County Commissioners Can Put Advisory Questions on County Ballots

Oregonians: contact your county commissioners if you live in an orange or green county on the map. Contact your city council if you live in Redmond, La Pine, Maupin, Shaniko,  Antelope, Rogue River, Gold Hill, Central Point, Eagle Point, or Shady Cove. Even though the green counties say “collect signatures”, we can do both in green counties. If the county commissioners or city council put it on the ballot, we won’t have to collect signatures anymore.

Ask county commissioners to refer an advisory question onto the county ballot to give voters a voice on whether the border should be moved.  If you live in Redmond, La Pine, Maupin, Shaniko, or Antelope, contact your city council. Show up at one of their meetings, and speak during the public comment period. Bring a bunch of County citizens with you or have them call your commissioners.

You can find the meeting info on the county website. You can get the names and email addresses of your county commissioners here. Phone numbers are often on the county website.

Your commissioners can follow this guide: https://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/ReferralManual.pdf

The form below is a suggested model that your county clerk could use if your county commissioners vote to refer the advisory question onto the ballot.  For city councils, the city clerk will use SEL 802, not SEL 801.  Here’s an example advisory question a city council could put on the city’s ballot: “Should the city council request that Redmond be included into Idaho whenever a relocation of state lines is being negotiated?”

Below is a model letter you could use to write to your county commissioners.  Let us know how they respond.

I vote in this county and I’m writing today to ask you to refer a non-binding advisory question about Greater Idaho to the county ballot.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners referred such a question onto the November 2021 ballot.  The question that the Douglas County Commissioners wrote is “Should Douglas County commissioners, state representatives and senators work toward moving the Idaho state border to include Douglas County?”  If you don’t want such a direct question, you could also ask something like “Should county commissioners establish a committee to investigate and promote the possibility of making _______ county a county of Idaho?”

A County Board can refer an advisory question onto the ballot as an act of the County Board, without gathering signatures.

I am not asking you to take a position on this issue; I am only asking that you let our county vote on it. Let the people decide which state government is more suited to their county’s economy and values.  Rural Oregon counties’ concerns are trampled on in Salem. Let them have a voice on this issue.

To read the full proposal to make rural Oregon a part of Idaho, visit: greateridaho.org

I am very concerned by the report by Jackson County commissioners that Kate is only sharing federal COVID-19 money with the Portland area. www.mailtribune.com/coronavirus/2020/05/01/jackson-county-wants-a-share-of-covid-19-relief-money

Move Oregon’s Border wrote: “Mike McCarter explained the greater Idaho concept in person to Lake County commissioners in February. The commissioners were concerned about the financial impact of switching states. So I did a study that showed that Idaho counties similar to Lake County got more money per person from their state government than Lake County did, even though in 2018 the average Idahoan paid $1722 less taxes than the average Oregonian (that’s for every adult or child, employed, retired or unemployed, and that was before Gov. Brown hiked taxes even higher).”

Can you assure me that you will bring this to the County Board for a vote, and you will vote yes?

Many years ago, the Oregon Constitution was amended to give some limited legislative power to the people of a county to force county governments to place an ordinance on their ballot if certain requirements are met.  This amendment adds power to the people, but it doesn’t diminish the county government’s authority. The longstanding guidance of the Attorney General of Oregon is that all Oregon counties have the authority to refer non-binding advisory questions to county ballots, as explained on page 85/89 of this document on Oregon’s website: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/CHRONICDISEASE/HPCDPCONNECTION/Documents/TA/policy_change_resources/county_home_rule_paper.pdf

Now we are asking the Board to use its power to refer a non-binding advisory question to the ballot, just as the Douglas County commissioners did in August, 2020 for the November 2020 election.  It has nothing to do with requiring meetings. It’s just a way to ask the voters if they want their County to be one of the counties covered by negotiations between the two states regarding moving the border between states. How else would the state be able to know if County voters want the County to be included in the move? 

The state government created this manual that County Courts can use to refer questions (or ordinances, or bonds) to the ballot: https://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/ReferralManual.pdf  Notice that on page 14, it says that districts do not have the authority to place advisory questions on the ballot, but it doesn’t say that about COUNTIES.