Measure 38

Text of Measure

1. This Act shall be known as the Oregon Priorities Act.

2. The people recognize that the State of Oregon owns and operates an insurance business called SAIF Corporation, that it is an asset of the State of Oregon, and that another asset of the State of Oregon is the excess surplus in the Industrial Accident Fund. The intent of this Act is to use these state assets to support education, prescription medications, local law enforcement, and workforce training rather than to provide an organization to selectively sell insurance in the retail market. Use of these assets to fund these priorities fulfills a fundamental responsibility of government and reduces the pressure to increase taxes. It is the intent of the people that the State of Oregon get out of the insurance business and use the proceeds from this change to support these important government priorities.

3. The Oregon Priorities Fund is hereby established in the State Treasury, separate and distinct from the General Fund. Monies in this Fund shall be continuously appropriated to the Legislative Assembly. The use of this Fund is limited to the following priorities:

a) to support Oregon education, covering Kindergarten through 12th grade,

b) to help provide prescription medications to Oregon's low income senior citizens and the medically needy,

c) to support local law enforcement programs in Oregon cities and counties, and

d) to promote job growth through workforce training.

4. Money shall be transferred to the Oregon Priorities Fund as provided in this Act.

5. Moneys in the Oregon Priorities Fund may be invested as provided by law.

6. The State Auditor, within the Secretary of State's office, shall be assigned to oversee the establishment of the Oregon Priorities Fund, to assure the public that funds are accounted for and spent in accordance with this law. The State Auditor shall publish an annual report to the State Treasurer, Governor and Legislative Assembly to provide public accountability for the activities taken to implement this Act.

7. For purposes of this Act, "SAIF Corporation" means the State Accident Insurance Fund Corporation; "excess surplus" means the money in the Industrial Accident Fund subject to Legislative disposition pursuant to ORS 656.634; "DAS Director" means the Director of the Department of Administrative Services. "DCBS Director" means the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services.

8. This Act supersedes any existing law which may be construed to reduce or restrict the full implementation of this Act and this Act shall be construed so as to best implement the intent of this Act.

9. On the effective date of this Act:

a) SAIF Corporation shall cease selling new policies of insurance;

b) ORS 656.017 (2) is repealed;

c) the authority of the Board of Directors of SAIF Corporation shall be transferred to the DAS Director and the Board shall be abolished; and

d) the DAS Director and the DCBS Director shall commence preparation of a plan for the orderly exit of the State from the retail insurance business consistent with this Act. Such plan shall include reinsurance of SAIF Corporation and the Industrial Accident Fund in a manner that enables its obligations to be met with a goal of increasing its excess surplus as much as possible consistent with that purpose.

10. One year after the effective date of this Act, and in accordance with the plan of the DAS Director and the DCBS Director:

a) SAIF Corporation shall cease renewing policies of insurance;

b) the DAS Director shall reinsure a portion of the liabilities of SAIF Corporation and the Industrial Accident Fund;

c) the State Treasurer shall set aside fifty percent (50%) of the excess surplus to satisfy all claims filed by or on behalf of policyholders against the State Accident Insurance Fund Corporation or the Industrial Accident Fund that were in litigation prior to the filing of the Prospective Petition which initiates this Act pursuant to ORS 250.045. The State Treasurer shall maintain such fund separate from all other funds until such time as the State Treasurer, in consultation with the Department of Justice, determines that maintenance of such fund is no longer necessary; and

d) after the State Treasurer establishes the fund described in section 10 c, above, the State Treasurer shall transfer eighty percent of the remaining excess surplus funds from the Industrial Accident Fund to the Oregon Priorities Fund. The State Treasurer may contract with independent outside persons or firms to provide advice and assistance in determining the sum eligible for the transfer, and in carrying out the transfer. The State Treasurer shall have discretion to best interpret and implement the provisions of this Section so as to fulfill the intent of the people as stated in the Act.

11. Two years after the effective date of this Act, and in accordance with the plan of the DAS Director and the DCBS Director:

a) SAIF Corporation shall be abolished;

b) the DAS Director shall reinsure or otherwise resolve the remaining liabilities of SAIF Corporation and the Industrial Accident Fund;

c) the DAS Director shall sell all real and personal property of the SAIF Corporation to a private entity. All proceeds from the sale shall be paid to the State Treasurer and shall be deposited in the Oregon Priorities Fund. The Attorney General shall assist the DAS Director in negotiating the sale and shall assure that the sale includes adequate provisions to allocate responsibility between the purchaser and the state for compliance with all pertinent laws;

d) the State Treasurer shall transfer the excess surplus in accordance with section 10 c and d, above.

12. The DAS Director may contract with independent outside persons or firms to provide advice and assistance to carry out the provisions of this Act. The DAS Director shall have broad discretion to best interpret and implement the provisions of this Act, and to fulfill the intent of the people as stated in this Act.

13. The Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services shall not approve for use any workers compensation insurance rate that is excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. Beginning with the 2005 regular session of the Legislature, and at each regular session thereafter until 2009, the Director shall report to the Governor and the Legislature on the status of the Director's enforcement activities under this provision.

14. The Board of Directors of SAIF Corporation shall not challenge this Act or any of its provisions. Any action taken by the Board of Directors of SAIF Corporation within one year before passage of this Act, or any time after passage of this Act, is subject to being set aside or modified by court action or by specific legislation if a material element of the action by the SAIF Corporation Board of Directors undermines or otherwise weakens the full implementation of this Act.

15. If any person brings a state court challenge to any portion of this Act, or challenges passage of this Act, asserting that the Act or any portion of the Act violates the Oregon Constitution or the United States Constitution, or asserting any other legal challenge to passage or implementation of this Act, that action shall be filed in Circuit Court and shall be given expedited
attention by the Court; the decision of the Circuit Court shall be subject to direct review by the Oregon Supreme Court, which shall give expedited attention to such appeal.

16. If any portion of this Act is invalidated for any reason, all remaining portions of this Act shall remain in place and shall be given full force and effect.

17. This Act takes effect on January 1, 2005.