February 12, 2019 Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Oregon House Speaker: Tobacco Industry Shares Blame For Offensive Statement

Oregon Public Broadcasting

As an Oregon senator weathers near-universal criticism for a press release he sent last week, House Speaker Tina Kotek wants to spread the blame further.Kotek told reporters Monday that state Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, should apologize for his statement that high tobacco taxes caused the death of Eric Garner. Garner is the black man who was killed by New York City police in 2014 after being stopped for selling individual cigarettes. But Kotek also noted Linthicum’s position isn’t new. “I don’t think you all realize: This talking point about Eric Garner is a talking point from the tobacco industry,” she said. “This didn’t come out of nowhere. People can say it’s a bunch of conservative bloggers, but this particular topic has been used in other states and other places to talk about why we should be fighting an increase in tobacco taxes.”

Proposed Oregon law would tighten system to catch, punish educators who engage in sexual misconduct

Oregonlive

The Oregon Legislature is weighing a bill that would close loopholes and fix weaknesses in state rules that allowed a longtime educator to repeatedly dodge accusations of sexual misconduct in the state’s largest school district. Senate Bill 155 would strengthen the state teacher licensing agency’s powers to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by codifying many of its rules into law and broadening its jurisdiction to cover staff, contractors and volunteers working directly with students, not just licensed educators. In 2017, state lawmakers passed a provision that extended teaching license expirations — educators would need to renew them after five years instead of three. Before then, the educator licensing agency charged $90 per license, or $30 per year. The fee went up to $140, or $28 per year. Still, the legislation patches some major loopholes, Rosilez said. And Roblan said he’s heartened that Democrats and Republicans have been working to amend the bill and get it ready for consideration.

Senator refuses to back down after cigarette tax comments draw rebuke

Portland Tribune

State Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, finds himself alone on a political island after being publicly rebuked by fellow legislators for an inflammatory statement about a police killing. Republicans and Democrats alike condemned him for a news release he sent out criticizing a proposed tobacco tax increase by referring to the 2014 death of a black man in police custody. House Republicans reacted as well. “No purpose is served in relating a cigarette tax request to the tragic death of a man of color,” spokesman Greg Stiles said in the statement on behalf of Republican representatives. “At best, the remarks are unsavory and offensive. Such a comparison is indefensible and has no place in Oregon political discourse.” The House Republicans called on Linthicum to answer questions about the remarks, disagreeing with the assertion that taxes caused Garner’s death.

Supporters, Critics Pack 1st Oregon Hearing On Single Family Zoning

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Supporters and opponents flocked to the first legislative hearing Monday on a bill that would require Oregon cities to allow denser housing in existing single-family neighborhoods. House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and other supporters of the measure said it would play an important role in easing Oregon’s shortage of housing – particularly for homes that aren’t out of the financial reach of most residents. But officials from numerous cities said the bill could over-burden local services and cause a number of unintended impact


The urban-rural divide in Oregon has become more pronounced

The Register-Guard

In 1966 in Multnomah County, 59 percent of voters were registered Democrats. In the Eastern Oregon region, 56 percent were registered Democrats. Each region of the state was at least 50 percent Democrat. But, Republican Tom McCall handily won the 1966 gubernatorial election with more than 55 percent of the vote, losing only three counties. The state’s rural and urban split has deepened with the growth of Portland, the state’s only metropolitan area with a population in the country’s top 120 — Portland ranks 25th. Salem, the state’s second biggest metro area, is 126th. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1960, Oregon had a population of 1.772 million, while the Portland metro area had a population of 881,961 — 49.6 percent of the state’s population. In 2017, the census bureau estimated Oregon had a population of 4.143 million, and the Portland metro area’s population was 2.435 million — 58.77 percent of the state’s population. This urbanization of the state’s population is part of a nationwide trend. In 1960, 69.9 percent of the U.S.’s population lived in urban areas. In 2010, that had climbed to 80.7 percent of the population.

Oregon lawmakers debate multiple bills to make gun laws more restrictive

Statesman Journal

For the Oregon Legislature, it’s not a question of whether any firearms legislation will pass this session.  It’s really a question about what will pass. Gov. Kate Brown has made firearms legislation a priority. Democratic leadership, in the majority, is backing her up.  Lawmakers also have ideas of their own. So do high school students from Lake Oswego.  The debate runs along a well-worn path for legislators in Oregon and statehouses across the nation in recent years. The nation’s wave of mass shootings has heightened public awareness of the consequences of firearms, particularly high-powered rifles, falling into the wrong hands.   The proposals — like mandatory gun locks, defining assault rifles and limiting ammunition purchases — draw criticism from Oregonians seeking to protect their way of life and fearful that legislation will have unintended consequences that go beyond preventing tragedies. Not every bill would put restrictions in place. Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, is making a run again at getting Oregon to recognize concealed handgun licenses from any other state, or reciprocity. House Bill 2298 will die, if past efforts are any indication. “I don’t have high hopes,” said Rep. Post, who has pushed similar legislation in 2017 and 2015, when it passed the House.  He compares the concept to out-of-state driver licenses.

Wyden Backs Tax Break For Craft Beverage Makers

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced a bill to permanently reduce federal taxes on the craft alcohol industry. Staggered to benefit smaller brewers, vintners and distillers the most, some $4.2 billion in temporary tax breaks were introduced in 2017. Wedged into the GOP’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act, the reforms were first championed by the Democratic Senator in 2015. Taxing alcohol as a sin goes back to the 1700s, and excise taxes are still levied on things deemed harmful to society — such as pornography, tobacco and alcohol.


LOCAL

Salem’s long-proposed third bridge dies on city council vote

Statesman Journal

The third bridge in Salem is dead. The long-discussed and debated third bridge over the Willamette River in Salem died by a 6-3 vote of the city council Monday night, bringing an end to 13 years of work on the Salem River Crossing proposal and 50 years of discussion about the possibility. “There is no other bridge than this one that will be on the table for the next 20 to 30 years,” Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett said. City councilors Cara Kaser, Tom Andersen, Jackie Leung, Matt Ausec, Chris Hoy and Sally Cook voted to take no action on the remaining land use issues needed to keep the project alive. City councilors Jim Lewis and Brad Nanke voted with the mayor to move forward with the final environmental impact statement that would have kept the project alive. “We are going to recognize starting tomorrow the negative ramifications of what this is doing to the city,” Lewis said.

Fritz: Non-religious rights should be protected

Portland Tribune

The City Council will consider amending the city’s Civil Rights Code to clarify that the rights of those with with a non-religion — such as atheism, agnosticism, or lack of belief in God or Gods — are also protected. The ordinance was submitted by Commissioner Amanda Fritz at the request of Cheryl Kolbe, President of Freedom From Religion Portland Chapter. “This change says that Portland chooses to make certain that non-believers receive the same protection from discrimination as those in any form of religion,” Kolbe said in a Tuesday press release from Fritz’s office. “This is very affirming for those of us who are atheist, agnostic or any other form of non-belief. It is the right thing to do.” State law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on non-religion, and courts have a mixed record on whether non-religion should receive the same protections as religious beliefs.

OPINION


Letter | Homeless problems becoming more visible

East Oregonian

I have had very little contact with homeless people, like most residents in Pendleton. The last few months have opened my eyes. It is a problem in Pendleton and most of these homeless do not choose to live this way. The Salvation Army provide a lot of help for the homeless in Pendleton. A place to get a good meal and help finding other places where they can get the help they need, like Lifeways, Catholic food bank, warming station and a lot of the churches in Pendleton. I know there are others who also help. Some of the help is financed with our taxes, the majority are financed by donations. We need to support these charities who rely on us for funds. I give to the Salvation Army when I can and know the Salvation Army has a good record as to how the funds are spent. If you are looking for somewhere to make a donation you can’t go wrong with the Salvation Army.

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