Oregon Open Legislature Initiative
What it is:
A petition to amend the Oregon State Constitution to require our elected officials (State Senators and Representatives) to conduct the business of the State from offices located within the geographic district they represent and which are publicly accessible.
What it says:
"Beginning no later than January 1, 2015 all sessions of the Legislative Assembly shall be held in such a manner that all voting members of the Legislative Assembly shall deliberate and vote on Legislative Issues only while physically located at a publicly accessible place within the geographic district which they represent."
What it means:
Why is this important?
We elect our State Senators and Representatives, then send them off to Salem every two years to conduct the business of the state. Although what our elected officials do affects all of us one way or another, the state legislative process is not easily accessible to the majority of Oregonians. The State Capitol in Salem is at least an hour's drive from the major population centers of the state. Legislative hearings are often scheduled at short notice, so the opportunity for the public to attend, participate and testify is limited. If you have ever been involved with a legislative issue you already know it is difficult to take time away from your family or job to travel to Salem and participate in the process. This amendment brings your legislator back to your neighborhood to give you easier access to your government and a more representative process. Eventually, it would allow the "Average Jane (or Joe)" to run for the legislature since less time away from home would be needed to represent a district.
Who won't like this?
It's just my opinion, but the existing "Good Old Boy (and Girl)" network of elected officials, lobbyists and others with a vested interest in the status quo will be dead-set against anything that opens the legislative process to better public scrutiny. Under the present system, it's too easy for them to get together in a back room and do mischief, then announce the result after the real decisions have been made in secret. Imagine well-funded lobbyists promising legislators sacks full of campaign contributions in exchange for their vote on an issue! Where is the 'public' in these works of 'public policy'? Bringing our legislators home to their district where we can keep a close eye on them will certainly result in better thought-out public policy... it is hard to imagine that it could possibly be worse than it is now!
What can I do to help?
This proposed amendment is in the very early stages - We need to get 1,000 Oregonians to sign the prospective petition to move it along to the next step. You can help by downloading the Prospective Initiative Petition document (click here), along with as many signature sheets (click here) as you wish. Make copies onto white paper, then staple the signature sheets to the petition document. (The signature sheet must always be stapled to the petition - state law). Collect signatures on the sheets from registered Oregon voters. Sign and date the signature sheets, then mail them (with the petition still stapled to it) back to the address at the bottom of the petition. Do not number your signature sheets, these are cumulative for the entire process. Be sure to include your contact information so that as this effort goes forward we can keep in touch. Thank you!
Contact: Stu Rasmussen, Silverton, Oregon ( stu at oregonopenlegislature dot org)