Safe Democratic. Heading into the general election, Republicans hold 53 U.S. Senate seats to Democrats’ 45.


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