March 18, 2013 | The Lund Report— Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick told the House Revenue Committee Friday that the state of Oregon trusts local governments to do a lot of things — arrest people, put them in jail, set zoning ordinances, raise property taxes, even generate income taxes.
“Some previous Legislature -- far less wise and thoughtful than this one -- decided that for some reason we shouldn’t have the power to tax cigarettes,” Novick said.
New York City ($1.50 per pack) and Chicago ($3.68 per pack) have been able to raise local tobacco taxes higher than their states. But in Oregon, which also has a lower state tax burden, cigarettes have a special exemption in state law specifically precluding them from being taxed on the local level.
While the average price of smokes in Chicago is more than $11, in Portland a pack is still a little more than $5.
House Bill 2870 would change that, allowing Oregon’s 36 counties to enact their own taxes with approval from local government. The bill requires at least 20 percent of the revenues to be spent on public health and would apply to Multnomah County, but not the city of Portland.
Nevertheless, Novick said he’s supportive because Multnomah County could raise more revenue by increasing the tax on cigarettes, invest those resources in mental health and help the Portland Police Bureau with the underserved homeless community.
According to Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen, there are READ FULL ARTICLE