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Activist Guide: How to Change Oregon Law

I don’t know about you, but while 2018 midterms were a sweeping success in Oregon: 1. we defeated some very ugly ballot measures, 2. got a supermajority in Salem, 3. took back the House in D.C. and 4. re-elected our Governor, I was a little grumpy about playing defense.

Why did we have to defend against ugly ballot measures instead of being overwhelmed by progressive legislation we could all rally around? What group are you a part of? Health Care for All Oregon, Renew Oregon, 350 PDX, STAR voting, Basic Rights Oregon, Community Alliance of Tenants Oregon, Portland Metro People’s Coalition, APANO, Unite Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color, DSA ext. ext. How about each of these groups take their legislative priorities directly to the voters?

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You might be asking yourself why we have to do anything this labor intensive. We have a supermajority after all, and won’t our elected reps push forward bold legislation? The answer is yes and no. There will be some great strides next session but there is already evidence that what is produced will not be powerful enough to protect our most vulnerable.

Take for instance the horse trading happening at the capitol right now regarding rent control. No other state even has state wide rent control. Oregon would be head and shoulders above all other states to have regulations in place, however, putting the cap between 5–10% every year is almost meaningless for most of us Oregonians. When was the last time you had anything even close to a cost of living adjustment, much less a raise? I expect legislation to come out of Salem that is exciting compared to the barbaric legislation in other states, but nothing dramatic enough to offset the neoliberal austerity measures we have all been subjected to for decades.

So I dare you to do it, dream big. Want to have every state and county building be powered by solar? Write an initiative. Want guaranteed funding for education or health care as a basic right? Write an initiative. Want national popular vote? Write an initiative. Want rank choice or STAR voting so you never have to choose the best of two terrible options ever again? Write an initiative. Want $ out of politics? Write an initiative. I promise you, no one is coming to save you. No one is going to give you policy that will rock Oregon from the pay to play politics which is crippling our state and our country. Rise up, take your city, state and country back. Here is a step by step guide provided by the state to get you started.