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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Lawmakers Tighten Signature Gathering Requirements

Garry Knight

Oregon lawmakers want to tighten the rules for getting initiative petitions on the ballot. The Oregon House Friday approved a measure that would extend signature gathering laws to more groups involved in the process. But opponents say the legislation could unfairly affect people trying to get measures on the ballot.

At issue is a clause in the bill that requires companies who employ signature gatherers to sign a statement swearing that their organization complies with Oregon election law. Groups involved in the petition process complain that puts them at risk of committing a felony if one of their employees commits election fraud.

Majority Democrats produced a legal opinion claiming that wouldn't be the case.

But Republicans such as Representative Julie Parrish said the law would further scare citizens away from the initiative system. "I think that anything we do that makes the signature gathering process harder for citizens is one further barrier from them to be able to take their idea and put it into law."

The measure narrowly passed both chambers and now heads to the governor's desk.

Oregon lawmakers had wanted to finish up their work by the end of June. But that won't happen. For the first time since 2005, the Oregon legislature will be meeting in July.

On the Web:

SB 154: Petition rules - Oregon Legislature