10-25-2020  3:27 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Vote like your life depends on it
Saundra Sorenson
Published: 07 October 2020

In November, Portland voters have a chance to weigh in on two new drug policies, universal preschool, their vision for the county library system, and more in the following ballot measures with The Skanner endorsements noted:

Statewide 

Measure 107: Campaign Finance Limits Amendment 

election campaign finance introThe measure would change Oregon’s status as one of five states with no limits on campaign contributions by authorizing the state legislature and local governments to limit campaign contributions and political expenditures. The measure would also require political advertisements to disclose who paid for them, which is currently optional under Oregon law. 

"Voters have always supported setting limits on campaign contributions. That’s true across political party affiliation,” Kate Titus of Common Cause Oregon testified in support of the measure. “Oregon is one of only five states that sets no limits at all on campaign contributions, has among the most expensive campaigns per capita, and ranks worst in the country for corporate cash to lawmakers."

Read full measure text here

The Skanner endorses a ✔ YES vote on Measure 107.

Measure 108: Tobacco and E-Cigarette Tax Increase 

vape smoke introThe measure would impose an additional tax on tobacco and nicotine products to fund state health programs. Taxes on a pack of cigarettes would increase from $1.33 to $3.33, and e-cigarettes and vaping products would be taxed at 65% of the wholesale price. Cigars could be taxed up to $1 individually.

Revenue left over after administration costs would be distributed by the Oregon Health Authority to mental health services and tribal health providers like the Urban Indian Health program. 

Read full measure text here.

The Skanner endorses a ✔ YES vote on Measure 108.

Measure 109: Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative 

mushrooms psilocybin pixabay introThe measure would regulate and tax psilocybin, the active ingredient of hallucinogenic mushrooms, for therapy purposes and only for consumers 21 years of age and older. The measure would not decriminalize the schedule 1 drug. 

If passed, Measure 109 would allow the Oregon Health Authority to license service providers specializing in psilocybin-assisted therapy, and would be funded by a 15% retail sales tax. Supporters argue psilocybin shows great promise in treating drug-resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and palliative care for terminally ill patients. The federal Food and Drug Administration has granted the drug “breakthrough therapy” status for its efficacy in treating severe depression, which accelerates the study and review process. 

Read full measure text here.

The measure has been endorsed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Coalition of Oregon Professional Associations for Counseling and Therapy, the ACLU of Oregon, Causa Oregon, the Black Resilience Fund.

“Developed with therapeutic and mental health experts, Measure 109 brings this treatment to Oregon through a licensed, research-based system that supports and protects those in urgent need,” Congress Member Earl Blumenauer said in his endorsement. 

The American Psychiatric Association, the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association, and Decriminalize Nature Portland oppose the measure, with psychiatrist Nicole Cirino of OPPA warning the measure would set Oregonians up as "the guinea pigs to be receiving psilocybin treatment for psychological conditions with high rates of morbidity and mortality if treated quickly or left untreated." Zave Forster of DNP said the measure would create a costly "hard-to-access system" for low-income populations who might otherwise benefit from the treatment. 

The Skanner endorses a ✔ YES vote on Measure 109.

Measure 110: Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative   

alcohol PTSD drug addiction depression woman introThe measure would reclassify possession of drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation, giving violators the option to pay a $100 fine or getting a health assessment for treatment within 45 days of possession charge. The measure would also create all-hours addiction recovery centers throughout the state to provide such health assessments.

The program would be financed by the creation of the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund, which would require redistribution of marijuana revenue, reducing revenue to the State School Fund, the State Police, mental health programs, and local governments. The measure also calls for funding from savings from the projected reduction in arrest and incarceration costs.

Read full measure text here.

Supporters point to a study by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission that projects that such an approach would drive down convictions for possession of a controlled substance by about 90.7% -- and significantly reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system. 

“Measure 110 would establish a more humane, equitable and effective approach to helping people struggling with addiction, shifting from a system of criminalization to approaching addiction as the healthcare issue it is,” Rev. E.D. Mondainé of the NAACP of Portland, Antoinette Edwards, retired director of the Portland Youth Violence Prevention Task Force, and Donell Morgan, executive director of Elevate Oregon, said in a joint statement to The Skanner.

Endorsers include the National Association of Social Workers, the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, and The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, as well as more than 30 racial and social justice organizations, including the ACLU of Oregon, NAACP Portland, Unite Oregon, Human Rights Watch, Central City Concern, Coalition of Communities of Color, and Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The measure is opposed by Oregon State Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena), Oregon State Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote, Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, the Mental Health Association of Portland, Oregon Recovers, and the Oregon Council for Behavioral Health. 

Critics take issue with funding mechanisms and the way the assessment centers would replace current services. 

"The measure provides no new funding, destroys pathways to treatment and recovery, and fails to address racial injustice in our systems by decriminalizing a narrow set of charges without resource for larger system innovation,” the OCBH argued in a statement. 

The Skanner endorses a ✔ YES vote on Measure 110.

Metro 

Measure 26-218: Infrastructure and Transportation Payroll Tax 

road highway infrastructure introThe measure would finance a number of transportation projects on 17 Metro-area regional corridors through a payroll tax expected to raise $250 million. The Metro Council would be authorized to tax employers with 26 or more employees at a maximum of 0.75%; smaller companies and local government agencies are excluded from the tax. 

Projects funded would include transit improvements, traffic mitigation, and transportation safety.

Read full measure text here

Endorsers include Albina Vision Trust, Coalition of Communities of Color, Oregon Food Bank, Unite Oregon, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Multnomah County Democrats, Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz, mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, Oregon State House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), and U.S. House Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

"This policy was not created for communities of color — it was created with communities of color at the table, and has earned broad support because the measure addresses critical priorities while reflecting shared values of inclusion and equity," a group of local organizations, including Albina Vision Trust and the Coalition of Communities of Color, said in a joint endorsement. "In all, 60% of these investments are located in areas where high concentrations of people of color live."

Groups opposed to the measure include the Oregon Small Business Association, the Portland Business Alliance, the Washington County Business Council, the Gresham Chamber of Commerce, Oregon Business and Industry, Nike, The Standard, the Portland Clinic, and Cambia Health Solutions, Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates, and Oregon State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), chair of the Senate Finance & Revenue Committee.

Critics of the measure largely objected to an additional payroll tax during an economic downturn.

"This package was written for a booming economy heavily reliant on commuting," Kiley Wilson of the PBA wrote. "Our economy is now in a tailspin and work has turned remote."

The Skanner recommends a ✔ NO vote on Measure 26-218.

Multnomah County 

Measure 26-211: Library Bond Issue 

Central Library introThe measure would finance expansion of the Multnomah County library system with a $387 million bond, and would authorize the county to impose increased property taxes of $61 per $100,000 of assessed property value in order to repay the bonds. This would bring the total property tax rate for the Multnomah County Library District to $183 per $100,000 assessed property value. 

Improvements include the construction of a library in East County, library expansions, renovations, and increased library internet speed. 

Read full measure text here.

The measure is opposed by the Taxpayers Association of Oregon.

The Skanner recommends a ✔ NO vote on Measure 26-211. View the statement below.

Measure 26-214: Income Tax to Fund Tuition-Free Preschool Program 

little girl child introThe measure would provide free early education for up to six hours a day to three- and four-year-olds with a legal guardian residing within the county. The Preschool for All Program would be administered by the Department of County Human Services and funded by 1.5% tax on single incomes that exceed $125,000, and joint incomes of over $200,000, with an additional 1.5% tax levied on single incomes exceeding $250,000 and joint incomes over $400,000.

The measure establishes a payscale that puts preschool teachers in line with their kindergarten counterparts and establishes a minimum hourly rate of $19.91 for aides.

Read full measure text here.

Supporters point out that Oregon currently has the fourth-most expensive child care costs in the country, and that due to pay inequities, there is a shortage of qualified preschool educators and facilities throughout the state. 

"Economic research clearly shows that universal, high-quality preschool programs return nearly $10 for every $1 spent,” Multnomah County Economists for Universal Preschool states in its endorsement, whose signatories include economist Joseph Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize in 2001. The group stated that such programs are a “'public good,' only efficiently provided by the public sector, because gains are diffused throughout the community in higher earnings, better health, higher tax revenues, higher property values and lower spending for special education, public assistance and criminal justice."

Endorsers for this measure include the Black Parent Initiative, Coalition of Communities of Color, Unite Oregon, the ACLU of Oregon, the League of Women Voters, Portland Association of Teachers, Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, U.S. House representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici; Oregon State House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland); and Mayor Ted Wheeler.

The measure is opposed by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, which argued that the increased tax rate would drive high-income taxpayers out of state while attracting populations seeking to access the program. 

The Skanner endorses a ✔ YES vote on Measure 26-214.

City Of Portland

Measure 26-213: Recreation and Parks Levy

columbia park portland introThe measure would support no-fee recreation programs, park maintenance, clean water, and other natural spaces programs in the city by levying an $80 tax per $100,000 of assessed property value over a five-year period, starting next year. The tax is estimated to raise about $45 million in its first year. 

Read full measure text here

Endorsers include the Audubon Society, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter, Brown Hope, NIKE, the Oregon Humane Society, the Portland Business Alliance, the Home Builders Association, and city commissioners Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz.

"The proposed levy is essential to re-open community centers and pools and provide the recreation services we all count on when local families need them most -- all while increasing access to recreation opportunities for children and seniors, communities of color, and refugees and immigrants," mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone said in support of the measure.

The measure is opposed by the Taxpayers Association of Oregon. 

The Skanner endorses a ✔ YES vote on Measure 26-213.

Measure 26-217: Police Oversight Board Charter Amendment 

police intro 1The measure, submitted by Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, would replace the current Independent Police Review agency with a new community police oversight board that would have the power to investigate police misconduct and to discipline officers. The board’s recommendations would also have more clout: If the PPB were to reject a policy suggested by the board, the board could then appeal to the City Council to vote to implement the policy. 

While members of the board would be appointed by the City Council with a focus on diversity, the measure prohibits current law enforcement officers, or those who have experience or immediate family members in law enforcement, from serving.  

The board would be financed by at least five percent of the PPB’s annual budget.

Read full measure text here

The measure is supported by Hardesty’s colleagues on the City Council, and has been endorsed by the League of Women Voters of Portland, mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone, the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice & Police Reform, the NAACP, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), Oregon State Sen. Lew Frederick (D-Portland), Oregon House representatives Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland), Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) and Akasha Lawrence Spence (D-Portland); the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, U.S. House Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Portland Association of Teachers, Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals,

But City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero testified against the measure in July, calling the approach “an unvetted, unrefined model of oversight that throws out the best of what works in the current system for a hazy promise of something better down the road” and objecting to the oversight committee's proposed budget, which she said was equivalent to the budget of her entire office. The Portland Police Association also opposes the measure. 

The Skanner endorses a ✔ YES vote on Measure 26-217.

Measure 26-219: Uses of Water Fund Charter Amendment 

girl drinking water introThe measure would amend the city charter to expand how the city can use money from the Water Fund, which is financed by water service ratepayers. Currently, the City Council is not authorized to spend Water Fund money on anything unrelated to providing water service to residents, but the measure would allow the council to put such money toward neighborhood green spaces, community gardens, and other general public uses. 

Read full measure text here.

Endorsers include the Audubon Society of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the Humane Society of the United States, the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter, and the Urban Greenspaces Institute.

"Water bureau properties that house water towers and pump stations often contain significant amounts of unused land and are located in residential areas. Historically these sites have been fenced and unavailable to the public, but measure 26-219 would amend the City Charter to formally allow the Water Bureau to invest rates to maintain and improve them for public use and ensure they are safe and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act," a group of organizations, including the Audubon Society of Portland and the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter, said in support of the measure.

The measure is opposed by Citizens for Water Accountability, Trust & Reform.

The Skanner recommends a ✔ NO vote on Measure 26-219.

Portland School District

Measure 26-215: Portland Public Schools Bond

education teacher students introThe measure would authorize the district to issue $1.2 million in principal amount of general obligation bonds for technology upgrades, safety, and school renovations. The measure would not increase the current property tax of $250 per $100,000 of assessed property value to repay the bonds. 

Read full measure text here.

Endorsers include Albina Vision Trust, former Oregon State Sen. Avel Gordly, Oregon Food Bank, the Somali-American Council of Oregon, the Portland Business Alliance, NIKE, the Portland Association of Teachers, the Portland Public School Board, U.S. House Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Mayor Ted Wheeler, the League of Women Voters of Portland, and Multnomah County Democrats.

"This bond will fund the renovation of Jefferson High School," the Portland Association of Teachers said in its endorsement. "Crucially, this bond includes funding for the new Center for Black Student Excellence. We are pleased to see this demonstration of the district's commitment to partner with Portland's Black community to invest in and support our Black students and families."

The measure is opposed by the Taxpayers Association of Oregon.

The Skanner recommends a ✔ NO vote on Measure 26-215. View the statement below.

The Skanner’s Endorsements

While we would like to endorse the library and school measures (Measures 211 and 215), in light of the precarious state of our economy right now, high unemployment, businesses closing, the economic outlook is worrying.  We know these increased taxes would be a burden on many who are facing an uncertain future.  Many don’t know if they will have a job or be able to pay their mortgages, let alone increased taxes. The library and schools need and deserve additional funding, but we believe it’s best to reintroduce these measures when the economic outlook is more stable. At that time we would be happy to support these measures.

Additional endorsements for the November are linked below.

For more information on voting, visit Multnomah County's Make a Plan to Vote page.

 

View The Skanner Statewide, Local Endorsements
View The Skanner National Endorsements

 

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