02-19-2017  6:14 pm      •     

For the first time this year, two Oregon measures were evaluated by a "citizens' jury" to give voters an educated source of information about laws that will have a significant impact on the state.

The Citizens Initiative Review selected a group of people demographically matched to the census of the state – diverse in race, religion, politics, age, geographic location and income – to hear from measure sponsors, critics and other experts. After reviewing the initiatives for a week, the group crafted a statement about the measure.
The entire record of the group's activities are available online. Every witness presentation to the group is available on the site, as well as all documents that the jury accessed. If you weren't one of the 24 people selected to serve on each jury, you now have the opportunity to make your own decisions from the information supplied to the group (although set aside some time for everything, as it took the good part of a week for the jury to hear all the information).
Director Tyrone Reitman hopes the people of Oregon will see the process as a valuable public service and vote to fund it. Each evaluation cost about $150,000.
After their experience, jury participants told The Skanner News that
"It totally changed the way I look at the political process," said 26-year-old Shataria Wells, a citizens' jury member who examined Measure 73. "After giving a first read of the measure, of course I'd support this. But after hearing from background witnesses, it really changed my mind. My decision would have been completely different."
Citizens jury members voted on the following findings for Measure 73. The other members voted to support the measure:
• M73 shifts the balance of power in court proceedings, giving the prosecution additional leverage in plea bargaining and limiting the judge's discretion in sentencing individual cases. (21 agree)
• Passed in 1994, Measure 11 (ORS 137.700) provides mandatory minimum sentencing of 70-300 months for the major felony sex crimes defined in Measure 73. (24 agree)
• Mandatory minimum sentencing has not proven a significant deterrent to future DUII or sex crimes. (21 agree)
• An unintended consequence of M73 is that juveniles aged 15 to 17 are subject to 25 year mandatory minimum sentences. (20 agree)
• Oregon spends over 10.9% of its general funds on corrections – a greater percentage than any other state. (19 agree)

Key findings for Measure 74 - The following are statements about the measure and the number of panelists who agree with each statement
• The language of the measure lacks clarity on regulation, operation, and enforcement. (23 of 24 agree)
• Medical marijuana provides recognized benefits for many serious conditions, some of which may not respond to other treatments. (21 of 24 agree)
• Dispensaries are non-profit entities licensed to possess, produce, sell, transport, and supply medical marijuana to cardholders and other dispensaries. (23 of 24 agree)
• Oregon Health Authority, with input from an advisory committee and public hearings, shall develop administrative rules. (21 of 24 agree)
• The program is financially self-sustaining and may provide funds for research. (22 of 24 agree)
• The measure shall provide an assistance program for low income cardholding patients to obtain medical marijuana. (21 of 24 agree)
We, 13 members of the Citizens' Initiative Review, support Ballot Measure 74 for the following reasons:
• Implements a dispensary system for patients to acquire medical marijuana in a timely manner
• Provides improved access to safe, alternative treatment of serious medical conditions while reducing harmful side effects and addiction from opiates
• Generates jobs for residents providing a boost to Oregon's economy
• Self-sustaining program with potential to increase state revenue without imposing new taxes
• Introduces additional regulations and control to an existing program previously approved by Oregon voters
• Statewide public hearings allow for actual voter input in the rule making process
Summary: Measure 74 creates a safe, compassionate and prompt access program for Oregon medical marijuana patients, introduces regulation, and is financially sound.
We, 11 members of the Citizens' Initiative Review, oppose Ballot Measure 74 for the following reasons:
• Proponents are saying "trust us" before rules are made.
• Oregonians will not have a vote on such critical details as: maximum number of dispensaries, purchase limit for individuals in a given time period, penalties for infractions, and statewide recordkeeping for cardholders.
• Convicted felons can become dispensary directors or employees five years after conviction.
• Dispensary directors and their employees are exempt from prosecution for marijuana related activities when in "substantial compliance."
• "Substantial compliance" is not defined or enforceable according to district attorneys and law enforcement.
• Availability of marijuana will increase, inviting illegal activity.
Summary: Measure 74, a thinly veiled attempt to legalize marijuana, has a high probability of being abused!


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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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