Registered voters in Oregon received their ballots over the past week for the state’s General Election on Nov. 6. In addition to having a say in the selection of elected representatives, Oregon voters will decide on five ballot measures ranging from taxation to reproductive healthcare.
The details of the 2018 measures touch on matters personal to many Oregonians. The five measures on this ballot aim to remove restrictions on affordable housing projects, prohibit grocery taxes, require a supermajority vote for raising revenue, repeal a law intended to avoid racial profiling and ban public funds from being spent on abortions, respectively.
Individuals and organizations have spoken out in support of and in opposition to each of the measures. Proponents of the measures have spent more than $9.5 million in contributions, whereas opponents have contributed over $14 million. Specifically, supporters of Measure 102 have contributed more than $2.8 million to the measure, but no contributions have been made by opponents. In contrast, opponents of Measure 106 have spent almost 14 times more than the measure’s proponents, who contributed more than $345,000 in support of the measure. Some of the voices of those who support and oppose Measures 102 through 106, along with brief summaries of the content of each measure, are outlined in this paper.
If passed, this measure will amend the state Constitution to allow Oregon counties, cities and towns to use local bond revenue to purchase or build affordable housing, with voter approval. The state Constitution currently prohibits local governments from raising money for non-governmental companies or organizations.
The League of Women Voters of Oregon said in a statement in the official voters’ pamphlet prepared by Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson that Measure 102 “empowers communities by enabling them to address homelessness and affordable housing needs — problems that are affecting all corners of our state.” Habitat for Humanity of Oregon also supports the measure, commenting that housing prices have increased by more than 300 percent since 1980 and over half of renters in Oregon use more than 30 percent of their salaries for their housing.
Almost no formal opposition to this measure has been published as of this paper’s publication. However, State Senator Alan Olsen wrote that even though he believes affordable housing to be necessary, he fears the consequences of the measure’s lack of definition for “affordable.” The passing of this measure, he said, would allow each jurisdiction to create its own terms and conditions for funds after individual affordable housing requests are approved.
This measure, if passed, will amend the Constitution by prohibiting state and local governments from raising revenue by taxing groceries, defined by the measure as “any raw or processed food or beverage intended for human consumption.” There is presently no statewide sales tax in Oregon, but state and local governments can tax the sales of groceries. Alcohol, marijuana and tobacco products are excluded from this measure.
Organizations that have voiced support for Measure 103 include the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association as well as the Northwest Grocery Association. The ORLA said that Measure 103 supports residents with low or fixed incomes while preventing “unnecessary and burdensome taxation.” The NGA, which helps lead the grocery industry in the Northwest, commented in the same voters’ pamphlet that taxes on groceries “punishes small businesses and farms, and hurts families struggling to put food on their table.”
Oregon AFSCME and the Campaign for Oregon’s Seniors & People With Disabilities have spoken out against Measure 103, noting that the measure does not prevent medicine, diapers, toilet paper or feminine hygiene products from being taxed. In addition, the American Federation of Teachers of Oregon said that the measure would allow large corporations to avoid paying taxes and fees, which could result in “a state budget crisis” and “less funding for higher education and K-12 in Oregon.”
If passed, Measure 104 will amend Oregon’s state Constitution so that a three-fifths majority vote is required to pass bills that raise revenue for the state’s General Fund through taxes, credits and deductions. This measure would define “state revenue,” which is not currently defined in the state Constitution, as “any tax or fee increase.”
Oregonians for Affordable Housing support this measure, commenting that it puts an end to “hidden tax increases” and “will help keep home ownership affordable for more Oregon families” by closing a loophole that allows for arbitrary tax hikes. The Oregon Small Business Association concurs, their statement in the pamphlet stating that Measure 104 will provide protection for small businesses in Oregon.
The League of Women Voters of Oregon, on the other hand, said that the passing of this measure would allow “less than a majority of legislators to withhold their support for fees now used to pay for important health and safety issues.” The Oregon Education Association added that the likelihood of this occurring is high due to various small special interest groups are able to spend millions of dollars to put a measure on a ballot.
This measure would repeal the Oregon law that currently limits the use of state and local law enforcement resources, including funds, equipment and employees, for “detecting and apprehending” people suspected solely of violating immigration laws.
Many organizations and groups in favor of this measure, including Oregonians for Immigration Reform, argue that immigration laws are a priority that Measure 105 would uphold. Stop Oregon Sanctuaries wrote in their statement that the law Measure 105 would repeal opposes the “critical responsibility of state government … to ensure public safety, administer justice and spend tax dollars responsibly.”
On the other hand, others argue that this measure would end protection against racial profiling, as Oregonians United Against Profiling said. Similarly, the ACLU of Oregon, an organization focused on protecting civil rights, said that the law Measure 105 would repeal “protects against unfair targeting, interrogating, and detaining of Oregonians just because police think they are unauthorized immigrants” and repealing this law is a threat to civil rights.
The passing of this measure would amend Oregon’s Constitution by reducing abortion access in the state and prohibiting public funds of the state to be used for abortions, except for cases where an abortion is “deemed to be medically necessary,” endangers the mother’s life or is required by federal law.
Medical Professionals for Measure 106 argue that limiting abortion access prevents residents of Oregon from paying for a person’s general “life choices” or “elective procedure” and for those that are “medically necessary.” The group added that the medically necessary abortions, such as those that must be performed to prevent a mother from dying, “will still be covered by state-funded healthcare.” Oregon Life United commented that they “support efforts to provide healthcare and resources that respect both mother and child,” and that this measure will continue to do this while limiting access to abortion.
Those opposing this measure argue that it denies women their reproductive healthcare. The Bus Project, a grassroots organization working to bring community members involved in political decisions, stated that Measure 106 “takes away individual freedom and autonomy.” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon concurred, writing that the measure specifically disadvantages women at a lower socioeconomic status.
Where do I deliver my ballot?
The Oregon Secretary of State website can help locate the ballot drop box closest to you based on your address or current location. The Oregon Students Association website can help you find a drop box closest to your school campus. Lane Community College also has an unofficial drop box open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. next to the “Snack Shack” in Building 1.