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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Oregon lessons for Maryland

    Even though Maryland is reasonably progressive in its politics we have to look at Oregon to see where our progressive state still has to move in the future.  Oh sure, we were the first state to have voters approve gay marriage (Washington State followed us a few hours later) but on other progressive issues we seem to be taking a slower path to change than states like Oregon.  Here is where we stand in relationship to where Oregon is today.
     Oregon has approved recreational marijuana last year.  Maryland has legalized marijuana for medical purposes and decriminalized possession of small amounts.  We seem to be pursuing the incremental approach to legalizing marijuana.  While the use of marijuana is still controversial the war on this drug has not been shown to have a positive impact on our community except to increase the incarceration rate and stigmatizing many with a criminal record.  Treating marijuana like alcohol is the only non hypocritical approach to this issue.
      Possibly more controversial is the death with dignity issue.  Oregon was the leader in legalizing  the right to die for persons with terminal illnesses.  The case of Brittany Maynard has been a driving force for other states to consider this type of legislation.   The fact that Oregon is the least religious state has to account for much of this movement because most of the opposition to this legislation comes from religious groups.  Here in Maryland Howard County Del. Shane Pendergrass has introduced right to die legislation in the current legislation session.  It is not clear if this legislation will be passed by the Assembly and whether Gov. Hogan would sign the legislation.
       Finally the last area that Oregon leads the nation is in voting rights.  Many states with Republican control have been trying to find ways to prevent people from voting, Oregon has the most inclusive voter registration and voting methods.  Oregon has mail in voting and automatic registration for anyone with a drivers license.  In Oregon you have to opt out when you register to drive if you don't want to be registered to vote.  Not surprisingly the vote on this bill followed a party line vote with only Democrats voting for this bill.  Shrinking the voter pool doesn't seem like a winning path for the future of any political party.  Here in Maryland you can register to vote when you register to drive but we have an opt in rather than an opt out system.  Opt out systems always have greater participation rates than opt in systems.

    I am not sure that Ted Cruz's announcement for President and how he wants to take our Country back to what it once stood for should have been made in a town called Lynchburg. Just saying.

    Cruz gets caught!



Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite. Oregon is a wonderful state, and Portland is a great city. But if you want Maryland to be like Oregon, you gotta look at the whole picture. First, the lack of diversity. Portland is the single "whitest" large city in the US, and it's getting whiter - the few minorities there are getting pushed out. And Oregon as a whole is one of the whitest states in the country. Also, Oregon is far more business friendly than Maryland - they rank 12th; and are home to enormous work centers such and Intel and HP plants. Maryland, by contrast, ranks 41st and even Marriott is seriously considering leaving Maryland because we just don't care about businesses. We've got the Federal Government and Government contractors; what other jobs would anyone ever need? If you wanna be like 'em, be like 'em all the way.

Anonymous said...

To add: re: Oregon politics - that gets you folks like recently-resigned Governor John Kitzhabe and "First Lady" Cylvia Hayes. If the Maryland First Lady had (a) illegally taken cash to marry a teenager so that he could stay in the country; (b) bought land to run an illegal grow operation; (c) run her private consulting business from her desk in the Governor's office; (d) directed state employees to set policies and do things for which her wealthy business clients paid her; and (e) traveled the world touting her position as First Lady and the access you could get by hiring her business, would we in Maryland be proud?

duanestclair said...

Good points on lack of diversity in Oregon. Maryland wins on that point. The point of business friendly is a harder to define. Conservatives point to business taxes to make their case on this point and liberals point to education level and other factors as what entices businesses to locate in certain areas. Mix in transportation resources and the factors that drive business to locate somewhere it harder to define what business friendly means.

On scandals at the governor level Oregon has looked bad on their recent situation that you mentioned. Hopefully Maryland will not have a new run of problems that we had with Agnew and Mandel.