Local and County News

Politicians ignore the Oregon Constitution


<<< HB 3453 and the Oregon Constitution >>>

Public forum – Curry Coastal Pilot – Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 – Page 5A

By: Tom Huxley


“State Oks county rescue bill” – Pilot page 1A July 10, 2013; “House Bill 3453 sailed through the House and Senate Monday morning (7/8/2013).”

Several changes to proposed language in HB 3453 occurred Sunday evening July 7, including limiting the proclamation to two or fewer counties before July 15, 2014.  A requirement that the governor receive unanimous approval from senior leaders of the House and Senate prior to declaring a public safety fiscal emergency had previously been removed.

HB 3453 empowers the governor to proclaim a public safety fiscal emergency in two or fewer counties.  If a majority of the governing body (county commissioners) of an affected county agrees with the proclamation, they (commissioners) are empowered to impose an “income tax” on citizens of that county in an amount which they determine is necessary to satisfy the county’s funding obligations to eliminate the fiscal emergency.  This is unprecedented in Oregon.

A much more accurate title for the July 10 rescue bill article would be “Oregon Legislature ignores Constitution in a dramatic move toward tyranny.”  Government in which a single ruler (dictator) is vested with absolute power never ends well for “the people.”

There are several Articles in the Oregon Constitution that deal with revenue and taxation.  Some date back over 100 years.  HB 3453 appears to be an attempted end run around and over “the people” and the Oregon Constitution.

ARTICLE I – BILL OF RIGHTS Section 32: (June 4, 1917)

No tax or duty shall be imposed without the consent of the people or their representatives in the Legislative Assembly (Oregon Legislature); and all taxation shall be uniform on the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax.

ARTICLE IV – LEGISLATIVE BRANCH Section 25: (May 21, 1996)

(2) Three-fifths of all members elected to each House shall be necessary to pass bills for raising revenue.

ARTICLE IX – FINANCE Section 1a: (Nov. 5, 1912)

No poll or head tax shall be levied or collected in Oregon. The Legislative Assembly shall not declare an emergency in any act regulating taxation or exemption.

Sen. Kruse summed up the 2013 Legislative Session in a July 8 newsletter.  Referring to the Capital Construction Committee, Kruse explained that given the current legislative system in Oregon, members of this committee can “…move whatever legislation they have collectively agreed to with very little input from the rest of the legislature.”  Kruse went on saying Sunday afternoon July 7 “They (Capital Construction Committee) passed a series of bills with no discussion and no input from anyone, even committee members.  To make it even worse they passed some of the bills with ‘conceptual amendments.’”  HB 3453 was one of those bills.

Both State Sen. Kruse and Rep. Krieger voted in favor of the HB 3453.  Did they read the bill?  Do they understand what is in the bill?  Why did they vote in favor of the bill?

Contact them and request a written explanation of what specific authority empowers the governor and legislature to disregard the Oregon Constitution.

Sen. Kruse email: sen.jeffkruse@state.or.us  District Phone: 541-580-3276

Rep. Krieger email: rep.waynekrieger@state.or.us  District Phone: 541-247-7990

Our elected representatives in Salem are charged with serving the people, not the other way around.

Oregon and counties such as Curry have an insatiable appetite and addiction to spending other people’s money.

• Page 8 of the Oregon PERS Actuarial Valuation Report 12/31/2011 which is used to calculate the employer contribution rates statewide effective July 1, 2013, shows anticipated annual benefit payments for retirees through 2032.  Benefit payments remain significantly greater than contributions for the entire 20-year period with negative cash flow around $2 billion in 2012 growing to over $4 billion per year by 2032.  The chart uses a statewide average employer contribution rate of 21.4 percent of gross payroll and excludes the 6 percent employee portion of PERS typically paid by the employer.  To download the report, go to http://www.currycountytaxes.com/.  Click on the PERS Tab at the top of the page.

• July 10, 2013 all three Curry County Commissioners signed Order 13888 obligating the county to continue contributing up to $1000 per month per full time employee for health insurance for members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and non-represented employees.

• July 11, 2013 commissioners all signed a 3-year collective bargaining agreement between Curry County and SEIU.

• Order 13888 also obligated the county to continue paying the 6 percent employee contribution to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) for all eligible Elected Officials’, non-represented employees and SEIU members.  The Order further states the Teamsters (Sheriff’s personnel) collective bargaining agreement remains unresolved.

Commissioner statements such as “An income tax (surcharge) would be substantially more onerous for citizens than a measure we (Curry County Commissioners) would craft.” (Pilot page 7A July 10, 2013) would indicate they remain hopeful tyranny, or the fear of it will prevail and result in more “voter approved” funding for additional collective bargaining demands to be met.  Simply put; they are hopeful taxpayers will cough up more money.

Living within your means, including scaling back unaffordable retirement programs, is one solution the private sector has successfully used for decades and, one that needs to be implemented here in Curry County and throughout Oregon.

Stand by your Constitutional rights and say NO to those who would take away those rights.


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