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Initiative ideas travel from state to state

Capital Press Editorial

Oct. 25, 2006

Oregon Measure 37 casts a long shadow across the West's political landscape during this general election, as voters in California and the Northwest prepare to cast their ballots on Nov. 7.

In Idaho, Washington state and California are ballot measures that follow in the footsteps of Measure 37, which Oregon voters passed two years ago. It specifies that when government regulations reduce the value of land, the government must either make up the difference to property owners or waive those regulations.

While the Washington measure, I933, more closely resembles the original Oregon version, Idaho's Proposition 2 and California's Measure 90 combine a prohibition against the use of eminent domain proceedings for private developments with a provision that government must provide compensation to property owners whose land has been devalued by regulations.

A quick look at key races and other issues around the West:


Voters will choose a governor, decide the fate of four constitutional amendments and six ballot measures and choose five U.S. House members.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, is running for a second term in the Oregon Capitol. His chief opponent is Republican Ron Saxton. Also on the ballot are Mary Starrett of the Constitution Party, Joe Keating of the Pacific Green Party and Richard Morley of the Libertarian Party.

Among the issues to be decided are Ballot Measure 39, which is important to Oregon landowners because it would prevent state or local governments from condemning privately owned land and transferring it to another private party. It follows on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed a Connecticut city to condemn property for a private development.

Measure 40, a constitutional amendment, would require that Supreme Court and appeals court judges be elected by district; Measure 42 would prohibit insurance companies from using their customers' credit scores in setting rates; and Measure 48 would amend the constitution to set term limits for state legislators.


U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is up for re-election. A Democrat, she faces Republican Mike McGavick in the general election. Also running are Libertarian Bruce Guthrie, Independent Robin Adair and Aaron Dixon of the Green Party.

Washingtonians will also elect nine members to the U.S. House. Among those running are U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris, a Republican seeking a second term in her Eastern Washington district. Democrat Peter J. Goldmark is the challenger.

Among the races that are of interest to agriculture are U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen's bid for re-election in his northwest Washington district. The Democrat is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture and is facing Republican Doug Roulstone.

Voters will also decide four ballot measures, including Initiative Measure 933, which would require compensation when government regulations diminish the value of land. Backed by the Washington Farm Bureau, it is patterned after Oregon Measure 37, which was adopted two years ago.

Among the other measures to watch are Initiative Measure 920, which would repeal the state's estate tax and a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to increase the personal property tax exemption.


U.S. Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, R-Idaho, faces Democrat Jerry Brady in the race for the governor's chair. Otter, one of Idaho's two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, hopes to follow in the footsteps of Dirk Kempthorne, the Idaho governor who earlier this year was appointed secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Brady's family publishes the Idaho Falls Post Register newspaper. Ted Dunlap of the Libertarian Party and Marvin Richardson of the Constitution Party are also running.

Idaho's two U.S. House seats are up for grabs. Otter is vacating his 1st District seat, and Republican incumbent Mike Simpson is seeking re-election to his 2nd District seat. Gov. Jim Risch, who was appointed to the top office when Kempthorne moved to the Interior post, is seeking to return to the lieutenant governor's office.

Voters will also decide the fate of two propositions. One would raise the state sales tax to help pay for schools. Another would limit eminent domain for economic development and provide compensation for regulatory takings. It in part is patterned after Oregon's Measure 37.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican who was swept into office as Democratic incumbent Gray Davis was swept out, stands for re-election. Facing him as he seeks re-election is Democrat Phil Angelides and a bevy of minor-party candidates.

Also on the ballot are 13 ballot measures. Among them are four that would allocate $19.9 billion for roads and public transit systems, $10.4 billion on school construction, $4.1 for levee and other flood-control projects and $2.9 billion for affordable housing.

Another ballot measure of interest to agriculture is Proposition 90, a constitutional amendment that is a hybrid of the eminent domain and land-use regulatory measures in the other states.

It bars state and local governments from condemning or damaging private property to promote other private projects and limits government's authority to adopt land-use, housing, consumer, environmental and workplace laws and regulations, except when necessary to preserve public health or safety.

Californians will also decide whether to send U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein back to Washington, D.C. The Democratic incumbent seeks another six-year term against Republican challenger Richard Mountjoy.

Voters will also decide the outcome of 53 U.S. House races, including that of Rep. Richard Pombo, District 11, who is chairman of the House Resource Committee. Democrat Jerry McNerny is his challenger.

Voters across the West will decide many key issues and races in the Nov. 7 general election, including initiatives aimed at prohibiting governments from condemning private property and handing it to another private party.

The only way agriculture can protect and promote itself is by electing public officials who understand agriculture and the challenges it faces.


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