All kinds of machinations and schemes surface when the end
of the legislative session is near. The most disingenuous and
deceptive scheme of this session was the attempt to pass
House Bill 2414 last Thursday.
It has become apparent that both the income tax increase,
and the corporate tax on gross receipts that were passed
earlier this session, will be referred to the people to decide
on the ballot. The efforts to refer these taxes began, as soon
as it became apparent that the Democrat majority intended to
levy nearly $800 million in tax increases on the people of
If a bill is passed by the legislature and is referred by
the people to a ballot measure for the people to decide, it
becomes merely a measure to be voted on by the people. It
cannot become law until the voters re-pass the bill in the
ballot measure by a majority yes vote. If the voters override
the legislature and reject the bill by a majority no vote, it
is the same as if the bill was defeated in the legislature.
It is well established in Oregon law, that a majority no
vote by the people on the ballot measure would mean that the
taxes are not to be levied.
In fact, an Oregon Supreme court decision
confirms that a referred measure will never become law unless
a majority of voters voting upon the referred bill vote in
favor of the bill. If the people vote in the affirmative, the
bill becomes an act. If they vote in the negative the measure
fails. Under current law the ballot measure must be worded so
that a yes vote means to override the vote of the legislature
and that a no vote must mean to sustain the vote of the
House Bill 2414 was a blatant attempt by the Democrat
majority to prevent Oregon voters from overriding their tax
bills. Their bill states that a yes vote is a vote to not
override the tax measures. It states that a no vote is an
affirmative vote to override the tax bills. So the Democrat
majority wants a yes vote to mean no, and for a no vote to
mean yes. Their stated reasoning was that voters are often too
confused to comprehend the language of a referral measure, and
that this new language would be easier for the poor confused
voters to understand. This reasoning conjures up the
discussions of the definition of what is really is.
Professional polling companies have long been aware that
voters who are undecided usually vote no. They also know that
more voters vote no when the measure is difficult to
In order to take advantage of those voter trends, House
Bill 2414 was written by the Democrat majority to require
language in a ballot measure referred by the people that would
both make the measure more difficult to understand, and make a
no vote mean yes. However, the same bill also requires the
current language, which requires a yes vote to mean yes and a
no vote mean no, for any ballot measure that is referred by
the legislature to the people.
This bill would have made George Orwell proud. It tilts the
voting in favor of referrals made by the legislature by
requiring that yes means yes while it tilts the voting against
referrals made by the people by requiring that a yes vote
means no. HB 2414 was a deliberate attempt to influence the
outcome of the upcoming ballot measure votes on the tax
measures by the people of Oregon.
House Bill 2414 was originally a simple bill that would
have allowed ballots to list names of no more than three
political parties that have nominated candidates for election.
The bill was “gutted and stuffed” with the deceptive language
late Wednesday evening by the Senate Rules Committee. This was
done by the Democrat Leadership in order to improve their odds
to sustain the corporate and personal income tax increases
previously passed on party line votes.
HB 2414 was then forced out of the Ways and Means
Committee on a straight party line vote even later at night.
No hearings or public input of any kind was allowed on the
bill! It was the Democrat intention to rush the bill to the
Senate floor for a vote Thursday morning.
The Republican minority refused to suspend the rules to
allow that vote to occur. This action gave the Republicans
another 24 hours to inform the voters of what was about to
happen to them.
The result of that information campaign was a veritable
tsunami of thousands of emails and phone calls from enraged
citizens. Newspapers and news broadcasts across the state
chastised and derided the Democrat majority for their blatant
attempt to hoodwink their constituents.
As a direct result of that citizen outrage, the Democrat
majority voted to send HB 2414 back to the Ways and Means
Committee to be further amended. Those amendments were to be
made Monday morning. How those amendments are to be worded is
unclear at this time. The bill will be scheduled for a Senate
vote Monday afternoon which is also scheduled to be the final
day of the session.
This kind of deceptive, last minute skullduggery makes it
difficult to be a legislator. How can the people trust a
legislature that purposely attempts to preempt the will of the
people that they represent? HB 2414 is yet another excellent
example of why the people do not, and can not, trust their
Our office received hundreds of emails and calls on this
bill within a 36 hour period. Constituents were rightfully
furious. My staff and I spent hours attempting to explain to
enraged voters what was going on, and why it was happening.
Unfortunately, your legislature has passed a number of
other bills this session designed to weaken the citizen’s
right to initiative and referendum.
Virtually all of the bills were passed on party
line votes. The bills are mostly designed to make it more
difficult and more expensive to place an initiative or
referral on the ballot. Some of the bills create new legal
hurdles, new and enhanced fines for failing to abide by the
new regulations, and even criminal charges for violating the
new complex of laws regarding initiatives.
Like HB 2414, these bills are described by the Democrat
majority as clarifications, and efforts to strengthen current
law. They state that these changes are needed to prevent the
people from abusing their constitutional rights to control
their legislature through initiative and referendum.
In my opinion, taken as a whole, the bills represents a
coordinated effort to diminish the peoples’ constitutionally
established initiative and referendum rights. The goal of the
majority party appears to be to make those rights useless.
House Bill 2186 passed out of the Senate Wednesday with 16
Democrat votes. This bill is undoubtedly the most
anti-business bill of the entire anti-business session. It is
vehemently and bitterly opposed by virtually all of Oregon’s
business, trucking, farming, timber, utilities and energy
House Bill 2186 directs the Oregon Department of
Environmental Quality (DEQ) to conduct a study of medium-duty
and heavy-duty trucks for the purpose of reducing greenhouse
gas emissions. It also gives DEQ the authority to adopt study
based rules to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This would create yet another low carbon fuel standard
(LCFS) with which Oregonians must comply. You may recall that
our state legislature imposed a LCFS in 2007 when it passed a
bill creating a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The RPS
requires the largest utilities in Oregon to provide 25 percent
of their retail sales of electricity from newer, clean,
renewable sources of energy by 2025. Similarly, smaller
utilities have comparable, but lesser, obligations. Renewable
energy from wind and solar sources costs an order of magnitude
more to produce. The utilities are allowed to recover all of
their prudent investment and production costs. Since these
cost increases are mandated by the RPS they are prudent and
they will be passed on the utility ratepayer.
The LCFS aspect of the RPS is the 10 percent ethanol
requirement in all fuel sold in Oregon. Unfortunately, fuel
producers and consumers are still struggling with that
requirement. Looking at the affects of the first LCFS, we see
that consumers are experiencing at least 10% worse mileage
with the ethanol blend resulting in more fuel consumption.
This fact alone brings the carbon footprint of E10 into
question. Notwithstanding a more than 50 cent per gallon
taxpayer subsidy and extensive state tax credits for building
the plants, two ethanol plants in Oregon are now in
bankruptcy. With these dismal observations from the first LCFS
in mind, it is apparent that more study of the issue is needed
before even more draconian energy regulations are unilaterally
imposed on Oregonians.
Moreover, the manner in which HB 2186 authorizes DEQ to
study the issue should be closely examined. While the RPS from
2007 provided guidelines and expectations for implementation
of the LCFS, HB 2186 delegates a very broad amount of
unchecked authority to DEQ to develop this supplementary LCFS.
The bill does not provide the department with any direction,
but allows it to adopt any standard or goal that has already
been implemented by another state. We may expect that Oregon
will soon be required to obey laws made in the California
Assembly. Furthermore, the bill does not require DEQ to study
how to implement the adoption of a new LCFS, nor how the
adoption would affect Oregonians and Oregon businesses. No
cost benefit analysis has been made is contemplated to be made
in the future. Although rules implemented by DEQ with t he
goal of reducing emissions would be subject to legislative
review, the current legislative majority is very likely to
adopt whatever rules the ODEQ proposes.
The six billion K-12 budget was passed again this week
overriding governor Kulongoski’s veto. I voted for the budget
in the Ways and Means Committee, voted again for the budget on
the Senate floor, and voted for the budget a third time in
voting to override the veto. The first vote to override was a
procedural vote when the Democrat majority moved to override
the veto without notifying the Republican minority and while
ongoing negotiations were occurring. I voted no on the first
veto override for that reason. I joined six other Republican
Senators in voting to override the Governor’s veto and sustain
the K-12 budget as previously submitted when the Republican
minority had been properly informed and when the negotiations
were completed. The media characterization that I changed my
vote twice demonstrates both a misunderstanding of the
legislative process as well as a failure to ask what actually