Nine measures make the ballot

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

It's official. Oregon voters will vote on nine ballot measures in November - seven initiatives and two legislative referrals.

The numbers haven't been formally announced, but the good folks at the Sockeye sorted out the order as defined by law. So, here's the rundown!

First, the two legislative referrals. Measure 77 would amend the Oregon Constitution with a specific continuity of government plan in the event of "catastrophic disaster" (terrorism, tsunami, volcanic eruption, etc.) It's fascinating stuff (see 2011's HJR 7) - stay tuned for a longer post.

Measure 78, by contrast, is the very definition of a housekeeping measure. It fixes a spelling error, renames a few things, and removes male-gender language that refers to the Secretary of State. (See 2011's HJR 44.) Yippee.

Now, to the fun stuff.

Measure 79 would create a constitutional ban on real estate transfer fees. It's brought to you by the Realtors Association. Of course, they're already barred under state law - so this is like a super-duper ban. Especially silly since any move to create one would surely trigger a referendum fight, so - just like a constitutional ban - we'd be having a public vote to create one.

Measure 80 is the measure to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana. We're going to spend way too much time this fall blathering about whether marijuana should be legalized, and way too little time talking about the actual implementation details.

Measure 81 would ban nontribal gillnet fishing in Oregon. Advocates argue that gillnets indiscriminately trap and kill wildlife (including marine mammals and endangered species), and that commercial fishers can use other kinds of nets that are more humane and selective. It's been pushed by a coalition of environmentalists and sportfishers. Naturally, it's opposed by commercial fishers, who are traditionally at odds with environmentalists and sportfishers. (Tribes are exempt from the state ban because their fishing activity is protected under treaty rights and federal law.)

Measure 82 would create a constitutional rule that allows privately-owned taxpaying casinos in Oregon provided that the people cast a statewide vote to approve each one. Measure 83 is a vote to allow a single casino in Wood Village. As planned by its sponsors, it would generate some 2500 full-time living-wage jobs, pay nearly $30 million in regular business taxes, as well as a tax equal to 25% of all gaming revenues for schools and law enforcement. In 2010, the gaming tax was estimated to generate roughly $150 million annually. We're going to be talking about this one a lot, too.

Measure 84 is an estate tax repeal that comes from Kevin Mannix's bottomless pit of bad ideas. According to Tax Fairness Oregon, this tax cut would benefit roughly 730 Oregon families while pulling $100 million a year out of the state budget for schools, health care, and prisons. Another bad idea that deserves to die.

Measure 85 reforms the corporate kicker. When the corporate kicker kicks, those funds would be dedicated for K-12 education - rather than shipped back to corporations (including out-of-state ones that have no idea why Oregon is sending them a check.) At long last, kicker reform!

We're going to have nearly a hundred days of debate on these suckers. And here at BlueOregon, we'll be talking about most of them at substantially more length. But what's your first take? Your reactions?

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    Two quick notes:

    • I'd quibble with why the measure banning real estate transfer fees is bad. It's mainly bad not because it's unnecessary, but because it's regressive and undercuts our ability to fund housing that's affordable for all.

    • And I want to say re: the casino: "As planned by its sponsors, it would generate some 2500 full-time living-wage jobs..." That

    (a) nothing in the measure appears to require such jobs be living-wage (though correct me if I'm wrong!);

    (b) "generating" jobs usually means shifting jobs from somewhere else in the economy. That is, people who are spending money at the casino aren't spending that money in other establishments. Hence, creating a casino job probably means removing a job somewhere else.

    There will be an ongoing debate about whether creating this casino will prevent a casino in Southern Washington, and hence we've got "Oregon" jobs competing with "Washington" jobs, and whether we're bringing in out-of-region visitors to gamble, but overall, the jobs are mainly shifting around, not being generated.

    Finally, there's this convenient exemption from the electronic game excise tax built into the measure (Section 16) for the casino - meaning those devices won't have to pay the $125/yr fee that device owners pay elsewhere in the state. At up to 3500 devices at the casino, that's almost a half-million bucks a year. Again, this isn't my area, but that's how it reads to me.

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      On real estate transfer fees, that's true - but only in the sense that it prevents future transfer fees which would presumably be crafted to be progressive. It doesn't do anything to our existing tax system.

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      Evan, Each of these measures needs someone to take up the mantel of opposition. I hope you'll consider doing so on one or the other. Otherwise, there will continue to be forums where the opposition isn't presented at all.

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    Measure 84 is much more than an end to the estate tax. It is a measure designed so that the upper 2% don't have to pay any taxes on capital gains as well. It allows intra-family transfers tax free thereby eliminating capital gain taxes and it is a loophole big enough to eliminate more state revenue than the end of the estate tax.

    Another way to understand this measure is that it will force the layoffs of thousands (?) of additional teachers across the state.

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      John and others,

      A very strict reading of the words of the initiative to end Oregon’s estate tax could be that it only prevents transfer taxes upon transfers between family members. After all the capital gains tax in on the profits, not the transfer.

      Please read the text and see what you think. Pay attention to section 4d in the context of the whole. John and others,

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        The link dropped out of the above. The Measure's text is here:

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        The problem with the Mannix language is that there is no "strict" reading. It is ambiguous and all encompassing. "Any" tax means any tax which must include capital gains. Also what is a "transfer"? Is it a sale? a gift? Mannix is a terrible legal drafter and if the measure is passed it must go to court or be changed immediately by the legislature (which could only be done if we have a strong Democratic majority).

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    For the last two years my husband and I have been working on implementing Safe Access in Oregon, I would be happy to talk about implementation of Measure 80. Full disclosure: I have never been a supporter of OCTA, but I will be voting for it because I know what side of the Prohibition fight I am on.

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    As a teacher in the district where the casino in Measure 83 is proposed, the proponents will have to convince people like me that the benefits outweigh the consequences.

    As for M85, while retaining the corporate kicker is common sense, I have concerns that it will be tempting to oversell the impact. It is a step in the right direction, but should not close off the necessary conversation for comprehensive revenue reform.

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    One voter's preliminary opinions:

    Measure 78 – Yes. Why not.

    Measure 79 – No. Who needs this in the Oregon constitution. And I’d probably favor changing state law to permit real estate transfer fees. Why not?

    Measure 80 – Yes. I think marijuana should be legal, although I await learning specifics of this measure.

    Measure 81 – Yes.

    Measure 82 – No. I don’t want more casinos.

    Measure 83 – No.

    Measure 84 – No. I’m for keeping the estate tax.

    Measure 85 – Probably No. I am for putting the corporate kicker funds into the General Fund and not dedicating those funds to K-12 education.

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      RE: 85. Your preference is not theoption. The option is either send any "kicker" money to the schools or send it back to the corporations, many of which are out of state.

      This may not be perfect, but it's a heck of a good step forward. Yes on 85 is isgned and sealed for me.

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    gawd --- "signed" and sealed.

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    No on both 84 and 85. Instead of hodge-podge knee jerk actions the state needs a top to bottom review and revision of the entire tax code.

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