League Submits Brief to Supreme Court

Support for Limiting MoNey in Politics

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

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.

 

Civic Life – How do Neighborhood Associations fit?

The public needs more opportunities to be involved

The League of Women Voters of Portland has sent a letter to Commissioner Eudaly and Director Suk Rhee of the Office of Community and Civic Life. We are asking for more transparency and public involvement in the work of the committee proposing changes to the section of the City Code that governs community involvement and Neighborhood Associations. We believe most Portlanders don’t know about the Code 3.96 Committee’s efforts to change the City Code.  The public should have their say on changes to policies that may affect how the public interacts with our city government and the livability of Portland’s neighborhoods.

You can read the City’s information about the Code Change Committee and its proposal here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/civic/77951

Our RECOMMENDATIONS

“The League recommends that once the Code 3.96 Committee determines its proposal is ready for public review, it should schedule one or more public forums to address questions and accept comments and suggestions from interested community members.”

Our Questions

“It is hard to tell from the initial code language available on the website what the proposed changes will mean for Neighborhood Associations and other community organizations.”

“How will the public be provided avenues to stay informed and participate in a way that ensures a conduit for public input?”

“We understand the existing contracts district coalitions have with the City may be reconfigured and other entities could be chosen to replace them sometime in the future. If that is the case, will those entities provide services to Neighborhood Associations that are similar to the services provided by the district coalition offices?”

Our Mission: Encourage Public Participation

The League works to inform all people about policies that could affect their lives and to help them have a voice in government decisions.  We believe the Neighborhood Associations have “the potential for serving the public good by providing important opportunities for civic participation and improving neighborhood livability.”  And, “If the current system isn’t working for community members, the League is interested in understanding why and how new systems would be better.”

You can read the whole letter here: LWV Code 3.96 committee 7-19 

The LWV Way: Study First!

Early LWV History

(Excerpts from More Power than We Knew, A History of the League of Women Voters of Oregon: 1920-2012)

“In 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted, Oregon women already had the right to vote…In 1912, Oregon became the ninth state to grant full suffrage to women.”

When the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NASWA) held its 50th anniversary convention in March 1919, “The call to the convention included an invitation to ‘the women voters of the fifteen full suffrage states*…to join their forces in a League of Women Voters, one of whose objects shall be to speed the suffrage campaign in our own and other countries.’”… “(T)he governing council of the new League decided to recommend as its first activity a study of state laws having to do with education and the legal status of women. That recommendation set the pattern the League was to follow all its life—study first, then action.

Today –

 “Study first, then action.” This is the process the League of Women Voters has followed since its beginning. Our activities are based upon thorough, balanced studies of public policy issues.

  • We offer nonpartisan and unbiased information to voters through our voter service activities, such as election forums, debates and carefully researched voting guides.
  • We conduct multiyear studies of governmental, environmental and social issues. Our study committees read relevant research and interview experts and advocates representing many different viewpoints. The committees publish reports about what they have learned. LWV members and the public can read these reports online or in print.
  • When LWV members discuss a study, they may come to an agreement about how to address the issues. Their discussions lead to our advocacy positions

The League of Women Voters of Portland is now finishing a restudy of Portland’s City Government. The League of Women Voters of Oregon recently completed a study of Hard Rock Mining in Oregon. Also, LWVOR members just voted to study Cyber Security and Privacy and Pesticides and other Biocides in Oregon. You can read about all these studies here. Then you can view our advocacy positions, based on previous studies, here.

 

*States granting women the right to vote prior to the 19th Amendment: Wyoming 1890, Colorado 1893, Utah 1896, Idaho 1896, Washington 1910, California 1911, Arizona 1912, Kansas 1912, Oregon 1912, Montana 1914, Nevada 1914, New York 1917, Michigan 1918, Oklahoma 1918, South Dakota 1918

Source: National Constitution Center

Clean Energy Qualifies for Ballot!

Progress for Clean Energy in Portland!

The League of Women Voters of Portland supports this clean energy measure. We are pleased to share this press release from the campaign.

Press Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, July 27, 2018

Contact: Damon Motz-Storey 303.913.5634 damon@oregonpsr.org

Portland Clean Energy Fund Campaign Officially Qualifies for November 2018 Ballot

(PORTLAND, OR) – The Portland City Auditor Elections Division sent news late today that the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PDX 04, the “Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative 2018”) received enough valid Portland voter signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot. A sampling of 55,509 submitted signatures revealed 39,755 valid signatures, over 5,000 more than the 34,156 signature threshold for the City of Portland. The announcement means that Portland voters will decide this Fall on funding clean energy projects including housing upgrades, living-wage jobs and job training, and green infrastructure.

“The people of Portland have spoken: the time is now for good jobs, healthy homes, and a clean energy future,” said chief petitioner Reverend E.D. Mondainé, President of the NAACP Portland Branch and Pastor of the Celebration Tabernacle Church in North Portland. “Our broad and diverse community achieved something truly great in submitting far more than enough signatures for this historic measure. We look forward to victory at the ballot this November.”

The Portland Clean Energy Fund would raise more than $30 million per year to support energy efficiency housing upgrades, jobs and job training in clean energy, and new solar power and green infrastructure. The measure will prioritize funding for housing upgrades and living-wage jobs for all underserved Portlanders, particularly low-income residents and people of color. The Portland Clean Energy Fund would be funded by a 1% business license surcharge that would only apply to mega-retailers with more than $1 billion per year in nation-wide gross revenue

More than 150 organizations and businesses and over 50 elected officials, public figures, and faith leaders have endorsed the Portland Clean Energy Fund Campaign.

A full list of endorsements, more information, and the full text of the initiative is available at www.portlandcleanenergyfund.com.

 

Signing Initiative Petitions

Signature Gatherers want you to sign!

It’s that time of year. People with clipboards (including some League members) are asking voters to sign petitions to put ballot measures on the November ballot. Should you sign? You definitely should think about whether you really support the petition and would like it to become law. Ask for an explanation of what the measure would do and read the ballot title. The League of Women Voters cautions you to “Think Before You Ink.” Here’s some information to consider before you sign.

The league is supporting some initiatives

Portland Clean Energy Fund 

As of July 6, this initiative appears to have enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The Portland LWV supports this proposal. Our support is based on our Climate Change and Equality of Opportunity positions. It would fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and clean-energy jobs training for disadvantaged workers. Income for the Fund would be from a 1% supplemental business license surcharge on large retail corporations with over $1 billion a year in national revenue and $500,000 in Portland sales. (Revenue from groceries and medicine would be exempted.)

Initiative 43, regulating sales of assault weapons

Our support of this initiative was based on our position on gun safety. However, the coalition of clergy members, youth and other advocates, “Lift Every Voice,” has withdrawn the initiative and will refile it for 2020. The initiative proposed two steps to make Oregon a safer place. The first was to require semiautomatic weapons and large capacity magazines to be registered by responsible gun owners. The second step would have been to prohibit the future sale of these weapons and magazines in Oregon. This effort is delayed, but not over.