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Editorials: Mixed reviews for Measures 96, 100

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Veterans Day Parade-26-dp.jpg (copy)

A scene from the 2015 Veterans Day parade in Lebanon. The mid-valley always has supported veterans, but Measure 96 on the November ballot, which would allocate a portion of state lottery money to veterans' services, would unduly tie the hands of legislators working on the state budget. 

Let's resume our examination of some of the state ballot measures that haven't received a lot of attention during this year's election season.

Measure 96

Maybe no measure on this year's ballot presents a more difficult choice than Measure 96, which would amend the state constitution to permanently allocate 1.5 percent of state lottery proceeds to services for veterans.

The measure, if approved, would add about $20 million to the budget of the state Department of Veterans Affairs. (The agency's budget for the 2015-17 biennium is about $418 million.)

Services that could be funded could include assistance with employment, education, housing, and physical and mental health care.

There's little doubt that these services could use the additional dough. And the mid-valley always has been willing to assist veterans. (Linn County voters, for example, approved a levy to help build the veterans' home in Lebanon.)

But we are troubled by the funding mechanism behind Measure 96, and so we recommend a "no" vote.

You might recall that lottery dollars originally were intended to be used for job creation and economic development. Over the years, however, various initiatives have shunted lottery dollars into other causes: Fifteen percent of lottery proceeds go to a parks and natural resources fund. Another 18 percent goes to an education stability fund. The remainder is allocated by the Legislature for activities that sometimes have a somewhat tenuous connection to economic development, such as college athletics and gambling addiction treatment.

Nothing prevents legislators from allocating money from the general fund for veterans' services, if they believe these are important. (And they apparently do; the resolution that put Measure 96 on the ballot was unanimously approved by the Legislature.) 

The economic development portion of the lottery proceeds obviously makes for a tempting piggy bank for other causes. (Recall that this is the funding source for Measure 99, the Outdoor School initiative.)

But this measure, and others like it, inevitably take away money from other state priorities. (And, as a constitutional amendment, Measure 96 would require a vote of the people to set aside.) We ask the Legislature to build a budget based on the changing priorities of the state. To some extent, Measure 96 ties the hands of legislators in tackling that essential duty. Voters should be skeptical. 

Measure 100

Measure 100 would prohibit the purchase or sale of parts or products from certain endangered wildlife species; the measure, if passed, would specifically block the purchase or sale of parts or products from elephants, rhinoceroses, whales, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, pangolins, sea turtles, sharks and rays.

The idea is to eliminate the Oregon market for these products, which presumably would throw a small wrench into the worldwide market poachers count on for their despicable trade. 

The measure would plug an odd hole in existing Oregon law, which does not prohibit the sale of wildlife parts and products from non-native species, except shark fins.

The measure does include common-sense exceptions; for example, if you've inherited an antique piece that contains, say, ivory, Measure 100 won't turn you into a criminal.

Oregon residents should not delude themselves into thinking that the passage of Measure 100 will immediately bring to a halt the global trafficking of poached wildlife parts.

But if you consider Measure 100 as the start of a national movement, a "yes" vote makes sense. The Oregon measure is based on an initiative that passed in Washington state in 2015. States such as New York and Hawaii have restricted the ivory trade. Passing Measure 100 in Oregon could fuel similar efforts in other states, and that could make a big difference. We recommend a "yes" vote on Measure 100. (mm)


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