How I’m voting on Oregon’s Ballot Questions

This post will tell you how I’m voting on each of the five statewide ballot questions in Oregon. In order to hopefully help you understand the often deliberately misleading ballot questions, I will also explain why I’m voting the way I’m voting. If my tendency to be nerdy is too much for you, I have included a bulleted list of key points to know for each question. If you find this information useful, please share it.

Question 102

I’m voting yes on question 102. The idea behind question 102, which was created by the Oregon Legislature, is to allow local governments to raise money for affordable housing. As I’m sure everyone knows, there is a serious housing shortage in Oregon. This shortage is especially notable for regular people who want a nice family home.

The idea behind 102 is to allow local governments to partner on the construction of affordable housing with businesses and nonprofits using money raised from the sale of voter-approved bonds. Since the bonds have to be approved by the voters, question 102 has no financial impact on government that isn’t approved by us.

Here are the key points for 102:

  • It will create more affordable housing.
  • It will make the construction of affordable housing more efficient.
  • Voters will be able to support or reject every project.

Question 103

I’m voting no on question 103. Corporations including: Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway; and large beverage companies have spent more than five million dollars trying to convince Oregonians question 103 is about keeping the sale of groceries tax-free. As I hope every Oregonian knows, Oregon has no sales tax. The real issue is corporations want to amend the Oregon Constitution to make it impossible for local voters to ever approve a tax on sugary beverages, as is being considered in Multnomah County. Even worse than the corporate assault on democracy is the extra little gift business has snuck into the question.

The Oregon Attorney General’s office has concluded the wording of question 103 would prevent the corporate minimum tax as it relates to sellers and distributors of groceries from ever being raised. In English, the office of the attorney general is saying even if corporate taxes are raised in the future, 103 would exempt businesses engaged in the selling and/or distribution of groceries from any future tax increases. So, 103 isn’t about keeping our groceries tax-free; instead, 103 will use our constitution to permanently cap the tax rate on grocery chains at its current level.

If you vote yes on 103, you are giving the grocery industry constitutional protection against any and all future tax increases. That means that even when voters someday raise taxes on banks, oil companies and cable companies–Kroger will still be paying at today’s tax rate.

Here are the key points for 103:

  • Corporations have spent more than five million dollars lying to us about 103.
  • It would take away our right to ever vote on any tax that could impact any kind of food.
  • Most importantly, 103 would use our constitution to permanently set some corporations tax rate at current levels.

Question 104

I’m voting no on question 104. The primary reason I’m voting no is that question 104 is undemocratic. By requiring 60 percent of the legislature to vote in favor of any effort to raise fees and/or reduce credits, 104 is giving a minority of legislators a majority of the power. That would result in the Republican Party, which is in the minority in the Oregon Legislature, having the power to determine how Oregon raises any money. Even if a majority of us vote for Democrats, the people we voted to represent us will not have the power to do things we want; for example, the corporate tax will never increase, the so-called death tax will never be raised, and the wealthy will never pay their fair share of Oregon taxes.

In 1996, Oregon voters approved question 25, which required a three/fifths vote of the Legislature to raise revenue. It was believed any bill that would increase money coming into the government needed support from at least 60 percent of the Legislature to pass.

In 2015, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled “raising revenue” was limited to bills that created a new tax or raised the rate of an existing tax.

All of that means that in Oregon today, 60 percent of the legislature must vote in favor of creating a new tax or raising the rate of an existing tax. On the other hand, the legislature can raise the cost of licenses or eliminates a tax credit with a simple majority vote of the legislature.

Some people may have read the above and decided that sounds like a good deal. They should need an extra high vote total to raise the fee associated with my fishing and/or driver’s license. But the painful question you have to consider is: should your fishing license cost the same 30 years from now as it costs today?

The other thing to consider here is the credit part of this equation. Let’s say the Legislature gave a tax break to a company to build a factory. Twenty years later, that company closed the factory but kept operating in Oregon. If question 104 is passed, 60 percent of the Legislature would have to vote to repeal the company’s tax break.

Here are the key points for 104:

  • If 104 passes, Republicans will control all decisions to raise money for state programs.
  • If 104 passes, the services provided the citizens of Oregon by the government of Oregon will be seriously underfunded over time. This problem will get worse every year.
  • If you don’t like the job your legislator is doing, vote them out of office. Don’t amend the constitution to give control over our state’s money to Republicans and their corporate supporters.

Question 105

I’m voting no on question 105. More than 30 years ago, the Oregon Legislature overwhelmingly adopted what has become known as Oregon’s sanctuary law. The idea behind the law was simple: local police and sheriffs offices wouldn’t enforce federal immigration law. The reason for the law was also a simple one: the federal government should have to enforce and pay for the enforcement of its laws. The taxpayers of Oregon shouldn’t have to pay the bills for the federal government.

If 105 passes, local police and sherriffs will be able to use Oregon taxpayer money to arrest and detain people whose only crime is a violation of federal immigration law.

If you think voting yes on 105 is supporting law enforcement–think again. The district attorney and sheriff of Washington County are both voting no. The district attorney and sheriff of Multnomah County are also voting no on 105. These members of law enforcement and many more are voting no because they understand voting yes will increase crime. Crime will increase because some victims will be afraid to report and some witnesses won’t testify.

Here are the key points for 105

  • Question 105 would make us use Oregon tax money to enforce federal law.
  • Crime will increase.
  • Victims of abuse will be unable to come forward.
  • Witnesses won’t testify.
  • Most law enforcement professionals are voting no.

Question 106

I’m voting no on question 106. Let’s be very clear: 106 is nothing more than an attempt to take control over the bodies of women. Specifically, 106 would give women who need public assistance less control over their bodies than women who don’t need public assistance.

Question 106 would amend our constitution to prohibit taxpayer money being used to fund abortions. That is why it gives women who need public assistance less control over their bodies than women who don’t.

While the sexism and classism behind 106 demands a lot of attention, we can’t overlook the loss of coverage for any public employee and their family. If 106 passes, health insurance offered to public employees would be prevented from offering abortion coverage. People who serve our communities every day as teachers, police officers, or firefighters would no longer have access to the full range of reproductive services and control over their bodies.

Here are the key points for 106:

  • Question 106 is an attack on women.
  • Question 106 would seriously hurt women who need public assistance.
  • It would deny all public employees abortion coverage as a part of their health insurance.

There you have my votes for the ballot questions and my reasons for those votes. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

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