Oregon voters will have the chance to approve or reject 9 “ballot measures” in the 2012 election. Ballot measures are one important part of democracy in Oregon: it’s our chance to decide on proposed state laws. Some have been proposed by ordinary citizens, and others by our elected officials. No matter who has proposed them, though, you have the power to say yes or no to these news laws.
CIO has prepared this guide to each of these ballot measures. We’re here to tell you what they would do, and to give you as much information as you need to make a decision. We want to emphasize that you should vote in whatever way you’d like. However, we have provided recommendations based on our mission of advancing immigrant and refugee rights and creating a more equitable Oregon.
We will include the number of each ballot measure (in bold), how the state describes the measure (in italics), and give you CIO’s short description of what each ballot measure does. If you still have questions or comments about these measures, please contact us!
Andrew Riley – Policy Director,
firstname.lastname@example.org, (503) 936-9430
Nicole Brown – Civic Engagement Coordinator,
CIO recommends a YES vote on the following measure:
Amends Constitution: Allocates Corporate Income/Excise Tax “Kicker” Refund to Additionally
Fund K Through 12 Public Education
Oregon collects taxes from all of its residents to pay for services the government provides. To figure out how much money the government has to spend, the state regularly tries to predict how much all of us will pay in taxes. Then, the government sets a budget for the services it provides. Sometimes, those predictions are wrong; if the state ends up collecting more money than they estimated, that money gets sent back to people, businesses, and corporations. It’s something we call the “kicker.” This measure would eliminate the kicker for corporations and businesses. This will mostly affect only large businesses and corporations. If it passes, and the government receives more money than they predicted from businesses, that money will be automatically put into a much-needed savings account for elementary, middle, and high schools, including English Language Learning programs.
CIO recommends a NO vote on the following measures:
Amends Constitution: Prohibits Real Estate Transfer Taxes, Fees, Other Assessments, Except those Operative on December 31, 2009
Cities and counties use different tools to pay for affordable housing projects, so that when we build new apartment buildings or houses, we don’t make our communities too expensive to live in. One of those tools is a “real estate transfer tax,” a tax that local governments charge when a house is sold. These taxes are already illegal in Oregon, but the supporters of Measure 79 want to ban them in the state Constitution, so our government can never use them. We need more affordable housing, not less, and we should be able to use many different tools to give people more access to housing.
Measures 82 & 83
Amends Constitution: Authorizes Establishment of Privately-Owned Casinos; Mandates
Percentage of Revenues Payable to Dedicated State Fund; Authorizes Privately-Owned Wood
Village Casino; Mandates Percentage Of Revenues Payable to Dedicated State Fund
The only casinos in Oregon right now are on Native American reservations. A company in Canada wants to change that by putting a casino in the city of Wood Village, just east of Portland. To do that, they need to change the Oregon Constitution and state law by passing Measure 82 and Measure 83. The new casino would include a hotel, a movie theater, and restaurants. Some of the money it earned from people gambling would go to the state as taxes. Putting a casino in Wood Village would have many negative effects, too, including increasing crime rates, gambling addiction, and alcohol and drug use. Most of the profits from the new casino would leave Oregon, and go to a Canadian corporation, which is the main supporter of these measures.
Phases Out Existing Inheritance Taxes on Large Estates, and All Taxes on Intra-Family Property Transfers
When people die in Oregon, the property they leave behind (their “estate”) is usually
transferred to their families. When someone inherits an estate worth more than $1 million, the state taxes it to help fund government services. This ballot measure would eliminate those taxes, which would mean that the state would lose about $100 million per year in revenue. This measure also allows people to avoid taxes on things like investments, sometimes called the “capital gains” tax, and so Oregon would lose many millions of dollars each year. Many of our families are struggling, and we just can’t afford to cut vital social services.
CIO neither supports nor opposes the following measures:
Amends Constitution: Governor may Declare “Catastrophic Disaster” (define); Requires Legislative Session; Authorizes Suspending Specified Constitutional Spending Restrictions”
Many states allow their governor to declare a “state of emergency” if a natural disaster happens (like a flood or an earthquake), but Oregon does not. This ballot measure gives the state government special powers to respond to any natural disasters that might occur. It allows the Governor to declare a state of emergency, spend money to respond to disasters, and lets him or her require the state Legislature (our House of Representatives and Senate) to meet to address the disaster.
Amends Constitution: Changes Constitutional Language Describing Governmental System of
Separation of Powers; Makes Grammatical and Spelling Changes
Sometimes, ballot measures change small things about the state law, and don’t really do things that impact any of us in our daily lives. These are called “housekeeping measures,” and they’re designed to make the language in our laws more modern or less confusing. Measure 78 is a good example: it changes language in our state Constitution which describes the different parts of government, and makes it more modern. It also changes the language about the Secretary of State to no longer refer to “he,” “him,” or “his,” because our Secretaries of State aren’t just men (including our current one).
Allows Personal Marijuana, Hemp Cultivation/Use Without License; Commission to Regulate
Commercial Marijuana Cultivation/Sale
Marijuana is illegal in Oregon except for medical purposes (doctors can prescribe it as a medicine for their patients). At the same time, many people still grow it, sell it, and use it. Measure 80 would make marijuana sort of like alcohol: it would be legal for adults over the age of 21 to use, and the state would sell it and tax it. The tax money would go to paying for state services, as well as drug treatment and education. Measure 80 would also make it legal for people to grow their own marijuana, as long as they are not selling it.
Prohibits Commercial Non-tribal Fishing with Gillnets in Oregon “Inland Waters,” Allows use of Seine Nets.
One of Oregon’s main industries is fishing. Currently, businesses which catch fish in Oregon use something called a “gillnet” to catch fish. These nets trap fish like salmon by their gills. Environmentalists have argued that these nets are cruel to the fish, and a group sponsored this ballot measure to stop the use of gillnets in Oregon, and promote the use of other kinds of fishing methods. Since then, though, they no longer support this measure, because everyone (environmentalists, fisherman, Native American tribes) is now working with Oregon’s Governor to find a better solution.