Our Issues

The top issues for Oregonians are our top issues at Common Sense for Oregon. 

From the streets to the courts, we are working to resolve the issues most important to Oregonians through research, policy development and education by:

Balancing Government Power

Advocating for Public Safety

Creating Affordable Housing

Restoring Our Community

Addressing Homelessness

Improving Schools

Reforming Taxes

Want to get involved?

58% of Oregonians feel the State is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to the issues of public safety and protecting the public from crime.
Public Safety Issues, Statewide Survey commissioned by the Oregon District Attorneys Association.
January 4, 2022

Learn more about how we are responding to the challenges facing our state and how we are ensuring positive change, on behalf of Oregonians.

Balancing Government Power

All Oregonians have experienced the impact of government over-reach and the chilling effect abuse of power has on businesses, families, churches, and schools. Common Sense for Oregon is working to balance government power by:

We are leading an effort to develop an amendment to the Oregon Constitution which will more clearly define the powers of the Governor, the Legislature, and County Commissioners in addressing emergencies.

Learn About Our Progress

Oregon’s land use laws should be less restrictive by enhancing the local government’s role, limiting the state review process, and modifying urban growth boundaries. 

The new Paid Leave OR law should be replaced with a business-friendly and voluntary program.

The election process should be streamlined by reforming election laws, updating our ballots, and holding court vacancies open.

Our corrections facilities need to improve re-entry programs for released prison inmates which address the needs for housing and jobs. Each state agency should include an explanation of any element of its program which may be helped by the OCE work program.

Advocating for Public Safety

The entire system has been underfunded and undercut by legislation that makes it hard for law enforcement to do its job. We are advocating for public safety through prevention, accountability, and rehabilitation by: 

Those who enforce the law should have the resources and personnel to do so. More state funding should be provided to the district attorneys, local police, and county sheriffs offices to improve investigative and prosecution services.

The court system should be enhanced  to shorten the time before trial for criminal cases and ensure that we have court capability for civil cases. 

Sentencing processes should require that the judge shall specify any alternatives of that sentence and may modify the length of incarceration so that the actual length of incarceration is understood by the victim. Every time a person is charged with a felony crime or misdemeanor crime, the office of the District Attorney should strive to fully inform the victim of the crime victims’ rights, and should be empowered to seek monetary damages on behalf of the victims against any criminal defendant who has financial resources which would be sufficient to justify such action.

The public defense system should be reformed to provide a system of salaried defense attorneys (not contract private attorneys) operating under one agency.

End government over-reach through executive orders and abuse of abuse of the Governor’s broad clemency powers by requiring that any Governor clemency decision to reduce a criminal sentence is not effective unless approved by a majority vote of the Oregon Senate.

Learn About Our Progress

Criminals should be held accountable for their actions criminal laws should require pre-trial holds and holding those who post bail financially liable to victims. Penalties for hard drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl should be re-established. 

The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program needs to be improve to advocate for the best needs of the children, and our protective serves need to create more immediate and decisive intervention as to child abuse and neglect situations. 

Creating Affordable Housing

As inflation continues to rise, Oregonians continue struggling to find reasonable home options. Common Sense for Oregon is working to create affordable housing with legislation including:

Standards for cottage/cluster housing designed with a maximum monthly rent that is within average Social Security payments should be established  for seniors. 

Preapproved sets of plans for shared living spaces should be created with  housing and small apartment buildings to be authorized for any community. 

Any government entity should be allowed to seek state grant funds where they can seek reimbursement for property tax exemptions given to property owners.

Restoring Our Community

In Oregon, we have always valued keeping Oregon green and advocating for programs that preserve and enhance our community. Common Sense is restoring our community with reforms including:

A taskforce should be established to continue plans to build another Willamette River Bridge in order to decrease Salem traffic congestion. 

The Oregon Clean Up and Beatification Project should be established to remove wreckage and other trash material, not regularly processed through standard waste pickup services.

It's time that commercial air service is brought to Oregon's capital. We should expedite this process so that we can bring more business and access to the community. 

Learning about our state's history is an important part of our civic duty, grant funds should be appropriated to provide to support art and history museums. 

Addressing Homelessness

It’s a poor reflection on our state to have some one individuals struggling on the street with homelessness, mental health issues, and substance abuse. We are reviewing programs across the nation and gathering extensive research to establish a comprehensive approach to address homelessness issues including:

The capacity of mental health facilities and drug and alcohol treatment centers should be increased capacity, and the staffing and training for those who deal with addiction and mental health issues at state and local facilities should be enhanced. In addition, we should provide training for local law enforcement, mental health, and community service personnel to enter into and clean up homeless camps. 

We need to strengthen the capability to require persons with significant mental health difficulties and substance abuse problems to participate in treatment programs, and create more work and training programs, and housing for those who are homeless.

Improving Our Schools

It’s time to provide parents with educational freedom and quality education. Common Sense for Oregon is working with a national consultant on improving schools with proposals including:

Our state should allow school choice provide parents the ability to find the right fit for the child’s education, regardless of their address. We also  support open enrollment and vouchers for parents of children with disabilities.

A tax credit program should be created for businesses who sponsor school scholarships.

Classroom education needs to be enhanced for the sake of our future. We can do by improving dual-credit programs, increasing access to youth sports programs, funding after-school programs, establishing more dual-language immersion schools, and providing more honors classes in high school. The state should improve grant programs to help private schools expand their capabilities, as well. 

Reforming Taxes

Common Sense for Oregon is conducting a comprehensive review of Oregon’s tax system so as to enhance business development and employment growth with reforms including:

We advocate for eliminating the Oregon death tax, other “super” taxes imposed on top of other taxes, and the cap-and-trade taxation system as well as, establishing caps on income taxes for businesses and individuals and clarifying exemptions from personal property taxes, especially for farm equipment. 

Learn About Our Progress

We are exploring comprehensive tax solutions implemented in other states to develop more ideas, especially through consultation with national and state tax reform advocacy groups to reform government spending and redirect those saving to public safety. 

Our Approach

We have formed the Common Sense Coalition to serve as a brain trust to develop legislation for the 2023 session.  Our Common Sense Coalition consists of groups who want to come together to develop solid legislative research and proposals.  We want important reforms and innovations to improve Oregon’s state government, to improve our economy, and to create opportunities for jobs and development. Our approach is to confer with those directly involved in key issues and to use our staff and experts to develop legislative proposals that includes identification of successful projects and reforms from other states.

There is much more to consider. We welcome recommendations from those who become involved in the Common Sense coalition.

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