Occupy Portland Ramps up Legislative Initiatives

photo by Plastictrend

by Alex Pio

Over the past few months several of Occupy Portland’s committees have been busy working on legislative items to enact far-reaching social and political changes. These groups are now emerging from the background in the New Year with a number of events and initiatives to advocate large-scale change for the 99%.

Back in October, two weeks into its encampment the General Assembly passed its first political action to endorse Instant Runoff Voting for local elections, a system which reduces partisan politics and ensures more representative, cheaper elections. A working group from Occupy Portland has subsequently joined a sub-committee of the City of Portland’s Charter Review Commission to craft such a proposal that should make it on the November 2012 ballot.

Soon after that the Assembly endorsed ending corporate personhood, and the Solutions Committee is presently working on the passage of a city and statewide resolution to reserve the rights of people only for humans and advocate for increased community rights. Corporate Personhood and subsequent court rulings such as “Citizens United” have given wealthy corporations and individuals the ability to overwhelm our democracy with money. The solutions committee has mobilized a postcard drive and petition with already 700 signatures pushing for stronger language in city hall’s planned resolution against corporate personhood.

The Solutions Committee is a crowd-sourced, open-source, fully transparent progressive policy think tank dedicated to developing concrete and tangible approaches to achieving the social goals of the 99%. We are focused upon two approaches: (1) The drafting of ballot measures and model legislation that implements policies that the 99% desire, and (2) Identifying and planning campaigns of direct political action to persuade corporate and governmental bodies to adopt or modify policies in a manner sought by the 99%.

PLEASE NOTE: The Solutions Committee does NOT decide the platform or the policies of the 99% in Portland; that is the role of the General Assembly. The Solutions Committee develops the abstract goals of the movement into discrete policy reforms that can be pursued by popular referendum or by campaigns of direct action. You can get in touch with the Solutions Committee by visiting them on Facebook or by emailing them. The Solutions Committee has open meetings on Tuesdays and Sundays at 4:30pm in the Occupy Portland headquarters at 1131 Southeast Oak Street.

Activists are also currently exploring approaches to advocating for a state bank, encouraging community gardens and backing a Federal Constitutional Amendment giving states the power to regulate monetary contributions to government officials and candidates.

Several events will be held to highlight and pursue these initiatives. On January 8 a Solutions Forum will be held at Project Grow (2124 N Williams Ave) at 3:30pm to kick off this year’s projects. The forum is seeking to inform, engage and involve the public in selecting and furthering Occupy Portland’s 2012 policy initiatives.

January 20 is the one-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision, and Occupy Portland is planning a number of events to raise awareness of this ruling and the efforts to repeal it, including a nationwide day of action to occupy the courts together with Move to Amend.

On January 27 Occupy Portland will be hosting a forum for candidates of Portland’s Mayor and City Commissioners, and Occupy groups from across Oregon are planning an occupation at the legislature for February.