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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589

Email: nick@portlandoregon.gov

1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Commissioner Fish Statement on Oregon Supreme Court Affirming Portland Arts Tax is Constitutional

September 21, 2017

Read the State Supreme Court’s media release and full opinion here.

This morning, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals in Wittemyer v. City of Portland (Supreme Court Case No. S064205) and held that the Arts Education and Access Fund, commonly known as the Arts Tax, is not a prohibited “poll or head tax” under the Oregon constitution.

“We are gratified that the Supreme Court has affirmed the judgments of the Court of Appeals and the trial court,” said City Attorney Tracy Reeve, “and held that the Arts Income Tax is fully constitutional.”

The court’s decision concludes more than four years of litigation over this issue, during which the legality of the tax has been upheld at every level.

“Today’s decision is a big win for Portland’s kids,” said Commissioner Nick Fish. “Thanks to the ruling of the Oregon Supreme Court, over 30,000 Portland children will continue to have arts education in school.”

“Voters overwhelmingly approved the Arts Tax in 2012, recognizing art as fundamental to a child’s education,” Fish noted. “As of today, the legal question about this tax is settled.”

Background

November 2012: Voters approve ballot measure 26-146. This measure imposes a $35 annual tax on every Portland resident over the age of 18.

March 2013: City Council amended the Arts Tax language, creating an exemption for individuals who earn under $1,000 per year.

That same month, Professor Jack Bogdanski filed a lawsuit in Oregon Tax Court against the City of Portland, arguing that this tax constituted a “poll tax”.

Also in March 2013, Mr. George Wittemyer filed a lawsuit in the Oregon Circuit Court.

June 2013, the Oregon Tax Court dismissed Mr. Bogdanski’s lawsuit due to a lack of jurisdiction.

July 2013, the Oregon Circuit Court ruled against Mr. Wittemyer’s law suit, ruling that the Arts Tax does not violate the Oregon constitution, and is not a “poll tax”.

August 2013, Mr. Wittemyer appealed his lawsuit to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

June 2016, the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling that the Arts Tax is not a “poll tax”, and rules in favor of the City of Portland.

July 2016, Mr. Wittemyer appealed his lawsuit to the Oregon Supreme Court.

March 2017, the Oregon Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wittemyer v City of Portland at Lewis & Clark’s School Law School.

September 2017, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Wittemyer, affirming the lower court’s rulings that the Arts Tax is not a “poll tax” and is constitutional.

Media

Commissioner Fish Statement on Oregon Supreme Court Affirming Portland Arts Tax is Constitutional

Commissioner Nick Fish

 

With Legal Challenge Over, What's Next For Portland's Arts Tax?

April Baer in OPB

 

Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Portland’s Arts Tax

Rachel Monahan in Willamette Week

 

Portland arts tax is legal, Oregon high court rules

KGW News

 

State's highest court rules for city in art tax legal fight

Nick Budnick from Portland Tribune

 

Oregon Supreme Court rules Portland arts tax is legal

KATU News

 

The Portland Arts Tax is Legal, State Supreme Court Finds

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury

 

Portland arts tax is legal, Oregon Supreme Court rules

Jessica Floum in The Oregonian

 

Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Portland Arts Tax

Pat Boyle in KXL News

The Weekly Catch

Dreamers of DACA

Tigard Dreamer has role to play here

David Sarasohn in The Oregonian

Salmon in Our City Day

Celebrating the Return of Salmon to Our City

Nick Fish Blog

 

News release: Commissioner Nick Fish to introduce "Salmon in Our City Day;" Council to declare Crystal Springs first “Salmon Sanctuary”

BES News

 

Portlanders celebrate all-things salmon at fourth annual Westmoreland Park event

Lyndsey Hewitt in the Portland Tribune

Arts Tax

Commissioner Fish Statement on Oregon Supreme Court Affirming Portland Arts Tax is Constitutional

Commissioner Nick Fish

 

With Legal Challenge Over, What's Next For Portland's Arts Tax?

April Baer in OPB

 

Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Portland’s Arts Tax

Rachel Monahan in Willamette Week

 

Portland arts tax is legal, Oregon high court rules

KGW News

 

State's highest court rules for city in art tax legal fight

Nick Budnick from Portland Tribune

 

Oregon Supreme Court rules Portland arts tax is legal

KATU News

 

The Portland Arts Tax is Legal, State Supreme Court Finds

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury

 

Portland arts tax is legal, Oregon Supreme Court rules

Jessica Floum in The Oregonian

 

Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Portland Arts Tax

Pat Boyle in KXL News

Eagle Creek Fire and Bull Run Watershed Updates

Sept. 18 Update on the Eagle Creek Fire and the Bull Run Watershed

The Portland Water Blog

 

Eagle Creek fire about to be soaked by rains: Hundreds of firefighters to head home

Aimee Green in The Oregonian

In Other News

Portland Timbers to begin construction on Providence Park following conclusion of 2017 season

Jamie Goldberg in The Oregonian

 

Our Top 8 Moments from TBA 2017

Kayla Brock, Rebecca Jacobson, and Fiona McCann in the Portland Monthly

The Weekly Catch

Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation Erases Debt in Five Years

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

 

‘We Have to Just Do It’: Providers, Political Leaders Preparing Push to House Thousands More Chronically Homeless Neighbors

Multnomah County Blog

 

Murmurs: Portland City Hall Comes to Aid of Dreamers

Willamette Week

Celebrating Salmon

City Hall Watch: Salmon Restoration Projects Celebrated

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

 

Portlanders Celebrate All-Things Salmon at Fourth Annual Westmoreland Park Event

Lyndsey Hewitt in the Portland Tribune

Crypto

Cryptosporidium Detected In Bull Run Drinking Water; Monitoring Continues

The Portland Water Blog

                            

Portland Once Again Finds a Parasite in Its Water Supply

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury

 

City: Water safe, But Crypto Found Again

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

 

Bull Run Watershed Tests Positive for Cryptosporidium: Multnomah County

Travis Loose in the Portland Patch

 

Cryptosporidium Again Detected in Bull Run Drinking Water; Water Remains Safe

FOX 12 News

 

Portland Water Bureau Finds Cryptosporidium in Bull Run Sample, No Risk to Public

KATU News

 

More Problems Found in Portland’s Drinking Water

Jacob Dean in KXL

In Other News

BLOG: Recognizing Two Important Leaders

Jim Mark from Melvin Mark Co. in the Portland Business Alliance Blog

 

Portland Rallies in Support of Rohingya Refugees (Column)

Samantha Swindler in The Oregonian

Supporting DACA and Dreamers

October 5, 2017

This afternoon, Council passed a resolution supporting our Dreamers, also known as recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The resolution also calls on Congress to pass the "DREAM Act," creating a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. It further provides a grant of $50,000 to the Oregon DACA Coalition to help offset the costs of DACA renewal fees.

There are 800,000 Dreamers nationally: 11,000 call Oregon home. President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA was foolish, cruel, and short-sighted.

Special thanks to our own Mariana Garcia Medina for helping to draft the resolution. She is a valued member of the Fish team at City Hall and a Dreamer. And to our panelists, including Andrea Williams, Executive Director of Causa Oregon; Leonardo Reyes, founder of the Oregon DACA Coalition; Jimmy Dogo from the New Portlanders Commission; and Daniel Franco-Nuñez from the Human Rights Commission.

You can read the resolution, Commissioner Fish’s statement on President Trump's decision to rescind DACA, and Mariana's testimony.

The Weekly Catch

Our Summer of Hate: Guest Opinion

Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana in The Oregonian

DACA Resolution

Supporting DACA and Dreamers

Nick Fish Blog

 

Portland's Chipping in $50,000 to Help Local DACA Recipients

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury

Water Updates

Cryptosporidium Detected in Bull Run Drinking Water

Portland Water Blog

 

City: Crypto Found Again, but Water Safe

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

 

Hit-and-Run Driver Breaks Water Line in Gresham

KOIN 6 News

Housing Emergency and Renter Protection

Portland City Council Extends Housing Emergency, Relocation Assistance

Ericka Cruz Guevarra in OPB

 

The City Extends Its Strongest Renter Protections—But Passes on Closing a Big Loophole

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury

 

Portland City Council Extends Renter Protection and 'Housing Emergency' Policies

Jessica Floum in The Oregonian

Boards and Commissions

UPDATE: Fish wants press restrictions removed from proposed conflict policy

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

 

Policy Proposal That Would Muzzle Volunteers from Talking to the Press Will Be Amended

Rachel Monahan in Willamette Week

In Other News

Helping Salmon in Our City: Culvert Removal and Replacement in Portland

BES City Green Blog

 

Youth-Designed Bike Lane Art Hits the Streets of Portland

PBOT News Blog

 

Mercy Corps Shares Photos from Puerto Rico, Advice on How to Help

Suzanne Steven in the Portland Business Journal