SALEM — When it comes to November’s ballot measures, the top two candidates in the race for governor agree on how to vote on abortion and housing, while taking opposite sides on immigration enforcement, grocery taxes and the number of votes it should take in the Legislature to pass financial bills.
The Bulletin asked incumbent Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and her Republican opponent, Rep. Knute Buehler of Bend, how they planned to vote on the five measures that will appear on the ballot in Oregon. Here’s their responses:
Measure 102: Affordable housing
Brown says she supports the legislative referral, which asks voters if local governments should be allowed to work with nonprofit and private groups to build affordable housing in communities.
Buehler spokeswoman Monica Wroblewski said Buehler is also in favor of the initiative.
“This is a technical, but important, change that will allow governments to leverage private funds to create more affordable housing,” Wroblewski said.
Measure 103: Ban on grocery sales tax
Oregon currently has no sales tax on most items, including groceries. This initiative would prohibit a state or local sales tax on most groceries. Exceptions are made for possible “sin tax” items: tobacco, alcohol and cannabis.
Brown said she would oppose the initiative, which is backed by supermarket chains, and would work to encourage opposition.
“I am proud of the work I have done to bring business and labor leaders together to oppose two constitutional tax amendments that are poorly written and would have unintended consequences,” she said.
Buehler is for the initiative.
“State government is already collecting record tax revenues from Oregonians,” Wroblewski said of Buehler’s position. “Taxing groceries will hit lower- and middle-income families and people on fixed incomes especially hard.”
Measure 104: ‘Supermajority’ required on more legislative bills
The initiative would make it more difficult for the Legislature to pass some bills that raise revenue or roll back tax breaks by requiring they receive a three-fifths “supermajority” of the House and Senate. The state constitution currently requires a supermajority to raise taxes. Democrats are one vote shy of a supermajority in each chamber and must get at least some Republican support to pass tax bills. Republicans championed the initiative because they say Democrats have taken a narrow interpretation of which bills required supermajorities.
Brown said she opposed the initiative, which she said could make it more difficult to fund crucial state programs.
“We can work together to improve our state and make sure that Oregonians have the health care and education that they deserve,” she said.
Buehler said he will vote yes and end what he called a “loophole” allowing Democratic leaders to pass bills with a simple majority.
“This measure will close that loophole, protect taxpayers and affirm the will of the voters,” Wroblewski said of Buehler’s position.
Measure 105: Repeal immigration sanctuary law
The measure would repeal the state’s three-decade-old “sanctuary law.” It bars local and state law enforcement from assisting federal officials who are seeking information on residents for the sole purpose of determining whether their immigration status is legal or illegal.
Brown said voters have supported the law for more than 30 years and that she opposed the repeal.
“Oregonians believe that their state should be a welcoming place where racial profiling is not tolerated,” she said.
Buehler said he would support the initiative.
“This change will enhance public safety by removing barriers to local and state law enforcement communicating and collaborating with federal law enforcement,” Wroblewski said.
Buehler has voted to strengthen Oregon’s anti-profiling law, and if he is elected governor and the initiative is approved, he would curb any excesses to ensure, Wroblewski said, “that immigrant communities have the safety and security they need to cooperate with law enforcement when needed.”
Measure 106: Bar public funding of most abortions
The initiative would bar the state from financing most abortion-related services, except where the life of the mother was in danger or it was in conflict with federal law. Both Brown and Buehler said they opposed the initiative.
Brown said it is a matter of equity and that the failure of previous attempts to curb abortion rights on the ballot and in the Legislature have met with defeat.
“Oregonians believe women should have access to the full complement of reproductive health services regardless of who their employer is,” Brown said.
Buehler will vote no as well. The bottom line, Wroblewski said, is Buehler will fight efforts to curtail access to abortion.
“As governor, regardless of what happens at the federal level, Knute will ensure that Oregon remains a pro-choice state,” Wroblewski said.
— Reporter: 541-640-2750, firstname.lastname@example.org