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House 34 candidates reflect on race

DALLAS -- This will be Lane Shetterly's third -- and final -- term representing Oregon House District 34 before term limits kick in.



DALLAS -- This will be Lane Shetterly's third -- and final -- term representing Oregon House District 34 before term limits kick in.

He expects it to be a busy one.

"Budget issues are going to predominate," he said.

Voters have seen to that.

Although voters rejected Bill Sizemore's measure to make federal income taxes fully deductible on Oregon tax returns, they passed the measure's baby brother.

Measure 88 increases the maximum deductible in Oregon for federal income taxes. Not as much as Sizemore wanted, Shetterly said, but enough to hurt.

Before the election, legislators were looking at a budget shortfall of $500 to $700 million. Measure 88 is going to mean an additional $170 million in cuts.

"This is going to be a belt-tightening session," Shetterly said.

"I doubt very much we can achieve a budget that continues current services. You get to a point where it doesn't make sense to reduce 15 percent across the board."

Some state programs could very well face extinction, he said. That's apparently what voters want.

"That's consistent with the message of this last election," Shetterly said.

Voters obviously didn't want to go after state government with Sizemore's meat ax, but Shetterly said it's equally obvious they want spending cut in a big way.

"The Legislature will respond in kind."

Other measures are also going to be felt in the wallet.

Voters passed Ballot Measure 7, which amends the Oregon Constitution to require payment to landowners if government regulation reduces property value.

The measure is vague. Making it work legally is going to take a lot of time and effort in the Legislature, Shetterly said.

The lawsuits the measure could generate have the potential of costing millions of dollars, he said.

There have been high-level meetings to discuss the impact of Measure 7. "They're still defining what the questions are," Shetterly said.

There's also Measure 99, which creates a brand new home health care commission. That's another measure that could carry a hefty price tag, he said.

Shetterly is concerned about the flurry of measures that appear on the ballot, especially how they are worded. They often create legislative nightmares as lawmakers try to cram square pegs into round holes.

A year ago, Shetterly drafted Measure 79 to increase the number of signatures needed to get proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Voters rejected the measure. This year, however, they also rejected a Sizemore measure designed to prevent any further attempts to tamper with the initiative process.

Shetterly has come up with an idea he thinks may be "the last, best hope for initiative reform."

It would apply, like Measure 79, to proposed constitutional amendments. What it would basically do is give voters a third choice beyond yes or no.

This third vote would automatically introduce the measure as a bill during the next legislative session. There, legislators would delve into all the proposals and work out all the legalistic bugs.

The cleaned-up proposal would go back to voters. So would the original ballot measure. Voters would have their choice of the original measure or the version recommended by the Legislature.

"One of the strong suits of the initiative process is surfacing issues that people want to talk about," Shetterly said.

"It's not so good as an instrument for making workable legislation. That's where the failing tends to be. This would give someone the opportunity to say `I like the idea.'"

If the original ballot measure is not approved or rejected by at least 50 percent, it would automatically go to the Legislature.

"The Legislature is a more deliberative process where hearings can be held and where people can comment on and study the language of a proposal and point out drafting errors or unintended consequences," Shetterly said.

If the Legislature could not come up with a cleaned-up proposal, the original would go back to the ballot on its own.

The Legislature would also have some new rules under Shetterly's proposal. All legislators need right now to get a referral on the ballot is a simple majority vote.

Shetterly wants to tighten that, particularly when it comes to proposed constitutional amendments.

He suggests that the Legislature be required to pass proposed amendments by at least a three-fifths majority of both the House and Senate.

If the two houses can only muster a simple majority, the proposal would have to be approved by the next two legislative assemblies.

"That way, it would have to be an issue that's important enough and not just a hot topic for today or tomorrow," Shetterly said.

Shetterly himself will need a majority decision to get his proposal before the voters. He thinks some kind of reform is needed.

"This raises the bar for both initiatives and legislative referrals."

He recognizes that the idea will have its critics, especially those who will say it will only make the labyrinth of measures on the ballot even more bewildering.

Shetterly thinks that problem can alleviated by carefully worded ballots. But taking the time to understand the issues and vote responsibly is also a part of democracy, he said.

"If the public wants to accept the responsibility of passing legislation and adopting constitutional amendments by the initiative process, then we need to get more sophisticated as to how system works."

OTHER CANDIDATES

Not everyone got good news the morning after the election.

It was a morning of mixed blessings for Democrat Marilyn Slizeski of Philomath.

She lost in her attempt to capture Shetterly's House District 34 seat -- losing 4,101 to 9,978. However, she held on to her seat on the Philomath City Council.

The house race was stimulating, Slizeski said. She will definitely be back in two years. "That's my intention at this point."

There won't be a popular incumbent then. This is Shetterly's last term in the House before running up against term limitations.

Slizeski said she wasn't surprised by the election results.

"I knew it was an uphill battle. I knew I was up against an incumbent in a district that normally votes Republican. I went into this with my eyes wide open so I'm not beating myself up over what I should have done differently."

In two years, she said, "I'll just have a little more experience."

Running for state office didn't exhaust her, she said. It only invigorated her. "There is something of a bug you can get. Some people have said they think I got it."

Libertarian J.T. Barrie got only 248 votes in the House District 34 race. He didn't even have enough money to get a statement in the voters pamphlet.

Still, he said he's not discouraged either.

"I did everything I told everyone I would do. I totally discredited the incumbent on issues such as crime and public safety. I dominated the public safety issue. I just didn't have the money to get the message out."

Barrie advocated legalizing most drugs and regulating the narcotics business to provide money for schools and other public services.

Such a message rarely gets heard, he said. All most voters hear about is who is ahead and who is behind. "All the libertarians got buried under the horse race," Barrie said.

"Everyone who cares about issues was played for a chump."

Barrie said he respects Steve Walker, the Constitution Party candidate for House District 34 who got 1,044 votes. "At least he stands for something."

Shetterly and Slizeski are a different story, he said.

"There's basically no difference between the two. They argued about how they would spend tax money and didn't deal with any substantive issues like crime and violence.

"It's amazing how candidates can get so much support for so little issues."



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