Writings and observations

We know that Measure 37 is live and on the Oregon books, but in so many ways we still don’t know what that means. We don’t yet know, for example, how the legal argument over transferring property will play out.

Courtesy of Rogue Pundit, another delimiter on Measure 37 is emerging: property taxes.

It cites an article in the Medford Mail-Tribune about Wayne Ralph, who owns five acres of farm land outside White City. Ralph, in common with a bunch of other Oregon landowners, filed a Measure 37 claim on his property, which he sought to turn into a subdivision. His claim was approved about a year ago, and not long after filed a subdivision plat.

Now the other shoe, in the Mail-Tribune‘s words: “The Jackson County Assessor’s Office sent him a bill recently for $6,000 in taxes for the past 10 years because the property now has a higher value.”

Howls of outrage have followed, of course, but county officials have said the law is clear: As soon as someone does what Ralph did, he becomes liable for back taxes.

Just might give some claimants a moment’s pause.

Share on Facebook

Oregon

The Oregon governor’s race won’t necessarily be close. The default assumption here is that Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski will win it by a significant margin still far short of a landslide; and that much of the chatter against him generates more from activists on the left and right than from the large voting populace.

But the situation is fluid enough that it could easily turn out otherwise. A reminder of that came with the opening of the gubernatorial campaign of Joe Keating – of the Pacific Green Party.

Republicans have been touting this one. They point that, after all, four years ago the Greens declined to run a candidate (former Democratic U.S. Representative Jim Weaver had been mentioned) because they didn’t want to risk a Republican winning the office. And they point out that the Libertarians, who had no such compunction about the election of a Democrat, ran and may have siphoned off enough Republican votes to elect Kulongoski. (Doubtful, in our opinion, but possible.) and the Libertarian candidate of 2002 has become a support this year of Republican candidate Kevin Mannix.

For Keating’s part, news reports have quoted him as being unconcerned about whether his entry hurts Kulongoski’s chances: He’s among the disaffected.

However, as an AP story out today soundly notes, there’s more to the picture.

The Libertarians won’t have the same nominee but say they will be back in the race. And the right will also have the presence of the Constitution Party. That group absented itself from the governor’s race in 2002 at the request of some Republicans, just as the Greens did at the request of Democrats.

The big new factor this year is likely to be the entry of Independent Ben Westlund of Tumalo. But it’s anyone’s guess – and there are good arguments both ways – whether he will draw more from the Democratic or Republican side of the fence. Maybe he’ll draw more or less evenly.

Score so far on the fringe party wars: No discerniable change.

Share on Facebook

Oregon

Liquor legislation – that is, the law setting out who can consume, buy, sell and transport liquor, and to and from where and when, and probably more besides – is always a tricky matter in the Idaho Legislature.

liquor imageOne reason for that may be religious. Many members of the Idaho Legislature, at least a third and probably more, belong to religious groups that ban or discourage any drinking of alcohol. There’s also that constitutional provision encouraging temperance, though the implementation of it is open to multiple interpretations.

None of this has stopped House Bill 673, which has cleared both House and Senate. Since it was amended in the Senate (though not, evidently, in fundamental ways), another House vote is needed, but the odds strongly favor passage (and signature by the governor). This measure explicitly expands the number of places in the state where liquor can be sold, which often is a hard sell at the statehouse.

But this wasn’t just anyone calling. This was the new Tamarack Resort, a place with plenty of political pull, and the person bringing the bill was its lobbyist, Scott Turlington, who previously was a staffer for Governor Dirk Kempthorne. Introduced on February 13, it has marched steadily through the process. There were significant numbers of nay votes, 17 in the House and 12 in the Senate, but not enough to put it at risk.

To be clear: We see nothing at all wrong with a major resort like the Tamarack serving liquor. It’s a normal part of that business, and no significant downside to it is apparent. And the terms of the current bill seem, in the context of Idaho liquor law, reasonable.

But contrast the legislature’s response in this case to that of another – a bill that would not expand use of alcohol but simply ensure an existing business can continue to operate in the same trouble-free way it has for a generation.

That is House Bill 777, which like 673 is aimed mostly at helping one business, in this case The Flicks, a locally-owned movie theatre and restaurant in Boise. The bill’s sponsor was Representative Wendy Jaquet.

For many years, The Flicks has shown movies – that is its main purpose – but it also serves meals and snacks, and beer and wine – no hard liquor. Because it’s a theatre and the under-18 crowd can watch a number of movies there, questions have arisen in Boise about whether that represents a heightened risk of underage drinking. There isn’t, really; drinks are served in the restaurant area, which operates the same as the multitude of other Boise restaurants (or for that matter, restaurants at the Tamarack) that serve beer and wine and also feed kids. (It’s quite a distinction from something like, say, the Regal Cinemas.) The same issue arose last year in Oregon and was easily enough handled, with little change in procedure and no major fuss.

Some fuss has continued in Boise. So Jaquet introduced a bill intended to allow The Flicks keep on doing what it has been doing, with no problem or controversy, for a quarter century.

But this led to discussion about porn theatres (none of which exist any more in Idaho) and alcohol, and amendments on that subject. And finally, thebill failed on the floor 30-38.

That means 11 more House members were willing to expand substantial hard liquor sales at the Tamarack than were willing to allow the small theatre The Flicks to continue their small sales of beer and wine.

The reasons why probably don’t have much to do with temperance.

Share on Facebook

Idaho