PORTLAND, Ore. — Measure 103 would change Oregon’s constitution to prohibit food and most beverages from being taxed.
Since Oregon is one of few states without a sales tax, the price you see now on the product is what you pay at the store.
Just two years ago, a move to tax the gross receipts of big businesses, including grocers, concerned the industry even though it failed.
KGW political analyst Len Bergstein said Measure 103 is their answer.
“So they're trying to build a wall around themselves and carve them out from ever being taxed,” he said.
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Measure 103 would protect food from being taxed, from the time its grown in a farmer’s field until you have bought it at the store. And every stage along the way would be protected, too. No taxes on the food containers, transportation, or storage.
Marijuana, alcohol and tobacco would be exempt and still taxed.
Bergstein says those against the plan, including large unions, see it as unfair to everyone else.
“The no vote is saying, 'Come on here. These folks are really trying to get an advantage for themselves. They're trying to kind of carve themselves out so we don’t have enough money to pay for schools and human resources and other things that we know Oregonians want to pay for,'” said Bergstein.
A recent poll conducted by Riley Research Associates for KGW and The Oregonian/OregonLive showed a close race with 40 percent voting yes and 38 percent no, with 21 percent undecided.
On the streets of Portland, there was confusion about the measure.
“It’s one of those convoluted things - you don’t know what the heck it is,” said Dave Johnson. “And when I get to it on the ballot and I look at it, I say I don’t know what that is -- I’m not changing status. The answer's no."
Others, after a brief explanation, said they supported it.
“OK. I don’t know much about it, but it sounds like a good idea,” said Nicole Kuokka. "I mean, groceries are something that people have to buy,” she said.
Although not everyone feels that way. Some voters think there’s just no reason for it.
“Well we don’t need a ban on a sales tax on groceries because no sales tax on groceries is proposed," said Michael Rees.