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Effective Dates of (Oregon) Legislation and Ballot Measures


One of our local attorneys and I have been having a conversation about effective dates of ballot measures. Effective dates for ballot measures are different from the constitutional and statutory ones for statutes that are enacted by the Oregon Legislative Assembly.

The Oregon Constitution, Article IV, Section 1 (4)(d) says:

“… Notwithstanding section 1, Article XVII of this Constitution, an initiative or referendum measure becomes effective 30 days after the day on which it is enacted or approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon. A referendum ordered by petition on a part of an Act does not delay the remainder of the Act from becoming effective….”

One could wonder what “the day on which it is enacted or approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon” means. Is it the date of the election or the date of the certification or the date of a ballot recount, if there is one? Not to over-think it, which lawyers (and law librarians) do all the time, common sense says that it is the date of the election, assuming the measure passed.

To confirm this, I wandered here and there online (it’s too soon for the Measure in question to be anywhere in print given that it passed just last November), from the Legislature’s website to the Secretary of State, Elections Division, website, and beyond, to no avail.

My next starting point became the blog post I wrote back in 2007: Effective Dates of (Oregon) Legislation

I looked at the most recent Bill Drafting Manual (2008) from the Oregon Legislative Counsel, where they state the “rule,” but they don’t really state the “law.”

For example, Chapter 12 (1), states: “Bills referred to the people by the people via statewide referendum petition also take effect on a date other than the normal effective date. That date is 30 days after the date the people approve the referendum.”

So, we’re left with the common sense reading and assumption is that it’s the date of the election, i.e. “the date the people approve the referendum,” and any subsequent certifications or recounts are merely affirmations of the approval by the voters on election day.

We’ve not heard anything to the contrary so our local attorney and I keep our minds open.

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