Measure 37: Rigging the process

There is nothing that Democrat legislators hate more than Measure 37, the popular land use planning law that requires the government to compensate you for taking the use of your land or forego the taking.

For over thirty years, Democrat legislators and Democrat governors have struggled to bar any changes to Oregon’s abusive centralized land use control system. Governor Tom McCall and other founders of our land use laws knew that our laws would create unfair situations for Oregon property owners, and urged the legislature to pass a law to relieve these problems and make our laws more fair. But Democrat legislators and governors have stopped every attempt at reform and offered no plan of their own.

So the voters took matters into their own hands. When the original version of Measure 37 (Measure 7) was passed in 2000, Governor Kitzhaber, who was charged with defending the new law, instead met with the measure’s opponents to craft a litigation strategy to overturn the law he was supposed to defend. The result was predictable – the Democrat appointed Oregon Supreme Court voided the measure on technical grounds, and Kitzhaber got his wish.

The voters next passed Measure 37, and another Democrat appointed judge voided it. This time, however, her reasons were so spurious that even the Democrat appointed Supreme Court couldn’t stomach her decision. They overturned it unanimously in a stinging rebuke of every rationale that Judge Mary Merten James created out of smoke and mirrors.

Having failed in court, the Democrats tried to gut Measure 37 in the 2005 legislative session, but House Speaker Karen Minnis (R-Wood Village) told the Democrats to go fly a kite.

Having failed again, Governor Kulongoski finally decided to listen to the public, and formed a non-partisan Commission to fix Oregon’s broken land use system, not Measure 37.

But last November, the Democrats gained control of both houses of the legislature. Drunk with power, they made decimation of Measure 37 priority number one, while Kulongoski’s non-partisan Commission was ignored, de-funded, and told to go home and shut up.

Democrat legislative leaders created a joint committee to make “changes” to Measure 37. While the joint committee was weighted in favor of the Democrats, they made a major mistake by allowing Senator Larry George (R — Sherwood) to sit on the committee. Prior to being elected, George served as Executive Director of Oregonians in Action and was one of the prime movers behind both Measure 7 and Measure 37.

Sen. George’s persistent attempts to force the committee to do its work in the public eye rankled Democrat leaders. The joint committee was soon abandon to a “process” in which Governor Kulongoski and a room full of lawyers (including lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office, who are supposed to defend the law, not try and repeal it) crafted a bill to gut Measure 37.

But there was one problem. No Republican would vote for the Governor’s bill, and neither would a couple of Democrat legislators who objected to the legislature overturning Measure 37.

Lacking a voting majority, the Governor and his lackeys finally agreed to refer their bill to the people. Only then could they obtain the Democrat votes necessary to gut Measure 37. On a straight party line vote (all Democrats voting for, all Republicans opposed), the legislature created Measure 49, and scheduled the bill for a vote this November.

The skullduggery wasn’t over. Governor Kulongoski had been polling voter acceptance of his attempt to gut Measure 37 and realized that the only way to con voters into voting for Measure 49 was to create a highly misleading ballot title — the first and last thing voters read before voting.

This was a problem for the Democrats. To prevent Governors and legislators of whatever party from using ballot titles to mislead voters, Oregon law demands that the public have the right to comment on a ballot title and appeal it to the Oregon Supreme Court if necessary.

The Democrat leadership knew that the public wouldn’t stand for their ballot title, and that the Oregon Supreme Court would likely reject it. So they created an exception to the law — just for themselves. Democrat leaders wrote the ballot title for Measure 49, barred all public comments, and prohibited Oregon Supreme Court review of their handiwork. Whatever it takes to repeal Measure 37, they will do.

This is one of those instances where it doesn’t matter whether you like Measure 37 or not. This is one of those instances in which you have to decide if everyone, including the Governor and the legislature, should play by the same rules. I think they should.

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Posted by at 06:04 | Posted in Measure 37 | 13 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    These fool Dems are so pathetically out of touch they make me sick.

  • Peter

    These Dems were elected by promising to undo M37, approve gay marriage and to increase taxation for higher spending on public services.
    I’m proud to have voted for them and look forward to a better Oregon as Republicans are futher purged from any positions of influence.

    • RedAvenger


      Please find me the Democrat campaign piece that says “If elected, I will support gay marriage and repeal Measure 37 and raise your taxes.” You can’t.

      The reason is that Democrat policies only become law when the people are not looking. You cannot be honest about what you believe and want to do or you will never be in power.

      And so you will mince words and use Orwellian doublespeak to get elected, and then hide behind a curtain of media complacency or outright enabling. You do so backed up by the full faith and credit of the court system, which will not challenge you except in the rare instance like M37.

      With no real oppostion, the liberal establishment becomes a monarchy in a sense, and the opposition, Republicans, become neutered under the one party system.

      As this happens, corruption takes over, and people lose sight of doing what is right in order to instead fether their own nest. Eventually, you decide you need an opposition to rescue you from the monster you have created. But there is nobody left to provide the checks and balances you need to oppose it. Such is the tyranny you are unwittingly working to establish.

      Such tyrannies have always depended on well meaning people like yourself to take root.

      But in a purely factual sense, your message is just plain wrong. Democrats may wink and nod and everyone knows they want to do this stuff, but they did not run on the things you spoke of.


    I’ll be voting to keep M37 the way it is, I think the people of Oregon will see through this “Fix” and do the same.

  • Steve Plunk

    Peter makes it very plain what the Dems have promised and why he and many others voted for them. Many Republicans stayed home rather than recognize the threat that the modern Democratic party is to our way of life. Hopefully in the next election cycle we will realize that while Republicans have shortcomings they are better than the alternative.

    Undo the will of the citizens on measure 37, allow gay marriage which is not supported by most Oregonians, and raise taxes for an already bloated and institutionally corrupt state government, that’s what our Oregon Democrats are all about.

    Like Crawdude, I’ll be voting to maintain 37 the way it is and be explaining to all who will listen that it is a bigger issue than just 37. It’s about legislative arrogance and the governing with the consent of the governed. Tricksy Dems need to be put in their place with a resounding defeat of this change.

  • Shirleydean

    FOR SALE…….28 remaining acres, all that’s left of 100 year old family owned land, kept for me through 5 generations of Oregonians. A place in Polk co. where I was supposed to ‘live’……but thanks to the gestapo held gov’t of Oregoon I am forbidden to make a life on my own land. So as you happy Portland and Salem city dwellers drive out on sundays to enjoy the country side, I hope you’ll remember, who has stewarded these lands, paid taxes, and gotten next to nothing in return on these pristine locales. I am a bitter oregon born citizen, I resent the underhanded, slicksters in gov’t who over and over tell me what I can do with my land, demand high fees for any services I try to get, inflate all the permits because I’m special(measure 37 claim) and on and on, All these things I try to put aside and not despise the gov’t’s actions, but the one thing I will never forget or forgive is the treatment of my elderly parents….who for years have fought to be ‘allowed’ to use their own land.So, I swear if I ever meet anyone of these so called gov’t leaders (sic) on the street I know I will kick them so hard they won’t soon forget it. How’s that for being a proud oregoon.

    • Anonymous

      you’re a joke. you got plenty of benefit from your farm land or you would have gotten rid of it long ago. you may have lost out on building a house because you were too slow to act. you and your family let those opportunities go by. be a responsible conservative and take responsibility for your lack of action. oh waaaaa you want the government to subsidize your fees? why should i pay for YOU to develop? you should bear the cost of all the services you require… just as any good conservative would say. you need to seek counseling for your bitterness and anger problem. to think someone would take out thier aggressions and anger on someone who had nothing to do with your families plight. please, get a life

      • Sdean

        No time for anger management,12 hour work days most of the time growing food for people like you. Maybe someday if you own lands and learn what it’s like to give your life to it to keep it viable and productive, you’ll get the idea of how it feels to have others tell you how you can use it. Lots of them people like you who have probably never grown anything. Oh, and I never said I wanted special treatment, if you had done your homework and checked it out, you’d find plenty of counties that tacked on higher fees just for measure 37 claims, most of which are from people who also have lived on the land for several generations. Get educated, be informed and try talking to people who are going through this, you might get a clue. When you try to build a place for your kids and their families so they can stay close to the land they work. So stay in town, run to the market than back to your little apartment, but remember without families like mine working ‘our’ land you could be eating ALL foreign foods. Now you have a real nice day.

        • Anonymous

          hey sweetcheeks,

          if the lifestyle doesn’t work for you, change jobs like anyone else would do. oh no! processing claims actually costs governments money! all all the legal wrangling actually takes time! holy crap! its not just a stamp to approve?? like anything else, time is money, and claims and permits and anything else (garbage collection, sewer, drivers licenses, DNA tests) it takes money. why shouldn’t you pay for the cost of your claim? please, no one else should be subsidizing it. if you’re a conservative, own up to the costs you incur and pay them. don’t ask the public (i.e. me and everyone else on this board) to pay it for you. i’m pretty sure that if you needed a home in order to farm, the laws in place would allow you to have one. oh wait, you have to actually show the house is necessary to farm and not just another show home. moreover, you still hate government period as your original post clearlly shows. you dont’ care who they are, if they wear the tag of ‘county/city government’ then you think they are evil and deserve to have the S*** beat out of them. get your anger under control and deal with your issues. you’re taking it out on people who have no connection to you or your land or anything else having to do with you. contrary to what you believe, the world does not revolve around you

  • Peter

    No I can’t show you any campaign material that promised to over turn m37, adopt gay marriage or raise taxes.
    I think voters were pretty aware that would happen though.
    Just as they are pretty aware we will adopt a sales tax as soon as possible even if it means after the 08 election when more republicans are replaced with dems. And no there won’t be any campaign material promising to adopt a sales tax.


      Your ’08 Dem win prediction on the elections may be correct.

      It’s pipe dream to think the Oregon voter would pass a sales tax (sorry, it has to be on the ballot due to the Oregon Constitution) they’ve said no 9 times…………every time by huge #’s.

      Once again, I’ll state what they’ve stated “Get rid of the income tax and they’ll vote for the sales tax”. Until that happens there will be no sales tax in Oregon.

  • Jerry

    Oh Peter, will you marry me? Then we can pay higher taxes together and watch people get robbed of their own property in connubial bliss.
    It could not get any better.

  • John Verbeek

    Is it unfortunate that ballot measures are limited to the state level? Should we have Federal ballot measures also? (marriage, right to life, immigration, relative size of government).

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