Open heartfelt letter to those who signed tax repeal petition

By Marie Bowers & Jordan Ohrt
Chief Petitioners, Petition #301
from Oregon Green Blog

Dear Petition 301 Signer,

Thank you for your signature to help our efforts to repeal the gross receipts tax aka a sales tax that was passed in the 2019 Oregon Legislative session. We cannot express our appreciation enough.

Unfortunately, we are no longer proceeding to gather signatures on referendum 301 (the repeal) and withdrawing our petition.

We are not giving up on this issue, trust us; we are not quitters. However, the 2019 Oregon Legislature made the success of all our signatures and efforts impossible to achieve. Unless we had endless piles of cash.

In THE VERY LAST DAYS of the legislative session, bills were purposely passed to hurt our efforts. Ironically, the Willamette Week summed it up best in the following bullet statements on how the legislature ensured our failure to refer this to the voters.

1. They made it more difficult to collect signatures.

SB 761 changed how single signature e-petitions were distributed, limiting access to eligible voters. Both the Secretary of State, Bev Clarno, and the Oregon State Treasurer, Tobias Read testified in a public hearing that there were no issues with the current use of e-petitions and no reason they should be taken away as a resource for voters in the referendum process.

2. They picked who describes the measure to voters.
SB 116 not only moved this referendum to a special election in January 2020 but also gave legislators authority to write the ballot title. A gross conflict of interest, like asking a wolf to babysit a lamb.

3. They made sure the tax wouldn’t affect powerful interests.
The biggest companies in Oregon such as Nike got carveouts in this bill. They created more loopholes for other companies later hoping to silence any large voice opposition to their tax. One major example is that car dealerships are now allowed to pass this tax on to you as the consumer; it IS a sales tax.

4. They required two elections.

Since they “fixed” some language of the original HB 3427 with HB 2164, this made our referendum language useless. In order for us to repeal the gross receipts tax we would need to refer both bills to the ballot and vote in opposition to both. Again, this would require endless piles of cash, energy and manpower to be successful.

It is beyond frustrating on how the legislature worked so hard to screw over our efforts. We know you are frustrated too as you did a lot of leg work in collecting the thousands of signatures we have. Currently new ideas are being worked on for some long-term fixes to these tax issues and will let you know what they are when we have everything ready. Please do not give up in helping us change Oregon.

In the meantime, we encourage you to keep engaged on this issue and others. There are opportunities to use our frustration for positive change in this state that we love. Please continue to write letters to the editors, VOTE in every election to help elect common sense legislators, (encourage others to do so too!), and continue to talk with your neighbors about how taxes like this hurt average, working Oregonians.

Thank you,

Marie Bowers & Jordan Ohrt
Chief Petitioners

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