Mid-Term Elections Measures

It is time to vote again in Oregon and Jackson and Josephine Counties and with the deadline approaching to get your ballot in to a drop box you should have a basic overview of what each ballot measure is about and who the candidates are for Jackson and Josephine Counties.

Measure 70 would extend the availability of low interest home loans to Oregon veterans.

Currently the Oregon Constitution states that Oregon veterans may receive low interest home loans from the Oregon War Veteran’s Fund; they must receive an honorable discharge and must have served at least 210 consecutive days or been released because of an injury or disability. They also must apply for the loan within 30 years of service.

The measure would allow more veterans to be eligible for loans, including National Guard veterans, others who have honorably served overseas and also veterans who have never seen combat. It would make the loans a lifetime benefit, not just 30 years after service, and would increase the number of honorably discharged veterans and spouses that survive veterans who are eligible for loans. There is no expected cost to the state or communities if this measure is passed.

Measure 71 would change the law that the state legislature is only required to meet once every two years with no limit on the duration of the meeting.

If passed, the measure would require the legislature to meet every 160 days. It would also allow regular sessions to be extended by five days with a two thirds affirmative vote of each chamber.

“I think the state senate should have to meet every year. We have a changing environment every week, these changes should be addressed as soon as possible, not next year,” said Rogue Community College freshman Connie Dawson.

The direct cost of the measure on local or state government expenses would not exceed $100,000 if passed.

Measure 72 amends the State Constitution to allow for a new exception to state law with regard to much much money the state can borrow. The new law requires the state not to borrow more than $50,000 with a few exceptions.

It would allow the state to issue general obligation bonds to finance acquisition, construction, remodeling, repair, or furnishing of any state owned or operated property. These bonds are the cheapest method of borrowing and would cost less than the current system in place.

“I think it is dumb to not be using the cheapest method of borrowing. The state is in trouble financially and any money saved is a good thing. We should put the saved money into education,” said Dawson. It is estimated that the bonds would save $5 million in interest of each $100 million borrowed. If the state would have had this system in place in 2009 it would have saved about $38 million on interest owed to lenders.

Measure 73 sets mandatory minimum sentences for certain repeat sex offenders and repeat intoxicated drivers. The measure requires a minimum sentence of 25 years for a major felony sex crime if the person has previously been convicted of a major felony sex crime; under current law, the minimum sentence ranges from five years, 10 months, or 25 years depending on the circumstances of the offense and the offender.

The measure would classify a repeat intoxicated driver as someone who has three convictions of driving while intoxicated in a ten year period. The new law would require a minimum incarceration of 90 days if convicted for the third time. The measure states that the state government will fully reimburse county jails for the cost of incarcerating a person under the influence of intoxicants under the new measure.

Measure 74 would change state law regarding the distribution of medical marijuana. It would direct the Oregon Health Authority, formerly the Department of Human Services, to establish an OHA regulated medical marijuana supply system as a component to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. The supply system would be funded through program fees. Under current law, registered cardholders for medical marijuana must grow their own or have it grown for them by a caregiver or a third-party grower. In addition to independent growers, the measure would authorize licensed dispensaries to dispense medical marijuana to registered cardholders.

Licensed producers may provide medical marijuana to licensed dispensaries. The measure requires a riminal background check and prohibits licensing persons who have been convicted within five years of certain violent felonies, certain felony theft offenses, or manufacturing or delivering drugs. Dispensary mployees must be at least 21 years old and be Oregon residents. The dispensaries would be subject to HA inspection and financial reporting. If passed, the OHA must adopt rules that would govern the ispensaries. The measure also requires OHA to create a program assisting low income and needy cardholders to obtain medical marijuana. It would also allow OHA to conduct or fund research on medical marijuana and directs them to report the results. The measure would raise state spending etween $400,000 and $600,000 beginning in 2012.

Measure 75 would authorize a major destination resort casino to be built on the site of the Multnomah
Kennel Club in Wood Village, Oregon. The measure would allow the owner of the former Multnomah Kennel Club, or the person authorized by that owner as a gaming operator, to construct and operate on
casino resort on this site.

The casino would be allowed to have electronic gaming devices, table games, off-track pari-mutuel racing and other games of chance. The owner may not offer live animal racing or sports bookmaking. The measure would require the Oregon State Lottery Commission to issue a 15-year license to the gaming operator to operate games authorized by the measure, if the gaming operator meets specified qualifications/conditions, to operate casino games. Currently the Oregon Constitution prohibits casinos in Oregon off of Native American land. The Constitution would have to be amended and the agreement with the native tribes of Oregon would be broken by this measure. The Oregon Lottery Commission would be required to provide oversight and regulation of the gaming activities.

Measure 75 creates the Oregon Job Growth, Education and Communities Fund. Each month, 25 percent of the casino’s adjusted gross gaming revenues will be deposited into this fund. Each year the fund will place 50 percent of the revenues to all public school districts to be used for classroom instruction. The other percentages of the fund will go to the following: 30 percent to all Oregon counties, 4 percent to he host city where the taxable casino is located, 3 percent to Oregon State Police, 3 percent each to the cities that adjoin the host city, 2 percent to the host county, and 2 percent to the Problem Gambling Treatment Fund.

Measure 76 would amend the Constitution in regards to the Oregon Lottery and the Parks and Natural Resources Fund. Since 1999 the Oregon Constitution has dedicated 15 percent of net Oregon Lottery proceeds to a Parks and Natural Resources Fund. The constitution requires an affirmative vote of the people in 2014 to continue the 15 percent dedication after that year. Measure 76 repeals the requirement for a vote in 2014 and continues the dedication. For 2011, the dedication to the fund is estimated to be $87 million.

Trevor Williams, a journalism student at SOU, prepared this overview of some of the issues facing citizens in Jackson and Josephine Counties this election. The information obtained is are excerpts from the Oregon Secretary of State website and 2010 Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet.

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