Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Oregon Comprehensive Health Care Finance Act Referendum

Pete DuPont does not approve of the Oregon Comprehensive Health Care Finance Act referendum, which would create and finance a "single provider" healthcare system in Oregon.

Mr. DuPont's criticisms are surely valid, but the referendum seems more than a little odd to the Man Without Qualities on other - more mundane - grounds. While I am not familiar with the details of Oregon's referendum law, most states (such as California) that provide for referendums also limit them to deciding "single subjects" and prohibit their use for "fundamentally changing" the state Constitution. It appears Oregon has such limitations, too, since one website says: "The Attorney General is responsible for making sure that each proposed measure deals with only one subject, and that the summaries and statements of "yes" and "no" comply with Oregon election law." But I have not reviewed the Oregon Constitution. It is hard to imagine a field of human activity that complies less with any concept of "single subject" than the the vast range of issues that would be involved (in fact, obliterated) in establishing a single provider of health care.

Simply put: It seems hard to believe this referendum is constitutional under the Oregon Constitution because it would change too many things and address too many subjects. But, again, I am not familiar with that Constitution's referendum details. In addition, many people have noted that federal courts seem to be more willing to strike down state ballot initiatives.

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