For many reasons, I agree with the March 13 News-Times editorial, "Proposed plastic bag ban should go back to voters."
The editorial made an excellent point as to why that should occur, stating "we believe a bag ban has merit, but the bigger issue here is that the Newport City Council is circumventing the will of the voters, who were already asked to weigh in on this matter in the May 2013 election." Newport voters rejected a plastic bag ban in that election by a margin of 57 percent against to 43 percent in support of a ban.
As one of two council members in favor of another referral to Newport voters to decide the issue (along with the mayor), I realize that a majority of the council recently indicated they would override the results of the May 2013 election by adopting an ordinance to ban plastic checkout bags, potentially at the April 15 council meeting.
As for the council adopting an ordinance, the editorial stated, "It appears to us that the outcome is all but guaranteed at this point." That may be the case as to the council voting on the issue, but Newport voters can still have a direct say through the referendum process.
The referendum process would require gathering signatures from 10 percent of voters registered in the city within 30 days from the date of adoption of the ordinance. As of earlier this year, 10 percent was around 700 signatures, with more recent figures available from the Lincoln County Clerk's Office. If the requirements are met, the issue would be put on the ballot for another vote in a citywide election.
To learn more about the referendum process, the elections division for the Secretary of State's office has published a manual that can be found online by linking to https://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Documents/countycitydistrictir.pdf.
David N. Allen