Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Measure 37
Another measure that is generating controversy is yet another measure that land owners to force government to compensate them for imposing regulations that cause land values to drop.
Secretary of State site

Here's the for and against folks:
Oregonians in Action
Take a Closer Look Committee

Now as the law stands, if the government condemns a property, reducing it's value to virtually nothing, or taking it for government use. Passing this would force the government to pay the landowners for a reduction on property value for any regulation that reduced the value. The government would have the option of just not enforcing the rule on certain landowners.

This is one of the few measures this year that will have a significant financial impact on the state. 44 million dollars is nothing to sneeze at. The question I think should be here, is 44 million potential dollars spent by the government worth adding the regulations needed? That's a big number to you and me, but it's not a huge number in a state budget (ed-huge enough you might say. Close to 1% of the budget is nothing to sneeze at, but what we are talking about is having the state take a second thought every time they impose some regulation. This stuff doesn't just protect the environment or whatever, it affects people).
I actually misspoke there. The state is only one player in this. I'm not sure if that 44 million is spread over the various state and municipal agencies or not. I would presume that when the city of Portland makes a new regulatory call that the hit is on their budget, not the state's.

Reading the voter's pamphlet, I see that most of the entries FOR the measure come from Farmer's organizations and private citizens. The array of citizens tell some pretty horrifying stories of government regulations costing them (and the government when they sue) lots of money. There are also a few entries from the authors of the measure addressing opponents concerns. They seem to do a good job of that, it's not aggressive or mean spirited at all.
Except: There is a really tasteless entry in the FOR category. I don't know why the Sec of State let this one through. It is really and advertisement for getting rich quick by buying land, stating that this measure will eliminate all zoning and environ mental protections across the state. This was obviously put there by an opponent of the bill. Shame on Peter Bray and Bill Bradbury.

-As far as the opposition goes. Here are some of the concerns about the bill that they bring up:
-The measure is retroactive for all current landowners. It is not just future regulation that is covered but past regulation that affected the land that owners currently have.
-It's complex and will increase paperwork and taxes and that will hurt landowners more.
-The cost to ALL governments, state and local, is more like 344 million dollars (this is a per year estimate, but that doesn't say if that's just for the first two years when the opportunity to apply for past takings occurs or not).
-It's poorly written and vague (you mean like every measure that's every been put before the public?).
-Something about notice to citizens will not longer be required when development is taking place near them.
-It will cause uneven application of new regulations, resulting in lawsuits (well, it seems to me the only options the government has is to pay out or not apply the regulation. How is this uneven?).
-It will create unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape.
-Measure doesn’t say where the money to pay for this would come from.

The players on the NO side are more varied. You have lots of government administrators, including the governor. There are various unions. You've got environmental organizations like the Audubon, and various business and local organizations. Interestingly enough there are also lots of Farming organizations on the NO side too.

After reading the bill, I find many of the arguments of the opposition to be without merit. My own understanding of the process of government may be limited here, but I don't see it. That the results of government zoning and regulations dramatically affect people’s lives is truth.
The only one of the opposition's arguments that gives me pause is that the bill is retroactive. That's the one part I don't like, because that will cost the government more money than it can pay, by far. I generally don't like retroactive effects of bills and measures. You knew the rules when you bought the property before. You may not like them, but that's how the rulebook played. I think the bill should be changed.
But this is just a bill, not an amendment. It's not unheard of that the legislature changes parts of measures that were passed in order to make them work after the fact.

After looking around a bit, the same arguments that are in the pamphlet are being made at most of the sites I visited.
Certainly there is concern about how the government treats landowners. You may not think that this measure is the way to answer that, but RoguePundit answers:
Since our legislature won't come up a reasonable means to compensate landowners for state and local land-use restrictions that cause financial harm, voters are again trying to take things into their own hands, this time with Measure 37. If the folks in Salem would govern more effectively, we wouldn't be approving so many initiatives.
Nuff said.

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