The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon

By James D. Barnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE EFFECT OF DIRECT LEGISLATION ON THE CHARACTER AND ACTIVITY OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

"THE first noticeable effect was a large decrease in the number of paid lobbyists at the next session of the legislative assembly in January, 1903, and the comparative number of charges that the action of members on any bill had been influenced by money. The legislature made mistakes, but no one charged it with being corrupt. It was generally conceded that the absence of corrupting influences was largely due to fear that the referendum would be demanded on any legislation obtained by such methods."1 And although the paid lobby is still much in evidence and charges of actual corruption of members of the legislature are occasionally made, some of them, at least, upon good grounds, present conditions are in very great contrast with the disgraceful conditions which existed prior to the adoption of the system of direct legislation. "The fact that legislative measures can be reviewed by popular vote is a club that makes legislators behave themselves. The fact that if the legislature does not pass a good measure the people can and will, is the most powerful influence in the world to compel legislators to enact good laws.... It steadies the legislature and keeps it strictly sane. It keeps that body from becoming puffed up and enables it to more distinctly hear the wishes of the people. It is a safety valve against legislative follies, a guarantee against legislative extravagance and a sign post pointing members to the path of duty."2

____________________
1
W. S. U'Ren, Operation of the Initiative and Referendum in Oregon, Arena, vol. 32, p. 128 ( 1904). See also W. S. U'Ren, Oregonian, Apr. 29, 1907, p. 5, col. 7.
2
Oregon Journal, Sept. 18, 1909, p. 4, col. 1.

-167-

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