April 23, 2019 Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

On Earth Day, Oregon House Shoots Down Proposed Plastic Foam Ban

Oregon Public Broadcasting

In a symbolic move, Oregon’s House of Representatives chose Earth Day to take up a bill that would have banned statewide the use of plastic foam food containers, commonly known by its trademarked name, Styrofoam.  The plastic container vote wound up taking on a different meaning than legislative leaders intended. House Bill 2883 failed, in an extremely tight vote that saw one veteran Democrat change his vote at the last minute. The bill was immediately pulled back for potential reconsideration another day.

On Earth Day, Oregon House rejects a ban on polystyrene takeout containers

Oregonlive

An effort to ban polystyrene takeout containers in Oregon hit a bump in the road on Monday when it fell one vote short of passage in the Oregon House. House Bill 2883 would ban restaurants from using the packaging material, commonly called styrofoam. The restriction would apply to restaurants and food carts, as well as to prepared food sold in supermarkets. The measure failed when seven Democrats joined each of the Republicans present in voting against the bill. With one Democrat absent, that left the measure without a majority. After the vote, Rep. Sheri Schouten, D-Beaverton, changed her vote from yes to no so she could use a procedural move to bring the bill back for another vote on Tuesday. With one Democrat absent from the floor on Monday, it’s possible that a second round of voting could yield a different result.

Oregon Lawmakers Aim To Give Harassment Victims A Stronger Voice

Oregon Public Broadcasting

In a letter to Oregon lawmakers, a woman who only identifies herself as “anonymous victim 1” detailed the harassment she experienced from her boss and urged legislators to pass stronger workplace protections. The woman’s letter was included in testimony for a bill state senators approved Monday, which supporters call The Oregon Workplace Fairness Act. Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Milwaukie, said the goal of the legislation is to shift the power dynamic “to give employees a stronger voice when they are victims of discrimination and harassment.” If enacted into law, the measure would largely prohibit employers from asking for non-disclosure agreements, which were used in high-profile harassment cases involving Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’ Reilly and Bill Cosby as a way to keep the extent of their behavior hidden. An aggrieved employee, however, could request a non-disclosure if it helped them.

How many resignation deals has the Oregon Legislature signed? Officials have no idea

Oregonlive

Officials who administer the Oregon Legislature have no idea how many resignation and retirement deals lawmakers and administrators have approved during the last five years in order to usher employees out the door, state officials say. They say the only way to figure out how many such agreements the Legislature has signed off on during the last five years would be to search all 1,100 or so personnel files for people employed by the Legislature during that time, a top human resources official and legislative public records lawyer recently told The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Oregon lawmakers consider bills to limit public records access

Oregonlive

The Oregon Legislature is considering 46 bills that would limit access to public records, including documents related to state investigations, trade secrets, personal medical information, election security, crime victims’ identities and more. The Statesman Journal reports the reasons for limiting public disclosure of these documents are enumerated in so-called open-government impact statements that, for the first time during a regular legislative session, are required to be completed for every bill introduced.

Oregon foster care scandal draws attention to use of ‘chemical restraint’ in Montana

Oregonlive

When Annette Smith found out a 9-year-old Oregon girl she represents was being injected with Benadryl and other antihistamines to chemically restrain her for misbehavior and was also frequently being placed in locked seclusion while being treated at Acadia Montana in Butte, she was “horrified and scared for my client’s safety,” Smith told members of the Oregon Senate Human Services Committee on April 11. Last Monday, they succeeded, the Montana Standard reported . The girl, who had been in foster care before being moved to Butte six months ago, was removed from Acadia Montana and taken back to Oregon.

Lawmakers build political foundation for housing bills

Portland Tribune

It’s getting harder to find a place to live in Oregon, and state lawmakers are making a bipartisan effort to address what some call a housing crisis. New housing construction isn’t keeping pace with population growth in Oregon, according to state economists. The Up for Growth National Coalition estimates that from 2000 to 2015, Oregon “underproduced” its housing needs by 155,000 units. Increases in real estate and rental prices in the Portland area only recently started easing. State Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland, has been working on housing issues in the Legislature since 2013. As chair of the House Human Services and Housing Committee, she’s excited about the work legislators are doing, and she likes many of the proposals she’s seen, including more money for local planning departments, a lifeline for struggling mobile home parks, boosting density in residential neighborhoods and beyond.

LOCAL

Willamette named one of the top 10 most-endangered rivers in the country

Oregonlive

The Willamette River, the aqueous arterial that defines much of Western Oregon, is in trouble. Last week, the advocacy group American Rivers, named the Willamette to its top-10 list of endangered rivers in the country, a dubious distinction that the group hopes will draw attention to the perils facing the waterway. Of course, the river itself is not endangered. The headwaters in the Cascades will continue to channel rainfall and gush snowmelt into the 13 tributaries that contribute to the 187-mile waterway, which drains nearly 12,000 square miles.

UO town hall elicits tough questions about budget cuts

The Register-Guard

University of Oregon administrators fielded heated questions and statements — including queries about whether or not administrators themselves were considering cuts to their pay — Monday afternoon during a town hall about looming budget cuts. UO Provost Jayanth Banavar and Jamie Moffitt, vice president of finance, were confronted with questions about the university’s current debt, UO President Michael Schill’s lobbying efforts at the state and if athletics programs also were facing cuts, during the hour-long session attended by about 50 people including retired university faculty, graduate students and community members.

Wind turbine company moving HQ to Portland from California

Oregonlive

A California wind turbine engineering firm is moving its headquarters from California to Portland. Diamond WTG Engineering & Services is owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Regional economic development agency Greater Portland Inc. said Monday that Diamond has been in the process of moving its offices to downtown Portland since 2017 and will complete the transition this spring. Diamond said it picked Portland because of its proximity to Mitsubishi customers, access to a pool of skilled engineers, comparatively low real estate costs and the availability of nonstop flights between Portland and Tokyo.

Oregon Emergency Director To Visit Flooded Counties After Declining To Declare A Disaster

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Flooding has created a disaster in parts of Eastern Oregon, according to local and tribal government officials. State lawmakers representing the areas have implored Gov. Kate Brown since April 15 to declare a state of emergency, but so far they’ve been denied. The director of the state’s Office of Emergency Management will be in Pendleton on Tuesday to assess the damage in Umatilla County. The visit comes a week after OEM director Andrew Phelps declined to recommend an emergency declaration to the governor’s office, according to Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, one of several elected officials who requested one.

11 arrested for blocking Zenith oil terminal train tracks

Portland Tribune

A group of protesters who vowed to shut down Oregon’s only crude oil export terminal have been arrested on trespassing charges. The demonstration organized by Extinction Rebellion was nipped in the bud a little more than 24 hours after activists planted a “victory garden” on top of the BNSF rail spur that leads to Zenith Energy’s oil terminal on Front Street in Northwest Portland early Sunday morning, April 21. In a news release, Central Precinct officers say they arrived to “help property managers remove unwanted demonstrators” mid-day on Monday.

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