There's a debate going on in the blogosphere over whether Oregon's Measure 49 – to be voted on this November – really helps surviving spouses.
The subject is mostly of interest to land use junkies or people with Measure 37 claims, but it points up the difference between how pro- and anti- Measure 49 folks address issues. Namely, with reason and logic (pro) or emotion and it's-true-because-I-say-so (anti).
Over on a blog that inaccurately proclaims to tell the truth about Measure 49, it's asserted that if you're a surviving spouse "Measure 49 will get ya!"
When I came across this post I was surprised, since I've read the bill that became Measure 49 in its entirety and I agree with the Yes on 49 web site summary that says it will:
Extend Measure 37 rights to surviving spouses whose ownership rights did not qualify for standing under Measure 37.
Indeed it does, as a more accurate blog post over at Oregon Watch demonstrates. All you have to do is read the ballot language and use some common sense. The pertinent section reads:
If the claimant is the surviving spouse of a person who was an owner of the property in fee title, the claimant's acquisition date is the date the claimant was married to the deceased spouse or the date the spouse acquired the property, whichever is later.
Now, I'll admit that this isn't the clearest sentence ever written. Unless you put some thought into it, it isn't completely obvious whether the final "spouse" refers to the deceased spouse or the surviving spouse.
The anti-Measure 49 blogger jumped to the conclusion that it means the surviving spouse. If this were the case, Joe could buy his property in 1970, marry Jane in 1980, then die in 1990, and supposedly the acquisition date would be 1990 – when Oregon had more land use restrictions compared to 1980 (because that's when Jane inherited the property).
However, if you read through the comments on the "If you are a surviving spouse, look out, Measure 49 will get ya!" post, you'll find an interesting interchange between logical batmantempest and the untruely named Common Sense.
Common Sense is so convinced that the Democrat-dominated Oregon legislature wouldn't do anything to help the spouses of Measure 37 claimants, he's unable to see the flaws in his own narrow point of view.
It's pretty darn obvious that when the bill says "was married to the deceased spouse or the date the spouse acquired the property," the two uses of the word "spouse" mean the same person. Namely, the deceased spouse.
Thus under the previous example, Jane was married to Joe in 1980; Joe acquired his property in 1970; so Jane's acquisition date is 1980, because it is later than 1970. And also earlier than 1990, which the crazy reasoning of Common Sense would have us believe the acquisition date is.
Bottom line: Measure 49 helps surviving spouses, who otherwise would be mostly left out in the cold, claim-wise, if they weren't listed as owners of a piece of property before their spouse died.
Measure 49 helps current Measure 37 claimants in other ways also. It makes development rights transferable to new owners for claims up to 10 home sites. And it creates an "express lane" option for up to three home sites.
So don't believe the frothing-at-the-mouth assertions that are being thrown out by the anti-Measure 49 crowd. It doesn't do away with Measure 37. It doesn't make current claimants start over. It doesn't treat spouses unfairly.
Rather, it fixes the excesses of Measure 37 (like allowing large subdivisions on precious farm, forest, and groundwater limited land) and helps Measure 37 claimants with appropriately sized claims – up to 10 home sites.
Thus whether you like Measure 37 or detest it, there's good reason to vote "Yes" on this carefully crafted compromise that protects Oregon's livability for everyone.