After Oregon voters rejected a 2014 ballot measure to provide state benefits to illegal immigrants, Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill this week that does not allow for a public vote before the bill goes into effect.
2014 Ballot Measure 88: driver’s card for illegal immigrants rejected
In 2014 Oregon lawmakers introduced a ballot measure designed to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a state-issued driver’s card. A state-issued card makes it more difficult for federal immigration authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants.
The measure came to the ballot during the midterm elections and was soundly rejected by 66% of Oregon voters.
At that time, Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River), a supporter of the rejected ballot measure, warned The Oregonian that, if voters rejected the measure, then (in that newspaper’s words) “lawmakers could pass the same bill next session” and add “an emergency clause to allow the law to go into effect immediately.”
That is precisely what they appear to have done.
Another swing at the ball?
On Thursday, Democrat lawmakers introduced House Bill 3464. The new bill goes even further than the 2014 measure, permitting state officials and private entities to “decline to disclose information concerning person’s citizenship or immigration status”. The bill effectively cements Oregon’s status as a “sanctuary state”.
Voter rejection? No problem. Call it an “emergency” and bypass the voter
The bill’s Democratic sponsors applied a subtle procedural tactic when they filed the new bill; a tactic that essentially cuts voters out of the democratic process before a bill becomes effective. The legislators designated the bill as an “emergency”.
By applying an “emergency” status to the bill, the voters are denied the normal 90-day referendum period; a period of time during which voters may challenge the bill by putting it to a referendum (vote). Instead, the “emergency” status allows the bill to become effective immediately, without having it first submitted to voters. The only option then left to voters is to attempt to challenge the measure “after-the-fact”, i.e. after it has already gone into effect.
Enact it now / vote on it later: a chilling effect on any citizen
An “emergency” designation is intended to be applied to a piece of legislation enacted during a time of actual emergency, such as a flood, an earthquake, or a time of war.
The application of the “emergency” status to a piece of simple legislation, solely for the purpose of immediately enacting a controversial measure before voters have had an opportunity to vote on it, is a tactic more often found in socialist countries and must have a chilling effect on any Oregon citizen.
Richard LaMountain, a Cedar Mill resident, served as a chief petitioner of the rejected 2014 initiative, Measure 88. In January 2015, he wrote a letter that was published in by the Portland Tribune under the title, “My View: Emergency clause abuses democracy”. LaMountain said, “When used for the intent of thwarting potential referenda, the emergency clause perverts the relationship between Oregonians and the legislators they elect to represent them. We need to restore that clause to its proper, limited role in lawmaking — and the voice of the citizen, as manifested in the referendum, to its paramount place in Oregon’s representative democracy.”
Bill submitted “at the request of Governor Kate Brown”
The bill was filed by Teresa Alonso Leon (D – Woodburn), and Diego Hernandez (D – Portland) “at the request of Governor Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum”. All of the bill’s sponsors are Democratic lawmakers.
Governor Brown requested the legislation, and accommodating democratic party lawmakers filed the bill with its “emergency” designation to permit the bill to be immediately enacted into law without the 90-day referendum period required under Oregon law, after voters previously rejected an earlier measure at the polls.
Let that sink in Oregon.
Chief Sponsors of the bill:
|Leon (D)||Hernandez (D)||Taylor (D)|
|Kotek (D)||Lininger (D)||Williamson (D)|
|Burdick (D)||Dembrow (D)||Frederick (D)|
|Gelser (D)||Manning (D)||Roblan (D)|
Citizens wishing to comment on the above legislation may contact the legislation’s sponsors by email, by clicking on their names above.
Editors note: This article has been updated to include additional explanation regarding Oregon’s legislative “emergency” clause, and related information re: Rep. Mark Johnson and Richard LaMountain.