Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

 

Capitol roundup: Debates, candidates, paying the rent and a short school year

The Bend Bulletin

“We hope Gov. Brown will actually begin accepting debate invitations, so that discussions over format details and participation by other candidates can get underway with event organizers,” said Buehler campaign manager Rebecca Tweed.

 

Brown, Buehler lose IPO nomination

Portland Tribune

The nomination went to Brownsville cabinetmaker Patrick Starnes, the only candidate listed as an IPO gubernatorial candidate in the voters’ pamphlet. Starnes said his primary victory was a rebellion against big money in politics. “They spent a lot of money trying to get write-ins,” Starnes said. “I would get robo-texts from Brown’s campaign, and Buehler had done ads encouraging people to write him in. “A lot of people are not engaged because they don’t think their voices are heard.” Starnes, a party member, took 26 percent of the IPO vote in the party’s primary. Buehler, the GOP nominee for governor, came in second with about 25 percent, while Brown secured just 12.5 percent.

 

UNIONS

 

By the numbers: As Supreme Court weighs union fees, a look at Oregon labor over the years

The Oregonian/OregonLive

Oregon remains among the most unionized states in the nation, both in terms of the share of workers represented by unions and their willingness to pay for membership. “Oregon consistently outpaces the U.S. in union membership as a share of total employment,” Gail Krumenauer, a senior economic analyst at the state Employment Department, wrote in 2017.

 

Union foes could force election at OSU

Corvallis Gazette-Times

A petition being circulated at Oregon State University could force an election on efforts to organize a faculty union on campus. The petition was supported by authorization cards signed by what union supporters called “a decisive majority” of the university’s 2,400 or so teaching and research faculty. Union certification by the so-called “card check” process requires a simple majority of the bargaining unit. Some faculty members, however, have criticized the card check approach as undemocratic, and an attempt is underway to put the question of union representation to a vote.

 

HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY

 

Day storage for homeless people’s items opens in downtown Eugene

The Register-Guard

People can store belongings in a PODS container on a county-owned lot on Olive Street between the Public Library and The KIVA grocery store. People can stow backpacks, baggage and other items seven-days-a-week, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., through Sept. 30. St. Vincent de Paul employees are on site to manage the container. Any items left after 4:30 p.m. will be disposed of.

 

Numbers prove it: homeless problem is getting worse

Mail Tribune

An annual count tallied at least 732 homeless people living in Jackson County, an increase from the 633 found by volunteers who fanned out into the community in 2017. The actual number of homeless people living in the county is likely 2.5 times the number who were found and counted, said Jackson County Continuum of Care Homeless Prevention Coordinator Constance Wilkerson. “Homelessness is definitely on the rise,” she said. “When I talk to other service providers, they are seeing an increase in the client load. The rise in numbers is a true rise, not just because we made a concerted effort to reach more areas.”

 

Salem police on front line of growing homeless crisis, urge changes

Statesman Journal

When officers encounter homeless people slumped over along concrete walkways or trespassing on private property when shelters are at capacity, they face a dilemma: Do they arrest the person and push them through the revolving door of Oregon’s jails and prisons? Or do they dig into their own pockets, or police donations, to pay for food or a hotel for the night? “We’re not looking to arrest someone and put a Band-Aid on the problem and move on,” Hill said. “There is no resolution, so we have to be creative sometimes.”

 

Study: A fifth of rural Oregon kids live in poverty

Portland Tribune

A report from Save the Children places Oregon 24th among states in terms of how its rural children are faring economically. About 21.6 percent of children in Oregon’s rural areas live in poverty, while 16.1 percent of children in Oregon’s urban areas were considered impoverished, according to the study. “Growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy child development,” the study states. “When young children grow up in poverty, they are at higher risk of experiencing difficulties later in life — having poor physical and mental health, becoming teen parents, dropping out of school and facing limited unemployment opportunities.”

 

HEALTHCARE

 

New ACA fight targets pre-existing conditions

Portland Business Journal

The issue at hand: Whether dropping the individual mandate penalty has made other parts of the law, including a ban on charging higher premiums for pre-existing conditions, unconstitutional. The Department of Justice declined to defend a suit filed by Texas and 19 other states against the ACA, Health Care Dive reports. Instead, it filed a brief claiming that since the mandate penalty was dropped as part of the tax reform law, judges should throw out other parts of the ACA as well.

BUSINESS

 

Former Bank of Oswego execs sentenced to prison

Portland Tribune

Heine and Yates were both found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and 12 counts of falsifying bank records following a seven-week trial that concluded in November 2017. Wednesday’s sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for March 5, but was delayed after Heine and Yates each filed motions seeking to overturn the verdict or be granted a new trial, all of which were denied.

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Environmental, fishing groups sue Oregon over coho salmon

The Associated Press

“Poor logging practices by the Oregon Department of Forestry is causing real harm to the Oregon coast coho and commercial fishing families who depend on these magnificent fish for their livelihoods,” Glen Spain said, the northwest regional director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the Institute of Fisheries Resources, both plaintiffs in the case. “Stronger protections for streams to protect the coho … is decades overdue.”

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

OREGON ON THE ROAD TO FREEWAY TOLLING

Portland Tribune

The Oregon Transportation Commission will ask the federal government’s permission by year-end to impose tolls on some or all of I-5 and I-205 in the Portland area. The tolls would be designed to raise money for highway improvements, and encourage some motorists to drive at less-busy times, alleviating congestion.

 

Freeway tolling forums scheduled

Portland Tribune

The Oregon Department of Transportation has announced a series of upcoming public presentations of the freeway tolling options being considered by the Oregon Transportation Commission, which oversees it. The 2017 Oregon Legislature directed the commission to approve and submit a proposal for tolling some or all of I-5 and I-205 in the Portland area to the Federal Highway Administration for approval by the end of the year.

 

LOTTERY

 

The Oregon Lottery Rules That Portland’s Largest Poker Room is Breaking State Laws

Willamette Week

Last year, lottery officials sent Oregon State Police investigators into Portland Meadows, where they documented the poker game’s organizers charging admission and acting as a bank for players, by exchanging chips for money. Those and other actions led the lottery to move toward revoking Portland Meadows’ contract for video lottery terminals. They decided to do so in June because lottery rules require that retailers—Portland Meadows, in this case—comply with all state laws. That’s a big deal: There are 10 terminals at the track, more than any other location in the state. In 2016, the terminals brought in $1.83 million in revenue, of which Portland Meadows kept $350,000 in commissions.

 

OPINION

 

Oregon’s higher-ed spending pays off for students and taxpayers: Guest opinion

Senator Mark Hass

I attend Oregon Promise orientation meetings with these young students and listen to heartwarming stories of plans to become dental hygienists, paramedics, computer technicians and other careers that offer a path to the middle class. One woman told me she enrolled in general education courses for two years at Clackamas Community College, then will transfer to Portland State and then to medical school to be a doctor. Without the Oregon Promise, she said, she would be cleaning houses.

 

Citizen’s View: We must invest in our students

Senator Rob Wagner

As adults, I feel we must do more to support our students on their journeys into college, careers or military service. This is my challenge in the state Senate — to work with our community on finding a way to support the promise of these young adults. Let’s come together, invest in these kids and boost their chance at success. Heading into the next legislative session, I will be working to prioritize student success at every turn.

 

Editorial: DHS should inform the public about foster care

The Bulletin Editorial Board

There are always going to be problems in a foster care system. The challenges foster children have are rarely easily solved. But Oregonians should not have a problem finding out what their government is doing about it. And it can be very difficult to get answers from the Oregon Department of Human Services. Despite the strength of Oregon’s public records law, the law is largely toothless.

 

Editorial: No need for new voting law

The Bulletin Editorial Board

Soon after Richardson was elected, he argued the Oregon law had no maximum time and chose to interpret it as 10 years through an administrative rule change. But if 10 years have passed, and a voter is not participating in elections, what is so unreasonable about removing them from voter rolls? Nothing. They may well have died or moved. There is no need for a new law.

 

A win-win partnership for fire-prone forests

Mail Tribune Editorial Board

Wildland firefighters for the Oregon Department of Forestry spend their summers earning money battling blazes on state-protected timber lands, but when fire season ends, they have to figure out how to stretch the summer’s earnings through the winter or find other work until they are called back the next year. A partnership agreement between ODF and the U.S. Forest Service will offer them forest work that not only provides income in the off-season but reduces the risk of catastrophic fire at the same time. The only surprising thing about the arrangement is that it wasn’t implemented long ago.

 

Unemployment rate doesn’t always say what we think it says

Herald and News

Politicians like to talk about the jobs that they create, but they don’t create jobs. At best, they move jobs from one place to another by taxing one group of people and spending the revenue on a different group. At worst, they destroy jobs by imposing unnecessary regulations and licensing requirements. Actual job creation comes when entrepreneurs and able-bodied, educated and skilled workers come together in the marketplace. Politicians aren’t involved. But behind the news that unemployment has dropped to 3.8 percent — the lowest since the early 2000s — are some caveats worth noting.

 

Oregon Catalyst: Unions’ disingenuous membership claims don’t tell the real story

 

Oregon Catalyst: Unions’ disingenuous membership claims don’t tell the real story

Unions’ disingenuous membership claims don’t tell the real story

By Ben Straka

Oregon’s public-sector union leaders would have you believe the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, generally expected to end the practice of forcing government employees to pay union fees against their will, will have only a “temporary” effect on their membership ranks and revenue.

That was the thesis of a recent article in the Portland Tribuneentitled, “Despite legal threat, union memberships rise.”

As with nearly everything Big Labor says about Janus, however, the claim is misleading at best and an outright lie at worst.

The article primarily focuses on Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503’s experience following a similar 2014 U.S. Supreme Court case called Harris v. Quinn. “(I)f a similar court ruling in 2014 is any indication, any lost revenue from the change in interpretation of the law could be only temporary,” the writer, Paris Achen, confidently states.

Yet Achen’s supporting “facts” are so inapplicable to reality that you have to wonder whether she even attempted to verify them.

For starters, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicating  union membership in Oregon “increased from (a historic low of) 13.5 percent in 2016 to 14.9 percent in 2017” is virtually worthless insofar as Janusor Harrisis concerned.

Why? Because the Bureau’s data includes the total number of wage and salary workers in Oregon at that time – around 1.7 million – whereas the Janus and Harris cases affect only public employees, who accounted for less than 260,000 – a mere 15 percent – of those 1.7 million.

In other words, the fact that overall union membership went up in Oregon in 2017 does not necessarily mean that public-sector union membership increased.

Even worse, however, is the article’s muddle-headed connection between SEIU 503’s own assertions about its membership ranks and the Harris decision.

In suggesting that Harris didn’t have a lasting effect, Achen states that SEIU 503 “saw its dues-paying memberships drop by 5,000 the year of the ruling … By 2015, however, the numbers had rebounded, and by 2017, membership exceeded 58,000.”

These numbers appear to come straight from the LM-2 reports that SEIU 503 must file with the U.S. Department of Labor.

But the 58,000 figure cited doesn’t apply specifically to the Harris population; rather, it includes the entirety of workers represented by SEIU 503. It’s the same mistake Achen made when citing the aforementioned U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

And because public employees in Oregon currently have no choice but to be represented and pay union fees, the number naturally rises every time the government hires a new employee – which it does with alarming frequency.

State payroll data give a much clearer indication of the truth. In fact, data obtained by the Freedom Foundation in 2017 indicate that, as of August of last year, 40 percentof Harris-affected caregivers were no longer dues-paying members of SEIU 503.

Thus, if Achen or SEIU 503 truly believe that Harrisis “any indication” of what to expect from Janus, they might be in for a big surprise.

Ben Straka is a policy analyst for the Freedom Foundation, a member-supported, Northwest-based think and action tank promoting individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government. He can be reached at BStraka@FreedomFoundation.com.

   
 

Daily Clips

TOP STORIES

 

Oregon taxpayers could get “kicker” tax refund

Statesman Journal

“In their haste to pass SB 1528 earlier this year, Gov. Brown and legislative Democrats apparently failed to recognize that by requiring small business to pay $245 million more in state income taxes, their actions could trigger the income tax kicker,” said House Republican Leader Mike McLane, of Powell Butte. “If current projections hold, Oregonians are in line to receive $555 million of their money back from their state government,” he said. “The irony escapes no one.”

 

Oregon taxpayers on track to receive $555 million kicker rebate

Oregonian/OregonLive

State economists delivered the prognosis on Wednesday during a quarterly forecast presented to lawmakers in Salem. The kicker is not official until the August 2019 forecast, after the end of the current budget cycle.

 

SPECIAL SESSION

 

Capitol Report: Special session odds and ends

The Bend Bulletin

The House and the Senate passed House Bill 4301 during Monday’s one-day special session. In a Legislature where voting on most bills ends up falling along party lines, the business tax bill that was under consideration in the special session brought about unusual voting coalitions.

 

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

 

Oregon AG announces task force on hate crimes

Associated Press

“Sadly, hate-motivated crimes are a growing phenomenon throughout Oregon. Our task force will review current laws and make proposals to strengthen our ability to support victims and bring perpetrators of these vile acts to account. Nobody should feel unsafe, or unwelcome, anywhere in our state,” Rosenblum said.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

 

Oregon denied financial aid to 2 out of every 3 eligible college students

Oregonian/OregonLive

Ben Cannon, executive director of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, acknowledged the shortcoming. “Despite state investments in recent years, at the current funding level, we still fall far short of meeting student financial need, and we are significantly behind the efforts of other states,” he said Tuesday. “We need to do better for Oregonians.”

 

Startup University Challenge: How To Scale Up, Without Losing What Works

Oregon Public Broadcasting

As Bend continues to grow, the challenge for the branch campus is how to mirror that without losing what’s working. Freshman Lauryn Gomez likes OSU-Cascades’ current size, a comparatively small 1,200 students. “One thing my family always says is I’m paying for a public education while I’m receiving a private education,” she said. Gomez is among the first students to live in the new campus residence hall, one of just three buildings on the equivalent of a few city blocks.

 

PUBLIC HEALTH

 

House Passes ‘Right-To-Try’ Bill For Experimental Drugs

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Advocates say the bill would make it easier for patients to get access to experimental drugs that have completed the first phase of clinical trials and are in the midst of additional testing. It eliminates the role of the Food and Drug Administration in the approval process and reduces the threshold for patients to receive the medicines. Critics say that removing the FDA from the process could raise the risks for patients.

 

BUSINESS & TAXES

 

Businesses still in limbo over last year’s tax overhaul

The Associated Press

But a survey of 603 owners taken in early April by Wells Fargo and Gallup showed many owners were still in the dark. Thirty-nine percent said they don’t know how the law will affect their companies. A third said it had already helped their companies or would do so, and 27 percent didn’t expect it to benefit their businesses.

 

Portland Mayor Proposes a $1.2 Million Tax on Airbnb and Its Competitors to Fund Home Ownership for Displaced Families

Willamette Week

The deal on new taxes is wrapped up in a longstanding negotiation with the short-term rental companies to allow easier online registration for at least some people renting out their homes through Airbnb and Home Away, city officials said. In exchange, the city is expected to get data from the companies that will make enforcement of the rules and of the taxes possible.

 

Early numbers from Oregon bike tax fall flat

KATU

The state had projected Oregon’s love of cycling would bring in around $1 million annually from a bike tax, but the early returns show the tax is falling flat. The tax is $15 on the sale of every new adult-sized bike statewide. Oregon’s Department of Revenue says the tax has brought in $77,000 through mid-May. The administrative costs have run $47,000 in just the first three months.

 

CAP & TRADE

 

Lawmakers begin cap and trade discussions

Portland Tribune

“We are here to develop a program that can help us reduce our greenhouse gases and to work on also growing economic opportunity across the state, and I’m really looking forward to working with each and every one of you to do that,” said Kotek, the committee’s co-chairperson. State legislative leaders have committed to recommending a carbon-pricing policy during next year’s 160-day legislative session.

 

PRIVACY

 

Amazon urged not to sell facial recognition tool to police

The Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates on Tuesday asked Amazon to stop marketing Rekognition to government agencies, saying they could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

 

ELECTIONS

 

Rep. Knute Buehler Says He’s Pro-Choice. Pro-Choice Groups Say He’s Not.

Willamette Week

“It expands the possibility of support, and that’s what highly partisan operations are concerned about,” Buehler says. “They understand that a fiscally conservative, socially accepting Republican is a big problem for them. That’s why the attacks are coming.”

 

Meet Gov. Kate Brown’s star-studded (and PAC-heavy) donors

Portland Business Journal

Brown’s donors over the last nine months include an outsized number of out-of-state donors, with many of them political action committees that are looking to push Democrats after the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

HOUSING

 

Here’s Why a Plan to Ease the Housing Crisis Is Making Portland Homeowners Flip Their Lids

Willamette Week

There’s a fundamental disagreement over what new development does in this city. The consensus among city planners and economists is that adding more supply can help stabilize the city’s housing prices. They hope adding new kinds of construction will create more affordable options in some pricey, close-in neighborhoods. But many homeowners see creating any new options as increasing the incentive for their neighbors to sell their properties to developers, who will tear down existing homes and replace them with expensive, gaudy new houses.

 

Portland Utility Bureaus Will Help Renters At Risk Of Eviction

Oregon Public Broadcasting

For the first time, Portland’s utility bureaus will help out families in apartments at risk of eviction by providing what amounts to a rebate on their utility bills. The Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services have proposed funneling $640,000 into Home Forward’s short-term rent assistance program.

 

HOMELESSNESS

 

Homeless population overwhelms Salem’s emergency shelters

Statesman Journal

Family Promise Executive Director T.J. Putman said families are turned away from the shelter program because of the “lack of capacity.” “We don’t have the space in the different congregations to house the families, or the staff to meet that need,” Putman said recently in a church gym before the night’s guests received a spaghetti dinner.

 

COMMUNITY PROGRAMS

 

City, schools plan to ‘Speak Up’ against racism in Lake Oswego

Portland Tribune

Officials say the goal of the program, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 29, is to arm members of the community with the vocabulary and strategies they need to interrupt instances of racism and discrimination when they see them.

 

Course shows teachers where their students may go

The Register-Guard

So we teach students how to work hard, be creative, think critically, play fair, and apply academic skills to mastering a variety of subjects. But we often fail to show connections between learning in school and success in adulthood. To help remedy this disconnect between school and the rest of life, City Club of Eugene, the Lane Educational Service District, the Lane Workforce Partnership and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce cosponsor a free course for teachers: “Oh, the Places You Can Go: Careers in Lane County.”

 

AGRICULTURE

 

PNW sweet cherry forecast down 22.7 percent

Capital Press

The Pacific Northwest fresh, sweet cherry forecast is down 22.7 percent from last year’s record crop due to poor blossom pollination in the spring. It should mean higher prices. The industry is also hoping for a turnaround on Chinese tariffs.

 

WATER RIGHTS

 

Emotions run high as water dips lower

Herald and News

“We’re doing the very best we can, and unfortunately there’s not enough water to go around,” Williams said. “But we also must obey the court injunction and we must do the very best we can to meet the requirements of the 2013 biological opinion, and we’ve been doing the very best we can to get extra water to irrigators. I don’t know what else we can do.”

 

OPPORTUNITY ZONES

 

Tax credits create opportunity zones

Curry Coastal Pilot

State Rep. David Brock Smith is excited about development possibilities that may come out of Gov. Kate Brown’s naming a census tract from Humbug Mountain to the Coos County border and southeast to Agness as an “opportunity zone.” “The potential for investment there is fantastic,” Smith said. “It’s also one of the reasons I advocated for the Brookings tract: Borax (housing development north of town), the airport. Add the opportunity zones to the enterprise zones passed by the county, and it’ll be great.”

 

OPINION

 

Editorial: Despite misgivings, session hands Brown a win

Albany Democrat-Herald

The governor said she wanted to push this tax cut through as a matter of fairness for a group of business owners who had been left out of the original existing tax cut, which legislators passed in 2013. She also denied charges that her proposal was motivated by the looming general election. Well, voters can be the judge of that. It’s still not clear why this matter was so urgent that it required a special session.

 

Multnomah County making strides improving cruel conditions for mentally ill inmates: Editorial

The Oregonian Editorial Board

Thankfully, though, Sheriff Mike Reese and other county leaders listened. In a follow-up report released May 10, the Portland-based advocacy group found numerous improvements. More jail and clinical staff was brought on and now, officials better track cell time to be sure inmates are out between 14 to 28 hours a week. And Reese lived up to his promise to provide better employee training with the aim to reduce their use of force and restraints.

Statement from House GOP Leader Mike McLane on Revenue Forecast

OREGON HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE

 

Statement from House GOP Leader Mike McLane on Revenue Forecast

Trump tax plan expected to trigger growth in future budget cycles, Governor’s signature on SB 1528 projected to result in tax kicker

 

Salem, Ore. – House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) issued the following statement following the release of the quarterly economic and revenue forecast:

 

“In their haste to pass SB 1528 earlier this year, Governor Brown and legislative Democrats apparently failed to recognize that by requiring small business to pay $245 million more in state income taxes, their actions could trigger the income tax kicker. That scenario now appears more likely than not. If current projections hold, Oregonians are in line to receive $555 million of their money back from their state government. The irony escapes no one.

 

“Of course, credit for our state government having record revenues goes to those who work hard every day in Oregon businesses. Thank you! Credit for the positive economic activity also goes to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is expected to contribute to an increase in tax receipts in the current and future budget cycles. That’s great news for our state government.”

 

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Daily Clips

 

SPECIAL SESSION

 

Tax break passes in special session

The Associated Press

House Republican Minority Leader Mike McLane said Monday the process was forced through by the majority party. “This is the governor’s bill — any attempt to by the Republicans to shape it or modify its language were rejected by the Democrats,” McLane said. McLane said his main request in negotiations had been to broaden who qualified for the bill, but that it had been denied.

 

Legislature passes business tax break

The Bend Bulletin

“I think we can all agree this is an emergency manufactured by the governor,” Buehler said. Instead of the business tax issue, Buehler said their were “real emergencies” such as foster care, public schools and pensions. “Issues you’ve avoided, ignored and made worse your last three years in office,” Buehler said.

 

Ethics commission asked to weigh in on special session

Portland Tribune

He also noted that “merited or not,” it was the “belief of many today” that the governor, in calling the special session that she was “furthering her reelection campaign using public resources.” Boquist asked the commission a number of questions about the limits on a governor’s use of his or her position, including whether it was permissible for the governor to use “public employees and funds to lobby for a bill in the self-proclaimed special session to support a governor’s reelection.”

 

Legislature approves business tax break expansion

Portland Tribune

About 100 demonstrators affiliated with the Democrat Socialists of America and the Poor People’s Campaign converged on the Oregon Capitol steps just after noon Monday to protest the expansion of the business tax break. “We reject this special session and everything it stands for — a choice to increase the wealth and the comfort of the few at the top at the expense of those struggling at the bottom,” said Olivia Katbi-Smith, co-chairwoman of the Portland chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.

 

FREE SPEECH

 

Liberty HS student files free-speech suit over Trump shirt

Koin 6

“If people are offended by his shirt – that’s their right to be offended,” Barnes’ attorney Mike McLane said. “But it’s also his right to have his opinion, as well. The constitutional line isn’t who’s offended. The constitutional line is there a specific and clear disturbance being created by the expression of the student’s political speech.”

 

Hillsboro student sues district over right to wear pro-border wall shirt

Oregonian/OregonLive

The lawsuit said the school has allowed opposite viewpoints on immigration. One of Barnes’ teachers once displayed a sign in front of the classroom that said, “Sanctuary City, Welcome Home.”

 

DISCRIMINATION

 

North Bend district faces hearing over anti-gay bias

The Register-Guard

Now, the Oregon Department of Education is planning a hearing week after finding that allegations of discrimination appeared legitimate. The state could yank part or all of its funding for the school district if it is found to violate anti-discrimination laws.

 

Oregon High School Principal and Resource Officer Fired For Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination, Including Telling Gay Students They Were Going to Hell

Willamette Week

In public letters published on ACLU of Oregon’s website, Funk and Smith say they were subject to repeated verbal, and at times physical, abuse by fellow students. When they brought these complaints to school administrators, they say they were either ignored or harassed further.

 

Southern Oregon School District Settles Over LGBTQ Discrimination

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Those harassments, according to investigation files, included LGBTQ students being forced to read the Bible as punishment, a teacher comparing same-sex marriage to “marrying your dog,” and the principal’s own son using a homophobic slur against two students.

 

VOTING

 

In wake of tragedies, young voters register

New York Times

If voters in their teens and 20s vote in greater numbers than usual, as many promised during nationwide marches for gun control this spring, the groundswell could affect close races in key states like Arizona and Florida, where there will be competitive races for governor, the Senate and a number of House districts in November.

 

GUN CONTROL

 

Blazers Owner Paul Allen Contributes $1 Million to Washington Gun Control Measure

Willamette Week

If it makes the November ballot, the initiative would ask Washington voters to raise the age for purchasing semi-automatic weapons to 21; create a stronger background check system; require training for purchases and beef up storage requirements.

 

AGRICULTURE

 

Oregon lawmakers mull preventing ‘too big to fail’ livestock operations

Portland Tribune

The hearing was cut short after an hour because the full Senate was expected to convene, but Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said the matter will likely be revisited during legislative committee days in September. “I would like to see what we can do to prevent this from happening again,” said Dembrow, the committee’s chair. The state government should be wary of confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, that are “too big to fail” due to the large numbers of animals involved, he said.

 

OTHER

 

Conservative Professor Jordan Peterson Is Bringing His Campaign Against Gender Fluidity to Portland

Willamette Week

At the basis of the philosophy is Peterson’s belief is that gender is in fact binary, and that differences between men and women are due to biology, not social construction. He has often referred to “gender neutral” as a made-up and even harmful term. He was the first person to interview James Damore. As part of his current book tour, he will give a talk at Keller Auditorium on June 25.

 

OPINION

 

Editorial: GOP primary sets up lively governor’s race

Corvallis Gazette-Times

But there’s a sense in GOP circles that Brown could be vulnerable to attacks on her leadership since becoming governor in 2015.  And Buehler has shown at least some ability to woo Democrats — after all, he’s won re-election in a district that skews Democratic.

 

George Will: Battling campus oppression of the freedom of expression

Mail Tribune

It is suing to invalidate Michigan’s “elaborate investigatory and disciplinary apparatus” that exists “to suppress and punish speech other students deem ‘demeaning,’ ‘bothersome’ or ‘hurtful.’ ” Speech First’s complaint notes that “the most sensitive student on campus effectively dictates the terms under which others may speak.” The university darkly warns that “bias comes in many forms” and “the most important indication of bias is your own feelings.” Speech First says that Michigan’s edifice of speech regulation, with its Orwellian threats to submit offenders to “restorative justice,” “individual education” and “unconscious bias training,” amounts to unconstitutional prior restraint speech and is too overbroad and vague to give anyone due notice of what is proscribed.

 

FLASHBACK: House Democrats vote to INCREASE taxes on small businesses

OREGON HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE

 

 

How long will newfound commitment to supporting small businesses last?

 

Salem, Ore. – House Republicans today reminded Oregonians that less than one year ago, House Democrats voted to increase taxes on small businesses by repealing the provisions of tax policy that the special session bill expands. Republicans expressed concern that even if Governor Brown’s special session bill is signed into law, Democrats may attempt to repeal it in a future session.

 

“First they voted to increase taxes on small businesses, now they claim they want to lower them,” said House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte). “What is going to stop them from coming back in the 2019 legislative and repealing the work we are doing here today? I have little faith that Democrats’ campaign-year token to small businesses will last beyond the next election.”

 

Even before the special session began today, House Democrats had expressed resistance to Governor Brown’s special session bill.

 

“I’m not willing to vote for this when you’re adding more people to a poorly designed tax credit without any sunset to evaluate it…,” said Rep. Alyssa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) in an interview with OPB earlier this month.

 

Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland) added: “I think it’s a hard vote for Democrats no matter what, right?”

 

“This is not one we should have on our books,” said state Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene), according to OPB. “There’s no value in this tax break.”

 

In response to a question from House GOP Leader Mike McLane regarding the prospect of the repeal of HB 4031 in 2019, Governor Brown declined to take a firm position.

 

“In terms of repealing, I’d want to see further analysis,” the Governor said during an interim hearing on HB 4031 last week.

 

HB 4031 is scheduled for a vote in the Oregon House this afternoon.

 

###

Daily Clips

SPECIAL SESSION

 

Lawmakers convene in special session

Portland Tribune

Brown, who is seeking reelection this year, called the special session after signing another tax bill in April that was unpopular with the business community. The governor said while she was considering Senate Bill 1528 from earlier this year, she realized that state lawmakers needed to expand the state’s lower tax rate for “pass-through” businesses to sole proprietors.

 

Special session begins Monday, Oregon lawmakers unsure what will happen
Statesman Journal
The Legislative Revenue Office estimated Brown’s bill would impact about 12,000 sole proprietorships and cost the state an estimated $11.3 million in reduced revenue this year, increasing in impact each year by about half a million dollars. Not everyone is sold. Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, put it bluntly at a committee hearing on Wednesday: “This legislation makes no sense.”

 

Brown plans to address property tax system

Portland Tribune

She has called a special session for May 21 to expand a business tax break, after she received heat for signing a bill earlier this year that denied Oregon businesses a 20-percent tax break written into federal tax reform. Hass said he could think of at least three other tax code problems that are more crucial to fix, including property tax reform. “I wish the governor was calling a special session to address these other tax issues because they’re a much bigger problem.”

 

Pass-through tax bill could be test case
The Portland Tribune
“SB 1528 is the best bill since 2005 to test the definition of a ‘revenue’ bill under Article IX” of the Oregon Constitution, Boquist wrote in a March 25 email to the governor’s office. “Taking this to regular tax court, then the Supreme Court, will resolve the debate on Article IX for better or worse.”

 

Legislature’s special session just political theater for Brown

Representative E. Werner Reschke

This “simple fix” could have easily been accomplished when the Oregon Legislature met in February. What the governor calls a special session, I call an election-year political stunt. The governor and Democrat leadership who stripped $1 billion from Oregon’s small businesses in February now want to give less than 5 percent of those same businesses a tax cut in order to claim the Governor is a friend to small businesses.

 

Editorial: Don’t strangle legislator questions

The Bulletin Editorial Board

“I don’t want to do questions for the public,” said Kotek, a Portland Democrat. “I just want to be really clear. Public does not come here to be questioned. So they will have as much time as they need to make their testimony. Members (of the Legislature) are fair game, but the public are not.” But it’s important to note that the people who Kotek didn’t want to be questioned weren’t people who just wandered in off the street for the hearing. If that’s the way Kotek wants the special session to be run, Oregonians could be in trouble.

 

Special session won’t solve any big problems

Mail Tribune

Passing such a bill would allow Brown to say she is looking out for small businesses, but it wouldn’t address any of the pressing problems facing the state, from the housing crisis to the opioid epidemic to the unfunded public employee pension liability. Those issues require more time than a special session lasting a few days. So does real tax reform — addressing the state’s boom-and-bust reliance on the income tax — which lawmakers are fond of talking about but not so keen on actually solving.

 

Editorial: Session today won’t lead to tax reform

Corvallis Gazette-Times

It’s a clever gambit by Brown: By signing the bill, the state, which faces yet another budget shortfall next year (despite what will almost certainly be record revenue), collects millions to start filling the gap. Brown’s tax proposal, which is estimated to cost the state about $11 million, doesn’t make that budget hole much deeper. And the governor gets to cast herself as a friend to Oregon’s small businesses as she hits the re-election trail, although her GOP opponent, state Rep. Knute Buehler, might have a different take on that.

BALLOT INITIATIVES

 

Ballot initiatives enter final weeks of viability

Portland Tribune

Some are controversial, such as Initiative Petition 22 to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary law. Initiative Petition 37 to prohibit taxing grocery transactions and Initiative Petition 31 to require a three-fifths legislative majority for not only taxes and fees, but all exemptions, credits and deductions, are in the signature-gathering stage.

 

SUPREME COURT

 

Divided Supreme Court rules for businesses over workers

The Associated Press

The court’s task was to reconcile federal laws that seemed to point in different directions. On the one hand, New Deal labor laws explicitly gave workers the right to band together. On the other, the older Federal Arbitration Act encourages the use of arbitration, instead of the courts.

 

Supreme Court Decision Delivers Blow To Workers’ Rights
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch said that the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act trumps the national Labor Relations Act and that employees who sign employment agreements to arbitrate claims must do so on an individual basis — and may not band together to enforce claims of wage and hour violations.

SCHOOL & GUN SAFETY

Active-shooter training adds stress, safety in schools
The Register-Guard
Safety drills at public elementary, middle and high schools in Oregon and many other states now involve practicing how to respond to an armed intruder if one were to enter the school. The training has become as routine as earlier generations’ earthquake and fire drills.

Report: Gun Violence Costs Oregon $2.6 Billion Annually
Statesman Journal
The cost estimate includes $891 million in directly measurable costs, including $36 million in health care costs, $820 million in lost income and $30 million in law enforcement expenses. Using nationwide models for calculating “pain and suffering,” researchers determined gun violence caused an additional $1.7 billion in reduced quality of life.

BUSINESS

IMF head details why trade is critical to all Portland businesses
Portland Business Journal
“It’s not only Nike and Intel that need trade, it also helps small, local businesses thrive because they have access to international markets and flows of technology from around the globe,” Lagarde said.

Oregon Business Plan gathering feedback for 2019 legislative session
East Oregonian
On Friday, representatives of the Oregon Business Council and Oregon Business & Industry visited Hermiston, where they convened a roundtable discussion with area business and government leaders. The title was “Facing Oregon’s Fiscal Crisis” and the goal was to gather feedback for a partnership known as the Oregon Business Plan, which will use that to create a series of proposals for the 2019 legislative session.

FOSTER CARE

Oregon officials consider increasing accountability for foster children’s lawyers
Oregonian/OregonLive
Some lawyers do not meet with their child clients, despite an Oregon State Bar rule that requires lawyers to communicate with clients even if they are young children, The Oregonian/OregonLive found. Others rely on staff to meet visitation and communication requirements in their state contracts. Even when officials concluded a lawyer denied a child appropriate legal help, the contractor rarely faced consequences.

MARIJUANA

U.S. Attorney targets pot overproduction

The Associated Press

“As the primary law enforcement official in Oregon, I will not make broad proclamations of blanket immunity from prosecution to those who violate federal law,” he wrote.

OTHER

 

Federal student loan rates are expected to rise for the upcoming school year

The Bend Bulletin

The federal government sets rates for new student loans each year, under a formula adopted by Congress several years ago. The new rates take effect annually on July 1, and apply to loans taken out for the following academic year. Rates can fall or remain flat; this will be the second consecutive year they have risen.

Eagle Creek Fire Perpetrator Ordered To Pay $36.6 Million
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“In short, I’m satisfied that the restitution ordered in this case bears a sufficient relationship to the gravity of the offenses for which the youth was adjudicated,” Olson wrote in a decision released Monday morning. “The juvenile restitution framework is rationally related to the juvenile delinquency goals of ‘personal responsibility, accountability and reformation within the context of public safety.’ Given the statutory safety valves, I am satisfied that the restitution scheme does not ‘shock the moral sense of reasonable people.”

 

Cuts threaten subsidies for rural health broadband
The Bend Bulletin
More and more, rural hospitals and clinics rely on high-speed internet access to bridge the urban-rural gap and provide their patients with services that are often found only in much larger cities. But a federal program to help subsidize the cost of broadband for rural health care facilities has hit its funding cap, which may jeopardize the push to connect more rural health facilities.

OPINION

 

Editorial: State should explain progress or failure in foster care

The Bulletin Editorial Board

One of the 24 audit recommendations was about changing the DHS culture. DHS committed to developing a team that “will understand the need for transparency, strong and open communication and offering high levels of support while asking for high levels of accountability.” Shouldn’t that apply to being transparent with the public about the progress it is making? Apparently not.

 

A reckoning is coming for blue states and it’s something they richly deserve

Herald and News

Blue-state taxpayers may finally have to confront the full cost of the government they want. And Democrats will finally have to confront the tension between what those voters want government to do and what they’re willing to pay for. That reckoning is long overdue.

 

Daily Clips

TOP STORIES

 

The Redacted Transparency Promise of Oregon Governor Kate Brown

Forbes

The governor is flaunting Oregon open records laws and blurring the line between the taxpayer-funded agency resources and her campaign activities. Furthermore, Brown used public funds for private purposes – during her time as secretary of state and as governor. Oregon taxpayers should demand answers.

 

Shooting at Le Bistro Montage in SE Portland injures one, police say

Oregonian/OregonLive

A shooting at a late-night spot beneath the Morrison Bridge known for its Cajun fare and cocktails injured one person and sent patrons scrambling into a locked room early Thursday morning, police said.

 

SPECIAL SESSION

 

Oregon Governor’s Tax Proposal Faces Criticism From All Sides

Oregon Public Broadcasting

House Democrats so dislike the tax policy that they voted to severely curtail it last year, though the bill died in the Senate. That vote led House Minority Leader Mike McLane to press Brown on her proposal. “Do you have concerns about House Democrats repealing what you propose here today, simply in the next session?” he asked. Brown replied: “In terms of repealing, I’d want to see further analysis. At this point in time, what we want to do and what we should do is provide tax fairness.”

 

Buehler wants teacher oversight bill in special session

Portland Tribune

About 12 hours after winning the GOP nomination for governor, Rep. Knute Buehler called on lawmakers to consider emergency legislation to boost oversight of teacher misconduct as part of their special session later this month.

 

Hearing exposes lawmakers’ divergent goals for special session tax bill

Statesman Journal

Republicans see it as an openly political move by Brown to appeal to small business owners in an election year. “The political optics appear to be more important than the bill itself,” Sen. Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass, said during his testimony.

 

Uncertainty looms as Oregon legislators prep for special session

Oregonian/OregonLive

“I trust when you have the gavel some level of protocol deemed appropriate in the Senate will be followed, and extended to House members,” wrote Boquist, who is the vice chair of the Finance and Revenue committee and a member of the joint committee working on Brown’s plan. “If not, then we can begin the meltdown now.”

 

ELECTIONS

 

Secretary of state reacts to low primary voter turnout

News Channel 21

“The elections turnout was a little disappointing in the primary election,” Richardson said. “But what we find is if there is controversy in major issues, major primaries that are of major concern, then we will have a better turnout.”

 

Central Oregon voter turnout higher than state average

The Bend Bulletin

Voter turnout in Central Oregon for Tuesday’s primary election was higher than the statewide average. But statewide voter turnout was the lowest it’s been in 30 years for a primary election, according to the to the Secretary of State’s Office.

 

Robert Schwartz of Springfield apparent victor in GOP race for Senate District 6 nomination

The Register-Guard

“We’ll just wait and see what the final numbers are,” said Schwartz, who had collected 50.8 percent of the 8,000 votes counted in the race as of Wednesday morning. Ruck had 48.6 percent of the vote. She and Schwartz were separated by 174 votes, according to results released by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. It typically takes several weeks for state officials to certify election results.

 

GOP primary for 53rd House District may be headed for a recount

The Bend Bulletin

Under state law, any race that is decided by a margin of .05 percent of all ballots cast automatically goes to a recount. Currently, that threshold in the GOP primary for the 53rd House District would be 14 votes. If the race remains that tight after the additional votes are counted, a recount will be done automatically.

 

Lake County results leave one commissioner seat undecided

Herald and News

Preliminary results from the Lake County Clerk’s office posted Wednesday morning showed a flip in the results for Lake County Commissioner Position 2, which the state initially reported as Bruce Webbon carrying the majority vote by less than one percent Tuesday evening.

 

HOUSING

 

New law could pave path for more ADUs

Portland Tribune

By July 1, a 2017 state law requires most cities and counties to permit one accessory dwelling unit or ADU inside or alongside each single-family home, subject to “reasonable” design and siting regulations. ADUs can fill a vital niche given the growing housing affordability crisis, changing nature of families, and regional planning that encourages more walkable neighborhoods.

 

MISCONDUCT

 

Martin Shain pleads guilty to tax evasion in Oregon tax credit case

Oregonian/OregonLive

A Seattle-based energy consultant pleaded guilty Wednesday to evading income taxes on the $1.3 million in commissions he collected from brokering tax credits with the help of a former manager at the Oregon Department of Energy.

 

Portland commissioner Fritz won’t explain six-figure severance payout

KGW

What would happen if you went in to your boss and quit your job? Would your boss suddenly hand you $100,000? Most likely, the answer is no. But it happens at Portland City Hall. In fact, 10 times since 2015 city employees have received severance payouts of more than $100,000. And at times, a KGW investigation found there was no contractual or legal obligation to pay anything.

 

FOOD SAFETY

 

Thousands of Oregon food safety inspections still past due

Statesman Journal

Oregon’s Food Safety Program remains in disarray, a year and a half after a state audit found it was so far behind on inspections of grocery stores, food processors and other licensees that public health could be at risk.

 

HEALTHCARE

 

PEBB Makes $9.4 Million in Cuts to Keep Under Budget Cap

The Lund Report

The Public Employee Benefit Board voted to hold off on increased deductibles and other unpopular cuts to healthcare benefits for state workers while still trimming $9.4 million from 2019 expenses to keep spending under the inflation cap set by the Legislature.

 

NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT

 

Suit claims Medford treatment plant polluting Rogue

Mail Tribune

The Northwest Environmental Advocates claims three studies — including one funded by the city — since 2013 show nutrient levels cause unnatural algae and aquatic weed growth, damage underwater insects and at times create a sudsy, smelly plume on the river.

 

Judge to issue written ruling on restitution for teen who ignited Eagle Creek fire

Oregonian/OregonLive

Eleven requests for restitution, totaling $36, 631,687.10, were submitted to the court – an amount the 15-year-old defendant’s lawyer called “absurd,” and “silly.” His lawyer Jack Morris challenged the constitutionality of juvenile restitution on state, federal and policy grounds. He urged the court to impose a “reasonable and rational” amount.

 

POACHING

 

‘A demented social club’: Dozens more charges filed in probe of Pacific Northwest wildlife poaching ring

The Seattle Times

Prosecutors in Oregon have filed more than a hundred charges in an investigation of wildlife poaching that has spanned state lines and allegedly left dozens of animals shot illegally and often left to rot.

 

OPINION

 

Our Opinion: Track ADU law for effectiveness

Portland Tribune

Before the Legislature approved Senate Bill 1051A, for example, the city of Tigard outright banned detached ADUs, sometimes known as backyard cottages. Now, a city task force is recommending that every single-family home be allowed up to two ADUs — one inside the primary dwelling and one in the backyard.