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Battle Over Oregon Weight-Distance Tax Heats Up

February 18, 2000

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Supporters of a measure that would eliminate Oregon's weight-distance tax filed a lawsuit last week against the American Automobile Assn., accusing it of making false statements about the measure.

The suit claims that AAA is falsely claiming that some trucking operators will reap a financial windfall from the plan, which is on the May ballot. The suit seeks damages and a court order forcing the AAA to stop its radio ads.
If approved by voters, Measure 82 will eliminate the weight-distance tax in favor of a 29-cent diesel fuel tax and also will raise the state's gas tax by 5 cents a gallon. The Legislature last year passed the tax measure to pay for road expansion and repairs, but AAA garnered enough petitions to put the issue to the voters.
The AAA says the suit is groundless. Mark Nelson, a lobbyist who is managing the campaign to pass the law, says the AAA's ad is "not just a lie, it's a big lie." He noes that a Legislative Revenue Office study released last month contradicts the AAA's claims.

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