Measure 103 amends the Oregon Constitution to prohibit taxes/fees based on transactions for “groceries” enacted or amended after September 2017. While this sounds promising, the measure would set a dangerous precedent on other kinds of taxes that the state could initiate in the future. The measure, as written, is vague at best, purposefully confusing at worst. Given that there are no taxes on groceries, and Oregonians have clearly rejected consumer sales tax measures in the past, why bring forth this measure now?
Clearly, it’s a preemptive measure, but not one meant to protect consumers. Given that the American Beverage Association is the largest donor of the Yes on 103 campaign (nearly 1.7 million) and given that the tax ban would include the “distribution” — not only “sale” — of grocery items, this preemptive measure will undermine any future attempt by the state to grow its revenue through things like corporate taxes (Measure 97, 2016). Before we pony up at the register, our products move along that “distribution” chain, meaning the corporate entities behind our products, like the soda giants, will no longer have to worry about a corporate tax in Oregon. Behind all the “protect the consumer” rhetoric, all this measure does is protect corporations from contributing to our underfunded state resources in the future. Vote no on 103.