Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Grocery taxes, publicly funded abortion, tax enactment restrictions and ending the state's sanctuary law are all in the queue for the November ballot.

PAMPLIN FILE PHOTO - Multnomah County Clerk's Office employees process ballots.SALEM — Of the 45 initiatives proposed for the Nov. 6 general election, only four remain in play.

Two of those are the subject of two separate signature-gathering fraud investigations by the Oregon Department of Justice.

The following proposals still have a chance of going before voters, after the Oregon Secretary of State's Office completes signature verifications. The deadline for verifications is Aug. 6.

• End publicly-funded abortions: "Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (Initiative Petition 1) prohibits the use of public funds to pay for most abortions, unless medically necessary or required by federal law.

As a constitutional change, the measure needs at least 117,578 valid signatures to secure a place on the ballot.

Petitioners turned in 139,286 signatures by the July 6 deadline, and the Secretary of State's Office was still in the process of verifying their validity as of Friday, July 13.

The state spent about $1.9 million in 2017-18 for abortions paid for by the Oregon Health Plan, the state's version of Medicaid, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Last year, the state passed House Bill 3391 to require health insurers to provide abortions and other reproductive health services without charge. The law also allows the Oregon Health Plan, to provide free abortions for undocumented immigrants.

IP 1 allows public funds to be spent on abortions in circumstances when federal law requires it, such as in cases of rape or incest, or when a woman is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. The proposal also would allow a woman with a health condition that would place her in danger of death to obtain an abortion.

Brooks resident Marilyn Shannon, one of the initiative's chief sponsors, said she expects the measure to make it on the ballot.

• End the sanctuary state: Stop Oregon Sanctuaries Initiative Petition 22 would repeal the state's 31-year-old sanctuary law.

The law prohibits the use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration law when a person's only crime is being in the country illegally.

Petitioners for the proposal have submitted 110,445 signatures. Only 88,184 of those need to be verified to the measure to be included on the ballot.

DOJ is investigating complaints that voters were misled into the signing the petition. About 39 people filed the complaints, said Debra Royal, chief of staff for Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

• Three-fifths vote for raising revenue:

"A Tax is a Tax Amendment" Initiative 31 also is under investigation for allegations that signatures were obtained fraudulently.

Despite that, the Secretary of State's Office has qualified the measure for the ballot.

The measure would amend the Oregon Constitution to require a three-fifths vote of the House and Senate for raising revenue, including assessing fees and ending tax credits.

A woman named Connea Derber filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging that a representative of Ballot Access LLC had fraudulently signed signature sheets and proposed improper per signature-compensation, Willamette Week first reported. Ballot Access denied wrongdoing.

• Tax-free food: "Yes! Keep Our Groceries Tax-Free!" Initiative Petition 37, has also qualified for the ballot.

The constitutional amendment would prohibit local and state taxes on all foods for consumption, except for alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Personal hygiene products were excluded from the measure.

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
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