June 14, 2019 Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Oregon Lawmakers Move To Create An Equity Office To Curb Harassment

Oregon Public Broadcasting

More than a year after allegations of sexual misconduct rocked the Oregon Legislature, lawmakers in the House agreed Thursday to overhaul a rule addressing harassment and discrimination and to create a new equity office tasked with improving the Capitol’s workplace culture. The measures now head to the Senate. An investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries concluded that the state Legislature had not done enough to curb hostile and inappropriate interactions. The discussions about harassment often exposed deep political divides, but both parties in the House on Thursday spoke to the importance of making the state Capitol an institution where harassment is not tolerated.

Once Stalled, A Cigarette Tax Hike Is Moving In Oregon Capitol

Oregon Public Broadcasting

With just weeks left in Oregon’s legislative session, Democratic leaders have put another contentious issue on their to-do list: a tobacco tax hike. In a hearing Thursday, the House Revenue Committee took up House Bill 2270, a long-dormant bill to raise taxes on cigarettes and other products. After making substantial amendments, the committee moved the bill on. The bill’s newfound momentum sets up what could be another divisive fight as the session approaches adjournment. As with all revenue-raising measures, three-fifths of lawmakers will have to approve the bill to pass it.

Paid family leave bill tries to avoid political tug of war

Portland Tribune

Nearly all workers in Oregon would gain the right to take paid leave for family and medical reasons under a proposal advancing through the Legislature, but it likely won’t become available until 2023. Under House Bill 2005, employers would have to let an employee — provided she made $1,000 or more during the current or previous year — take up to 18 weeks’ leave to care for a new child or ill family member; to deal with serious health problems, a difficult pregnancy or childbirth, or abuse; or some combination thereof. For up to 12 weeks, plus two more for a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, a person could receive much or all of their pay while on leave.

Oregon could join California, Washington in universal paid family and medical leave

Statesman Journal

Oregon legislators took another stab at developing a paid family and medical leave policy, a top priority for both Democrats and Republicans who are quickly approaching the end of the session. House Bill 2005 passed out of the House Committee on Rules Thursday and will head next to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. It has not yet received a floor vote in either chamber.  The policy would allow up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new children, sick family members and victims of domestic violence, a number that was negotiated down from 32 weeks in an earlier bill.

Public defenders mobilize for pay, staffing overhaul

The Bend Bulletin

Facing an ever-mounting caseload, dozens of public defenders in Oregon walked out of courthouses and into the Statehouse this week to lobby for a bill that would fix a staffing shortage and an outdated contract payment system that has some attorneys representing more than 200 clients at once. A national watchdog report deemed Oregon’s fixed-fee contract system for paying its public defenders unconstitutional earlier this year, and the ACLU has threatened to sue. But sweeping legislation that would fix the problem has been stalled in a House committee since April — and two weeks remain before lawmakers go home for the year.

Who’s Following The Forest Practices Act? Oregon Can’t Say For Sure.

Oregon Public Broadcasting

lawmakers during a budget hearing and reported his agency’s sterling compliance rate with the laws that govern private logging. “The audit showed an overall rule level compliance rate of 98%,” Daugherty told them. Others aren’t so sure about that. “We don’t know if it’s 98, 99 or 50,” said Brenda McComb, a retired Oregon State University professor who serves on the board overseeing Daugherty’s agency, the Department of Forestry.

Health care companies furious after Legislature moves toward surprise cut in allowable inflation rate

Oregonlive

In the Oregon Health Authority’s supersized $23.1 billion budget, $25 million is practically pocket change. But some of the companies that provide health care to the state’s poorest citizens were furious Thursday after lawmakers cut their allowable annual inflation rate from 3.4 percent to 3.3 percent. That amounts to about $25 million spread among all 16 of the state’s so-called coordinated care organizations. Yet some of the care organizations felt blindsided. “I walked into the Capitol this morning to the sight of a bunch of very excited health care representatives gathered in the rotunda,” said Paul Phillips, a veteran lobbyist who represents several CCOs. “I had to tell a couple of them to settle down.”

Schrader Calls For BIE Director Replacement Over Chemawa Problems

Oregon Public Broadcasting

A leading critic of how the federal government manages a Salem boarding school for Native American students wants changes at the top of the agency supervising the school. The Chemawa Indian School in Salem has faced mounting scrutiny from Oregon’s congressional delegation Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, wants Bureau of Indian Education Director Tony Dearman replaced after a tense and combative congressional hearing last month over the management and oversight of Chemawa Indian School, an off-reservation boarding school for Native American students, in Salem.

State Commission Approves Tuition Increases At 3 Oregon Universities

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Substantial tuition increases at three of Oregon’s public universities have been approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Barring more state funding, tuition will increase by 10% for students at Southern Oregon University, 6.91% at University of Oregon and 6% at the Oregon Institute of Technology. Staff representatives and students from each institution made their case in front of the state commission Thursday. The tuition increases are much lower than initial proposals. Universities reined them in after legislators amended a budget bill to allocate $100 million to public universities, instead of the $40.5 million in the governor’s proposed budget. The budget is not final.

A life devoted to service shared at Sen. Jackie Winters’ Capitol memorial

Statesman Journal

Hundreds came together in the Oregon Senate chamber Thursday to honor Sen. Jackie Winters — a trailblazing stateswoman, dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and friend to many in the state Capitol and Salem community. With great patience and grace, or with a stern look, a wag of her finger or a setting of her lip, she was said to be able to raise her colleagues to believe more in themselves and in their ability to overcome the challenges they faced. Winters, a Republican, had represented Salem in the state Senate since 2003. She died May 29 at the age of 82 after living with lung cancer for nearly two years. Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, remembered Winters’ last day in the Senate chamber.

Gov. Kate Brown declares June 12 Women Veterans Day

The Register-Guard

For the first time in Oregon history, Governor Kate Brown designated a statewide observance recognizing women veterans — Wednesday was recognized as Women Veterans Day. The date also marks the 71st anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which acknowledged the great contributions made by women in the military and finally enabled them to serve as regular members of the United States Armed Forces and Reserves.

LOCAL

Innovative Eugene business Bulk Handling Systems develops robotic waste-sorting machines

The Register-Guard

Ever since China stopped accepting U.S. recycled materials at the end of 2017, the future of recycling has been hanging in the balance. But Bulk Handling Systems in Eugene isn’t giving up that easy — in fact, the company is working on new, innovative ways to combat the recycling crisis. “China went away, but there’s still a demand for recycling at a municipal level,” said Peter Raschio, Bulk Handling Systems marketing manager.

$12 million accounting error, soaring pension costs put Beaverton schools in dire straits

Oregonlive

Three hundred and eight. That’s how many faculty and staff positions Beaverton schools officials announced they’d lose over the summer when they rolled out a budget proposal to mitigate a $35 million shortfall. Superintendent Don Grotting’s proposed $500 million budget represented an increase of $11.7 million over this year’s. Community members were incensed, filling school board meetings to demand answers why a district with a steadily increasing budget was making such deep staffing cuts and pulling $9.7 million out of its rainy day fund. At the Capitol, school advocates cited Beaverton’s budgetary straits as evidence the state’s $9 billion school funding plan wasn’t generous enough.

State takes on oversight of developmental disability in Clatsop County

Daily Astorian

Clatsop County will no longer have an oversight role over intellectual and developmental disabilities, as the responsibility for people with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and epilepsy shifts entirely to the state. The state Department of Human Services will contract with Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare, a private nonprofit, to provide services and work with adult foster homes, group homes and supported living to help about 230 people in need.

OPINION

Readers respond: Send HB 2015 to the voters

Oregonlive

In 1824, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. “In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves.”

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