Letters and Op-Eds
Members of the same family assigned different doctors. Four thousand pregnant undocumented immigrants mistakenly enrolled in OHP. It's so bad that the U.S. Government Accountability Office is auditing how $304 million federal dollars were spent on the Cover Oregon website, which has yet to enroll a single person online without assistance.
The constant barrage of such new reports illustrate the hubris of Alan Bates in believing that everyone should have the same government-designed health insurance regardless of age, sex, family medical history, occupation, risk or anything else that makes us individuals rather than interchangeable parts in his brave new world. Hold this man accountable for the mess he has created and replace him with Dave Dotterrer in November. — Sandy Abercrombie, Medford
Last year, concerned citizens gathered enough signatures to create Veto Referral No. 301, sending the new driver card bill for illegal immigrants, Senate Bill 833, to the voters to decide this year.
The original title of the referral said that SB 833 would give driver cards to people who couldn’t prove legal presence in the United States — a crucial point to many voters, and the only fact that driver card advocates wanted to hide.
Subsequently, on Feb. 27, a majority of the House gave itself permission under House Bill 4054, to re-write the title of Referral No. 301 to suit the purposes of driver card advocates.
The new title will promise a “limited purpose and duration driver card for individuals who prove Oregon residency and meet driving requirements.” A voter looking for a referral about illegal alien driver cards may not understand that this is it, or whether he should vote for or against it.
Representatives cite legal precedent for censoring the opposition’s title, but they should expect deep resentment from the thousands of Oregonians who followed every rule to remand the driver card law to the ballot with a title that voters will readily understand.
The intent behind such subversion and high-handedness undermines our system of government by and for the people even if the letter of the law permits it.
This cynical legislative ploy creates two casualties. One is our system, by passing a law in the middle of a contest to undermine and obfuscate a valid citizen referral.
Lawmakers may get their way by suppressing a popular appeal against a bad law, but at the cost of their credibility.
The other casualty is truth, by falsely declaring SB 833 will ensure illegal aliens will drive insured when SB 833 works on the honor system. Instead of being forced to carry irrevocable insurance in recognition of the fact the applicants are by definition lawbreakers, the drivers may cancel their policies after leaving the Department of Motor Vehicles, as they often did before 2008.
No one would know until they have an accident. The DMV doesn’t track dropped insurance policies, and SB 833 doesn’t require such scrutiny.
In addition, SB 833 protects foreign drug dealers by shielding them from the car searches that getting caught without a driver’s license would have triggered.
SB 833 also promises continued identity theft fraud, by allowing the flimsy Matricula Consular card as identification. Law enforcement has noted how frequently they acquire new ones with different names as the need arises. Does SB 833 make you feel safer now?
Our recourse against such outrageous laws will suffer unless the Senate defeats HB 4054. Our sore-loser representatives have already pushed a diversionary referral title closer to reality.
Local state Rep. Margaret Dougherty voted for both the driver card bill and the re-write bill. Sens. Richard Devlin and Ginny Burdick voted for the driver card too. I’m curious if they’ll also vote to censor their constituents’ opposition when HB 4054 goes to the Senate.
Citizens who value their right to be heard will be interested in their vote.
Lyneil Vandermolen is a Tualatin resident and vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.
More than 70,000 Oregonians put down their signatures to require a vote on the November ballot to dispute the Legislature’s decision granting driver cards to those in Oregon illegally.
The Democratic legislative leaders have the audacity to pass a law specifically invalidating the ballot title as written by the state attorney general for the referendum from the citizens of Oregon.
The proposed wording for HB 4054 eliminates any reference to requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency. The intent is to divert the voter from what the driver card bill really does, to something that appears insignificant.
When lawmakers rewrite a ballot title to “spin” its wording to their favorable end, it distorts the measure’s purpose and attempts to manipulate the will of the voter.
I think it’s great Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, consistently keeps us up to date on mostly his pet bills in the House, but when he votes in favor to grant special amenities to people illegally in our country and sees fit to stay silent on the subject, we need to ask him to explain his motivation for casting his votes in that manner.
After all, doesn’t he represent and work for us?
We should not be rewarding Alan Bates with another term of office but should hold him responsible as the primary proponent of the mess that is Cover Oregon.
According to The Oregonian, the following has occurred. Family members have been assigned to different providers. People mysteriously disappearing from provider membership rolls. Case workers denied access to correct errors that clients are reporting. An IT system that does not properly calculate the codes that determine federal matching funds. Four thousand illegal immigrants given full Oregon Health Plan coverage in violation of federal law.
No wonder the GAO is auditing us. Don't let Alan Bates shift the blame to the bureaucrats — they are just implementing the mess he designed and tells us is so wonderful. He should be voted out of office in November — sooner if he has a primary opponent.
Don Paul - Ashland
After reading the editorial in the March 2 Bulletin concerning the chicanery the Legislature was trying to pull off regarding the wording of the ballot measure rewarding illegal immigration with a driver’s license, I realized there may be a silver lining if voters approve the measure.
A few months ago I was waiting in line at the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles with all the documentation I could carry establishing the fact that I was born in this country. My intention was to renew my Oregon driver’s license after having lived out of state for a few years. As I was waiting I overheard the vocal exchange between an elderly gentleman and the DMV clerk. The elderly gentleman was trying to renew his driver’s license that he had held since before the clerk was born. The gentleman was telling the clerk that he did not have a birth certificate and had never had one.
He explained he was born in rural Montana and as far as he knew no birth certificate ever existed documenting his birth. Also, he did not have a passport, as the only time he left the country was to serve in the military.
Eventually he was sent on his way without a driver’s license, but with a laundry list of hoop jumping to see if he could prove if he was an American.
I suppose that if the measure passes, the elderly fellow could go into the DMV and announce he just sneaked across the border and be handed his driver’s license. Absent that, he may want to contract with the same folks that found Obama’s birth certificate.
John T. Parr
The 2013 Legislature created a new driver card for only one reason — to grant driving privileges to Oregon residents unable to prove legal presence in the United States, thus hoping to reduce the number of Oregonians taking to the roads without being licensed and insured. There is only one difference between driver license and driver card requirements in Oregon — the need to prove legal residency in the U.S. in order to obtain a license.
So it should have come as no surprise when Attorney General Ellen Rosenbloom — a Democrat, by the way — adopted the following ballot title for a citizen referendum designed to overturn the authorizing legislation: “Provides Oregon resident ‘driver card’ without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.” In our view, that summarizes the measure as succinctly as humanly possible.
Why, then, would the 2014 Legislature’s majority Democrats mount an effort to change that language, excluding the public along the way? There can really only be one reason — to deceive Oregon voters going to the polls in November and reduce chances for voter-repeal of the law.
Here’s their alternative language: “Establishes limited purpose, duration driver card for individuals who prove Oregon residency, meet driving requirements.”
It avoids the appearance of granting special privileges to people in the country illegally by simply eliminating all mention of immigration status from the ballot title. It ignores the fact that illegal residency is the only barrier to routine driver licensing. If you can fool enough people, you can move the electoral dial in your direction.
For good measure, Democrats rendered Supreme Court review moot and provided no other avenue of timely appeal. Don’t worry about the fact there is absolutely no precedent for legislative interference in the drafting of ballot titles for citizen initiatives or referendums, only for measures actually initiated by the Legislature itself.
Is there no limit to how far a group of partisans will go to game the system in hopes of rigging the outcome? If they were so sure about the righteousness of their original position, which enjoyed bipartisan support, why not take their chances in a fair election? Why not respect the separation of powers doctrine enshrined in both the state and federal constitutions and leave ballot titles to the non-partisan judicial sector?
The perpetrators of this fraud argue otherwise, but it rings utterly hollow. They clearly wanted to improve their electoral prospects.
To our moral arguments against this effort, let us add one that is utterly practical: Such tinkering is prone to backfire. Repeal advocates will be well-funded, and they won’t miss this opportunity to inject anti-government venom into the debate. Monkey with the ballot in such a cynical way and you surely pay a commensurate — if not disproportionate — electoral price.
The state’s largest newspaper blasted this move editorially, terming it a self-serving, misdirected and breathtakingly cynical abuse of process.
Amen. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. This is not the way to conduct the people’s business.
For decades, Oregon’s initiative and referendum process have provided citizens the opportunity to challenge or determine the future of a law passed by their elected lawmakers.
When legislators pass a bill, the people have a window of time in which they can collect a set amount of signatures to refer the law to a vote. Then the citizens, not the politicians, decide if the law is a good fit or not.
In recent years, it seems that process has come under increasing fire, and one current development is particularly troubling.
During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 833, which would allow undocumented residents to obtain a driver’s card in place of a driver’s license. The card would only grant driving privileges, and not serve as legal identification, so long as the applicant meet the requirements imposed on other drivers.
After the bill passed, citizens collected enough signatures to put the law to a vote, and a subsequent measure will appear on the 2014 ballot. So far so good, right? Another bill is referred to the people just like many others. Not quite.
Turns out that the Legislature, for the first time in Oregon history, has decided to step in and passed a law, House Bill 4054, that will enable them to choose the ballot title. Most ballot titles are determined by the Oregon Attorney General, with the intent of making the title as balanced and accurate as possible. If anyone disputes the given title, they can challenge it in the nonpartisan Oregon Supreme Court and justices will decide what is suitable.
This ballot measure title was in fact disputed and the Supreme Court is currently deciding what the title should be. Apparently that is not good enough for some lawmakers. Before the court has decided, the lawmakers have decided they want to name the ballot measure.
Bill supporters have not publicly given a reason for this unprecedented move, but it doesn’t really matter what their reason is. This sets an unsettling precedent that takes more power away from the citizenry, a group already struggling to have their say in the laws the state passes.
Changing something as simple ballot title may seem innocuous enough, but Sen. Doug Whitsett correctly pointed out that many voters base their decision on the ballot title alone. If that title is slanted in any way, voters could unknowingly cast their vote with one expectation and get an entirely different result.
This is the latest, and most troubling incident, in a growing trend. Many bills are introduced with an hour’s notice of a public hearing in Salem. How many citizens outside of the Willamette Valley can make those hearings, if any? Furthermore, the Legislature is passing a majority of its bills with an emergency clause attached, meaning it takes effect upon passage. Consequently, that window of opportunity to refer the law to a vote is gone. By the way, HB 4054 has an emergency clause attached.
Citizens should retain their power in the legislative process. Yes, they elected these representatives, but that doesn’t mean they will always do the will of the people. In those situations, the citizens need a way to fight back.
How many Oregonians have renewed their driver’s licenses since Senate Bill 1080 was passed by the 2008 Legislature? I was born in Eugene, have had an Oregon license since 1958 and was shocked at the documentation that’s now necessary to renew a driver’s license.
Now the Legislature in pushing to save SB 833, which allows the state to issue a “driver card” to undocumented immigrants. Go figure. A referendum on the driver card law will be on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, thanks to a number of concerned citizens, but why has the issue advanced this far?
Why doesn’t the Legislature follow Section 4(1) of the law, which requires a person to provide proof they are legally present in the United States before he or she can receive a limited-term driver’s card, driver’s permit or ID card?
Will it be necessary to file a class-action lawsuit against the state of Oregon for discriminating against its own law-abiding citizens and violating its own law? Vote to repeal SB 833, and then vote out of office the people who sponsored the bill.
It’s a remarkable scenario of legislative overreach.
• The Legislature passed a bill.
• Seeking to reverse that action, opponents successfully gathered signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
• The attorney general, as provided by law, wrote the ballot title.
• Now the Legislature wants to rewrite the ballot title to obscure its meaning.
It’s a bit like the proverbial fox guarding the hen house.
The issue is driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
The Legislature approved Senate Bill 833 in 2013, granting four-year driver cards for residents who cannot prove they are in the state legally. Advocates said the law would encourage illegal residents to learn the rules of the road, get insurance and drive legally, helping them get to and from work and participate fully in the economy. The cards would have a label to distinguish them from regular licenses.
Opponents successfully challenged the bill, getting enough support to suspend it and send the question to voters this November.
The attorney general’s office wrote the ballot title, which says it “provides Oregon resident ‘driver card’ without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.”
The Legislature, through House Bill 4054, now wants to replace that title, saying the measure “establishes limited purpose, duration driver card for individuals who prove Oregon residency, meet driving requirements.”
The new language includes no mention of legal residence, no way for a voter to know what the issue is really about.
Disputes about ballot language are common, because it can influence voter understanding and affect outcomes. Although a more complete discussion appears in the voter guide, some voters will see only the words that appear on the ballot. The words are powerful and deserve careful attention.
Even those who fully support giving driver cards to illegal residents should be outraged at this attempt to hide the issue and confuse voters.
Apparently Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (HD-44) along with Representatives Jessica Vega-Pederson (HD-47) and Vic Gilliam (HD-18) don’t trust the wisdom of more than 71,000 Oregon voters state wide in 2013 who had the opportunity to read Senate Bill 833 and then sign a referendum 301 signature sheet that puts the issue of whether or not those illegally present in the state should be allowed driver cards before the state’s voters in November of this year.
Unfortunately these legislators, Reps. Vega-Pederson and Gilliam who were original sponsors of the driver cards legislation, want to pass a law to rewrite the ballot title of referendum 301 even before the Oregon Supreme Court gets a chance to make a decision on the input given by opponents and proponents of the current ballot title.
All members of the 2014 Oregon State Legislature legislative session should in all fairness to the state’s voters that signed referendum 301 stay out of the way — they had their turn at amending the legislation during the 2013 legislative session — and let the state court have the final say on the ballot title of the referendum.
Oregonians who oppose driver cards for those illegally present in the state should contact their state senator and representative and tell them to reject any tampering, call it obfuscation, of the current ballot title which clearly reveals the consequences of the legislation if it becomes state a state law — “Provides Oregon resident ‘driver card’ without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.”
David Olen Cross of Salem writes on the subjects of illegal immigration and foreign national crime. Contact him at email@example.com.