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Oregon Ballot Measures

Does anybody care what everybody's favorite inland pirate thinks of this year's Oregon ballot measures?

No? Too bad.


Measure 31:

AMENDS CONSTITUTION: AUTHORIZES LAW PERMITTING POSTPONEMENT OF ELECTION FOR PARTICULAR PUBLIC OFFICE WHEN NOMINEE FOR OFFICE DIES

This sounds fine. I doubt it will precipitate assassinations by those eager to game the political system.

Measure 32:

AMENDS CONSTITUTION: DELETES REFERENCE TO MOBILE HOMES FROM PROVISION DEALING WITH TAXES AND FEES ON MOTOR VEHICLES.

This also sounds fine. I was surprised to learn that taxes and fees on mobile homes could only be used for roads. I don't see a lot of mobile homes on the road these days.

How did Oregon's constitution become such a mess? I don't see why stuff like this should be a constitutional issue. Yes, it's a great way to tie the legislature's hands, but maybe we've gone a bit overboard? Could we add a tier between the constitution and regular legislation, or something?

Measure 33:

AMENDS MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT: REQUIRES MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES FOR SUPPLYING PATIENTS/ CAREGIVERS; RAISES PATIENTS' POSSESSION LIMIT

Marijuana should be legal. It's less dangerous than alcohol. In Oregon it has been legal to use marijuana for medical purposes, but not to purchase it. This would set up highly regulated dispensaries where it could be purchased.

I don't think there should be any restrictions at all on the production, use, or trade of marijuana. But I'm in the minority, as usual. Despite my discomfort with highly regulated businesses, the text of this measure earns bonus points for invoking the 9th and 10th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. It also mentions the "wholly intrastate" nature of Oregon's program, neatly avoiding all Federal drug laws because they, like most encroachments of Federal power, rest on the Commerce Clause.

It doesn't go far enough, and it's not entirely in the right direction, but on balance it's good and I'm voting for it.

Interestingly, the Libertarian Party of Oregon filed an argument in opposition of this measure, on registration/privacy grounds. I think this argument is weak; as long as marijuana is primarily illegal a registration and monitoring system is going to be part of a medical exception. (It's reasonable within the existing system, just like the Medicare prescription drug benefit.) We'll just add this to the ever-growing list of things I disagree with the LP about. (Sigh, even the fringe party doesn't represent me…)

Measure 34:

REQUIRES BALANCING TIMBER PRODUCTION, RESOURCE CONSERVATION/PRESERVATION IN MANAGING STATE FORESTS; SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSES TWO FORESTS

No! More environmentalist nonsense. I reject all forms of intrinsic value, including the alleged intrinsic value of forests. The great value of forests to man is derived from harvesting their wood to build things — and that's exactly what we should do. I wouldn't be much bothered if environmentalists would purchase the land themselves and refuse to log it, but they get on my nerves when they want to control everyone else's land. (And yes, the state and federal governments don't have any business owning forests; they should sell them off.)

Measure 35:

AMENDS CONSTITUTION: LIMITS NONECONOMIC DAMAGES (DEFINED) RECOVERABLE FOR PATIENT INJURIES CAUSED BY HEALTHCARE PROVIDER'S NEGLIGENCE OR RECKLESSNESS

I oppose this measure. There's a lot wrong with it.

I'm skeptical it would achieve its stated goal of lowering insurance costs. I'm unconvinced that the current insurance costs are "too high" (whatever that means!) in the first place. I think it's dangerous to presume the $500,000 limit is correct. I'm skeptical that fixed limits are appropriate at all.

Let's grant the assumptions, arguendo, that insurance costs are too high and that this is due to large jury awards. It doesn't follow that jury awards should be capped. Maybe doctors are screwing up very badly. Maybe the juries are too sympathetic. Shouldn't we be exploring doctor education or limits on bleeding-heart jurors as alternatives? The arguments published in favor of this measure don't give me any reason to prefer it over the two alternatives I just listed.

I don't claim to know The Solution to "high" insurance costs. But I do claim that this measure stinks of quick-fix hackery and is very poorly argued. That's enough reason to vote against it.

Measure 36:

AMENDS CONSTITUTION: ONLY MARRIAGE BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN IS VALID OR LEGALLY RECOGNIZED AS MARRIAGE

I oppose this measure.

Measure 37:

GOVERNMENTS MUST PAY OWNERS, OR FORGO ENFORCEMENT, WHEN CERTAIN LAND USE RESTRICTIONS REDUCE PROPERTY VALUE

Hell yes. Wow, this is a great measure. It combats theft by zoning and environmentalist nonsense at the same time! Most of the opposition complains about the cost — which to me, is simply another argument in favor. If the state had to pay for taking all the property it takes, maybe it wouldn't take so much!

One phrase in the opposition arguments kept being repeated — that the "government can decide one thing for your neighbor's property and something entirely different for yours." So what? It may sound scary, but it was never explained, and I for one don't understand what business the government has in deciding what happens on either your or your neighbor's property in the first place.

Measure 38:

ABOLISHES SAIF; STATE MUST REINSURE, SATISFY SAIF'S OBLIGATIONS; DEDICATES PROCEEDS, POTENTIAL SURPLUS TO PUBLIC PURPOSES

This one's easy. Government should not be in the insurance business. Voting in favor.

Tiny Island