August has been a good month for democracy, both here in Oregon and across the country! We know that part of being able to stay in the movement for the long haul is taking time to celebrate victories: recognizing and naming successes helps us learn from them, not to mention have some fun and remind ourselves that we are powerful! So, read on for exciting news about the outcomes of two Oregon ballot measures, as well as big decisions on abortion rights and climate coming out of Ohio and Montana respectively.
Earlier this month, the Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced the decision to uphold voter-approved Ballot Measure 113! After years of Republican state lawmakers walking out on their jobs to prevent the functioning of a democratic government, rural organizers got the vote out last November and spoke with their votes, saying lawmakers who don’t show up for 10 or more days of work shouldn’t be allowed to run for re-election. Since then, we have seen another walkout, followed by challenges to the measure that rely on nitpicking the wording. Griffin-Valade responded with a statement affirming that legislators who had ten or more unexcused absences in a legislative session will be disqualified from running for re-election. She said, “My decision honors the voters’ intent by enforcing the measure the way it was commonly understood when Oregonians added it to our state constitution.”
Oregonians made their preferences for stronger gun safety laws clear last November when they passed Ballot Measure 114. Since then, firearm groups, sheriffs, and gun store owners have challenged Measure 114 with lawsuits, which led to a court judge temporarily blocking the law in January. Just a few weeks ago, a federal judge ruled that Measure 114 is constitutional, affirming that Oregon can ban the sale or manufacturing of large-capacity magazines and require a permit to purchase a gun. In announcing her decision, the judge stated that the measure aligns with previous decisions to protect public safety by regulating uniquely dangerous weapons. The legal battle over Measure 114 isn’t over, since it’s still facing challenges at the state level, but the federal ruling is progress towards improved gun safety in Oregon.
Ohio also saw a major win for democracy recently! In April, Richard Uihlein, a shipping supplies magnate and GOP megadonor, donated over $1 million to pressure Ohio lawmakers into putting an anti-democratic measure on the ballot called Issue 1. This measure would have done away with the over 100-year-old law requiring a simple majority of Ohio voters to amend the state constitution, instead requiring a 60% majority. Despite the vote being held in a special off-cycle election, voters turned out in huge numbers to reject this bankrolled proposal. Keeping the 50% majority requirement could make the difference in an upcoming vote in November when voters will have the chance to approve a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights. This victory is part of a larger trend: since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, abortion rights have won in every election!
That’s not all! Youth made history in Montana when a judge ruled in their favor, saying the state has violated young people’s right to a clean and healthful environment by promoting the use of fossil fuels.
What else have you been celebrating? What else do we need to continue building and defending democracy at the local and state level? What is your group focusing on as folks return from summer vacation and gear up for the fall? Let us know by emailing Emma at email@example.com!
Emma and the ROP Team