Oregonians have spoken. Here are the results of the five measures that we thought would be most interesting to Central Oregon Community College students.
Measure 86 (failed)
Oregon’s attempt to fund additional financial aid for university education and professional and career training was defeated by Oregon voters, 58 percent to 42 percent.
If passed, Measure 86 would have allowed for the state to incur debt that would be paid back by Oregon taxpayers over 30 years. The interest on the borrowed money would have generated a fund for post-secondary education that would grow over time.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the Oregon Opportunity Grant was able to fund 33,500 scholarships last year totaling $51.6 million – only one-fifth of eligible applications – through money received from the general fund During the recession, Oregon cut aid to public colleges by 34 percent, leaving Oregon colleges with the fourth-lowest funding budget in the nation.
Through a proposed $100 million bond investment, the measure would have provided for an additional $5 to $8 million in scholarships for eligible students each year.
“For those students who are getting the money, it makes a big difference,” said Kevin Multop, Director of Financial Aid at COCC. “You’re talking about a 10 percent or more increase in funding and I believe the plan was that that would grow over time and it would become something that would not be based on the economic forecast of the budget. But I guess voters just felt like that wasn’t how they wanted to fund the Oregon Opportunity Grant program, so I guess it’s back to the drawing board.”
This year, 878 COCC students have received grants through the Oregon Opportunity Grant. However, the majority of eligible students did not receive grants due to a lack of funding.
Measure 88 (failed)
If passed, Measure 88 would have provided individuals with driver cards without requiring them to provide proof of legal presence in the U.S.
Despite the fact the the bill was passed by legislators and was signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber in 2013, 58,000 signatures on a voter petition suspended the law and put it on the Nov. 2014 ballot where Oregonians voted down the measure, 67 percent to 33 percent.
To obtain the driver card, individuals would have had to pass both the written and driving tests, provide proof of residency in Oregon for one year and provide proof of their identity and date of birth. The driver card would have also allowed individuals to obtain liability insurance.
The license would not have served as an identification card in any other capacity, such as for air travel or voting, and did not grant any rights of citizenship.
However, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, the way the measure was written on the ballot made it an immigration issue, not about ensuring safer drivers.
“Measure 88 would have increased public safety in Oregon by ensuring that all drivers who travel our roads have demonstrated safe driving and knowledge of the rules of the road – and can obtain liability insurance,” said Becky Straus, Legislative Director of the ACLU, in a press release. “This election has done nothing to eliminate the very real and very urgent need for all drivers to be licensed in our state. Unfortunately, the campaign instead became a focus for voter outrage with our broken federal immigration system.”
Many opponents to the measure assert that immigrants must go through the legal process of immigration in order to be awarded the benefits of American citizens, including driving.
“It was an overwhelming defeat for a bad bill,” said Jim Ludwick, Communications Director of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. “It encouraged and rewarded people who are in the country illegally.”
Measure 89 (passed)
Article 1, Section 20 of the Oregon State Constitution reads “Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.”
The passing of Measure 89 will amend Article 1 of the Oregon Constitution to include the following passage: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.”
Those for the amendment argued that, if not expressly forbidden, there is nothing in the Oregon Constitution that forbids discrimination based on sex that is not also up for person interpretation.
In an interview with KTVZ News, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, chief petitioner for Measure 89, pointed out the unjust historical context of Article 1.
“Article 1 Section 20 in the Oregon Constitution was written in 1857, ratified in 1859,” Littrell said. “So those same words we live under today are the exact same words that somehow didn’t protect women against being discriminated from voting.”
While most Oregonians agreed, 64 percent to 34 percent, that passing a measure that would ensure the equal treatment of individuals under the law, regardless of sex, was an important thing to do, there are those who see the amendment as unnecessary and redundant.
“On Election Day, Oregonians added an explicit symbol of women’s rights to our state constitution by approving an Equal Rights Amendment,” said Becky Straus, Legislative Director of the ACLU of Oregon, in a press release. “While the ACLU of Oregon opposed Measure 89 as a strategy for advancing women’s rights because we viewed it as duplicative of protections already provided for in the state constitution, we applaud the support that Oregonians have placed in the value of equal rights regardless of sex.”
Measure 91 (passed)
In the 2014 midterm elections, Oregon became one of three states, along with Alaska and Washington D.C., to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use.
However, the win was far from unanimous, passing 55 percent to 45 percent, and has left Oregonians with a seemingly endless amount of questions and what-if scenarios for lawmakers and regulators to contend with.
Here is what the law will include:
- The growth, sale and distribution of marijuana will be regulated and controlled by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the Oregon Health Commission and the State Department of Agriculture.
- Revenue from the sale of marijuana will be distributed as follows: “40% to Common School Fund; 20% for mental health/alcohol/drug services; 15% for state police; 20% for local law enforcement; 5% to Oregon Health Authority.”
- It will only be sold to persons 21 years of age or older;
- Marijuana is still illegal under federal law;
- Individuals are allowed to be in possession of four marijuana plants, eight ounces of usable marijuana, less than 16 ounces total in usable form and less than 72 ounces in liquid form at any given time and solely for individual use;
- Regulations for the Medical Marijuana Act will remain in place;
- The law will go into effect for individuals on July 1, 2015;
- The OLCC will established the relevant rules and regulations for distributors and will begin receiving applications for licenses on January 4, 2016.
While many are happy about the measure passing, many are still weary about what a legal marijuana culture will mean for Oregonians.
“When you legalize a drug, it brings a different mindset to society that says ‘oh, I guess it’s okay,’ but the problem is that affects children,” said Tom Bergin, Clatsop County Sheriff and past president and current spokesperson and liaison for the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association ‘No on 91’ committee. “You’re going to see the edibles and the candies coming in […] and that’s all directed towards kids.”
Bergin also pointed out that DUIs for driving while under the influence of marijuana have increased in both Colorado and Washington. However, it is more difficult to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana than alcohol because it can stay in a person’s system for weeks after a person has ingested it.
Blood tests can determine if someone is under the influence based on established thresholds of THC nanograms, but a person may also display other signs of being under the influence that could indicate a DUI offense.
As a federally funded institution, COCC officials are currently under obligation to enforce the current drug and alcohol policy. This means that marijuana will not be allowed any anywhere on the COCC campus, including in residence halls.
In the narrowest vote of the election, Measure 92 requiring “food manufacturers, retailers to label ‘genetically engineered’ foods as such” was voted down, 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent.
In a quote taken from their website, the Oregon GMO Right to Know campaign argued that “Labeling GMO foods would assist shoppers who are concerned about the potential effects of increased pesticides and herbicides to make informed purchasing decisions at the store.”
The campaign, which was the second-largest contributor if favor of the measure with $1,733,940.13, insists that the measure is not anti-GMO.
“The Oregon Right to Know initiative is about transparency and empowering shoppers. This is not a ban on genetically modified food and this is not a debate on the science. It’s about consumers getting the information we need to make our own decisions about the food we feed our families. Give us the information and we will make our own decisions.”
The Monsanto Company, which was the second-largest contributor in opposition to the measure with $4,085,450, insists that the measure would have led to costly and ineffective labeling standards.
“We’re pleased that Oregon’s farmers, food producers, retailers and especially consumers will not be subject to this costly measure and will not be unnecessarily economically impacted by the burden these labels would create,” said Monsanto spokesperson Charla Lord in a press release. “Like many others, we support a federal approach to GMO labeling, rather than a patchwork of state laws. The rejection of these measures avoids this patchwork and the incremental increases in the average annual grocery bills of their consumers.”
While Oregon voters were evenly split on the issue, the campaign funds certainly were not.
“In Oregon, opponents of labeling raised more than $18 million, making the ballot measure the most expensive issue campaign in the state’s history,” reported National Public Radio after the elections. “Most of that money came from large seed corporations like Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer, and from processed food companies like Pepsi, Land O’ Lakes and Smucker’s. All of that outside money opened labeling opponents up to criticism of being tied to corporate interests.”
Kelli Pangle | The Broadside