Posts with tag "Politics":

Nov
01
2012
1

2012 Voter’s Guide: Oregon State Measures

Following are my suggestions for the state measures.

77 – disaster authority: YES

From the legislature. This measure solidifies in to the state constitution that which is already law, the governor’s ability to declare a disaster. Additionally, it gives the governor the ability to transfer money from certain funds to pay for disaster response and recovery. To counter this authority being abused, the legislature will convene within 30 days to pass law as to what action to take. Sounds reasonable to me.

78 – constitutional text tidying: YES

From the legislature. This measure tidies up some text in the constitution. Just vote Yes.

79 – real estate transfer tax prohibition: NO

This measure makes it unconstitutional for a local government (state, county, or city) to impose any new taxes or fees on transferring real estate interests. What does that mean? Well, nothing really as it is already against the law, but by writing it in to the constitution means that should we as a people or the legislature decide a transfer tax/fee is needed, it would require amending the constitution again to allow it.

80 – legalize marijuana: YES

It’s time to be adults and admit the prohibition on marijuana is going to end, it’s just a matter of time. Many states already have medical exemptions, and several others have measures this election to legalize it. The sooner we start the legalization process, the sooner we can start regulating, standardizing, and taxing it. Yes, some people will grow there own (they already do), but as it becomes cheaper to buy than grow, those who choose to use, will buy it instead. As a comparison, it is legal to grow your own tobacco, but no one does. As for marijuana being a gateway drug, it’s no more of one than alcohol, tobacco, pain pills, and a plethora of other legal drugs, which are just as if not more harmful. Finally, if this measure does pass, it will most likely end up in the Supreme Court as a they will have to decide whether the legality of marijuana is the federal or state’s right to set.

81 – gill net fishing ban: NO

I’ll admit that all I know about this topic is what I’ve read in the Voter’s Guide and a brief description from http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_gear.aspx
, but here is what took away from it. Gill nets are already illegal on all inline waters except for the Columbia, and while these types of nets are known for unintentionally catching other sea life than what the fishers are supposed to catch, such as wild salmon instead of hatchery salmon, but so do other forms of fishing. By banning gill nets to Oregon fishers, this could likely end Oregon commercial fishing on the Columbia as Washington fishers can still use them. While we should work to ban all gill net fishing on the Columbia, we should work with Washington to ban it together, or we aren’t really helping the environment at all, just hurting our economy.

82 / 83 – private casinos: NO

I’m not a big gambler, but I have no issue with casinos. They take money from those who are willing to part with it even if they can’t afford it. What those casinos do with the money is more of what is at stake. While tribal casinos give back less to the state than the proposed private casino would, the tribal casinos mainly use the profits for the betterment of their community, which in turn helps us out be being less of a strain on our resources, whereas a private casino, well we don’t know what a private casino will do with it, but most likely take it out of the state and put it in the coffers of their share holders.

84 – estate tax phase out: NO

We live in a country that allows some people to amass great wealth, usually on the backs of others. The estate tax (or “death tax” for those who wish)
is a way of spreading some of that wealth around after that person passes. The current Oregon estate tax is levied again those people who’s estates are over 1 Million dollars, but not on that first million, so at least that much can go to their heirs untouched. The rest is taxed on a sliding scale. By doing away with the estate tax, the state government will lose vital funds used to provide services to all Oregonian, and while 1 million dollars may seem a little low by today’s standards, doing away with it entirely will harm many more than it will benefit.

85 – kicker funds to schools: NO

I really want to say YES to this one, but it’s not a good plan. The kicker fund is inconsistent because it’s what is left over if the state under-estimates how much money it needs from corporate taxes, which can be $0. We need to fund out schools with consistent amounts so that they can budget regularly, not throw a handful of money at them one moment and none the next.

Written by in: Politics | Tags: , ,
Jan
21
2010
0

Supermajority? ha.

On OPB this morning I heard a story that said the Senate Democrats are losing their “supermajority”, the filibuster-proof 60 votes, because of Republican Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts this week.  Supermajority? Who are they kidding? The Democratic Party is so fractured as to make it impotent.  With progressives on one side and “Blue Dogs” on the other of nearly every major issue – abortion, health care, gay marriage, gun control, immigration – it’s no surprise that one year after the “Democratic Takeover” nothing has happened.  Too bad the Democrats can’t agree on ANYTHING, or we might actually see some of this “Change” that Obama promised.  At least the Republicans got things done with their “tow the line or you’re out” mentality.

Written by in: Politics | Tags: , ,
Jan
07
2010
0

Oregon January 2010 Special Election

If your a registered voter in Oregon, you should have received your Voter’s Pamphlet for the special election we’re having in a few weeks on a pair of tax measures submitted by the state legislature.  If passed, these measures will add to the General Fund, which in turn pays for education, health care, public safety, and other state provided services.

Measure 66: Tax increase on households earning over $125,000 (single filers) or $250,000 (joint filers)

Basically, this measure creates extra tax brackets for earners over $125,000 and raises taxes for those people. The tax rate is higher for the first 3 years, and then lowers a bit in 2012.

My View: While this tax affects a few S-Corporations (businesses whose profits pass directly to the owner), most affected by this tax are wealthy individuals, who can afford to give back to the community that helped make them wealthy.

VOTE: YES

Measure 67: Increase business minimum tax and profits tax, and expand list of businesses required to pay. Increases filing fees.

Currently, some businesses pay a profits tax of 6.6%, but if that is below $10, they pay $10.  This measure increases the profits tax to 7.9% for income over $250,000 (which changes in 2013) and changes the minimum tax to a bracketed sliding value based on revenue, from $150 (revenue under $500,000) to $100,000 (revenue over $100,000,000).  Generally speaking, it’s about 0.1%.  In addition, partnerships, S-Corps, and LLCs will be required to pay the minimum tax.

My View: I’ve emphasized a few words above, profits and revenue.  Profit is income minus business expenses (including paying employees) where as revenue is just income.  The new minimum tax is based on what a business takes in regardless of what they pay out in expenses.  For example, if a business does $2 MILLION in sales and has $2 MILLION in overhead (employees, rent, merchandise, etc.), it has profits of $0.  They would have to pay $1500, which is the minimum tax based on revenue.  To meet this they will have to either reduce spending, either by cutting benefits, wages/salaries, or workers, or increase prices.

On a different note, while the amount in comparison seems trivial, that can add up over a business’s supply chain.  An example is a grocery store who buys bread from a bakery who buys flour from a mill who buys wheat from a farmer who buys fertilizer and seed, etc.  This “sales tax” will either increase the cost to consumer or encourage conglomerations, cutting out the smaller businesses.

In the end this is a sales tax and a sales tax is the “third leg” of taxation that Oregon has fought against for many years, but desperately needs.  Personally, I don’t like the price changing at the register, so this type of sales tax, where the tax will be built in to the price the consumer pays, is one that I can get behind.

VOTE: YES

Written by in: Politics | Tags: ,
Oct
12
2008
0

Oregon General Election 2008: Measures 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 64

The measures for the 2008 Oregon General Election have been finalized and posted by the Secretary of State. Following are the measure number, title, and my comments and voting suggestion.

Measure 57:INCREASES SENTENCES FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING, THEFT AGAINST ELDERLY AND SPECIFIED REPEAT PROPERTY AND IDENTITY THEFT CRIMES; REQUIRES ADDICTION TREATMENT FOR CERTAIN OFFENDERS

I oppose mandatory minimum sentences; they decrease crime temporarily by forcing incarceration, rather than treating the problems that cause someone to commit those crimes in the first place.  Many criminals have drug and alcohol problems, and would be better helped through treatment rather than incarceration.

Mandatory minimum sentences also increase the prison population, which requires the state to build additional facilities to house these people.  The money needed to pay for these is either taken from other services, such as education, or through raising taxes.

Written as an alternative to Measure 61, this measure sets more detailed mandatory minimums for more specific crimes, and provides appropriate treatment to those drug-addicted offenders.

VOTE: NO, but if you must vote for one of the mandatory minimum sentence measures, then I strongly urge you to vote for this measure instead of Measure 61.

Measure 58:PROHIBITS TEACHING PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT IN LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS

This measure would require that every “non-English speaking student” be taught in English only after a maximum of 2 years, depending on what age they entered the school system, regardless of their proficiency.  To meet this requirement, the measure calls for “English immersion” classes, but does not explain what those are.  This measure is extreme in that if a student cannot learn the language within the time allotted, they will not get any further assistance from the public school system.  There is a saying “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”  This measure is both hoping and planning for the best case scenario, and could leave many students behind to fend for themselves.

VOTE: NO

Measure 60:TEACHER “CLASSROOM PERFORMANCE,” NOT SENIORITY, DETERMINES PAY RAISES; “MOST QUALIFIED” TEACHERS RETAINED, REGARDLESS OF SENIORITY

The text of this measure is short and vague, leaving it to others to hammer out the details.  While this is an interesting idea, it should be tested out at a few public schools across the state rather than forced on all the of them.  Some alternate ideas are being tested and those would be forced into using this system instead.

VOTE: NO

Measure 61:CREATES MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCES FOR CERTAIN THEFT, IDENTITY THEFT, FORGERY, DRUG, AND BURGLARY CRIMES

(The following 2 paragraphs are the same as the first two paragraphs for Measure 57)

I oppose mandatory minimum sentences; they decrease crime temporarily by forcing incarceration, rather than treating the problems that cause someone to commit those crimes in the first place.  Many criminals have drug and alcohol problems, and would be better helped through treatment rather than incarceration.

Mandatory minimum sentences also increase the prison population, which requires the state to build additional facilities to house these people.  The money needed to pay for these is either taken from other services, such as education, or through raising taxes.

Specifically, this measure sets minimums for several first time offenders, and does not offer any form of drug treatment.

VOTE: NO

Measure 62:AMENDS CONSTITUTION: ALLOCATES 15% OF LOTTERY PROCEEDS TO PUBLIC SAFETY FUND FOR CRIME PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, PROSECUTION

From OPB:

The Register-Guard estimates Measure 62 would result in $439 million for public safety over four years.  According to the state budget office, the 15 percent of lottery funds allocated for parks and natural resources as well as the 18 percent that goes to the Education Stability Fund is untouchable, and won’t be affected by Measure 62. The proposed allotment of lottery dollars for public safety would have to come from $778 million in discretionary funds, a large chunk of which goes to K-12 education.

From me: This money will mostly come out of education funds, where it is more desperately needed.

VOTE: NO

Measure 64:PENALIZES PERSON, ENTITY FOR USING FUNDS COLLECTED WITH “PUBLIC RESOURCE” (DEFINED) FOR “POLITICAL PURPOSE” (DEFINED)

Many unions collect dues through an automatic payroll deduction.  With some of those dues, they advocate on behalf of their union members through lobbying and giving contributions to organizations which they believe will help their members in some way.  This measure would force public employee unions to gather funds for those advocacy activities in some way other that the use of payroll deductions or from gathering those funds in a public building, even if the costs for the meeting area is reimbursed. This also goes for any organizations or groups that meet in public buildings; Parent-Teacher associations, neighborhood associations, etc.

You could take the generality of this measure so far as to say that even a person standing in a public building who hands $50 to another to donate to a candidate or campaign for them would be subject to a fine.

VOTE: NO

Sep
08
2008
0

Oregon General Election 2008: Measures 54, 55, 56, 59, 63, 65

The measures for the 2008 Oregon General Election have been finalized and posted by the Secretary of State. Following are the measure number, title, and my comments and voting suggestion.

Measure 54: AMENDS CONSTITUTION: STANDARDIZES VOTING ELIGIBILITY FOR SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS WITH OTHER STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS

This is a “house-keeping” measure that removes language from the Oregon Constitution that is in direct violation of the US Constitution with regards to voter eligibility.

VOTE: YES

Measure 55:AMENDS CONSTITUTION: CHANGES OPERATIVE DATE OF REDISTRICTING PLANS; ALLOWS AFFECTED LEGISLATORS TO FINISH TERM IN ORIGINAL DISTRICT

The Explanatory Statement is not much easier to read than the Text of the Measure. Currently, the operative date of a redistricting plan, an adjustment of the legislative district boundaries for state Senator and Representative, does not correlate with the start of the legislative session so legislators may represent districts to which they were assigned rather than elected. This measure changes the operative date to the first day of the next regular legislative session after it was adopted, which would be after a general election where the redistricting plan was used when voting, thus less assigned and more elected to cover new districts.  Confused yet?

VOTE: YES

Measure 56: AMENDS CONSTITUTION: PROVIDES THAT MAY AND NOVEMBER PROPERTY TAX ELECTIONS ARE DECIDED BY MAJORITY OF VOTERS VOTING

This measure removes the “double-majority” requirement for property tax measures that appear on regular May and November election ballots. With “double-majority” if the majority of qualified voters do not vote, then even if everyone else votes to pass the measure, the measure would fail, essentially making non-action a NO vote. For those of us that take voting seriously (hopefully you do if your reading this), the fact the someone’s inaction negates our thoughtful decision-making should upset us. It does me anyway.

VOTE: YES

Measure 59:CREATES AN UNLIMITED DEDUCTION FOR FEDERAL INCOME TAXES ON INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS’ OREGON INCOME-TAX RETURNS

From the Explanatory Statement:

Under current law, in tax year 2008, Oregonians who owe state income taxes may deduct up to $5,600 of there federal income tax liability on their state income tax return.  [..] Today, most people pay less than $5,600 in federal income taxes and therefore receive the full deduction for federal income taxes paid.

State income tax go into the state’s General Fund, which helps pay for Education, Public Safety and other services.  By reducing the amount going to these services from the General Fund, it also reduces the Federally matched dollars going to these services.

With the current state of financing for services such as public education and safety,  we should be adding more to these services, not taking from them.

VOTE: NO

Measure 63:EXEMPTS SPECIFIED PROPERTY OWNERS FROM BUILDING PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR IMPROVEMENTS VALUED AT/UNDER 35,000 DOLLARS

This measure removes the permitting process, and thus required safety inspections, on improvements under $35,000, but with these improvements can cause severe safety issues for the homeowner performing them or subsequent tenants living there.  Plumbing, mechanical, and natural gas piping work could be performed by the owner with no-one else examining the work, and electrical work could be performed if a licensed contractor “inspects and approves” the work.  These un-inspected improvements could cause serious damage to a home and tenants, even electrical work approved by a “fly-by-night” electrician whom could be very hard to find should problems arise.

The system of permits and inspections protects us, our homes, and our neighborhoods, and should not be subverted.

VOTE: NO

Measure 65:CHANGES GENERAL ELECTION NOMINATION PROCESSES FOR MAJOR/MINOR PARTY, INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES FOR MOST PARTISAN OFFICES

This measure makes most Primary elections into single races by office, with the ballot showing each candidate’s party registration, if there is one, and which parties endorse the candidate.  After the Primary election, the top two candidates move on to the General election.  This means that there are only two choices for the General election, regardless of which party they are from.

The question to ask yourself is, “are political parties good or bad for our system of government?”  The reason for this question is that by removing the individual party Primary elections, this measure reduces the strength of major political parties, while at the same time possibly counting out the minor parties that select a candidate for the General election through other means.  To reiterate, only the top two candidates from the Primary go to the General election.

A possible problem I see from this is in politically active regions where multiple candidates from various parties would like to run in the primary election.  Here is the scenario: one Green, two Democratic, and two Republican candidates are running in the Primary.  If the major party candidates are equally liked, then the votes could split so that the top two candidates are both Republican candidates, even if the region leans slightly to the left, and thus the Democratic voters will be disenfranchised since they do not have a candidate in the General election.  While this might sound good to some, that Green candidate could easily be a Libertarian candidate, and then it’s the Republican candidates that are disenfranchised.

To keep the above scenario from happening, I could also see candidates being coerced out of running prior to the Primary election, and not giving the voters a chance to have there say.

For me, I’m leaning towards political parties being more good than bad, but that the given scenario would greatly hurt our political process by isolating more voters than the current system.

VOTE: NO

May
21
2008
1

How We Voted (Updated)

Following is how we voted on some of the Candidates/Measures (& How Oregonians voted):

US PresidentBaraka Obama

US Senate – (Justin) Jeff Merkley, (Peggy) Steve Novick

US Representative, 3rd Dist. - Earl Blumenauer

Secretary of StateKate Brown

Attorney General – Greg Macpherson (John Kroger)

State Representative, 23rd Dist.Jackie Dingfelder

Multnomah Commissioner,  Dist. No. 3Judy Shiprack

Portland MayorSam Adams

Portland Commissioner No. 1 – (Justin) Jeff Bissonnette, (Peggy) Amanda Fritz

Portland Commissioner No. 2 - Nick Fish

Portland Commissioner No. 4 - Randy Leonard

State Measure 51 – NO (YES)

State Measure 52YES

State Measure 53 – (Justin) YES, (Peggy) NO – not yet determined.

Written by in: Politics | Tags: , ,
Apr
25
2008
0

Oregon Primary Election 2008 Guide: Candidates

The Oregon Primaries are coming up in a few weeks, and there is actually more to vote on than just Hillary or Barrack.  The Oregonian has a pretty comprehensive Voter’s Guide online, but following is my take on several of the candidates for this election:

Portland Mayor: Sam Adams

Adams has worked in the Mayor’s office and as a city commissioner.  He has the knowledge of the city government that comes with experience, along with the understanding that the Mayor cannot do everything and that they need their commissioners (i.e. no “strong” mayor).

Portland Commissioner #1, 2, & 4: no opinion yet.

Multnomah County Commissioner #1, 3, 4: no opinion yet.

US President: Dennis Kucinich Barrack Obama

For most, myself included, choosing between Clinton and Obama is like choosing between cornflakes or rice-crispies. Both are good, but the decision comes down to a gut feeling. To find substantive difference between Obama and Clinton, one must start going through their voting records and introduced bills while in Senate. I opted for the voting record for this section, but you can find their introduced bills here (Clinton) and here (Obama).

In my findings, there have only been seven times when both Clinton and Obama voted on a bill and disagreed (the mouse-over synopses are from Project Vote Smart):

Clinton For: HR 4297S 2020, and S 3711

Obama For: HR 6HR 5441HR 5441, and HR 5631

Riveting, huh? If only these bills were as easy to read as the synopses, but they’re not, and the synopses don’t do them justice.  Other ways to help you decide are political selectors such as SelectSmart and USA Today.

US Senator: Jeff Merkley

Merkley is a better statesman and has better political experience than his competitors, which are both very important in trying to unseat the incumbent, Gordon Smith.

Oregon Secretary of State: Kate Brown

Both Vicki Walker and Kate Brown have the education and experience to serve in this role, along with similar ideas as to what they will do once in office.  For me it came down to endorsements (see, they do matter), and while Walker’s list is longer it is mostly individuals, whereas Brown’s list contains more organizations that I agree with, such as Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Basic Rights Oregon, and NARAL.

Oregon Attorney General: Greg Macpherson

Greg Macpherson has better experience and community involvement here in Oregon.  In addition, I caught part of a debate on OPB between the two, and agreed with Macpherson’s views on Mandatory Minimum Sentences, being that they are too stringent for lesser crimes, and that judges should have more discretion for first time offenders.

Apr
24
2008
7

Oregon Primary Election 2008 Guide: Measures

The Oregon Primaries are coming up in a few weeks, and there is actually more to vote on than just Hillary or Barrack.  Following is my take on several of the measures for this election:

Oregon Measure 51: NO

This measure, which amends Section 42 of the Oregon Constitution, is called a “house-keeping measure” since it helps solidify laws that have already been passed, but are they good ones?  Since our legal system is based off the concept ”innocent until proven guilty”, isn’t that how it should be? The defendant, until proven or plead guilty, should be treated as innocent, and therefore their rights, and not the victim’s should be more important.  The “victim’s rights” from that section include, among others, the right to refuse being interviewed by the defendant’s lawyer, which could seriously impact the defendant’s case, especially for someone wrongfully accused of a crime.  This measure strengthen laws that should not have been passed in the first place. 

It is also worth noting that the ACLU (www.aclu-or.org) is “neutral” on this measure.

Oregon Measure 52: YES

This measure, which amends Section 43 of the Oregon Constitution, is also a ”house-keeping measure”, but unlike section 42, the “victim’s rights” in this section are reasonable; the right to be reasonably protected from the criminal defendant, and the right to have decisions for pretrial and/or bail based on that reasonable protection and likelihood to appear for trial.  Strengthening these rights, which do not infringe on the defendant’s rights, is a good idea.

The ACLU (www.aclu-or.org) is “neutral” on this measure also, but I believe that to be because they lumped the two measures together.

Oregon Measure 53: (tentative) YES

Reading the text of this measure, I am not entirely convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks of abuse, but I try to have faith in humanity.  The sections that concern me are in regards to forfeiture without conviction.  One section allows forfeiture of property for “crimes similar to the crime for which the claimant was convicted.”  If the claimant committed these similar crimes, then why aren’t they being prosecuted for them?  Another allows that “property of a claimant who has not been convicted of a crime may be forfeited in a civil forfeiture proceeding only if the claimant consents to the forfeiture…”  This is where I see a large chance of abuse; if people don’t know that it’s okay to say “No, you can’t take that” to the police (I’m assuming that the police would be the agents of the “forfeiting agency”) and not have criminal repercussions, then there could be a situation of amoral, but not illegal, “forfeitures”.  Again, I say YES to this measure because I have faith that there are more moral officers than there are amoral ones.

Written by in: Politics | Tags: , , ,
Powered by WordPress | Theme: Aeros 2.0 by TheBuckmaker.com | Modified by Justin Hawkwood