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What Oregon Ballot Measures Are Drawing the Most Funding?

Political groups have spent thousands of dollars to sway voters in their favor for measures 112, 113 and 114. One committee spent more than $1.5 million to get Measure 113 on the ballot and another $24,000 since.

(TNS) — Oregon unions and a coalition of religious groups spent big this summer to get ballot measures that would penalize lawmaker walkouts and increase gun control in front of voters in November.

But spending by both campaigns has slowed considerably since their issues got on the ballot. Proponents of the gun control measure, which would be one of the strictest in the country, say that will change in the coming weeks. But there’s unlikely to be a similar spending push in support of the walkout measure, which no group is publicly opposing.

Union-backed Measure 113 would amend the state constitution to penalize state lawmakers who boycott the Capitol in an effort to kill legislation they oppose or who otherwise have 10 unexcused absences. Measure 114, backed primarily by a coalition of religious organizations, would require people to obtain a permit and pass a background check to buy a gun and ban the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The two measures are among four statewide measures that will appear on the November ballot.

Backers of Measure 113, operating under the political committee Legislative Accountability 1, spent more than $1.5 million to get the proposal on the ballot, with the vast majority of the money going to signature gathering, campaign finance records show. Since then, the Vote Yes on 113 campaign has spent only about $24,000, with most of that money paying for statements that will appear in the voter pamphlet, records show.

It’s likely that the campaign isn’t spending big because no group is publicly opposing the measure. A March 2021 online survey commissioned by a coalition of unions and left-leaning interest groups found that voters overwhelmingly supported penalizing lawmakers for walkouts.

Even though Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, Republicans have been able to use the walkout tactic multiple times since 2019 to stall legislation because the Oregon Constitution requires two-thirds of lawmakers in the House or Senate to be present to introduce or vote on bills. The measure would quell that tactic by preventing state lawmakers from serving their next term in office if they have 10 unexcused absences from floor sessions.

In 2019, Senate Republicans succeeded in killing vaccine, gun control and greenhouse gas cap-and-trade bills. Republicans targeted the reincarnation of the climate change bill in 2020, although that year several Senate Democrats also opposed the plan.

“Oregonians clearly expect the people we elect to represent us to do their jobs and work to improve things in Oregon,” said Reed Scott-Schwalbach, president of the Oregon Education Association and one of the chief petitioners for the measure. “Measure 113 will make sure that there are finally consequences for politicians who violate their oath of office and think it’s acceptable to skip work.”

Voters will also decide whether to increase gun safety regulations through Measure 114, which would require people to obtain a permit from their local police department to purchase a firearm. They would need to pass a background check conducted by the Oregon State Police and take a gun safety course to qualify for that permit. The measure would also ban the production, sale, purchase or use of any magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Lift Every Voice Oregon, a faith-based coalition formed in 2018 after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, spent nearly $293,000 to get Measure 114 in front of voters, with most of that money going to signature gathering, campaign finance records show. But the political committee, Safe Schools, Safe Communities Oregon, that backers set up to promote the measure has spent only $17,600 so far, mostly on consulting, records show. The modest spending comes despite the group raising more than $191,000, including $100,000 donated by Giffords, the gun control advocacy organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured in a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona.

Anthony Johnson, a spokesperson for Safe Schools, Safe Communities Oregon, said the campaign has been a largely grassroots and volunteer effort so far, but that the group is mulling over its strategy for the final six weeks before the election and said voters can expect to see a “big push from the campaign to get information out so voters can see for themselves that this is a sensible measure for the state.” Volunteers have been working out of 16 hubs across Oregon to promote the measure, said Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church, one of the chief petitioners for the initiative.

“It’s going to save lives and that’s our number one goal, especially for our children who have had to live with the constant threat of gun violence,” Knutson said. “We don’t see this measure as just for Oregon, but as a beacon of hope for other parts of the country. Movements have to start some place and Oregon is going to be that place.”

The National Rifle Association called the measure the “nation’s most extreme gun control” initiative, but a group backed by the national organization that is opposing the measure, NRA Oregonians for Freedom, hasn’t reported raising any money, campaign finance records show. Another group, the Stop 114 Committee, which is backed by the Oregon Firearms Federation, has spent about $37,000 to oppose the measure, which includes $24,860 on television and radio advertisements and another roughly $10,000 on other advertising, records show.

Kevin Starrett, the executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation who is leading the Stop 114 Committee, said the permit requirements in the measure would create “barriers to firearms purchase that are essentially impossible to overcome” and said the regulations would cause sporting shotguns with large magazines to be outlawed.

“None of this has any effect on people committing crimes,” Starrett said in an email. “If a person decides to shoot up a mall or grocery store fully expecting to die when they do it, nothing prevents them from getting one of the millions of magazines in circulation.”

Separately, two lawmaker-referred measures will appear on the November ballot, and the Right to Health Care PAC and Oregonians United to End Slavery are spending money in support.

Measure 112 would remove the section of the state constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as punishments for crimes, and Measure 111 would add an aspirational right to affordable healthcare in the state constitution. Although the proposed healthcare amendment calls for the state government to “ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right,” it includes the caveat that the state must balance healthcare funding against the need for funding schools and other essential services. That essentially makes it unenforceable.

Oregonians United to End Slavery has spent about $30,000 so far in support of Measure 112, a significant percentage of which has gone to polling, campaign finance records show. The union-backed Right to Health Care PAC, which is supporting Measure 111, has spent more than $40,000 so far, mostly on statements that will appear in the voter pamphlet and salaries and benefits for campaign workers, records show.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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