Oregon: Meddling in the people’s business

Tue, Mar 4 2014 — Source: Mail Tribune

Oregon’s system of initiative and referendum gives voters the power to enact laws themselves when the Legislature cannot or will not, and to overturn laws voters don’t like. Needless to say, lawmakers are not always pleased with this populist process, but most of the time, they let it take its course. This week, though, the House stuck its nose where it doesn’t belong.

At issue is a law the Legislature passed allowing immigrants in the United States illegally to obtain permits to drive in Oregon. We supported the law and still do: The immigrants in question are here, and they’re driving whether anyone likes it or not, so why not encourage them to know the rules of the road and to get insurance?

Needless to say, not everyone agrees with that argument. Opponents of the law promptly launched a referendum campaign to repeal it, saying the state should not be rewarding people who are in the country illegally. Enough signatures were gathered to put the statute to a vote, and normally, that would be that.

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