Tax bird seed? Yes, that’s what Governor Kitzhaber is asking the legislature to do, and it may serve as a symbol for the eagerness of Democrats to extract more money not just from households with bird feeders but everybody else as well.
The 2015 legislature is getting organized this month, and in February it will start passing new laws. So far, about 500 bills have been introduced for consideration in the Senate, and about 800 in the House. There’s no shortage of proposals to raise taxes or other charges that would force many residents to pay more for the increasingly dubious privilege of living in this state.
House Bill 2401 was pre-session filed at the request of Kitzhaber, who wants suppliers of wild bird feed to pay an excise tax of 5 cents a pound. So when you go down to the feed store for a 25-pound sack of sunflower seeds, you’ll pay $20.20 instead of the current price of $18.95.
The governor wants the tax to start in 2016 and be in effect through 2022, and the money would support new funds to support the greater sage grouse and wild birds in general. Another way to support wild birds would be not to make it more expensive to feed them through the winter.
The bird tax is only a pimple on the mountain of tax and fee proposals Democrats have prepared for this session. Start with a proposal for a state property tax — the rate is left blank in the bill, HB 2078 — whose proceeds would be distributed to counties.
Then there are bills for a carbon tax on fossil fuel and on electricity generated by burning natural gas, oil or coal. The tax would be $30 a ton of carbon dioxide emitted and would rise $10 each year starting in 2017.
Another bill would raise the maximum tax value of property to the market value when sold, though this, like some of the other tax ideas, would require approval of a constitutional amendment by the voters.
Various bills would raise the minimum wage, and one would push it up to $15 by 2018, after which it would continue to rise every year according to the Consumer Price Index. If legislators are so eager for people to get paid more, why don’t they start a business, try to drum up some sales and hire employees at handsome rates of pay?
Among dozens of bills I picked at random and read on the legislature’s website Sunday, guess how many would make it easier or less expensive to run a business in Oregon. I did not see a single one. (hh)