On the off chance that you're waiting for the Democratic Party to make a house call and pick up your ballot, here are my recommendations for Oregon's seven statewide ballot measures this fall. The first three are not very controversial; the other four have sparked a lot of debate:
Measure 70 would make more veterans eligible for the state-supported home loans through the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. Commonly called the "State GI" program to distinguish it from the federal Veterans' Administration guaranteed loans, this has no significant fiscal impact and provides a small benefit to a group that deserves the recognition. The measure has no organized opposition. I recommend a "yes" vote.
Measure 71 would require the legislature to hold annual sessions, a long session in the odd years (as it does now) and a short session in the even years to deal with budgeting. On principle I think the legislature should meet less often, rather than more often, but this small reform is long overdue. I voted in favor.
Measure 72 allows the state to issue general obligation bonds to purchase, build, repair, or reconstruct real and personal property of the State. The state could issue general obligation bonds at a lower rate than it must now pay for "certificates of participation," the method it uses now. Try as I might to find a catch in this measure, I couldn't. I recommend a "yes" vote.
Now for the more lively measures. Measure 73 would increase the minimum sentences for persons convicted of driving under the influence and certain sex offenses. Desirable as this might be, the state can't afford to lock up more people without taking funds away from other priorities, such as basic school support. The measure comes without any means of funding (translation: the backers want to lock these people up but don't propose to pay for it). It's well-intentioned bad policy. I recommend voting against Measure 73.
Measure 74 would add to Oregon's medical marijuana law by permitting private grow operations to produce marijuana for non-profit dispensaries, which would then distribute it to the registered medical users. The program has no direct adverse fiscal impact on the state, and might even produce several million dollars of net revenue. The additional revenue is not, however, a justification for turning medical marijuana into a commercial operation, and I voted against Measure 74.
Measure 75 is the most lovably roguish proposal to appear on Oregon's ballot that I can recall in many years of Voters' Pamphlets. Measure 75 would allow one, and only one, private (non-Indian) casino in the state, to be located on the former Multnomah Kennel Club site in Wood Village, owned or controlled by the promoters of the measure. The promoters are asking the voters to grant them a statutory monopoly, wtihout competitive bidding or independent evaluation. It's bad public policy to grant monopolies without some competitive evaluation to determine the public interest. I strongly urge a "no" vote on Measure 75, but I'm also sorry that I didn't think of this kind of scheme first.
Measure 76 would continue the dedication to parks and stream restoration of a portion of the Oregon Lottery revenues. Like Measure 73, this is a worthy purpose -- everyone likes parks -- but it represents a continuing erosion of the principle that Oregon was to use its lottery revenues for economic development; that is, to increase the incomes of Oregonians to the point that they would no longer need to pray for their lottery tickets to be winners. Put another way, the lottery revenues were to be additions to Oregon's resources, not a replacement for ordinary general fund expenses. Oregon should be able to pay for its parks system from the general fund and through user fees. It did so before the lottery was established, and the legislature should be able to do so in all but the very worst times. I voted against Measure 76.