The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon

By James D. Barnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE MOTIVES IN LEGISLATION

IT had been hoped that the system of direct legislation would escape the harmful influence of selfish special and local interests to which the general welfare has, to a greater or less extent, always been sacrificed in legislative assemblies. But from practical experience it is found that attempts to accomplish the promotion of selfish ends have been made to a considerable extent in direct legislation.

From a consideration of all the measures which have so far appeared on the ballot it appears that in the great majority of cases the proposal or opposition of measures has been made with a view, whether or not mistaken, to promote the general interests of the state. The interests of laborers and employers, hardly less wide, have caused several measures to be submitted to the people.

Special, narrow interests have operated in a number of cases. The first attempts to use the referendum were made, apparently, by railway interests against a state railway project, and by other special interests against a corporation regulation bill. The liquor interests have been responsible for at least two measures on the ballot. The owners of a toll road filed a bill providing for the purchase of the road by the state. One referendum resulted from a conflict between a sheriff and a county court. Apparently some special interests referred the public utilities act of 1912. Disappointed candidates for appointment are suspected to have been behind the county attorney referendum, and casualty companies and "ambulance-chasing" lawyers are likewise charged with holding up the workmen's compen-

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