ELECTION 2018: Oregon voters to decide whether to close tax loophole

September 25, 2018

Keith Goble


On the upcoming fall ballot, voters in Oregon will decide whether to require a supermajority vote at the statehouse for legislation to raise revenue.

In 1996, Oregon voters approved a requirement for a three-fifths vote of each state legislative chamber to pass bills raising taxes. The Oregon Supreme Court, however, issued a ruling four years ago that the Legislative Counsel said excluded from the three-fifths vote requirement bills that cover tax exemptions, credits and deductions.

Measure 104 is a constitutional amendment that would require a three-fifths supermajority vote for legislation to make changes in taxes and fees. Specifically, the changes to tax expenditures would apply to exemptions, credits and deductions. In addition, tax and fee creation or increases must also have supermajority approval.

Advocates began collecting signatures one year ago for a ballot initiative to close the tax loophole. The Oregon Secretary of State this summer certified signatures collected to place the ballot initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Supporters say Measure 104 would close loopholes created by legislators to eliminate tax deductions to get around the state’s constitutional requirement to raise revenue. They add that the requirement would encourage bipartisanship to work together to write legislation that would affect tax rates.

Opponents say if the measure passes it would be nearly impossible to eliminate special interest perks, tax breaks and loopholes. They say the change would create legislative gridlock.

Oregon is one of 15 states to require a supermajority vote for at least some statewide tax increases, according to Ballotpedia.org. Two states require a three-fourths supermajority, seven states require a two-thirds margin, and five states require a three-fifths vote. One more state (Colorado) requires voter approval for any tax increase.

Oregon residents can access online voting registration information.