Gov. Kate Brown really didn’t want a trio of ballot measures dealing with taxes and business on the November ballot. She was able to kill one of them; voters should approve the other two.
Gone is Initiative Petition 25, which would have required publicly traded companies paying excise or income taxes in the state to release information about major stockholders, tax payments outside this state, profits, losses and much more. The measure is invasive and goes far beyond the public information required by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates public companies.
In exchange, some large businesses, including the publicly traded Nike, have agreed to support efforts to kill IP 31 and IP 37. Both will appear on the ballot.
IP 31 is a constitutional amendment that would require lawmakers to live up to the spirit as well as the letter of the current Article IV, Section 25, of the state constitution. That section requires a three-fifths majority vote in each legislative house to “pass bills for raising revenue.” But, thanks to a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling, “raising revenue” does not include such things as broadening the scope of a tax or raising the rate charged.
As for IP 37, it bars taxes on groceries in Oregon. It is, in part, a reaction to 2016’s Measure 97, a gross receipts tax that would have hit grocers hard.
Brown’s efforts to get one anti-business tax measure off the ballot is a win for voters. Voters get a chance to ban taxes on an essential — food — and to send a message to legislators to stop playing tricks to raise taxes.