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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.

2014 Will Be Busy Year For Oregon Voters

Office of the Governor
File photo of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber

The year ahead will be a busy one for Oregon voters. They'll decide among candidates for a pair of high-profile offices. And 2014 is shaping up to be a busy year for initiatives, too.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber wasn't satisfied being the state's first three-term governor. He'll try to become Oregon's first four-term governor in 2014. At least five Republicans are vying for the chance to take on incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. The Democrat faces his first re-election challenge in a race that's already drawing national interest.

But the big money battles on Oregon ballots could be on the initiative front. Voters could have a slate of hot-button issues to decide on -- including whether to legalize recreational marijuana and to remove the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Other potential measures would end state government control of hard liquor sales, raise taxes on wealthy Oregonians and corporations, and allow public employees to opt out of paying union dues.

One measure has already qualified: Voters will have their say on a law passed by the legislature to allow people in the country illegally to get Oregon drivers' licenses.

The election year in Washington state will be fairly quiet. But in Idaho, incumbent Republican governor Butch Otter is facing challengers from both major parties in his bid for re-election.