SALEM — Abortion, immigration, taxes and housing are the hot-button issues that will go before voters as ballot measures in the Nov. 6 general election.
Monday was the deadline for the secretary of state to certify an initiative in time for the general election.
From an original crop of 45 proposed initiatives, just four ran the legal and logistical gauntlet of gathering signatures, litigating ballot titles, and threading through the bureaucratic maze to the November ballot.
A fifth, Measure 102, was placed on the ballot by the Legislature.
The five ballot measures this year are a sharp drop from the record 26 in November 2000. It is the smallest number of ballot measures in a general election since November 1964, according to the Oregon Blue Book, the state’s official almanac.
Barring additional legal challenges, here are the five that will be on the ballot and who is leading the support and opposition:
The only measure put on the ballot by the Legislature, it would allow municipal bonds to be used to finance the construction of affordable housing with private and nonprofit groups. It would require local voter approval and annual performance audits, while placing limits on the cost of projects. Advocates say it could ease the low-cost housing shortage in Oregon.
For: All Democrats and most Republicans in the Legislature, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Advocacy groups Affordable Housing for Oregon and Defend Oregon.
Against: No organized public opposition. The resolution creating the referral to voters passed the House unanimously and the Senate by a 24-5 vote.
With the rallying cry “Yes! Keep Our Groceries Tax-Free!”, a coalition of supermarkets and business groups want to enshrine in the constitution a prohibition on taxing most foods. So called “sin tax” substances — alcohol, marijuana and tobacco — are not included in the measure. The initiative would also bar an increase in the state’s corporate minimum tax for grocers, which could have a long-term impact on state revenue.
For: Supermarkets and grocery seller associations. Kroger has contributed $800,000 so far. Seattle-based Costco has contributed $555,000. Phoenix-based Albertsons/Safeway gave $800,000 to the committee to get the initiative on the ballot and $200,000 to the new political action committee to pass the measure.
Against: Vote No on 103, a new PAC launched Aug. 7.
Subject: Legislative voting change
The initiative would broaden the definition of which bills require a three-fifths “super-majority” approval in the House and Senate. Democrats are currently one vote short of a super-majority in both the House and the Senate. In the two recent regular sessions, Democrats had to find at least one Republican vote to pass tax legislation. Republicans say Democrats allowed some bills to be considered with just a majority vote that should have required a super-majority. The measure would effectively extend the super-majority requirement to various fees and attempts to roll back tax breaks.
For: Priority Oregon, a business-oriented group organized by John Davis, a former Republican House member and a Portland-based partner of Lynch Conger McLane, a Bend law firm. One of the firm’s other partners, Republican House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, has been an outspoken critic of what he says are Democratic attempts to circumvent the super-majority rules.
Against: Our Oregon, a political group that advocates for families, schools and workers rights, Democratic leaders in the Legislature.
The ballot measure would repeal a 30-year-old law that limits state and local officials from aiding federal officials who are seeking information on Oregon residents merely on the basis of whether or not they are in the United States legally. Advocates of the measure say that there should be cooperation with federal officials on identifying illegal immigrants. Opponents say current law ensures that criminals who are illegal immigrants are turned over to federal officers and that without current law there would be more racial profiling by law enforcement.
For: Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, is the lead chief petitioner. Repeal Oregon Sanctuary Law PAC, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Oregonians for Immigration Reform. Proponents have raised about nearly $300,000.
Against: Oregonians United Against Profiling, American Civil Liberties Union, Oregon Education Association, National Immigration Law Center. Opponents have raised more than $350,000.
The measure would block the use of public funds to pay for most abortions. Exceptions would be when the procedure is medically necessary or required by federal law. The state spent an estimated $2 million over the past two years to provide abortions under the low-income Oregon Health Plan. In 2017, the Legislature passed a law requiring insurers doing business in Oregon to provide abortions and other reproductive care services, including contraception, without charge to patients. Lawmakers also approved free abortions for women regardless of their immigration status.
For: Longtime anti-abortion activist Jeff Jimerson of Corvallis is the lead chief petitioner. Oregon Right-to-Life is supporting the measure.
Against: No Cuts to Care is the umbrella for more than 20 groups opposing the measure. It includes the Oregon branches of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Organization for Women. The AFL-CIO and public employee labor union SEIU Local 503 are also involved. Defend Oregon is aiding the “No” campaign.
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