Voters considered two questions on the state-wide ballots being counted tonight.
Measure 103 would ban a tax on groceries. Nobody is actually proposing such a tax but the Oregon Grocers Association and the soda industry decided to make a pre-emptive strike and ask voters to lock a prohibition into the Oregon Constitution.
Over the past weekend, the New York Times reported that Measure 103 and a similar measure in Washington were driven in large part by the soda industry's desire to head off further taxes on sweetened drinks, which have previously passed in Seattle, Oakland San Francisco and Philadelphia, among other cities. A proposed soda tax in Multnomah County has failed so far to get enough support to make the ballot.
Early returns on Measure 103 show it getting trounced 58 percent to 42 percent. That's an impressive margin for a measure that presented a superficially popular concept.
It also looked like the "no" campaign seeking to defeat the measure was worried late in the cycle, as it tapped former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg for an extraordinary $2.1 million in funding.
Measure 104 is an anti-tax effort that would do a couple of things: require a three-fifths majority vote of both chambers to pass any new revenue increase, including routine fees increases; and, require a similar super-majority vote to cancel any existing tax breaks. (Current law requires a three-fifths vote of both chambers to pass any new taxes but not to increase existing taxes).
The measure, brought to the ballot by the Oregon Association of Realtors, was sparked by the realtors' desire to protect one of the biggest tax breaks on the books, the home mortgage interest deduction.
Voters were even less attracted to the realtors' concept than than the grocers' gambit. Early returns show Measure 104 getting buried by at 66 percent to 34 percent margin.
Our Oregon, the union-backed advocacy group led a coalition of 150 groups that opposed the measures.
"By rejecting Measures 103 and 104, Oregonians came together to defend our values from outside special interests who tried to increase their profits at the expense of Oregon families," Our Oregon executive director Becca Uherbelau said in a statement. "Voters once again made a statement for all of Oregon's leaders to hear: we want strong investments in healthcare and education."