Signatures submitted for two Oregon ballot initiatives

Advocates await word on whether they have gathered enough valid signatures to qualify their ballot initiatives for Oregon’s Nov. 5 general election.

One proposed measure would rebate $750 per Oregonian annually, funded by a 3% surcharge on the current minimum tax paid by businesses with annual Oregon sales of at least $25 million. (The law sets $30,000 as the minimum for these businesses.)

The sole sponsor is Antonio Gisbert of Portland.

The other proposed measure would bar cannabis businesses from interfering with union-organizing efforts of their employees. The three sponsors, all from Tigard, are Dan Clay, Madison Walters and Fiona Yau-Luu.

By the deadline of July 5, the first campaign submitted 168,854 voter signatures; the second, 159,542. The state Elections Division has 30 days to determine via sampling whether each measure received the required 117,173 signatures, equal to 6% of the votes cast for governor in 2022.

Either or both would join three other ballot measures already referred by the 2023 Legislature to the 2024 general election.

One measure would set up an impeachment process by the Legislature for state officials. Under the proposed constitutional amendment, a two-thirds majority vote in the House would be required for an impeachment, and a two-thirds vote in the Senate required for removal and disqualification from holding any other office. (In the U.S. Congress, impeachment requires only a simple majority in the House.)

The issue came up during the ethics scandal that led to John Kitzhaber’s resignation as governor in February 2015, just 38 days into his fourth elected term. Oregon was among the few states with no impeachment procedure. A petition for a statewide recall could not be activated because the Oregon Constitution bars recalls in the first six months of an elected term, except for state legislators.

The House had proposed an impeachment process after Kitzhaber’s departure, but the Senate never acted on it until 2023.

No federal or state criminal charges resulted from the scandal. Kitzhaber settled with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission in 2018 with a fine of $20,000. Cylvia Hayes, his fiancée, settled in 2019 with a fine of $44,000.

A second measure would set up an independent commission with the authority to set salaries for legislators and other state officials. Unlike previous panels, this commission would have outright power to set pay, not merely recommend changes to the Legislature. A constitutional amendment is required because only the Legislature can approve spending.

The third measure would set ranked choice voting for statewide officials, members of Congress and president — but not state legislators or judges — starting in 2028. Corvallis and Benton County already use it; Portland city elections will use it starting Nov. 5, and Multnomah County will start it in 2026. Ranked choice voting would remain optional for all others, unless local charters bar it.

A state committee will write summaries known as ballot titles and explanations for the initiatives. A panel of state officials, known informally as the price-tag committee, will issue estimates of financial effects. The secretary of state will assign ballot numbers for the Nov. 5 election. 

pwong@pamplinmedia.com

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