OIA alert: HB 2414 designed to mislead voters

By Oregonians In Action

Last night, without a public hearing and in a 2 minute work session, the Joint Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature did a complete rewrite of House Bill 2414 (in legislative terms, a “gut and stuff”). As a result of their amendments, House Bill 2414 makes fundamental changes to the Oregon initiative and referral process, changes that are designed to deliberately mislead voters when a legislative act is referred by the people to the ballot. These middle of the night, sneak attack bills are not common in Oregon, and are a new low for the Oregon Legislature. We need to put a stop to HB 2414 immediately!

Under Oregon’s initiative and referendum system, the citizens of Oregon retain the right to force a public vote on legislation enacted by the Oregon legislature. If the legislature passes a bill that the public opposes, the citizens of Oregon can refer that bill to the public for a vote. In essence the public becomes the legislature on that particular issue. If the public doesn’t like the bill, they vote “no.” If the public likes the bill, they vote “yes” just like the legislature. Last night’s sneak attack amendments to HB 2414 changes the process completely. If this bill passes, when a bill gets referred to the voters, voters would vote “yes” to reject the bill and “no” to approve the bill. In other words, under HB 2414, “yes” means “no” and “no” means “yes”! Confused? Well so will every voter on any measure that is referred to the public for a vote.

If HB 2414 passes, it will overturn the law that has been in place in Oregon for over 100 years, and that has worked fine.

So why is the legislature working behind closed doors to confuse the public?
Because groups on both the right and the left have threatened to refer to the voters bills enacted by this legislature that have raised income and gas taxes, and a majority of the legislature wants the tax hikes to stay in the worst possible way. If HB 2414 passes, voters will be confused on whether to vote “yes” or “no” if they object to their taxes being raised, making it more difficult to defeat the legislature’s tax hikes.

OIA is not a group that works on tax issues, but we believe strongly in the right of the people to use the initiative and referendum system that has been in place in Oregon for over a century. HB 2414 is an attempt to deliberately confuse voters and hurt the initiative and referendum system for what the legislature views as a short term gain. This is an absolutely ridiculous bill, and is opposed by groups of all political persuasions.

The legislature is wrapping up quickly, maybe as soon as tonight or tomorrow, so HB 2414 is going to move with extreme speed. It is important that you contact your legislators immediately and tell them to VOTE NO on HB 2414, and stop trying to deliberately confuse the voters. Make sure that you contact your legislators (your Senator and your Representative) and tell them that you are their constituent and that this vote matters to you.

I’m sorry for the short notice, but this gives you an idea of what happens at the legislature in the closing days of the session.


Dave Hunnicutt
Oregonians In Action