Emergency on the Oregon Trail
I am trying — trying hard — to imagine what a “zoning emergency” might be.
In Oregon, Senate Bill 823 sets out to prohibit all development on or within spitting distance of the historic Oregon Trail running from the state line to the city of The Dalles. A homeowner, for instance, couldn’t even add a deck.
It’s quite a bite out of the future, for the sake of the past.
Foolish and intrusive? Yes. But an emergency? That’s what the senators called it when they passed it by a whopping margin. They didn’t say why. But root around the state’s Constitution and you’ll catch on.
An emergency clause enables the law to take effect as soon as it goes through both houses and the governor. All other law must wait 90 days after the end of the session. It turns out that the people of Oregon can subject any law to a voter referendum so long as that law “does not become effective earlier than 90 days after the end of the session at which the Act is passed.”
Get it? Adding an emergency clause proves merely to be a tricky way to keep Oregon’s laws out of the purview of Oregon’s voters!
Because folks like Steve Buckstein with the Cascade Policy Institute have begun speaking out against this bill, it may fail now in the House. Still, it shows why voters need to be holding an even shorter leash.
Otherwise, every act will entail some sort of emergency…for citizens, if not the politicians who would control our every move.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.