For pro-lifers in Oregon, Measure 106 was years in the making. So for them, the result of the Nov. 6 election was a major disappointment. The measure, which would have prohibited state funding of elective abortion, was defeated by a 64-36 percent margin.

Archbishop Alexander Sample and the Oregon Catholic Conference expressed adamant support for the measure during the campaign.

“There are public policy issues that transcend partisan politics and that affect the moral fiber of our society about which the Church and individual believers have the right and the obligation to speak clearly and unequivocally. On these public policy issues the Church has a right to be at the table helping to shape and form the common good,” the archbishop wrote in this newspaper Nov. 2.

Suzanne Belatti, a chief petitioner for the measure and parishioner at St. Rose Parish in Portland, said she’s disappointed in the result but not surprised. The failure is an opportunity for God’s glory, she added.

“As the body of Christ, I pray this experience has taught us to see the desperate need to live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy directly in regards to abortion in our parishes, schools and communities,” said Belatti. “If our church is to be a hospital for sinners, there needs to be a radical change in the way the epidemic of our time is addressed.”

The remedy, Belatti said, “demands divine intervention to make lasting, peaceful changes in our culture that reflect the dignity of the human person and sacredness of where life comes from.”

Elsewhere, an amendment to the West Virginia constitution stating that women do not have a right to an abortion was passed by a narrow margin. Alabamans approved a measure that makes it state policy to “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.”

Hints of cooperation

Nationwide Nov. 6, U.S. voters gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives and deepened the Republican hold on the Senate. Leaders of both parties at moments held out hope for cooperation in government.

“We will have accountability and strive for bipartisanship,” presumed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on election night. “We have a bipartisan marketplace of ideas that makes our democracy strong. We have all had enough with division.” Pelosi, a California Democrat, received a call of congratulations from President Donald Trump.

The day after the vote, the president took credit for what he called a historic GOP victory, mostly because of gains in the Senate. He also welcomed Pelosi’s offer of bipartisanship.

“There are a lot of great things we can do together,” said Trump, mentioning infrastructure and health care. He called for partisanship to be put aside to keep the economy thriving.

Sanctuary law survives

In the run-up to the election, the president frequently raised fears of a caravan of immigrants approaching the nation’s southern border. 

Despite that, Oregonians rejected Measure 105, upholding the state’s 31-year-old sanctuary law. About 63 percent voted to keep the statute, which says no law enforcement agency can use its resources for the sole purpose of detecting or apprehending people whose only violation is being in the country unlawfully.

Catholics fell on both sides of the measure and the Oregon Catholic Conference did not take a position.

Supporters of Measure 105 waged an uphill battle and were outspent by the more than $3 million raised by the “Vote Yes” campaign. 

“A big thank you to all of you for your support, hard work and dedication in our effort to repeal Oregon’s outdated and dangerous sanctuary law,” read a post on a Facebook page run by Oregonians For Immigration Reform, the group behind the measure. “We may have lost this battle, but the war continues.”

Deacon Rick Birkel, executive director of Catholic Charities of Oregon, expressed relief over the voters’ decision and called it “a great victory for common sense.” He said overturning the law would have made communities less safe because immigrants would be less likely to report violent crimes, fearing deportation. He said the anti-immigrant rhetoric that abounds did not “shake Oregonians’ ability to think the issue through thoughtfully.”

Housing aid passes

Oregon voters passed a statewide ballot measure that addressed the crisis of housing affordability. Measure 102 could boost projects led by Catholic nonprofits like Catholic Charities of Oregon and St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County.

The measure, referred by the state Legislature, carried with 56 percent of the vote. It amends the Oregon Constitution to allow local bonds for financing lower-cost housing with nongovernmental entities. That open door to borrowing allows city and county governments to form partnerships with private developers and nonprofits to plan and build more units and do it more quickly.

Until now, any government entity that used bonds for lower-cost housing had to keep complete ownership of the project, a requirement that curtailed the size of projects and hampered efforts to qualify for more federal tax credits.

Measure 102 faced no major opposition. Large encampments of people without housing have sprung up in Oregon cities and even middle class families have trouble finding housing they can afford in Portland.

Oregon Housing and Community Services, the state's housing finance agency, said the state needs almost 90,000 housing units for families at or below the median household income of about $63,000 per year.

In addition, voters in the Portland area handily approved a $653 million bond measure to build more affordable housing. Measure 26-199 will pay for 2,500 to 4,000 units of lower-cost housing in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. The bond measure will cost the typical Portland-area property owner about $60 a year. Half of the funds will pay to build new homes, and the other half will be used to maintain current low-cost units.

Clean energy gets thumbs up

The Portland Clean Energy Initiative, Measure 26-201, won 64 percent of votes cast.

The regional measure promises to raise money to help low-income and minority residents make their homes more energy efficient, thereby making their dollars go farther. The measure also would fund job training in the renewable energy industry. The funds will come from a 1 percent tax on the Portland sales of specified retailers with sales of more than $500,000 in Portland and more than $1 billion nationally.

The Portland Business Alliance was the major group against it, arguing the taxes would be passed along to the poor. After passage, the president of the alliance said, “While we remain seriously concerned with the impact this gross receipts tax will have on Portlanders who can least afford it, we stand in agreement with proponents of this measure that much more must be done to lessen the impacts of climate change to those most affected.”

The Archdiocese of Portland did not take a position on the measure. But supporters included Jesuit Father Craig Boly of St. Ignatius Parish in Southeast Portland.

“I’m grateful that the initiative passed in a landslide because it’s a response to Pope Francis’ ‘Laudato Si’,’ to care for our common home,” said Father Boly. “We joined with other communities of faith to recognize our shared goals of economic and environmental justice.”