The party will be permitted to challenge the form of a proposed capital gains tax in Multnomah County that would be available to legal counsel to tenants facing eviction.
Judge Katharine von Ter Stegge of the Multnomah County Circuit ruled Wednesday that the business group had met the deadline to challenge the ballot title and the explanation for the proposed measure, despite a technical error by the group's attorney, causing the court clerk to reject the initial objection.
Following a hearing on May 3, Von Ter Stegge will decide the merits of the challenge.
The "" initiative will be levy a countywide capital gains tax to fund a program that would provide free legal representation for all tenants facing eviction.
In a court filing, the Portland Business Alliance said that the proposed description that their supporters submitted does not include what the measure would do or how the tax would be levied.
The plaintiff said the arrangement was misleading because it would not only provide residential tenants with evictions, but also in a wide range of instances, such as "counterclaims, appeals, collection actions, and appeals to maintain assistance under federal Section 8 rent assistance, administrative hearings with the Portland Public Housing Authority, post-foreclosure matters.
The group expressed concerns about the measure's failing to define capital gains and unjustifying that the 0.75% tax rate might be increased at any time. According to the summary, the tax rate may be increased or decreased based on annual reports.
After Von Ter Stegge agreed to allow the business group's challenge to progress on Wednesday, attorney Margaret Olney, who represents the ballot initiative, called on the judge to hear the challenge in court to give petitioners enough time to receive the signatures they need to enter the ballot.
For the measure to be eligible for the ballot, petitioners would need to obtain 22,686 valid signatures, representing 6% of county voters who voted for governor in the last election.
There has been a growing push to ensure that at least low-income tenants have legal representation during eviction proceedings. Washington, Maryland, and Connecticut, last year, have passed legislation garanting counsel for those tenants. Thirteen cities across the United States have similar laws.
Last year, both the City of Portland and Multnomah County for low-income renters.
John Maher, president of the Oregonian Media Group, is the volunteer board chair of the Portland Business Alliance and does not receive any financial compensation for the position.
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