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Election Choices: Our recommendations on Ballot Measures

To simplify your 2012 general election vote, here are recommendations from the Hood River News on the nine ballot measures that will be decided Nov. 6. (Information in italics comes from the Voter’s Pamphlet.)

MEASURE 77 – CATASTROPHIC DISASTER

Measure 77 amends Constitution: Governor may declare “catastrophic disaster”; requires legislative session; authorizes suspending specified constitutional spending restrictions “Yes” vote grants Governor constitutional authority to declare “catastrophic disaster”; requires legislative session; legislature may suspend specified constitutional spending restrictions to aid response, recovery. “No” vote retains Governor’s statutory authority to declare state of emergency; retains constitutional spending restrictions and constitutional restrictions on legislative authority without exception for emergency.

n The Hood River News recommends: A yes vote. This is a common-sense change in the state’s Constitution that will better enable those best qualified to lead in a major emergency to do just that. Vote yes on 77.

MEASURE 78 – THREE BRANCHES

Measure 78 amends Constitution: Changes constitutional language describing governmental system of separation of powers; makes grammatical and spelling changes “Yes” vote changes constitutional language describing separation of powers to refer to three “branches” (instead of three “departments”) of government; makes other grammatical, spelling changes. “No” vote retains existing constitutional language describing separation of powers between three “departments” of government (rather than three “branches” of government); retains misspelled, other language.

n The Hood River News recommends: A yes vote. Some conspiracy theorists are red-flagging these proposed wording changes; they’re trying to get buy-in on a behind-the-scenes government conspiracy. Good grief. This bill was nearly unanimously approved by both chambers of the state legislature. Let’s clean up some outdated language in our Constitution; nothing more, nothing less. Vote yes on 78.

MEASURE 79 – REAL ESTATE TAXES

Measure 79 amends Constitution: Prohibits real estate transfer taxes, fees, other assessments, except those operative on December 31, 2009 “Yes” vote prohibits state/local governments from imposing taxes, fees, assessments on transfer of any interest in real property, except those operative December 31, 2009. “No” vote retains existing law prohibiting local governments from imposing real estate transfer taxes/fees (with exceptions), allowing state legislature to impose such taxes/fees.

n The Hood River News recommends: A yes vote. Depending on perspective, Measure 79 is a pre-emptive strike against potential taxes on real estate, or paranoia striking deep. Reality is it probably falls somewhere in between. There have been ramblings in Salem about lawmakers establishing a real estate tax to raise money for public housing. It’s hard to say right now how much support might be mustered for such a tax, but Measure 79 makes that a moot point. Vote yes on 79.

MEASURE 80 — MARIJUANA

Measure 80 allows personal marijuana, hemp cultivation/use without license; commission to regulate commercial marijuana cultivation/sale “Yes” vote allows commercial marijuana (cannabis) cultivation/sale to adults through state-licensed stores; allows unlicensed adult personal cultivation/use; prohibits restrictions on hemp. “No” vote retains existing civil and criminal laws prohibiting cultivation, possession and delivery of marijuana; retains current statutes that permit regulated medical use of marijuana.

n Hood River News recommends: Vote no. Talk about an enforcement nightmare: Legalizing and then regulating a drug that is illegal under federal law. One supporter said recently, “Legalize marijuana and there’s less chance your children will smoke pot.” Huh? The medical marijuana laws have been abused and this measure definitely won’t do anything to change that. Vote no on 80!

MEASURE 81 — GILLNETS

Measure 81 prohibits commercial non-tribal fishing with gillnets in Oregon “inland waters,” allows use of seine nets “Yes” vote changes commercial non-tribal fishing in Oregon “inland waters” by banning gillnets, adopting other regulatory changes; recreational salmon fishers ensured their recent share. “No” vote continues current commercial fishing practices, retains laws allowing gillnets, leaves other current regulations in place; continues annual adjustment of recreational salmon harvest share.

n Hood River News recommends: Vote no. Commercial fishing is a complex issue, and this measure won’t do much to simplify it. The measure is an unfair change that works against the Oregon commercial fishing industry; what’s more, it won’t necessarily save any fish. Vote no 81.

MEASURES 82 and 83 – CASINOS

Measure 82 amends the Constitution: Authorizes establishment of privately owned casinos; mandates percentage of revenues payable to dedicated state fund “Yes” vote amends state constitution to authorize privately owned casinos; requires such casinos to give percentage of monthly revenue to State Lottery for specified purposes. “No” vote maintains current state of the law, which does not authorize any privately owned casino within state; tribal casinos authorized pursuant to gaming compacts. Measure 83 authorizes privately owned Wood Village casino; mandates percentage of revenues payable to dedicated state fund “Yes” vote authorizes a single privately owned casino in Wood Village; requires casino to give percentage of monthly revenue to State Lottery for specified purposes. “No” vote maintains current state of the law, which does not authorize any privately owned casino within state; tribal casinos authorized pursuant to gaming compacts.

n Hood River News recommends: Vote no on both 82 and 83. It’s amusing to have casino money being used to fight potential competition. It’s more amusing to have casino money backing ad campaigns that expose the ills of gambling. Ahh, but all good things must come to an end. As much as we like the idea of international corporations investing in Oregon, we already have plenty of places — and ways — to gamble in this state. Let’s bet the future of our schools on some cleaner industries. Vote no on 82 and 83.

MEASURE 84 – ESTATE TAXES

Measure 84 phases out existing inheritance taxes on large estates, and all taxes on intra-family property transfers “Yes” vote phases out existing inheritance/estate taxes on large estates, death-related property transfers, and taxes on certain intra-family property transfers; reduces state revenue. “No” vote retains existing estate/inheritance taxes on estates with value of at least $1 million; tax on all income-producing intra-family property transfers.

n The Hood River News recommends: A yes vote. The voters in Oregon should join a growing majority trend across the country to repeal the death tax. Much ado has been made about the hardships inheritance taxes place on family farms, but just as devastating are the effects the tax places on small business families. We don’t easily buy into the claim that taxes are to blame for Oregon’s business climate. But we do think it’s wrong for small businesses, agriculture-based or otherwise, to grow their companies, work hard and play by the rules (taxes), all the while, knowing that when they die they’re going to be taxed one last time. Whoa, wait, say the unions. That’s revenue the state can’t live without. Well, shut down enough small businesses, and put people out of work, and there will be a much bigger revenue problem to worry about. Vote yes on 84.

MEASURE 85 – TAX KICKER

Measure 85 amends Constitution: Allocates corporate income/excise tax “kicker” refund to additionally fund K-12 public education “Yes” vote allocates the corporate income and excise tax “kicker” refund to the General Fund to provide additional funding for K-12 public education. “No” vote retains existing corporate income and excise tax “kicker” that requires refund to corporations when revenue exceeds estimated collections by two percent or more.

n The Hood River News recommends: A no vote. Any kicker refund money should go back into the hands of those who earned it originally. Those businesses can then decide how to reinvest those dollars — whether in improvements or upgrades, personnel or whatever they so desire.

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