Legislative Alert

Campaign Finance Reform with Teeth

By Gary Leitke, Election Integrity Study Group

Campaign Finance may well be the FOREMOST PRIORITY for this Oregon legislative session. Until comprehensive limits are set, elections will remain unfair and unreachable to everyday citizens. 

Voters resoundingly approved constitutional amendment Measure 107 last November, to allow finance limits, post SCOTUS Citizens United decision.

But unless follow-up legislation establishes stringent, comprehensive limits—elections will continue to be “bought” and money will steal the ability of everyday citizens to be heard fairly. Electeds will be chosen by money and subsequently influenced by money. Few of lesser means can compete as candidates. Legislation aimed to benefit everyday (esp. poor) people will be impaired. That includes many, many bills for which MultDems advocate in our Platform and support by testifying at hearings and writing to their electeds.

Our Election Integrity study group sees HB3343 as the best of 3 current limit-setting bills still alive. But we are not satisfied that any of them satisfactorily limit money flow FROM groups (e.g., PACs, SuperPACs, and party caucuses).

Unless legislation effectively limits ALL contribution sources, especially including groups, from funding a campaign, it’s like squeezing a balloon; flow may be partially restricted, but rushes in from the rest of the balloon.

Write your legislators to boldly restrict contributions by groups.

No More Costly Walkouts

Ally Update from Jacob Menefee

The No More Costly Walkouts (NMCW) coalition includes groups like: The Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Basic Rights Oregon, SEIU, Planned Parenthood Action PAC, and many others. I am reaching out to members of the Multnomah County Democratic Party with updates on our efforts to restore democracy and enact progressive change in Oregon.

You have likely heard that recently the Oregon Senate Republicans walked out for one day. They continued to show up to Committees and arrived for floor sessions in later weeks. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Senate is currently holding in-person floor sessions only once a week on Thursdays, so Senate Republicans can delay Legislative activity for an entire week while only refusing to appear once for one afternoon.

More recently this past Thursday a rule in the State Senate was up for a vote which would have made the Senate’s rules on fines for walkouts match the State House’s rules (Page 3, 3.03 Section (4)). The Senate Republicans hadn’t arrived one full hour after the floor session was set to begin, and the rule change was withdrawn from consideration. Competing press releases were then sent.

The press have harshly questioned these actions, with The Oregonian (article behind paywall) saying that this “…has become an increasingly common tactic by the party that holds a minority of seats in both chambers of the Legislature” and that “…their walkout so early in the session and without substantive matters up for floor votes raises questions about how much the Legislature will be able to achieve in its COVID- and wildfire-relief focused session.”

A number of bills have been filed which would address these ongoing walkouts in different ways. These bills are scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee at 1pm on Thursday March 18th.

This hearing will not be a very long one, so we do not recommend trying to testify on the 18th, but it is critically important that the Committee receive written testimony in favor of these bills. We will follow up with details in the coming days about how folks can do so.

Please feel free to spread the word and send this email to anyone in your activist networks who would be interested! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call, email or text anytime.

Jacob Menefee (He/Him/His)

UPDATE: Election Integrity Study Group

By Gary Lietke – 2021 03 11 Central Committee presentation

Article 8 of our MultDems Platform is usually summarized with the label of “Election Integrity”, but it’s so much more. Our study group addresses Governance, Campaign Finance, Elections, Political Party Election Integrity, Representation, Voting Rights & Suppression, and Voting Systems.

We are actively recruiting for more of you to join our study group, as our work load is particularly heavy at this phase of the state legislature and the Portland Charter Commission. Please indicate your interest in the Election Integrity SG Sign up form.

The Oregon House and Senate have initiated a copious number of EI bills that we need to track, critique to determine their strengths and weaknesses and how they represent the MultDems Platform, and intentionally convey our feedback to legislators.

Campaign Finance reform is a very hot corner—trying to set concrete limits as follow-up to the passage of Constitutional Amendment Measure 107 last November. There are at least 4 contending bills. Campaign finance is perhaps the most important reform we need, as without it, almost all other major reform advocated by MultDems Platform is choked.

We are also monitoring election audits and security and redistricting based on the new census.

Hearings have begun for 8 or so bills relating to alternate voting systems, including STAR and RCV.

Governance, especially as it relates to the new City of Portland Charter Commission, is extremely important and a cutting-edge opportunity. One key issue is representation, replacing the current at-large Council districts with geographic districts represented by multiple councilors.

And we need to speak to federal voting rights and suppression issues.

Our next meeting is Tuesday, March 23, 7 pm. And we regularly meet the 2nd Monday of the month at 7 pm. Stay current by checking the MultDems Calendar.

Thank you for caring!
Gary Lietke
EI SG

Legislative Action Alert

Legislative Action Alert | And How You Can Track What is Happening in Salem

Three bills are wending their way through the statehouse right now, all of which are worthy of attention:

  • SB 683: This senate bill will help students understand the unique contributions of African Americans in this state and country.
  • HB 2168: African Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth for well over a century. Declaring it a legal state holiday is a step in the right direction. 
  • SJM 4: Reparations for African Americans are 155 years past due.
  • HB 2002: Converts mandatory minimum sentences for specified felonies other than murder to presumptive sentences.

To view and track current legislation in the Oregon House and Senate, learn to navigate OLIS (Oregon Legislative Information System) in 60 seconds with Rep. Dacia Grayber by Clicking Here.