Marijuana bills lobbied by city of Ontario up for hearing

Ontario's first recreational marijuana dispensary is pictured in October of 2019.  A hearing is up on three house bills on Thursday regarding taxes as they pertain to the industry.

ONTARIO

House Bills 2014 and 2015 are two bills that could have a potential impact on the city of Ontario and the first hearing for both of these bills are scheduled for Thursday afternoon starting at 2 p.m. The hearing will be held by the House Committee on Revenue.

House Bill 2014 would do what the city of Ontario has been setting out to do for several years, and that is reconfiguring the distribution formula for the allocation of state tax from marijuana sales.

City Manager Adam Brown had previously said that this bill was “compounded” by the passage of Measure 110, which Oregon voters passed in 2020, because the marijuana revenue sharing going to cities and counties will be reduced “by around 75%.”

House Bill 2015 seeks to allow municipalities to raise the local option tax from 3% as high as 10%.

Another bill that was on the agenda for the hearing is House Bill 2294, which would impose a tax on wholesale items across county borders.

Both bills are listed as being at the request of City of Ontario with the chief sponsor listed as Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, who sits on the Revenue Committee and who represents House District 60, which includes Baker, Harney, Grant, Malheur counties and a portion of Lake County.

As of Feb. 19, Brown reported that the lobbyist group hired by the city to help pass the bills was making a lot of progress, including receiving the support of the League of Oregon Cities on HB2015.

The total cost to the city for the lobbyists’ services is $24,000.

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