ARE YOU a registered Oregon voter who's sick of being asked whether you're, in fact, a registered Oregon voter? Signatures for this fall's ballot initiatives are due July 6—and that means political petitioners are in the home stretch in their race to gather tens of thousands of signed supporters. Here are four issues likely to make the cut.
A NUG IN EVERY PIPE
What's an Oregon election without a call to end pot prohibition? Two initiatives have collected enough signatures to make the ballot: The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act and a constitutional amendment legalizing possession and use of marijuana among adults over 21 (so long as they don't endanger minors or pose a public safety threat). The tax act would create a state commission charged with regulating marijuana, including distributing licenses to growers and having the state buy and sell entire crops, reaping any profit. Far out.
War chest: Cannabis Tax Act—$233,633; pot reform amendment—$395,920
Backers: The tax act has support from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and (no joke) singer Willie Nelson. The reform amendment is funded largely by a Texas-based marijuana reform group and eccentric University of Phoenix founder John Sperling.
Opponents: During the 2010 gubernatorial race, John Kitzhaber spoke out against legalizing pot.
KICK THE KICKER
When the state collects more in taxes than projected, we "kick" that money back to people and corporations. This long-planned Protect Oregon's Priorities initiative would end the corporate kicker, sending any windfall tax revenue to schools instead. Surprisingly, corporations aren't putting up a big fight—they haven't received any kicker money since 2007, when businesses agreed to give their rebate back to the state anyway.
War chest: $225,000
Backers: Public employee unions, Our Oregon
Opponents: Politicians, like Senator Ginny Burdick, pushing for deeper tax reform
GAMBLING ON OREGON
Who really wants to move to East Multnomah County? Two Lake Oswego entrepreneurs, that's who. In 2010, voters rejected plans for a non-tribal casino in the scenic lands between Gresham and Troutdale. Now it's back! The massive Wood Village casino complex allowed by the Oregon Job Growth, Education, and Communities Fund Act would also boast a water park, theater, and hotel.
War chest: $996,655
Backers: Entrepreneurs Bruce Studer and Matt Rossman
Opponents: Tribal gambling groups, people who think casinos are ugly
Salmon is big business in Oregon, and that means big controversy. Funded largely by sport fishermen and perennial initiative-bankroller Loren Parks, the Protect Our Salmon Act would ban the practice of gillnetting on the Columbia River (with tribes exempted). That would leave some commercial fishermen high and dry, but allow sport fishers a larger share of the limited fish run. It also would be better for fish, backers say, though science is hazy on whether gillnetting actually hurts the river more than other kinds of fishing do.
War chest: $401,380
Backers: Sport fishing groups
Opponents: Commercial fishing groups