Measure 101: things that make you go hmmm

The coming ballot measure to repeal parts of this year’s HB2391 has brought out a parade of the bizarre from its opponents. Crass partisanship went from merely bad to mockingly banal in three ways.

First, who are the opponents? As it’s currently structured, a no vote repeals the healthcare taxes. A yes vote keeps them.

Second, are there any taxes to repeal? This week the Oregon Supreme Court accepted the argument that the ballot title need not include the word “taxes,” citing precedent that euphemisms will do, but what about the more recent precedent of National Federation of Independent Businesses vs. Sibelius? Progressives that celebrated Obamacare being declared a tax by the Supreme Court of the United States are now celebrating an Oregon State Supreme Court ruling that this referendum need not be so labeled.

Who gets the final say in how this ballot title is composed? It won’t be a court. Democratic leaders in the Oregon Legislature passed a one-off rule that the normal procedures would be sidestepped and a partisan-packed committee would write the title instead. They so botched the job that our state’s supreme court kicked it back to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

There will be no judicial review of whatever language our attorney general approves; so Representative Julie Parrish (R-West Linn), one of this measure’s chief petitioners, had a clear message for the press: “the real test will be whether or not AG Rosenblum will follow the law.” I like how she really goes on to throw down the gauntlet for our top state law enforcement official: “The court gave her direct and specific instructions, based on years of case law, for how to correctly and fairly modify the ballot title caption, Yes/No vote statements, and Measure Summary in accordance with that law. Failure to follow the court’s direction will not only call into question her integrity, it would be a direct affront to Oregonians who expect our elected attorney general to uphold the law.”

Third, why vote in January? That’s a good question. Obviously, voter turnout will be low. In their moment of hubris, perhaps Oregon Democrats forgot that Republicans in this state, though smaller in number, turn out at a higher rate. A January vote might actually put Tina Kotek at a disadvantage in defeating (or passing?) this referendum. Hmmm?

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of A Brief History of Political Cultural Change

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Medicaid, State Taxes | 3 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Ballot title is pretty much the ball game on whether a measure is approved or not approved by Oregon voters. Somewhat related to this notion, you get a real appreciation of how people succumb to easy slogans covering over unintended consequences and costs by reading the book: Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, who is a psychology expert who won a Nobel Prize in economics for his work on behavioral economics. When I am done with reading this book, I’ll try to write a review for it.

  • Tork Price

    What does $1,067,000 in CAMPAIGN CA$H buy?
    A New Healthcare Sales Tax and a Rigged Election!
    Wonder how the heck we got a January Special Election?
    What about a crazy ballot title no one understands?
    Here’s the process in 3 Easy Steps!
    FIRST: Pass new taxes benefitting campaign donors while robbing $78 Million in healthcare tax dollars* from individuals, college students, small businesses, non-profits, and public schools. Just for fun, tax local hospitals too, and exempt big corporations, unions, and insurance companies! (*House Bill 2391,
    SECOND: When voters want to vote on this crazy tax scheme, pass another law to rig the election! Move the date to January when voter turnout is low. Bill taxpayers $3.32 million* for kicks! Oh, and let a partisan committee write the ballot title and steal judicial authority from the State Supreme Court. Confuse and mislead voters by calling it an “assessment” instead of a tax! (
    THIRD: Accept Medicaid Campaign CA$H after the new laws pass, and before the partisan ballot committee meets. Offer to host a private meeting for campaign donors*
    outside of public view. Then let the partisan Attorney General ignore
    the courts and make the ballot title even more confusing. (*Referendum 301 Committee comments,
    Yes, politicians actually did that!
    So, which Representatives are beholden to Medicaid Special interests?*
    Representative, Contribution
    Kotek -$215,250
    Nathanson – $97,250
    Clem – $76,500
    McKeown – $72,250
    Barnhart – $52,750
    Rayfield – $50,250
    Barker – $48,000
    Williamson – $47,250
    Nosse – $37,500
    Keny-Guyer – $35,250
    Witt – $31,500
    Greenlick – $30,750
    Doherty – $27,750
    Lively – $26,750
    Lininger – $24,500
    Gomberg – $22,750
    Fahey – $20,750
    Smith-Warner – $20,250
    Holvey – $19,750
    Boone – $14,250
    Evans – $12,250
    Malstrom – $9,500
    Meek – $9,000
    Sanchez – $8,500
    Piluso – $8,000
    Marsh – $7,250
    Reardon – $6,750
    Hernandez – $6,000
    Gorsek – $5,750
    Helm – $5,000
    Mclain – $4,000
    Sollman – $4,000
    Power – $3,750
    Bynum – $3,000
    Alonso-Leon – $3,000
    Enough! Take back your healthcare AND defend our democracy!

    VOTE NO on 101!

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