2006-11-03 23:40 in /politics/oregon
I avoided looking closely at Measure 44 until this evening because I figured anything to do with prescription drug coverage would be either mind-numbingly dull or mind-bogglingly complex or both. However, in this case, there’s already a program in place where the state negotiates reduced prices on drugs which are then available to poor seniors without coverage. This measure just extends that program to all residents of the state without prescriptions drug coverage. Since the administrative systems are already in place, and the negotiations already take place, there’s no marginal cost to extend the system to a larger pool of people. Consequently, there isn’t much not to like about this measure.
Aside: Despite the fact that I can easily put up a couple strawman arguments against this measure, apparently there’s not enough people opposed to it to come up with $500 to put a statement in the voter guide. So, this is one of those rare cases where there are only statements in favor.
2006-11-03 15:50 in /politics/oregon
Measure 40 is not one that I have a strong immediate reaction to. To begin with, the whole electing judges thing has always felt weird to me. I never know who to vote for, and I usually just abstain. I’ve never given much thought to the exact mechanism by which judges ought to be elected, as a result. Since my default position on ballot measures is “no”, that’s where I’d generally lean here. Reinforcing that is the fact that the motivation behind this measure seems to be that some people don’t like the current batch of judges, and want to change the judges by changing the rules of the elections; which is a sort of thing that I generally disapprove of.
2006-11-03 15:50 in /politics/oregon
On the surface this pair of measures, 46 & 47 appear reasonable. I’m not one who believes that money is actually morally equivalent to speech. However, as I’ve looked more closely at these measures, I’ve come to oppose them.
Measure 46 is the enabler; it amends the constitution to permit laws restricting campaign contributions and expenditures. This is required because previous laws were struck down by the Oregon Supreme Court as violating the state constitution. The text is fairly short, and I’ll reproduce it entirely here:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the people through the initiative process, or the Legislative Assembly by a three-fourths vote of both Houses, may enact and amend laws to prohibit or limit contributions and expenditures, of any type or description, to influence the outcome of any election.
My concern is due to the last two phrases. “Of any type or description” is overly broad, in my mind, and could permit restriction on all sorts of speech and expression, not just monetary ones. I also think there is too much vagueness in what constitutes “influenc[ing] the outcome of [a] election.” This could open the door to restricting freedom of the press, as well as personal speech. From a technical standpoint, the way this measure modifies the constitution, by asserting to trump all other provisions, is undesirable. It unnecessarily creates the possibility of all kinds of unforeseen consequences. If the goal is to explicitly define the expenditure of money as outside of the realm of protected speech, it would be preferable to modify the sections of the constitution guaranteeing those protections to specify these exceptions.
Measure 47 is the follow-on law, which can only take effect if 46 passes. It creates various limitations on campaign contributions and expenditures. It is lengthy and complicated, and I haven’t been able to read the full text, much less understand it completely. This alone is sufficient justification for me to vote against the measure (or at least abstain); I cannot bring myself to vote for a piece of legislation I haven’t actually read.
It does appear that the authors attempted to be careful in drafting this measure, but there are a couple issues that I found fairly easily. It excludes from the definition of ‘contribution’ and ‘expenditure’: “Any bona fide news story, commentary or editorial distributed through the facilities of any media organization, including any television or radio station, newspaper, magazine or other regularly published periodical.” Note, however, that blogs, and indeed any online publisher, do not receive explicit protection. The measure also forbids any individual from spending more than $10,000 in a given year to “support or oppose any candidate or political party”. This potentially prevents an individual from self-publishing a political book. Individuals under 16 are prohibited from spending more than $500. The intent here is to prevent shill spending by parents, but it also serves to further disenfrancise politically interested teens, for whom activism is their only political voice. It’s quite conceivable for a modern teenager to be running a personal political website, spending more than $500, earned either through a part-time job or from ad revenue off the site itself.
As I said initially, I am sympathetic to the goals of this legislation, but unfortunately I think that these measures just open up too many potential problems. Consequently, I can’t support them.