Can't we just fix it?

Pick, pick, pick. That's the sound of our Legislature working on Oregon's initiative law.

Oregon should be able to conduct background checks on paid petitioners. Pick.

Chief petitioners should be responsible for knowing when circulators break the law. Pick.

The campaigns should have to file paperwork with the state every month. Pick, pick, pick.

It's like working a fingernail forever at the edge of the bandage instead of just ripping the adhesive from the skin, this approach by the Legislature to resolving issues with Oregon's initiative process.

This year's proposal, which has gained approval from the House and now heads to the Senate, came from newly elected Secretary of State Kate Brown, who said she heard a lot about problems with the process while she was campaigning.

No doubt. There's a lot wrong with the law that lets citizens put issues on the ballot as long as they can collect enough signatures of voters who think it's a good idea.

House Bill 2005, however, follows in the footsteps of some reform attempts before it in working at the edges of the problems rather than attacking them in a way that fixes the law's flaws.

To be clear: We support the initiative process. For more than 100 years it has provided Oregonians with a direct voice to make change. When the politicians aren't listening, Oregonians have a valuable route around them.

But over the years, it has morphed in ways never intended. Outside interest groups that want to try out certain ideas in Oregon have learned they can hire people to shove a stack of petitions in voters' faces, put lots of money into persuasion and very possibly get their ideas made into law. In recent elections, voters have been left to attempt judgment of dozens of complex, sometimes competing requests.

A real reform of the law would attack those issues head-on.

Brown's attempt is unlikely to hurt the process, even though opponents are claiming it will. The state needs oversight of paid petitioners so it can lower the hammer on those who purposely attempt to get around the rules.

Making chief petitioners responsible for the actions of their staff, allowing Brown to conduct criminal background checks on paid signature-gatherers and forcing campaigns to turn in progress monthly, the main elements of HB 2005, seem like reasonable checks on the process. The provisions would have little effect on petitioners who use volunteers to get the job done.

Our issue here is that the changes also don't tackle the real problems with the law. Change that puts the law back in the hands of regular Oregonians trying to make sure citizens are heard is what's really needed here, not more picking at the edges of those issues.

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