What to expect on your ballot

By Representative Rob Nosse

If you’ve been out in our part of the world this time of year, chances are you have been asked to sign a petition at some point. In Oregon, if petitioners get enough signatures, they can refer a legislative concept to the ballot for voters to vote on directly, rather than having the legislature decide on an issue.

By Representative Rob Nosse

Throughout Oregon’s history, voters have used the ballot to implement policies both good and bad. For example, Oregonians took a positive step in 1996 by voting for an initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage after the legislature wasn’t willing to act. It was also through the initiative process that Oregon’s gay marriage ban passed in 2004. As you might imagine, in my opinion, that was a very bad idea.

The signature gathering portion of the campaign cycle is winding down, and based on early reporting, here are some ideas I’m told are likely to appear on your ballot this November.

Corporate tax transparency – You may have heard this referred to as IP 25. It would require publicly-traded corporations to disclose to the Secretary of State how much they pay in state corporate income taxes. These corporations would publish that information on a 3-year delay. Currently, the public and lawmakers have no way of knowing how much or how little large corporations are paying. This kind of open reporting would assist lawmakers and voters in crafting and passing tax policy that makes sure everyone pays their fair share. I plan on supporting this measure if it makes it on to the ballot, and I hope you will as well.

Ban on taxing grocery stores – Also known as IP 37, this initiative is brought forward by big, out-of-state grocers seeking to amend Oregon’s constitution, creating a carve-out that protects any corporation from paying taxes on their products if they deal with food. Not just grocery stores, but warehouses that store food, and transportation companies that move food. Basically, any company along the supply chain would never pay any increase or decrease in their tax rate if this initiative passes.

If this initiative passes, it would be the largest corporate tax carve-out in our state’s history. The initiative is so broad in scope that it would even protect these businesses from increases in the minimum corporate tax, while other businesses would have to pay those increases.

We have low business taxation rates in Oregon. Our public schools and services are still critically underfunded, and yet one of the nation’s most profitable industries wants to exempt themselves from having to pay their fair share of taxes.

This is a bad measure. It is irresponsible, and will only result in more money for the grocery industry’s shareholders, and less for Oregon students. I encourage you NOT to support it.

Our Sanctuary Status – IP 22 would remove Oregon’s sanctuary state status for the purpose of immigration, opening the door for racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement of people who are or who may “look” like immigrants.

Oregon’s sanctuary status has been in place for over 30 years and was written in response to the same kind of racially motivated zealotry that is making its way back into the public sphere today. Fixing our country’s broken immigration system is a fine aspiration and a worthy cause, but you don’t fix it by driving communities underground; you do it by extending a helping hand. This petition is sponsored by Oregonians for Immigration Reform, labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I would strongly urge you to reject their initiative.

There are other petitions that may make it on to the ballot, including ones that would ban assault weapons and require safe gun storage, but most political insiders are uncertain about their chances of qualifying since the effort to qualify and gather the signatures started later in the process.

Bottom line: Campaign season is gearing up. It’s important to stay informed about what you will be asked to vote on.

Especially in today’s political climate, we should all take some time to consider how our votes will affect our friends, our neighbors, and our communities.