Local Judge Foils Big Oil, Upholds Ballot Language for Safer Streets

(March 3, 2015--PORTLAND) Legal maneuvers to hamper the local gas tax campaign were denied by a judge today who heard arguments on a challenge to the ballot title filed by Paul Romain, lobbyist for the Oregon Fuels Association.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Karen Immergut denied the challenge that requested the addition of “exempts heavy trucks” to the title for the measure. The industry wanted that added as a way to defeat the gas tax by trying to convince voters trucks wouldn’t pay. The measure will tax trucks, the only exemption is for those subject to the state’s weight- mile tax. Portland’s City Council is currently discussing a plan  to increase what those trucks pay and will be holding a work session in April.  The industry has already stated their opposition to that solution as well.

“The industry is clearly looking for a way to trick Portland voters and today the judge said no,” said Aaron Brown, campaign manager for the Fix Our Streets Portland campaign supporting the measure. “Road maintenance has been deferred for 30 years, and we should not delay any longer because the longer you wait to fix a street, the more it’ll cost Portland taxpayers to fix. After years of discussion and fine-tuning, this measure ensures that the people who use our roads the most will pay the most to fix them. Heavy users cause the most damage, heavy users should pay the most. That’s the fairest way to cover the cost of these needed repairs. Unfortunately, I’m sure we will continue to see national corporate interests attempt to use their money to derail our grassroots campaign to fix our streets.”

Fix Our Streets Portland is the campaign promoting a local initiative that would raise $64 million, through a temporary 10 cent a gallon tax on gasoline, to fund thirty years of backlogged maintenance, road repairs, street safety projects, and improvements to Safe Routes to School in neighborhoods across the City of Portland. It has been endorsed by numerous community partners including the City Club of Portland,  Rose Community Development Corporation, Upstream Public Health, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.