When our government does something well, we thank them!
Promoting public involvement in government is part of our mission! In July, the League asked the Portland City Council get input from the public when they set priorities for the Portland Police Association Contract. The contract is being renewed in 2020. The Council responded by holding two community forums to learn about the public’s concerns. We are pleased and grateful that they have begun a process to inform and involve the public.
On November 12, 2019, the League submitted comments to the City Council about the process for changing City Code Chapter 3.96. This part of the City Code governs the way the Office of Community and Civic Life engages with people in Portland. Action Chair Debbie Aiona also testified at the Council’s November 14 hearing.
The City Council resolution calls for a multi-bureau work group to carry out the next phase of this process. The League urges opening the work group’s meetings to the public for observation. We also recommend following up the work group’s proposals with a thorough public process that includes a broad group of Portlanders.
Now, we are urging our City Council to involve the public when the City negotiates the next Portland Police Association (PPA) contract.
Our July 30 letter says in part:
…we recommend a robust public engagement process leading into the 2020 negotiations. …we urge you to ensure that the upcoming process involves the community so that their input will have an impact on the outcome.
Portland is a stronger and more vibrant place when its people can bring their skills, knowledge, and lived experiences to the policymaking process.
We are saddened by the recent mass shootings in El Paso,TX and in the “Oregon District” of Dayton, OH. There have now been 251 mass shootings in the US this year! But mass shootings are only part of the problem. We also have too many gun suicides and accidents. Preventing gun deaths is a priority for the League.
Gun Safety Advocacy
The LWV of Oregon has been advocating for better gun safety for many years. Responsible gun owners DO support practical measures to prevent gun deaths. LWVOR advocated for the passage of Oregon’s current laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who are identified as a danger to themselves and others. We also support secure gun storage and requirements to report stolen guns. The following appalling statistics show how urgent this issue has become in the US.
Some sobering Statistics
According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, 486 people in the United States died of unintentional gun injuries. 23,854 people committed suicide with a gun and 14,542 people were intentionally killed by gun injuries. About 10 percent of these deaths were children. Among U.S. adolescents and young adults 10-24 years old, gun homicides are the third leading cause of death; gun suicides are the second. In 2010, 15,576 children were treated for gun injuries in U.S. emergency departments, and 1,970 of them died. The medical cost of treating gun injuries in children alone was over $330 million in 2010
Studies have found that adolescents’ risk for suicide increases as their access to firearms increases. Suicide attempts in children are more likely to be successful when they have access to lethal weapons: 90 percent of suicide attempts with guns are successful, compared to less than 5 percent of suicide attempts using less lethal means, like medications or sharp objects. The risk for unintentional injury and suicide in children is reduced by 73 percent when guns are kept locked, and by 70 percent when they are kept unloaded.
Stolen guns represent a significant factor contributing to gun violence. More than 237,000 guns nationwide were reported stolen to the National Crime Information Center in 2016, a database maintained by the FBI. That represents a 68 percent increase in stolen weapons reported to the FBI since 2005. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has estimated that 500,000 guns are stolen annually from residences, many of which are never reported. A 2010 study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that, per capita, states without lost or stolen reporting laws are the source of more than 2.5 times as many crime guns recovered in other states as states with a lost or stolen reporting requirement.*
2019 Gun Safety Bills
In the recently completed 2019 Oregon legislative session, House Bill 2013 passed and is now law. It closed loopholes in the law to prevent people from possessing guns, if they are likely to harm themselves or others. The LWVOR also supported Senate Bill 978, which unfortunately died in committee. It would have required secure methods of storing and locking guns and prompt reporting of stolen guns. Here is the League testimony supporting these bills. HB 2013 Testimony.SB 978 Testimony.
The League of Women Voters of Oregon and the League of Women Voters of Portland have submitted a Friend of the Court Brief (Amicus Brief) to the Oregon Supreme Court. We are supporting the right of voters to limit campaign contributions in Multnomah County elections. In 2016, Multnomah County voters passed Ballot Measure 26-184 with 89% yes votes! It was an outstanding victory for reforming money in politics. If enacted, the measure would limit campaign contributions to $500 or less per person for each candidate. It would not allow contributions to candidates from corporations. It also would require that candidates disclose their five largest donors in campaign ads.
The League strongly believes in reducing the influence of money in politics. So we support Multnomah County in arguing that the measure should take effect. You can read our Brief here: S066445_amicus_brief_lwvor
The case before the Oregon Supreme Court is about the constitutionality of campaign contribution limits in Oregon.
Opponents of the measure argue that limiting campaign contributions violates the free speech clause in Oregon’s Constitution. However, 45 other states have limits on contributions to candidates and 37 of them have free speech clauses in their constitutions. There is persuasive evidence that large donations give donors more access to lawmakers and more influence over the laws that are passed or defeated. In addition, Oregon is the only state that doesn’t identify the sources of funding for political ads. Our Brief cites these reasons to show that the measure is constitutional.
We understand that the Supreme Court will hear this case on November 1, 2019.