“There are about 400 to 500 people here today,” marveled House Speaker Tina Kotek, one of the bills’ sponsors. “I think that shows the people outside the building really want us to make it a priority for the session.” Courtney said before the Legislature convened on Feb. 5 that while he believes there must be laws to restrict greenhouse gas emissions, he expressed doubt that it could be finalized in the short session.
The state capitol is a unique workplace that not only houses employees of the legislative branch, but also elected officials, lobbyists and constituents under its roof. While interns are considered employees and are covered by legislative personnel rules on harassment, lobbyists and members of the public are not. The presiding officers of the House and Senate have limited powers when it comes to disciplining members under the state’s constitution, Kotek said.
Oregon children on average were less ready for kindergarten in fall 2017 than the year before, according to measurements of their literacy recorded during their first days of kindergarten. The typical incoming Oregon kindergartner knew 8.2 letter sounds, compared with 8.9 letter sounds in fall 2016, could name 14.4 uppercase letters, compared with 14.8 the year before, and named 12.1 lowercase letters, compared with 12.5 in 2016. The state released those results this week.
Gov. Kate Brown on Monday pardoned a former Portland gang member for a crime he committed 25 years ago, marking only the third time she has granted clemency in office. Dondrae Fair, 44, grew up in Northeast Portland during the height of the city’s crack epidemic and turned to the streets at a young age. He served a five-year prison sentence for an armed robbery in 1992, a felony conviction that followed Fair as he worked to transform his life and those of other young men caught up in a cycle of poverty, drugs and violence.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has granted a pardon to a 44-year-old former gang member who turned his life around. Dondrae “Choo” Fair pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and other crimes after committing a carjacking at age 19. He returned to gang life after prison and was shot in the chest while leaving a funeral in 2000.
Fahey says HB 4134 unanimously passed the House Committee on Human Services & Housing last week. The bill is now headed to the House floor, where it is likely to be discussed this week. “Piece by piece, we want to make it clear that we want everyone welcomed here in Oregon,” Sen. Lew Frederick said, “and that we are not going to allow the marginalization that has been part of the past.”
Dubbed the “Equifax bill,” the proposed regulations intersect with revelations Friday, Feb. 9, that cyber thieves last year accessed more personal information than previously reported by the Equifax. The security breach affected an estimated 145.5 million consumers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. “Oregon fared no better — over 1.7 million of Oregonians’ information was breached,” according to written testimony from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s office. “As one cannot change their Social Security Numbers, this is a breach that will follow Oregonians for many years to come. Not only does the sheer size of the breach cause concern, but the Equifax story revealed many other failures and unfair practices.”
A Oregon Senate bill submitted to the 79th Oregon Legislature that would modify Oregon’s mandatory reporting rules was set to be considered at the committee level this week. The bill, SB 1540, amends the state’s rules to define reportable offenses as sexual contact or intercourse as those in which lacked consent – or the victim had the inability to provide consent – for teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21, if one of the parties is more than three years older, or if there is reasonable cause to believe the relationship was the result of force, intimidation or coercion.
Prospects for expanding wakeboarding restrictions on a popular section of Oregon’s Willamette River appeared to recede Monday. The proposal would have expanded rules restricting the sport on a particularly popular section of the Willamette River, including a stretch known locally as “the zone,” and added penalties. But prior to a packed public hearing on the proposal Monday, the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Richard Vial, submitted an amendment that removed the language proposing the toughened restrictions. A study group would be created instead.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“Our parks are being loved to death,” Zinke told reporters. “This budget is all about rebuilding our parks system, and we’re going to use our energy holdings to pay for it.”
Portland Business Journal
Just as it had last May, the Trump administration on Monday proposed selling off the Bonneville Power Administration grid. But the 2019 Trump budget includes a second element related to BPA: A call for a change in how it sets rates for power it markets from dozens of dams in the Northwest. Either proposal would likely result in bigger bills for customers of the utilities BPA sells to.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Exasperated members of Congress say they came close last week to ending the longtime stalemate over legislation aimed at reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires.
But they say last-minute roadblocks kept a tentative deal from being included in the budget bill Congress passed last week to keep the federal government open. “We all had high hopes we would get something done,” said Travis Joseph, president of the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council, a wood-products industry group. “I think everybody is frustrated.”
COURTS & PUBLIC SAFETY
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley say they no longer believe Hermiston graduate Ryan Bounds is a “suitable nominee” for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after reading a collection of opinion pieces he wrote during college, including one criticizing multicultural student groups that “divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns” and foster “race-think.”
A bill before the Oregon Legislature aimed at reducing gun injuries and deaths from domestic violence is stirring up a lot of interest. Much of the opposition, however, appears to be based on a misunderstanding of exactly what House Bill 4145 would do, or would not do. Oregon law already prohibits certain people in domestic violence situations from possessing firearms or ammunition. This includes people who have been convicted of stalking, molesting or threatening to kill an intimate partner or child and with whom they are living or have lived.
It’s a bridge right smack in an official state scenic waterway — far from any town. It encourages more people to hike and bike the trails along the river. In fact, it’s a critical link in a trail system that supports even more hikers and bikers tromping along the river trail from Tumalo State Park to Sunriver.
Allen Baker, Ashland
Useful projects might come from this unwieldy mishmash. But not a single kindergarten teacher will be hired. Not a single low-income housing complex will be built. Legislators are elected to allocate tax dollars thoughtfully. They shirk their duties when they don’t decide how our tax money is spent, and instead build convoluted, deceptive structures like the ones in this bill.