Monday, 24 November 2008
The 2008 Oregon elections are completed, and the people have decided who will represent them for the next two to four years. Once again, the 80% of the people who live within 20 miles of the Willamette River have dominated the outcome of the election.
I do sincerely thank all those who voted to re-elect me to a second term in the Oregon Senate. Nearly 98% of those who voted, supported my re-election as your State Senator in our five county District 28.
With the single exception of our Congressman Greg Walden, all of Oregon’s
congressional seats are now held by Democrats. All statewide offices including Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner of Labor and Commissioner of Education are held by Democrats. Virtually all agency directors are Democrats appointed by the Democrat Governor. In Oregon, fourteen of seventeen Supreme Court and Appellate Court Justices, most District Court Judges, and most District Attorneys have been appointed by Democrat governors as well.
The Oregon Senate is dominated by an 18 to 12 Democrat majority. That majority has selected a Democrat, Senator Peter Courtney, to continue to serve in the most powerful office as Senate President. He will assign all committee chairmanships as well as assign all Senate members to committees. The committee chairs serve at the pleasure of the President.
He will assign all introduced bills to committees, and he will decide what bills will, or will not, receive hearings.
The Senate Republicans did pick up one seat when Chris Telfer won her election in Deschutes County. However, the House Democrats gained 5 seats including two from previously considered safe Republican districts including one east of the Cascades.
The Oregon House of Representatives is now dominated by a 36 to 24 Democrat majority. That 36 seat majority provides both the House and the Senate with 60% Democrat majorities allowing them to increase and pass new taxes without a single concurring Republican vote.
In fact, if the Democrat majority votes together, they now have an insurmountable margin that will allow them to pass any law they choose, except for the passage of a constitutional amendment.
The House Democrats have selected Representative Dave Hunt as the new Speaker of the House since former Speaker Jeff Merkley is now our United States Senator. The Speaker has similar powers to the Senate President, except for having the additional powers of controlling all tax and revenue bills, which must originate in the House.
We may expect to see a variety of new taxes introduced, such as some form of a retail sales tax, a real estate transfer tax, and increased document recording taxes. Increased taxes on gas, alcohol, tobacco and either a minimum corporate tax, or a tax on gross corporate sales, may be expected as well. Laws will be introduced to make it easier for counties to expand their sources of revenue-that means make it easier to raise your taxes.
Many current business tax credits and deductions will be reduced or eliminated in proposed bills. Some of the revenue generated from these reductions will be channeled into more tax credit incentives to encourage even more alternative energy generation.
One of the Governor’s legacy items is a government mandated third party government pay health insurance system for all Oregonians. The only apparent way to pay for such an extensive health care system would be an additional state payroll tax deduction. This bank busting plan may gain new traction with the Democrat super majority. At the very least, the Governor will make a huge push for expanding the Oregon Health Plan to include all uninsured children regardless of their parents’ ability to pay.
Expect to witness a plethora of new environmental laws including some of the Governor’s other legacy items such as his Marine Reserves, Headwaters 2 Ocean, and Carbon Cap and Trade initiatives, as well as laws to further expand land use restrictions.
Anticipate a number of new laws to be enacted that will further enhance the control of Oregon by labor unions, especially by public employee labor unions.
Not least, the long standing Republican backstop to prevent enhanced gun control statutes is now no longer a factor. Gun control advocates have been waiting a long time for this opportunity.
Oregon voters have voted for change, and as a direct result, they will undoubtedly experience significant change. Unfortunately, the citizens who live and work in the 80% of Oregon, not dominated by that Willamette Valley majority, will be required to live under laws created by the representatives of that Willamette Valley majority.
The 2009 legislative session will certainly be interesting and challenging. Many of the outcomes will most likely be disheartening for rural and small town Oregon.
I’ve been engaged in taxes for longer then I care to acknowledge, both on the individualized side (all my employed life story!!) and from a legal standpoint since passing the bar and pursuing tax law. I’ve put up a lot of advice and righted a lot of wrongs, and I must say that what you’ve posted makes complete sense. Please continue the good work – the more individuals know the better they’ll be equipped to deal with the tax man, and that’s what it’s all about.
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