“The initiative that legalized magic mushroom businesses allows cities and counties to ban them via ballot initiative. Local governments also retain the power to craft “time, place, and manner” regulations over psilocybin businesses.
This past election, 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties voted to ban psilocybin businesses, including four that voted to legalize psilocybin in 2020. Only two counties that put the questions to voters, Deschutes and Jackson counties, kept these businesses legal.
And this week, those two counties will consider new land use regulations that could severely restrict where newly legal “psilocybin service centers” can set up shop.”
“When marijuana was legalized in Oregon, it went through a similar journey. Voters approved a relatively liberal legalization ballot initiative. The legislature followed this up with more constricting regulations. Then a long list of local governments opted not to allow marijuana businesses. Those that did often imposed zoning regulations that made a lot of prime real estate off-limits to the new industry.
Given that history, it’s perhaps unsurprising that local governments would want to tightly regulate legalized psychedelics facilities—given how novel and new they are.
Subjecting new industries to heavy regulation is nevertheless a great way to strangle them in the crib. A business as weird as legalized shrooms requires a lot of experimentation. And we shouldn’t trust county commissions to design the perfect trip.”
“Oregon is known nationally for being solidly blue, but its internal politics are more nuanced. The biggest source of friction is in the state’s environmental politics, because outside blue Portland, the eastern area of the state is home to both old-growth forests and a large logging industry.
“Timber is to Oregon what coal is to West Virginia,” Pedery said. “There’s legacy logging money that funds all of our right-wing causes in the state.”
The timber industry’s power makes for more unusual politics than the typical left-right divide on climate change. You can find plenty of Democrats who, like Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia, are supported by an industry that opposes climate change policies.”
“Johnson trails far behind both Kotek and Drazan in polling. She’s endured in the race this long because she is also the best-funded candidate, thanks to the state’s richest man, Knight, the co-founder and chair emeritus of footwear giant Nike.
He has single-handedly flooded Johnson’s campaign with $3.75 million in cash, and another $2 million to a PAC dedicated to electing more Republicans to the Oregon legislature. In October, he contributed his first $1 million to Drazan’s campaign.
A third candidate’s presence, boosted by Knight’s cash, has upended all normal expectations for the race. In a “normal” cycle”
“as Johnson is a former Democrat, her candidacy is pulling away support that might otherwise go to Kotek. “There’s a real attempt to stop Democrats from defecting to Johnson,” said Horvick. If Kotek loses, it could be Knight’s money that’s to blame.”
“If Johnson’s presence does manage to tip the race to the Republican, the use of a third candidate to siphon off Democratic support could become a model in reliably blue states to reverse climate action. All Republicans would need is a deep-pocketed backer and a viable moderate or conservative Democrat.”
“The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is a government agency that coordinates medical care and social well-being in the Beaver State. During the pandemic, OHA was responsible for coordinating Oregon’s vaccination drive and disseminating information about COVID-19—both vital tasks.
The agency’s office for equity and inclusion, however, prefers not to rush the business of government. In fact, the office’s program manager delayed a meeting with partner organizations on the stated grounds that “urgency is a white supremacy value.”
Government employees who are unprepared for meetings should not cite white supremacy as their excuse.”
“Oregon votes only by mail. It has done so for nearly two decades, after voters approved a ballot measure in 1998. Across Oregon, registered voters are sent a ballot, and they can either mail it back or drop it off.”
“Other western states, including Colorado, Washington, and Utah, have since adopted similar systems in the years since. Advocates say it’s as safe as in-person voting, cost-effective, and boosts turnout. They argue it could — or should — be the future of how America votes.”
“The number of Americans voting by mail has steadily increased in the past decade. In 2018, about 25 percent of all voters cast their ballots by mail. That number could about double in 2020. Beyond the states that already do it, this year, states like California, where counties already had many voters casting ballots by mail, are now also sending ballots to registered voters. Others, like Vermont and New Jersey, are mailing out ballots for the first time.”
“Republicans, not Democrats, were the early champions of vote by mail in Oregon.”
“Oregon’s vote-by-mail system has safeguards in place. Registered voters have their signatures on file — either by mailing a voter registration card to election officials, or by opting-in to registration directly when they get or renew a license. When it comes time to vote, election officials mail ballots to registered voters, which they typically receive about two to three weeks before an election.
The ballot contains a few things: the ballot itself; a “secrecy envelope” that the ballot goes inside once it’s marked; and a return envelope, which now even has the postage prepaid so voters don’t have to cover the cost of return postage.
Once you make your choices on your ballot, you slip it into the secrecy envelope, seal it up, slip that into the return envelope and seal it. Then you read and sign the statement printed on the back of the envelope, which basically says that you verify that you are you. Once that’s done, you either send it back by mail or put it into a secure drop box — either method requires that election officials receive the ballot before 8 pm on Election Day. Oregonians can also track their ballot to make sure it’s been received and counted.
Only about one-third of Oregonians actually send their ballots back through the postal service, instead placing them in secure drop boxes at places like libraries or movie theaters or even McDonald’s.”
“Each ballot has a unique bar code specific to each voter, so once the ballot is received, election officials can verify the signature on that ballot envelope to make sure it matches the one on that voter’s registration. There are often multiple reviews to guarantee it’s a match — Druckenmiller said if someone questions the signature, two other people will review it; if they’re not sure, he makes the final call. If the signature doesn’t match, voters are notified and given the opportunity to remedy that, in what’s known as a “cure” process.
But once a signature is verified, the ballot is separated from the return envelope so the ballot can be tabulated. Along the way, there are layers of auditing to make sure the number of ballots received matches the tabulated numbers for the vote count. Many see mail-in ballots as more secure because there’s a paper trail, and so cant be hacked.
Oregon election officials get updates from public records, like change-of-address notifications and death records, to check against the voter registration databases. “We use the Postal Service. When most of us move, we change our address, right?” Paul Gronke, a professor of political science and director of the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland, told me. “And so actually, vote by mail works really well and has very little deadwood. The rolls are very clean.””
“According to the Oregon secretary of state’s office, in 2016, officials referred 54 cases of possible voter fraud to law enforcement. Of those, 22 people — representing just 0.0001 percent of all ballots cast that year — were found guilty of having voted in two states.
Election officials in Oregon I spoke to told me that vote by mail is also much more efficient to oversee than polling-place elections, where sites are spread out across the county.”
“An April 2020 YouGov poll found that 77 percent of adults in Oregon backed vote by mail, compared to 11 percent who opposed it. Indeed, voters in states that have vote by mail — whether in bluer states like Washington or redder states like Utah — all tend to overwhelmingly like it.
It’s convenient. Voters don’t have to take off from work, or spend time waiting in line at a polling place.”
“Oregon board said Järlström’s research amounted to practicing engineering without a license. In a 2014 letter, the board told Järlström that even calling himself an “electronics engineer” and the use of the phrase “I am an engineer” were enough to “create violations” that could result in a $500 fine.
Järlström fought back. With the help of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that often challenges ridiculous licensing laws, Järlström took his case to federal court. The trial was a disaster for the licensing board, which was forced to concede that its attempt to silence Järlström “was not narrowly tailored to any compelling state interests.” The board refunded the $500 fine, was prohibited from targeting Järlström again “for his speech about traffic lights and his description of himself as an engineer except in the context of professional or commercial speech,” and got a public dressing-down from Judge Stacie F. Beckerman.
Beckerman’s ruling ordered the Oregon board to restrict its policing of licensing issues exclusively to individuals who are working as professional engineers—that is, being hired to do engineering work—rather than simply practicing engineering skills. That seems like a necessary restriction, considering the board’s history of investigating everyone from amateur engineers like Järlström to political candidates who promised to “engineer solutions” and even a Portland magazine that credited a local leader for being the engineer, metaphorically, of a new bridge project in the city.”
“In 2001, Oregon Democrats walked out of the legislature, and in 2003, Texas Democrats did the same thing. In both cases, they were objecting to efforts by the majority to engage in the kind of gerrymandering that would stitch together future Republican majorities even if they got fewer voters.
In 2011, Wisconsin Democrats walked out; later that year, Indiana Democrats did the same. In both cases, they were objecting to bills being rushed through by small majorities, opposed by most state voters, to permanently cripple unions.
Republicans cite these cases as a defense of their actions. The media, hopelessly ensorcelled by any kind of both-sides story, has dutifully run with it, failing to note the differences in context. So it’s worth pointing out:
These examples are from almost 10 and almost 20 years ago, respectively.
Each of them was meant as an extraordinary gesture, to highlight extraordinary circumstances, taken at extraordinary political risk.
Each episode ended with the majority getting what it wanted after a short delay.
Oregon Republicans have walked out more times in the past 10 months than all Democrats have in modern history.
There is simply no precedent for what Oregon Republicans are doing, treating walk-outs as routine, using them to prevent passage of what is a fairly milquetoast set of carbon policies (less stringent than in many other states) and even to set the pace of work in the legislature. Democrats have never done anything like this, anywhere.”
“In Oregon, a quorum is two-thirds of the legislative body — 40 out of 60 representatives or 20 out of 30 senators. Is there some governing rationale for this higher requirement? Not really. It’s just something the fledgling state of Oregon copied from Indiana when it was assembling its constitution.
As of 2018, Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature, with 18 out of 30 Senate seats and 38 out of 60 House seats.”
“even given their small minority, if every Republican chooses to walk out of the Senate — literally refuses to show up and do their job — they can prevent a quorum, thus preventing any legislative business from being done in the Oregon legislature.”
“None of the Republicans were ever bothered by police, but in response to the threat, GOP state Sen. Brian Boquist said, on camera, addressing himself to state troopers: “Send bachelors and come heavily armed.””
“People didn’t have much time to absorb the fact that an elected official had openly threatened the lives of state police, because that weekend, large crowds, including members of Oregon’s far-right militias, began amassing in the capitol. At one point, state police found the many threats from those militias sufficiently alarming to shut down the state capitol for a day. Republicans subsequently mocked Democrats for being afraid.
In the face of lies and intransigence backed by the threat of extralegal violence, Democrats … caved”