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Oregon Voter Pamphlets, Measure 78, and “No Financial Impact?”

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We love voting in Oregon. Not only can we vote by mail, but we get a honkin’ huge Voter Pamphlet to read on long commutes and rainy afternoons, and for pure reading pleasure.

There is even a little comedy in the Voter’s Pamphlet, and I haven’t even gotten past Measure 78 on page 52 (out of 151 pages).

On page 52 of the Voter’s Pamphlet you will find the “Estimate of Financial Impact” of Measure 78, a fairly routine though slightly comic proposal to change some of the language of the Oregon Constitution. (It brings to mind a charming speaker at a county public meeting who said in all seriousness that “he liked Government but does not understand it.”)

The Financial Impact statement says Measure 78 will have no financial impact on state or local government revenue or expenditures. Really?!

Now that is funny. Admittedly it won’t have a huge impact or even a moderate financial impact, but if you think about what happens when you change the name of any business or government entity, it’s not free, it’s not cheap, it’s not easy, and it isn’t fast. Even if a lot of the “name” changes happen online, that takes some serious cleaning up, which is a labor-intensive project, and not cheap labor at that, if you want to do it properly.

Think about it. If you change the name of your business or your government department, or even “just” a street, you have to do these and more, none of which happens without cost. And under Measure 78, we’re talking about changing the names of entire branches of government.

These may be necessary, and as a law librarian I really get that 3-branches thing, but these changes are not without “financial impact.”

Hold meetings about the changes, how and when they will take place, by whom, etc.
Write press releases.
Send out letters (but see below for that letterhead update)
Make new building signs.
Correct old building signs.
Correct directional signs (on roads and elsewhere).
Make new stationary: paper, envelopes, etc.
Change signs on interior and exterior doors.
Change website URLs.
Change website content.
Change business cards.

We can add more to this list, but the point is made.