April 18, 2019 Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

New Secretary Of State Says Oregon Still Failing To Fix Graduation Rate

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Newly appointed Secretary of State Bev Clarno is out with her first report —  and it’s about Oregon’s dismal high school graduation rate. In December 2017, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office released a report suggesting ways the Oregon Department of Education could improve the state’s graduation rate – one of the lowest in the nation at 78.7% in 2018. ODE agreed to the 13 recommendations, but leadership admitted the agency lacked resources to do everything the secretary of state asked. More than a year later, Clarno’s office released a follow-up report that says ODE still has a long way to go.

Told to help schools improve grad rates, Oregon education agency responds mostly with inaction

Oregonlive

Sixteen months after a scathing state audit said the Oregon Department of Education urgently needed to take action to help raise the state’s lousy graduation rate, the department has completed just three of 13 actions that auditors called for, according to a follow-up report made public Wednesday. Notably, that report said, the department has failed to emphasize and measure middle schools’ success at preparing students for high school. Nor, auditors said, has it offered schools any advice on how to provide quick intervention for students who’ve begun to miss too much school or to better serve students who change school districts during high school. Students who are chronically absent or switch districts mid-school-year are at huge risk of failing to graduate.

Polluted by Money: How lawmakers could flush corporate money out of Oregon politics

Oregonlive

Oregon lawmakers are negotiating specific campaign donation limits that would take hold if voters approve a ballot referendum next year to allow controls on political money. While lawmakers have been working on a constitutional referral to send voters to permit such limits, the effort to create actual dollar limits is new. It didn’t begin until The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that lawmakers planned to erase the limits that voters approved in 2006, leaving it up to the Legislature or voters to come up with new limits sometime in the future.

Oregon Appeals Court Rules Juvenile Sentencing Law Unconstitutional

Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Wednesday the state is violating the U.S. Constitution when it sentences juveniles convicted of aggravated murder. The court said a sentence of life in prison without considering that youth offenders are developmentally different than adults convicted of the same crime is in conflict with the Eighth Amendment.

Vial to serve as deputy secretary of state

Sherwood Gazette

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno announced today the appointment of former Oregon State Rep. Rich Vial as deputy secretary of state. Vial served one term in a district that includes Sherwood and King City for 2017-18. He lost his bid for re-election last fall to Courtney Neron. The district included portions of central Washington County near Hillsboro and Aloha, as well as portions of Yamhill and Clackamas counties. Vial, 64, served on the House committees for Transportation, Judiciary and Education and Health Care.

Cylvia Hayes reaches second potential ethics deal for $50,000

Oregonlive

Cylvia Hayes and Oregon Government Ethics Commission officials have reached a second potential settlement deal, this time for $50,000. Commission members are scheduled to vote on the deal Friday. The Salem-Statesman Journal originally reported Wednesday’s tentative agreement. It’s the second attempt at a settlement for Hayes, who faced the potential of $110,000 in fines after ethics investigators made “preliminary findings” last year that she violated ethics laws 22 times between 2011 and 2013 while serving as Oregon’s first lady. Investigators confirmed news reports that Hayes accepted more than $200,000 through her clean energy consulting firm while also serving as an unpaid adviser on the same issues for her fiancée, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Oregon’s ‘tuition equity’ law could be extended to graduate students

Oregonlive

Oregon’s law that allows students living in the country illegally to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public universities could be expanded to cover graduate school as well. Senate Bill 859 would extend the program known as “tuition equity” to grad students who attended high school in Oregon. The original 2013 law was interpreted by most universities to apply only to undergraduate students.

Oregon Parents Push Bill To Screen Newborns For More Diseases

Oregon Public Broadcasting

One of the first things a newborn experiences is a nurse pricking their heel to gather blood. A few drops are absorbed onto a special piece of paper which is then sent to the state public health lab. There, they test for everything from sickle cell anemia to cystic fibrosis. But Oregon checks for fewer diseases in newborns than recommended by the federal government. Now parents with children dying from genetic disorders are pushing legislators to add more disorders to Oregon’s newborn blood screening test.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley Has Stopped Taking Corporate PAC Cash

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley has quietly become the first member of the state’s current congressional delegation to stop taking money from corporate political action committees. The Democratic senator confirmed in an interview with OPB that he decided early last fall not to take this source of campaign cash anymore. “I felt, in the conversation about how to restore our democracy,” he said, “that it was important for me to recognize and symbolically take this step.” Business-oriented political action committees gave Merkley about $1.2 million for his 2014 re-election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending.

NATIONAL

READ: The Full Mueller Report, With Redactions

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Attorney General William Barr has released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference to Congress and the public. The special counsel spent nearly two years investigating attacks on the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians behind it. Mueller also was tasked with looking into “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Mueller report released: Revelations, reactions, summary and analysis (live updates)

Oregonlive

Quick-hit reactions to the Mueller report are coming in. Here are a few from Twitter: Josh Marshall is the editor of Talking Points Memo. Daniel Dale is the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star. Richard Painter was chief White House ethics counsel for President George W. Bush. “It was called no collusion, no obstruction,” he said at a White House event. “… There never was, by the way, and there never will be.” The president added that his investigators still should be investigated. “We do have to get to the bottom of these things,” he said. “This should never happen to another president again, this hoax.”

LOCAL

Marion County prosecutor’s list questions honesty, reliability of more than 40 officers

Statesman Journal

Lists kept by district attorneys across the country track law enforcement officers who prosecutors refuse to call as witnesses because of their history of dishonesty, unreliability and even criminal activity. In Marion County, nearly four dozen current and former officers are included on the so-called Brady index — officers whose participation prosecutors believe would undermine their cases at trial. They include Oregon State Police troopers, Marion County deputies and Salem Police officers along with eight civilian employees, such as Department of Human Services caseworkers.

Portland area’s population growth is losing steam, census numbers show

Oregonlive

The Portland area’s mid-decade growth spurt has slowed dramatically, new census numbers suggest. Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show the metro area’s population growth rate for 2018 was just 0.9%, or about 430 new residents a week — half what it was in 2016.

Benton County unveils $311.8M budget proposal

Albany Democrat Herald

Saying Benton County is in sound financial shape, Chief Financial Officer Mary Otley outlined a $311.8 million spending plan for 2019-21. Otley’s proposed budget represents an increase of about $67.8 million, or 27.8 percent, over the $244 million county budget for the current biennium. It also includes an expanded county work force of about 510 full-time-equivalent employees. The county started the last biennium with 459 FTE and currently has about 478 employees.

Port of Astoria investigates solution to sinking Pier 2 Commission approves $250,000 for engineers

Daily Astorian

he Port of Astoria Commission on Tuesday approved spending more than $250,000 to investigate an ultimate fix for the west side of Pier 2, a badly deteriorated dock where fishermen deliver their catch and where a seafood-processing warehouse is sinking because of a failing seawall. Stephen Whittington, an engineer with KPFF Consulting Engineers, said the main issues are deterioration and a failing sheet pile bulkhead causing the warehouse to slowly sink.

OPINION

Readers respond: PERS is Oregon’s black hole

Oregonlive

Scientists recently revealed the first image of a black hole: an object in space so dense and with so much gravitational pull that even light cannot escape. Oregon taxpayers have been able to see and witness the effects of our own black hole for some time. It’s called PERS, and it will not let any tax dollars escape. It has gobbled up an excessive and increasing amount of state funds and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Opinion: To improve education in Oregon, invest in early childhood

Oregonlive

Oregon has a tremendous opportunity in this legislative session to improve education across the state and prepare our children for lifelong success. A $2 billion investment in education as proposed by the bipartisan Joint Committee on Student Success would help raise high school graduation rates, address a growing behavioral crisis in classrooms, and begin to close the opportunity gap for children of color, those from low-income families, those with developmental delays and disabilities, and those from rural and frontier areas of our state.

Fastballs, knuckleballs, nasty sliders and wild pitches

OREGON HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE

Fastballs, knuckleballs, nasty sliders and wild pitches

Oregon growing unaffordable for working families who will pay thousands more in taxes

SALEM, Oregon – Democrats are swinging for the fences and wildly throwing the ball around the park. The super-majority party is flexing its muscle, smacking $5.7 billion worth of tax proposals over the left-field wall. As a result, every man, woman and child can expect to pay an extra $1,450 each annually.

Democrats have fired high heat at Oregon families with a $2 billion gross receipts tax that will drive up the cost of groceries for Oregon families. You won’t see the tax added on to your receipt, because they’re afraid you just might steal their signs and throw them out.

The super majority has bounced a nasty slider up to the plate with its $1.1 billion cap and trade tax package that begins with an additional 16 cents per gallon tax on gas. Democrats turned the double play, further burdening Oregon families with steep increases in home heating bills on top of higher transportation costs.

Democrats threw a brushback pitch, targeting the mortgage interest deduction that has long been a cornerstone of the American home ownership dream. Homeowners who depend on the deduction to stretch their home buying dollars will see more of their money going to support poorly managed government programs. Democrats have also beaned taxpayers with a $500 million payroll tax, a $108 million reduction in the constitutionally mandated kicker and a $334 million Medicaid tax.

Governor Kate Brown got in on the action by stealing home when she proposed a $500 million raid on SAIF to pay for the state’s burgeoning $27 billion PERS liability. The workers compensation system has proven beneficial to workers and employers alike.

April 16, 2019 Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Kotek, Courtney Working Up A PERS Plan Of Their Own

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Gov. Kate Brown’s newly released plan for shielding school districts from debilitating rate increases tied to the state’s pension fund has garnered kudos and outcry since it was unveiled last week. House Speaker Tina Kotek on Monday gave the proposal mixed marks and suggested legislative leaders may bypass Brown’s recommendations. While Kotek found much to agree with in the governor’s proposal — in particular plucking a one-time cash infusion from the state’s bountiful worker compensation fund, known as SAIF, and redirecting the “kicker” tax refund expected to go back to taxpayers next year — she disagreed with one key element.

New federal lawsuit accuses Oregon foster system of ‘revictimizing’ children

Oregonlive

A national advocacy group filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Oregon early Tuesday morning, seeking to force leaders to fix deep-seated problems in the state’s foster care system. Lawyers for the 10 plaintiffs, who range in age from 18 months to 17 years old and are all in Oregon foster care, accuse the state of consistently violating the children’s rights guaranteed by federal laws and the U.S. Constitution. The lawyers, who are seeking class action status so they can represent all of the approximately 8,000 children in Oregon’s foster system, point to evidence the problems are widespread and go back at least a decade.

Lawsuit: Oregon DHS failed to prevent abuse in foster care system

Statesman Journal

A federal class action lawsuit alleges that Oregon’s foster care system has failed to shield the children in its care from abuse and further neglect. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, says Oregon’s Department of Human Services violated federal and state law by not providing foster kids with permanent, long-term foster homes. The agency has struggled to house its 7,500 foster children and often has no choice but to house children in hotels, homeless shelters and refurbished jail cells. The case is one of the most expansive complaints brought against DHS. The lawyers said they hope the federal court can compel DHS to provide more adequate services. DHS has not responded to request for comment. The agency’s director told lawmakers last week he recognizes the agency has made mistakes, but said those individual slip-ups “don’t constitute a system that is broken.”

Portland School Board Member Ends Voluntary Work With Secretary Of State

Oregon Public Broadcasting

A Nike executive and Portland school board member’s work helping new Secretary of State Bev Clarno transition to the office has led to speculation in recent weeks. Now Julia Brim-Edwards wants to put a fine point on it: Her work there is done. Brim-Edwards said as much in an email she sent the Secretary of State’s Office early Friday — and shared with a reporter. “With your formal and ceremonial investiture completed, your initial round of introductions/re-introductions of state leaders done, and the executive team recruitment nearing completion, your transition from appointee to Secretary is well underway,” Brim-Edwards wrote Clarno. “Given that, you no longer have a need for my assistance with your transition.”

Capitol round-up: Helt named to state school board

Bend Bulletin

State Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, has been chosen by Secretary of State Bev Clarno to replace a controversial activist as the office’s representative on the state Board of Education.  Helt’s new role was one of the highlights of the past week in the Capitol. With 75 days to go before the constitutionally required June 30 adjournment of the 2019 Legislature, lawmakers are jockeying to get their bills a place on the crowded calendar. “With Cheri’s incredible breadth of professional knowledge and previous school board experience in Central Oregon, I have no doubt she will represent this office and all of Oregon’s children well,” Clarno said. Helt said she appreciated Clarno putting “such great trust” in her. “I can’t wait to serve the students and teachers of Oregon.”

LOCAL

Sexual harassment complaints against City of Salem workers dismissed for lack of evidence

Statesman Journal

Two complaints of sexual harassment by city of Salem employees have been dismissed, with state investigators pointing to a lack of sufficient evidence, according to public records. The complaints, first reported by the Statesman Journal in February, were filed by two workers, Casey Levy and Deirdrie Wade. Letters from the state Bureau of Labor and Industries dated April 9 and 10 stated the complaints, filed with BOLI’s Civil Rights Division, were “dismissed because the Division did not find sufficient evidence to continue our investigation. This is the Bureau’s final determination.”

Wyden talks healthcare, pharmaceutical costs with Morrow County residents

East Oregonian

Ron Wyden covered a lot of ground with Morrow County constituents at his town hall meeting on Sunday. But the focus of the day was health care, with Oregon’s U.S. senator fielding several questions about his thoughts on Medicare for All, pharmaceutical costs and rural health care. Wyden spoke at length about his goal to keep pharmaceutical costs down, and keep manufacturers from inflating prices. He talked about his efforts to hold PBMs, or Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers, accountable for hiking up prices on medications.

Lane County farms fighting ‘greenwashing’ with certification

The Register-Guard

In any given grocery store, meat products line the shelf with labels showcasing the terms “natural,” “free range,” and “organic.” However, as more consumers become savvy to the food industry, Larissa McKenna, who is with Food Animal Concerns Trust, pointed out that there is a feeling that these terms aren’t as meaningful because of loopholes in label terminology. “Consumers are asking for it and wanting to know how animals are being raised,” she said. “There’s such a disconnect from the farm and plate that certification comes in handy.” This concern of “greenwashing” is what led Thomas Gillett and Gwynne Mhuireach of Black Tansy Farm to work toward on their application for animal welfare certification. Although they are still considering becoming organically certified, Mhuireach said the label doesn’t represent a farm’s actual practices.

Plan has new rules on killing wolves that prey on livestock

Associated Press

With Oregon’s wolf population growing, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Monday issued a draft conservation and management plan that established a new timetable involving when wolves can be killed for preying on livestock. The old plan allowed for hunts after two confirmed wolf depredations of livestock in an area. The new plan would allow hunts only after two confirmed depredations within a nine-month period, said Derek Broman, state carnivore biologist. The new plan also includes a hefty section on how to attempt to resolve conflicts involving livestock without killing wolves, which environmental groups prefer, Broman said. The goal of the 160-page proposal remains the same as previous plans issued in 2005 and 2010: “To ensure the conservation of gray wolves as required by Oregon law while protecting the social and economic interests of all Oregonians.”

OPINION

Editorial: PERS reform, new tax go hand in hand

Albany Democrat Herald

Some pieces of the puzzle to generate an extra $1 billion per year in business taxes to spend on K-12 education are starting to come together in Salem. And, somewhat to our surprise, the proposal might be going hand in hand with some serious thoughts from Gov. Kate Brown about reforming the state’s underfunded public-pension system. A legislative subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, and Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, has been laboring since the start of the session to find ways to raise $2 billion per two-year budget cycle to invest in K-12 schools.

Our Opinion: A modest fix for Oregon records law

Portland Tribune

Oregon legislators like to talk about government transparency and accountability. Making those things actually happen can be more difficult. Here’s a timely example. A proposal pending in Salem would allow slapping modest fines on public agencies that fail to respond to public records requests by the deadlines imposed by the 2017 Oregon Legislature. But critics say House Bill 2353 is premature. Those deadlines, they note, didn’t go into effect until 2018. More time is needed, they say, to see whether the new regulations work. They’re wrong. And here’s the proof. If you want to know how many kids at your local high school are on track to graduate on time — and how that compares to state averages — that’s easy. Thanks to a 1999 law, that information is available online at the Oregon Department of Education website. Same goes for how many local students regularly skip school, qualify for free and reduced lunch and are up to date on their vaccinations.

Guest Opinion: Quit complaining about Oregon’s foster care system and do something to help

Statesman Journal

Oregon’s foster care system isn’t broken. Treating it like it is only makes matters worse. Pointing fingers doesn’t help either. If local community members really want to help, I would encourage them to step up, join forces with the Oregon Department of Human Services, and become the second line of defense for children when their families can’t, or won’t, protect and nurture them. I’m not saying constructive criticism of DHS and the foster care system isn’t in order. It is. The system is far from perfect, and it is a wonderful thing when the community at large takes an interest in what is happening and is eager to find better ways to do things.

April 14, 2019 Weekend Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

PERS Plan Would Limit Tax Rebates, Affect School Retirement Benefits

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has released her long-awaited plan to tackle the state’s financially troubled public pension system. The governor’s proposal, made public Friday, includes a long list of ideas to raise around $3.3 billion over the next 16 years to shield Oregon schools from most of the rate hikes facing Oregon public employers. State leaders are trying to dig their way out of a pension debt now estimated at nearly $27 billion. The plan includes proposals that could affect taxpayers, the business community and the state’s 70,000 school employees. Among other things, it calls for capping next year’s “kicker” income tax rebate at $100 — a move that would divert up to $500 million from taxpayers into the PERS school rescue fund.

Oregon Lawmakers Want Answers On Out-Of-State Foster Care Kids

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon lawmakers questioned Child Welfare officials in a hearing Thursday. They wanted to know why the number of foster care children being sent out-of-state skyrocketed and how a 9-year-old could be sent to Montana for six months and never be checked on by a caseworker. “Something here has gone very, very wrong,” said Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, who chairs the Senate Committee on Human Services and convened the hearing. “We cannot ignore it and we have to keep this issue front and center until we are satisfied each of these kids are safe.”

Oregon Senate votes to change the way Oregon helps pick the U.S. President

Oregonlive

The Oregon Senate voted on Tuesday to join a movement designed to award the presidency to the winner of the popular vote. The 17 to 12 vote on Senate Bill 870 came after an hour-long debate. If the bill is approved by the Oregon House and signed into law, Oregon would join 14 other states and the District of Columbia in the National Popular Vote compact. The idea behind the compact is that state legislatures would award their state’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide.

For senators working to tighten laws on teacher sexual misconduct investigations, deja vu in 2019

Oregonlive

It’s been 10 years since Oregon lawmakers Sara Gelser and Arnie Roblan sat on the House Education Committee and ushered through a bill requiring the state’s school districts to draft rules addressing sexual misconduct by teachers. The legislation was a response to a 2008 Oregonian investigation that found officials all too often let problem teachers slide, allowing them to resign from their jobs and move to other districts as complaints went uninvestigated.

Oregon exporter dodged crude oil spill preparedness drill

Oregonlive

Zenith Energy, Oregon’s largest facilitator of crude oil exports, last year defied its agreement with state regulators to show it could control and clean up a major crude spill at its Willamette River terminal in Portland. Instead of drilling with the sludgy, toxics-emitting Canadian tar sands crude that travels by rail through the Columbia Gorge and North Portland neighborhoods to Zenith’s facility, the company used diesel for the mock cleanup. Diesel is easier to practice with because it is less toxic and easier to clean up than Zenith’s crude.

How Land Managers Select Prescribed Fire Areas

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Before we began stopping fire in its tracks, forests were healthier. They had fewer trees, more open space and more fire. “In a lot of our forest systems, we’ve excluded fire for so long. There used to be 30 to 40 times more fire than we’re seeing now,” said Reese Lolley, with the Nature Conservancy and Washington Prescribed Fire Council.  “For forest health, there’s a need to put fire back in those landscapes.” That’s why land managers are using prescribed burns and thinning to restore forests and reduce the extra wood, sticks and needles that fuel megafires. Different land managers look for certain things when they’re selecting where prescribed fires will work best.

LOCAL

Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputy shot, killed

Oregonlive

A sheriff’s deputy in southwest Washington died after he was shot Saturday night while checking on a vehicle that was blocking a road northeast of Kalama. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office has not identified the deputy, and although investigators have located a “person of interest” in the shooting, they are still seeking information about the incident. Shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, the deputy was sent to check on a vehicle that was blocking Fallert Road near Kalama River Road, according to a sheriff’s press release issued Sunday morning.

State seeks camping ban on Willamette River banks and islands through Eugene

The Register-Guard

tate officials are seeking to ban overnight recreational use and camping on the more than dozen small islands that dot the Willamette River through Eugene. The State Land Board on Tuesday authorized the Department of State Lands to begin the process to impose the ban. The department’s director, Vicki Walker, a Eugene resident and former state senator, said she’d authorize an emergency nighttime closure starting May 15 while the rulemaking is underway. The draft rules as initially proposed would prohibit any recreational use of the islands between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. between Randy Papé Beltline and the Interstate 5 bridge. No camping or fires would be allowed at any time.

OPINION

Editorial: Gov. Brown’s PERS plan offers a strong start (Editorial Agenda 2019)

Oregonlive

Gov. Kate Brown’s new proposal for taming Oregon’s voracious pension debt gives plenty for people to dig into. Her multipronged strategy, aimed at protecting K-12 school districts from skyrocketing contributions to the Public Employees Retirement Fund, leans on taxpayers, lawmakers and public employees to all give at least a little. And while there will be considerable debate in the weeks ahead over the merits and shortcomings of Brown’s proposal, it represents a true show of leadership from the governor on a crisis that she has long chosen to downplay. Brown’s proposal, released on Friday, calls for creating a dedicated fund – seeded with $800 million in one-time money, supplemented with other revenue streams and invested in the market – that would help pay down the PERS debt of Oregon’s K-12 school districts, as The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Ted Sickinger reported. While that won’t erase the amount districts owe, it would stave off the dramatic increases school districts will have to pay PERS over the next 14 years to cover retirement benefits for current workers and retirees. Such a fund would also help ensure that much of the $2 billion in new education revenue that legislators are trying to raise will go to classroom investments as intended rather than simply backfill PERS.

Opinion: A multi-faceted approach to solving Oregon’s traffic congestion

Oregonlive

Everyone who travels around the Portland-Vancouver area knows how much more congested the roads are compared to a few years ago. No matter if you go around town or out of town, to work, play or home, we see increasing delays everywhere. The numbers help tell the story. Oregon Department of Transportation’s latest Traffic Performance Report shows delays on the region’s freeways have increased 20.1 percent increase from 2015 to 2017. As our population and economy grow, morning and afternoon rush hour lasts longer, freight companies dispatch their trucks in the middle of the night to avoid congestion and everyone is spending more time in traffic and less time with friends and family.

April 12, 2019 Daily Clips

GOV. KATE BROWN AND PERS

Gov. Kate Brown unveils new plan to offset school’s increasing pension costs

Oregonlive

Gov. Kate Brown rolled out a financially and politically ambitious proposal Friday to rein in increasing public pension costs for schools over the next 15 years by diverting various state revenue streams and requiring public employees to contribute to their pension benefits. The proposal is an effort to ensure that any new corporate tax money lawmakers dedicate to schools will actually make it into the classroom, and not be swallowed up by the pension system to backfill its growing deficit. But it could also serve as a backup plan in case lawmakers can’t pass a new tax plan. Elements of Brown’s plan have circulated for some time, but she hasn’t offered much specificity to date. That changed Friday, as she unveiled a detailed set of options for lawmakers to consider.

PERS Plan Would Limit Tax Rebates, Affect School Retirement Benefits

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has released her long-awaited plan to tackle the state’s financially troubled public pension system. The governor’s proposal, made public Friday, includes a long list of ideas to raise around $3.3 billion over the next 16 years to shield Oregon schools from most of the rate hikes facing Oregon public employers. State leaders are trying to dig their way out of a pension debt now estimated at nearly $27 billion. The plan includes proposals that could affect taxpayers, the business community and the state’s 70,000 school employees. Among other things, it calls for capping next year’s “kicker” income tax rebate at $100 — a move that would divert up to $500 million from taxpayers into the PERS school rescue fund.

Tax proposal taps businesses for more school funds

Portland Tribune

Oregonians could pay less on their state income taxes but pay more for some goods and services, under a legislative proposal to raise money for the state’s struggling public school system. The long-awaited proposal will tax businesses just under one-half of 1 percent of their gross receipts of more than $1 million while cutting Oregonians’ income tax rates by a quarter of a percent for all but the top bracket. Sales of groceries, gasoline and diesel would not be taxed under the proposal. The smallest businesses — those that make less than $1 million in taxable revenue per year — will not be subject to the tax, nor will any that already pay the medical provider tax. Businesses that are taxed will be able to allay the impact by deducting one-quarter of either their labor costs or the amount they paid to other businesses during the course of the year.

Governor Brown to unveil plan to help schools cover PERS costs

East Oregonian

Two elements make budgeting a painful math exercise for the Umatilla School District: employee health benefits and retirement benefits. Right now, the school district pays about 8 percent of its budget, or $1.2 million, to the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System. In the next school year, that cost will go up an estimated $46,000. That may not seem like much, but for Umatilla it could mean cuts — especially if the state doesn’t come up with more money for schools. “If there’s any type of increase, that is a direct hit to what we can offer to students,” said Superintendent Heidi Sipe. “…PERS is a larger and larger percent of those expenses that’s hitting us harder and harder each year.”

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Halfway Home, Oregon Legislators Stioregonll Face Huge To-Do List

Oregon Public Broadcasting

When business closed at the Oregon Legislature Tuesday, a breakneck session became somewhat less hectic. Roughly halfway through the 2019 Oregon legislative session, April 9 marked the last day most bills could either be moved out of committee or shelved for another year. But while the list of fallen proposals included some notable bills — lowering the drunk driving limit and disarming campus police, among them — the real challenges lie ahead. Democrats still have a hefty to-do list: They want to raise $1 billion annually for schools, rejigger the state’s tax code, usher through ambitious gun legislation and pass a complicated proposal to cap carbon emissions. “I kind of feel like I’m surfing on a tsunami of taxes,” said House Minority Leader Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass. “Every inch of this building (is) firmly in their hands for the most part. So I think that they’re using that opportunity to do everything that they’ve wanted to do for years.”

Supporters Of $1B Oregon Education Plan Bring Wish Lists To Hearing

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon lawmakers looking to raise $1 billion in tax revenue to invest in public schools heard a familiar message Thursday: “Yes … and?” Early childhood advocates, supporters of increased mental health resources, students calling for smaller class sizes and expanded programs — they all urged the Joint Committee on Student Success to approve the $1 billion plan to support K-12 schools. In fact, no one argued against the bill that’s come out of more than a year of meetings. Instead, advocates for the state’s youngest children and students in college and universities pressed lawmakers to stretch the dollars to help their priorities as well.

Vape, tobacco retailers want nicotine tax bills to go up in smoke

Portland Tribune

Of the handful of nicotine-related tax initiatives, Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed $2 a pack tax increase has gotten the most attention. However, a proposed vaping tax ended up being the hot-button issue when the proposals got public hearings this week. Sixty-five people showed up Wednesday and Thursday to tell the House Revenue Committee how they felt about five bills being considered. Many others came to watch, packing the hearing room. If all passed, the proposals would collectively increase the tobacco tax by $2 per pack of cigarettes, remove the 50-cent tax cap on cigars and impose a 95 percent wholesale tax on electronic cigarettes. A vote on whether to pass the proposals out of committee hasn’t been scheduled.

2 More Leaving In Ongoing Shakeup Under New Oregon Secretary Of State

Oregon Public Broadcasting

In less than two weeks, new Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno has dramatically changed at least the public face of the office. In her first days in the position, Clarno ousted chief of staff Debra Royal, legal affairs director Steve Elzinga and deputy secretary Leslie Cummings. On April 5, she made further changes, sending a letter to Larry Morgan, who holds a unique position as the office’s citizen engagement and inclusion coordinator, announcing that the contract for his services will not be renewed when it expires at the end of June. And this week, a vocal critic of Oregon’s largest school district resigned her position as the secretary of state’s liaison to the state of education.

Oregon Lawmakers Want Answers On Out-Of-State Foster Care Kids

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon lawmakers questioned Child Welfare officials in a hearing Thursday. They wanted to know why the number of foster care children being sent out-of-state skyrocketed and how a 9-year-old could be sent to Montana for six months and never be checked on by a caseworker. “Something here has gone very, very wrong,” said Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, who chairs the Senate Committee on Human Services and convened the hearing. “We cannot ignore it and we have to keep this issue front and center until we are satisfied each of these kids are safe.”

LOCAL

Astoria school leaders back Student Success Act State lawmakers consider more money for education

Daily Astorian

The Student Success Act being debated at the state Legislature could add another $1.4 million a year to the Astoria School District’s budget, Superintendent Craig Hoppes said Wednesday. House Bill 2019, introduced last month by the Joint Committee on Student Success, calls for an additional $2 billion in K-12 funding per biennium starting in July to improve behavioral support, mental health and early learning opportunities. The money would likely come from a tax on businesses’ gross receipts above $150,000. In laying out the school district’s approach to creating a budget for the 2019-20 school year, Hoppes called the Student Success Act the best opportunity for new funding in his 22 years with the district. “It could have a really significant impact in our district,” he said.

Coos Bay lumber mill to be shutdown, Georgia-Pacific will lay off 111 workers

Statesman Journal

Georgia-Pacific Wood Products has notified employees at its Coos Bay lumber mill that it will shutter the facility and lay off all of the site’s 111 workers. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Georgia-Pacific’s western lumber general manager, Bill Goodman, wrote to state officials Thursday saying job cuts will begin June 10 and continue in phases until the Coos Bay facility is completely closed. The Atlanta-based pulp and paper company said Asian competition for Oregon logs made it more expensive to supply the Coos Bay mill. And Georgia-Pacific said the prolonged closure of Coos Bay’s swing span railroad bridge made it more difficult to ship products from the site.

Linn, Benton counties declare emergencies

Albany Democrat Herald

Linn and Benton counties each declared emergencies on Thursday due to recent flooding, which would allow them to assess damage and calculate estimated losses for possible state or federal relief funds. In Linn County, Board Chairman Roger Nyquist and Commissioner Will Tucker held a special meeting. Commissioner John Lindsey was not present. “The good news is that to our knowledge, there has not been any loss of life,” Nyquist said. “This also reminds us of how interconnected we are in the mid-valley in terms of residents traveling to and from their places of employment. When a major highway is turned into a river, it seriously affects traffic flow for all of us.”

Pendleton City Council wants public opinion on street revenue ideas

East Oregonian

The Pendleton City Council is taking its options for raising more revenue for street maintenance on the road. Council members gathered Tuesday for a workshop, where Mayor John Turner distributed a sheet of revenue ideas to each councilor. Turner emphasized that these were not ironclad proposals, but ideas meant to spur public discussion as council members present them to community groups. Turner said the city had about $1.2 million in the upcoming fiscal year for street maintenance funding, but needed another million dollars to start fixing a deteriorating street system.

OPINION

Letter: Bill threatens mill jobs

Daily Astorian

In my 19 years of service at Wauna, I’ve seen how our industry is changing, the intensely competitive nature of paper-making, and how pennies per case really do matter. While most people probably don’t care about where their toilet paper is made, they should. Because the stuff we make at the Wauna mill is some of the greenest (not literally), most sustainable that you’ll find anywhere in the world. It’s clear that state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell doesn’t care much about that. Her recent declaration of support for the proposed cap and trade legislation is pretty much a “closing soon” sign out in front of our mill (“North Coast needs clean energy jobs,” The Daily Astorian, April 4). Just ask our colleagues at the Camas (Washington) mill and the loss of the jobs there.

Letter: Arrogant and dismissive

Daily Astorian

I work at the Wauna paper mill, and I am offended by the arrogant and dismissive words that state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell recently directed toward hardworking people in her district (“North Coast needs clean energy jobs,” The Daily Astorian, April 4). For her to say that Oregon’s proposed cap and trade legislation doesn’t put hundreds of local jobs at risk is an outright lie.

Letter: Local jobs at risk

Daily Astorian

I’m writing to correct some misinformation provided by state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell via a recent guest column, “North Coast needs clean energy jobs” (The Daily Astorian, April 4). Unfortunately, her support for the cap and trade bill glosses over the devastating consequences for hardworking men and women within Oregon’s pulp and paper industry.

April 12, 2019 Daily Clips

GOV. KATE BROWN AND PERS

Gov. Kate Brown unveils new plan to offset school’s increasing pension costs

Oregonlive

Gov. Kate Brown rolled out a financially and politically ambitious proposal Friday to rein in increasing public pension costs for schools over the next 15 years by diverting various state revenue streams and requiring public employees to contribute to their pension benefits. The proposal is an effort to ensure that any new corporate tax money lawmakers dedicate to schools will actually make it into the classroom, and not be swallowed up by the pension system to backfill its growing deficit. But it could also serve as a backup plan in case lawmakers can’t pass a new tax plan. Elements of Brown’s plan have circulated for some time, but she hasn’t offered much specificity to date. That changed Friday, as she unveiled a detailed set of options for lawmakers to consider.

PERS Plan Would Limit Tax Rebates, Affect School Retirement Benefits

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has released her long-awaited plan to tackle the state’s financially troubled public pension system. The governor’s proposal, made public Friday, includes a long list of ideas to raise around $3.3 billion over the next 16 years to shield Oregon schools from most of the rate hikes facing Oregon public employers. State leaders are trying to dig their way out of a pension debt now estimated at nearly $27 billion. The plan includes proposals that could affect taxpayers, the business community and the state’s 70,000 school employees. Among other things, it calls for capping next year’s “kicker” income tax rebate at $100 — a move that would divert up to $500 million from taxpayers into the PERS school rescue fund.

Tax proposal taps businesses for more school funds

Portland Tribune

Oregonians could pay less on their state income taxes but pay more for some goods and services, under a legislative proposal to raise money for the state’s struggling public school system. The long-awaited proposal will tax businesses just under one-half of 1 percent of their gross receipts of more than $1 million while cutting Oregonians’ income tax rates by a quarter of a percent for all but the top bracket. Sales of groceries, gasoline and diesel would not be taxed under the proposal. The smallest businesses — those that make less than $1 million in taxable revenue per year — will not be subject to the tax, nor will any that already pay the medical provider tax. Businesses that are taxed will be able to allay the impact by deducting one-quarter of either their labor costs or the amount they paid to other businesses during the course of the year.

Governor Brown to unveil plan to help schools cover PERS costs

East Oregonian

Two elements make budgeting a painful math exercise for the Umatilla School District: employee health benefits and retirement benefits. Right now, the school district pays about 8 percent of its budget, or $1.2 million, to the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System. In the next school year, that cost will go up an estimated $46,000. That may not seem like much, but for Umatilla it could mean cuts — especially if the state doesn’t come up with more money for schools. “If there’s any type of increase, that is a direct hit to what we can offer to students,” said Superintendent Heidi Sipe. “…PERS is a larger and larger percent of those expenses that’s hitting us harder and harder each year.”

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Halfway Home, Oregon Legislators Stioregonll Face Huge To-Do List

Oregon Public Broadcasting

When business closed at the Oregon Legislature Tuesday, a breakneck session became somewhat less hectic. Roughly halfway through the 2019 Oregon legislative session, April 9 marked the last day most bills could either be moved out of committee or shelved for another year. But while the list of fallen proposals included some notable bills — lowering the drunk driving limit and disarming campus police, among them — the real challenges lie ahead. Democrats still have a hefty to-do list: They want to raise $1 billion annually for schools, rejigger the state’s tax code, usher through ambitious gun legislation and pass a complicated proposal to cap carbon emissions. “I kind of feel like I’m surfing on a tsunami of taxes,” said House Minority Leader Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass. “Every inch of this building (is) firmly in their hands for the most part. So I think that they’re using that opportunity to do everything that they’ve wanted to do for years.”

Supporters Of $1B Oregon Education Plan Bring Wish Lists To Hearing

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon lawmakers looking to raise $1 billion in tax revenue to invest in public schools heard a familiar message Thursday: “Yes … and?” Early childhood advocates, supporters of increased mental health resources, students calling for smaller class sizes and expanded programs — they all urged the Joint Committee on Student Success to approve the $1 billion plan to support K-12 schools. In fact, no one argued against the bill that’s come out of more than a year of meetings. Instead, advocates for the state’s youngest children and students in college and universities pressed lawmakers to stretch the dollars to help their priorities as well.

Vape, tobacco retailers want nicotine tax bills to go up in smoke

Portland Tribune

Of the handful of nicotine-related tax initiatives, Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed $2 a pack tax increase has gotten the most attention. However, a proposed vaping tax ended up being the hot-button issue when the proposals got public hearings this week. Sixty-five people showed up Wednesday and Thursday to tell the House Revenue Committee how they felt about five bills being considered. Many others came to watch, packing the hearing room. If all passed, the proposals would collectively increase the tobacco tax by $2 per pack of cigarettes, remove the 50-cent tax cap on cigars and impose a 95 percent wholesale tax on electronic cigarettes. A vote on whether to pass the proposals out of committee hasn’t been scheduled.

2 More Leaving In Ongoing Shakeup Under New Oregon Secretary Of State

Oregon Public Broadcasting

In less than two weeks, new Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno has dramatically changed at least the public face of the office. In her first days in the position, Clarno ousted chief of staff Debra Royal, legal affairs director Steve Elzinga and deputy secretary Leslie Cummings. On April 5, she made further changes, sending a letter to Larry Morgan, who holds a unique position as the office’s citizen engagement and inclusion coordinator, announcing that the contract for his services will not be renewed when it expires at the end of June. And this week, a vocal critic of Oregon’s largest school district resigned her position as the secretary of state’s liaison to the state of education.

Oregon Lawmakers Want Answers On Out-Of-State Foster Care Kids

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon lawmakers questioned Child Welfare officials in a hearing Thursday. They wanted to know why the number of foster care children being sent out-of-state skyrocketed and how a 9-year-old could be sent to Montana for six months and never be checked on by a caseworker. “Something here has gone very, very wrong,” said Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, who chairs the Senate Committee on Human Services and convened the hearing. “We cannot ignore it and we have to keep this issue front and center until we are satisfied each of these kids are safe.”

LOCAL

Astoria school leaders back Student Success Act State lawmakers consider more money for education

Daily Astorian

The Student Success Act being debated at the state Legislature could add another $1.4 million a year to the Astoria School District’s budget, Superintendent Craig Hoppes said Wednesday. House Bill 2019, introduced last month by the Joint Committee on Student Success, calls for an additional $2 billion in K-12 funding per biennium starting in July to improve behavioral support, mental health and early learning opportunities. The money would likely come from a tax on businesses’ gross receipts above $150,000. In laying out the school district’s approach to creating a budget for the 2019-20 school year, Hoppes called the Student Success Act the best opportunity for new funding in his 22 years with the district. “It could have a really significant impact in our district,” he said.

Coos Bay lumber mill to be shutdown, Georgia-Pacific will lay off 111 workers

Statesman Journal

Georgia-Pacific Wood Products has notified employees at its Coos Bay lumber mill that it will shutter the facility and lay off all of the site’s 111 workers. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Georgia-Pacific’s western lumber general manager, Bill Goodman, wrote to state officials Thursday saying job cuts will begin June 10 and continue in phases until the Coos Bay facility is completely closed. The Atlanta-based pulp and paper company said Asian competition for Oregon logs made it more expensive to supply the Coos Bay mill. And Georgia-Pacific said the prolonged closure of Coos Bay’s swing span railroad bridge made it more difficult to ship products from the site.

Linn, Benton counties declare emergencies

Albany Democrat Herald

Linn and Benton counties each declared emergencies on Thursday due to recent flooding, which would allow them to assess damage and calculate estimated losses for possible state or federal relief funds. In Linn County, Board Chairman Roger Nyquist and Commissioner Will Tucker held a special meeting. Commissioner John Lindsey was not present. “The good news is that to our knowledge, there has not been any loss of life,” Nyquist said. “This also reminds us of how interconnected we are in the mid-valley in terms of residents traveling to and from their places of employment. When a major highway is turned into a river, it seriously affects traffic flow for all of us.”

Pendleton City Council wants public opinion on street revenue ideas

East Oregonian

The Pendleton City Council is taking its options for raising more revenue for street maintenance on the road. Council members gathered Tuesday for a workshop, where Mayor John Turner distributed a sheet of revenue ideas to each councilor. Turner emphasized that these were not ironclad proposals, but ideas meant to spur public discussion as council members present them to community groups. Turner said the city had about $1.2 million in the upcoming fiscal year for street maintenance funding, but needed another million dollars to start fixing a deteriorating street system.

OPINION

Letter: Bill threatens mill jobs

Daily Astorian

In my 19 years of service at Wauna, I’ve seen how our industry is changing, the intensely competitive nature of paper-making, and how pennies per case really do matter. While most people probably don’t care about where their toilet paper is made, they should. Because the stuff we make at the Wauna mill is some of the greenest (not literally), most sustainable that you’ll find anywhere in the world. It’s clear that state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell doesn’t care much about that. Her recent declaration of support for the proposed cap and trade legislation is pretty much a “closing soon” sign out in front of our mill (“North Coast needs clean energy jobs,” The Daily Astorian, April 4). Just ask our colleagues at the Camas (Washington) mill and the loss of the jobs there.

Letter: Arrogant and dismissive

Daily Astorian

I work at the Wauna paper mill, and I am offended by the arrogant and dismissive words that state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell recently directed toward hardworking people in her district (“North Coast needs clean energy jobs,” The Daily Astorian, April 4). For her to say that Oregon’s proposed cap and trade legislation doesn’t put hundreds of local jobs at risk is an outright lie.

Letter: Local jobs at risk

Daily Astorian

I’m writing to correct some misinformation provided by state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell via a recent guest column, “North Coast needs clean energy jobs” (The Daily Astorian, April 4). Unfortunately, her support for the cap and trade bill glosses over the devastating consequences for hardworking men and women within Oregon’s pulp and paper industry.

April 11, 2019 Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Gov. Kate Brown signs reduced 2020 kicker rebate into law

Oregonlive

It’s official: The collective “kicker” tax rebate Oregonians will likely receive when they file in 2020 is going to be $108 million smaller, thanks to a bill Gov. Kate Brown signed into law on Wednesday. At the last forecast in February, state economists predicted Oregon’s one-of-a-kind personal income tax rebate could reach $748.5 million. At that time, economists estimated that individuals earning the median adjusted gross income of $35,000 to $36,000 would receive kickers of roughly $180.

Lawmakers unveil spending plans for $2 billion corporate tax hike

Oregonlive

Oregon lawmakers would give local school districts wide latitude on how they spend $2 billion in new tax money under a framework introduced in Salem this week. The proposed tax hike has been proceeding on two tracks during the current legislative session. One is preparing a plan to raise $2 billion in each two-year budget cycle from new businesses taxes. The other track is considering how to use the money. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Student Success has been working for more than a year to set priorities for Oregon’s schools, from kindergarten through high school. The Democratic-led committee says it visited 77 schools last year to gather input.

Lawmakers roll out billion-dollar plan for student success

Portland Tribune

Oregon would enact a new tax on businesses and raise more than $1 billion annually for public schools under a legislative proposal released Thursday, April 4, after more than a year in development. Three leaders of the Joint Committee on Student Success briefed reporters on a House bill aimed at prioritizing early childhood education, student mental health and district initiatives to improve graduation rates and other priorities.

Astoria school leaders back Student Success Act

The Daily Astorian

The Student Success Act being debated at the state Legislature could add another $1.4 million a year to the Astoria School District’s budget, Superintendent Craig Hoppes said Wednesday. House Bill 2019, introduced last month by the Joint Committee on Student Success, calls for an additional $2 billion in K-12 funding per biennium starting in July to improve behavioral support, mental health and early learning opportunities. The money would likely come from a tax on businesses’ gross receipts above $150,000.

Oregon lawmakers want to make cold meds available without a prescription

Oregonlive

Oregonians would once again be able to buy cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine without a prescription under a bill up for a vote on Thursday in the Oregon House. House Bill 2303 would not give those drugs the same status as common over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin or acetaminophen. Instead, pharmacies would need to store products containing pseudoephedrine under lock and key. But people who wanted to purchase them could do so without a prescription, as long as they are 18 or older and can produce a government-issued photo ID.

Advocates Say Oregon Foster Child Abandoned, Drugged Out Of State

Oregon Public Broadcasting

A 9-year-old Oregon girl in foster care has been largely abandoned by state regulators charged with her care and sometimes drugged in an out-of-state facility, advocates say. In October, two Oregon Child Welfare officials flew to Montana with the girl to drop her off at a 105-bed psychiatric residential treatment facility. For six months, no one from Oregon’s Child Welfare office visited her. But there is no record of any contracted case worker checking on the 9-year-old child either, according to the girl’s attorney and a state senator.

Lawmakers Announce Funding For Portland Bus Rapid Transit Project

Oregon Public Broadcasting

 A group of Oregon’s congressional Democratic lawmakers announced Wednesday more than $87 million in funding for the Division Bus Rapid Transit Project — a public transit project that is expected to provide faster trips between downtown Portland, southeast and east Portland and Gresham. Oregon U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Oregon U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said the federal funding for the project will improve mobility for the region.

Your tax dollars at work: cities, counties spend big for bills, policies

Portland Tribune

Lobbying is largely synonymous with interest groups, but every year, government agencies big and small spend money to amplify their interests at the Capitol. Yet lobbyists for the city or county you live in or the public university your children attend are working at taxpayer expense in the Capitol with the hope of gaining influence. “That’s our tax dollars lobbying for more tax dollars,” said Julie Parrish, a former state representative. In 2017, the city of Portland spent more on lobbying than any other government body. In fact, at $353,391, the city was the sixth biggest spender out of all organizations lobbying the Legislature.

Megadairy regulation proposals die in Oregon Legislature as key deadline passes

Statesman Journal

Efforts to tighten rules for new and expanded megadairies, launched in response to a regulatory and environmental disaster at Oregon’s newest large dairy, have failed. Senate Bill 876, put forward by a legislative work group that met for months, died in committee Tuesday as a key deadline to move measures forward passed. So did two related bills pushed by a coalition of 22 health, environment and animal welfare groups. “Even the most reasonable reforms were blocked by lobbyists working with these big corporate agribusinesses,” said Ivan Maluski, policy director for Salem-based Friends of Family Farmers.

Oregon Court Of Appeals Ruling Upholds State’s Nonunanimous Juries

Oregon Public Broadcasting

In a ruling Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the state’s unique nonunanimous jury law. The case stemmed from the 2017 conviction of Olan Williams, an African American man. Williams was convicted of sodomy by a jury in Multnomah County. The verdict was split, with 10 jurors voting to convict and two dissenting. One of the dissenting jurors was an African American woman. Effectively, Williams argued he was denied a jury of his peers. In his appeal, he said the nonunanimous provision of the Oregon Constitution violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled it couldn’t review the case.

LOCAL

Hundreds rally in downtown Portland to push for education funding

Oregonlive

They demanded counselors. Smaller class sizes. Books. Teachers from across the metro area took to Pioneer Courthouse Square Wednesday to press the Oregon Legislature for more funding to beef up offerings in public schools. Speakers such as Evan Selby, a 23-year educator at Reynolds High School, called for tax increases on corporations across the state to boost funding for schools. “Nike is morally and ethically obligated to help funding our schools,” the social studies teacher said through a bullhorn to a crowd of hundreds gathered amidst a light drizzle.

Teachers ‘stand up, fight back’ at downtown rally

Portland Tribune

Hundreds of Portland-area teachers filled Pioneer Courthouse Square Wednesday afternoon to rally for better public school funding from Oregon lawmakers. The April 10 “Take it to the MAX” rally included teachers and school employees from several school districts who rode MAX trains and gathered downtown for increased education funding by state legislators. Teachers gathered, chanted and waved signs and banners.

New Technology Will Help Northwest Forest Managers Assess Wildfire Danger

Oregon Public Broadcasting

A tool forest managers use to determine the level of fire danger is getting its first update in more than 40 years. The National Fire Danger Rating System uses information like temperature, humidity and wind to let firefighters know how wildfire will behave. “It allows us to combine a lot of information to produce a very simple categorical scale of fire weather conditions for a particular place on a particular day,” said U.S. Forest Service researcher Matt Jolly.

New study examines Clatsop County’s housing crunch

Daily Astorian

Clatsop County should do more to support diverse housing at higher densities and control vacation rentals to address an affordable housing shortage. The recommendations are the product of a nearly yearlong, countywide study that was commissioned by the county and five cities. On Wednesday, Johnson Economics and Angelo Planning Group presented a draft of the final report to the county Board of Commissioners, which outlined several suggestions on how local governments could adapt codes, zoning requirements and other regulations to encourage affordable housing.

OPINION

Letters: Climate change will cost Oregon millions

Portland Tribune

State Rep. David Brock Smith wrote a letter to the editor saying, “HB 2020 will devastate Oregon families, their communities and the businesses that support them.” He claimed Oregonians contribute only 0.14 percent of carbon emissions and said the director of DEQ described that as “minuscule.” Oregonians represent 0.055 percent of the world’s population. If Oregonians emit 0.14 percent of the world’s carbon, they emit over 2.5 times as much carbon as the rest of the world per capita. Yet he said nothing about this. Neither did he mention the lives that would be lost. A study by the Climate Impact Lab states, “by the year 2099, even with economic growth and adaptation, 1.5 million more people will die each year around the world because of increased heat. By comparison, 1.25 million people died in 2013 in all traffic accidents world-wide.” How much are 1.5 million lives lost per year due to increased heat worth?

Bill to end most exemptions a bad idea

Oregonlive

The current measles outbreak was not spread in a school setting. So why are Oregon lawmakers currently pushing a law that would permanently ban unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children from day care and schools? Healthy unvaccinated children do not harbor illness or viruses. They cannot spread what they do not have. I thought that education was important to Oregon’s elected officials. In Oregon, there is already a law that unvaccinated children must be excluded from school during an outbreak of a contagious disease such as the measles. Why would anyone want to make the quarantine permanent? What is the point of denying perfectly healthy kids an education or after-school activities?

“AMERICA WILL NEVER BE A SOCIALIST COUNTRY” – Trump

TEA PARTY rally nationwide on APRIL 15: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/04/01/tea-party-rally-tax-day-nationwide/

Rally to stop SOCIALISM on APRIL 15: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ecH4KYtxYA

The Ash Heap of History: https://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2019/02/07

Democratic Presidential Primary: https://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2019/02/09

He’s the Future?  https://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2019/03/05

Electrical Shortage in Venezuela:  https://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2019/03/16

Americans for Liberty PAC

Upholding the Constitution in the Tradition of our Founding Fathers

Executive Director Lanny Hildebrandt

1615 4th Street

La Grande, OR  97850

(541) 963-7930

April 9, 2019 Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Gov. Brown’s plan to protect schools from pension costs likely falls short

Oregonlive

Much of the intrigue in this year’s legislative session centers around lawmakers’ push to raise corporate taxes by $2 billion to better fund Oregon’s struggling K-12 schools. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Gov. Kate Brown is aggressively shaking the sofa cushions of state government in a companion effort to protect that investment from being spent on school districts’ increasing pension costs. It’s a desperate attempt to take action that everyone agrees is needed. But it appears that for all of Brown’s efforts, she’ll come up short — an illustration of the sheer size of the pension problem and the paucity of available revenue streams to address it.

Oregon Considers Cigarette Tax Hike To Match Neighbors — And Fund Health Care

Oregon Public Broadcasting

The display cases at Paul’s Cigars, in the North Portland enclave of Hayden Island, offer an impressive array. Dozens of varieties of stogies sit in ornate boxes, their pungent potential locked away behind glass. Owner John Paul has spent years amassing this inventory. And lately as he’s surveyed his collection, he’s begun doing a quiet math: “This $10 cigar will be going to $13.50,” said Paul, pointing out products on a recent tour around his store. “That one’s gonna go up $3 a stick. This one will go up about $4 and a quarter a stick.”

Oregon Effort To Add Density In Many Neighborhoods Gains Momentum

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek’s plan to increase density in single-family neighborhoods around the state appears to be gaining political momentum. The bill was unanimously approved by a House committee Monday after the Portland Democrat agreed to make several changes. Republicans said their initial worries that the legislation would trample on local control have largely been satisfied. “I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, I actually like the speaker’s bill,’” said Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, after Kotek unveiled the changes at a hearing last week.

Bills target pensions

Mail Tribune

Current and future public employees wouldn’t have as generous a retirement under initiative petitions being pushed by business interests in yet another effort to reform the state’s notoriously complex and expensive retirement system. The effort has attracted two big names in Oregon politics — former Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Chris Telfer, a former state senator and currently a member of the Oregon Lottery Commission. Kulongoski and Telfer say the amount that local governments, like cities and school districts, pay to the Public Employees Retirement System each year is poised to grow so much that they will struggle to provide basic services.

Bill to lower Oregon’s drunken driving limit stalls in Salem

Oregonlive

A bill to lower the legal blood alcohol limit in Oregon to .05 percent will not move forward in Salem this year. Sen. President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, confirmed Monday that his Senate Bill 7, which calls for Oregon to lower its drunken driving limit from .08 to .05 percent blood alcohol content, is dead. “We’re not going to do it this session,” Courtney said of his attempt to impose tougher blood alcohol content rules. “I’m not surprised. I do know that we have made progress.”

Oregon looks at regulating kratom, a drug sold at many corner markets

Oregonlive

Oregon lawmakers looking at regulating the drug kratom, currently sold without any rules or oversight at gas stations and corner markets around the state. Kratom is made from the leaves of a tree native to southeast Asia and, when ingested, can have effect similar to both a stimulant and an opioid. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the proposal to regulate kratom at an 8:15 a.m. Tuesday meeting. The proposal was previously reported by the Portland Mercury.

Adi’s Act: State invests to save students’ lives

Portland Tribune

A handful of bills making their way through the Legislature changes the way Oregon deals with suicide-prevention for young people. Oregonians die by suicide at a rate well above the national average. Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Legislature have taken notice. This spring, a number of proposals are before the Legislature to bolster state and local officials’ ability to respond to and prevent suicides — including one that would bring Oregon in line with most states by requiring every public school district to adopt a suicide prevention plan.

LOCAL

Oregon Wolf Population Increases, With Jump In Livestock Attacks

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon’s population of wolves increased by 10% last year. There are now 137 of them in the state, according the state’s annual report on wolf management released Monday. The number of wolf attacks on cattle and sheep, which also increased by 65%, for a total of 28. However, Derek Broman, carnivore and furbearer coordinator for Oregon Fish and Wildlife, said since wolves’ return in 2009, the overall rate of livestock attacks, known as depredations, has not kept pace with the minimum population.

Oregon Bicyclists Could Treat Stop Signs As Yields Under Low-Key Proposal

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Cyclists around Oregon could treat stop signs and blinking red lights as yield signs, under a bill that looks likely to pass a legislative committee. For what appears to be the first time in a decade, the “Idaho stop” is back up for consideration in Salem. The proposal, modeled after a policy passed in Idaho in the ‘80s, would allow bicycles leeway to keep rolling when approaching a stop sign or blinking red light. If there are no other vehicles with the right of way, cyclists could legally proceed without coming to a complete stop.

Budget cuts target beloved community officer in Corbett

Portland Tribune

Facing $4 million shortfall, sheriff proposes unpopular staff reductions. Staff at the Corbett Water District were worried a customer made a threat involving a gun because he was mad about his high water bill.  So a staff member called Deputy Joe “Rocky” Graziano, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office’s (MCSO) Corbett community resource officer. Graziano knew the individual, and he thought it may not have been a threat, but rather a poorly worded joke.

The worst of Lane County flooding has passed, weather service advises

The Register-Guard

As the National Weather Service’s flood warning timed out at 7:45 p.m. Monday, most of the rivers with high water in Lane County had crested and were on their way back below flood stages, said Matthew Cullen, meteorologist Weather Service in Portland. Parks and other riverside land might be inundated for a couple more days, but he said that the worst of the flooding had passed. Rain lingers in the forecast for the rest of the week, but it will likely be light and scattered showers rather than driving, heavy rain. So, he said flooding concerns should lessen throughout the week.

Partnership forms to fight fires from the river

Daily Astorian

In 2014, the Port of Astoria took ownership of the Trident, a federally funded emergency response boat with high-tech equipment and two water cannons, promising to add a new dimension to waterfront firefighting. Since then, the boat has mostly languished on a floating mattress at the West Mooring Basin, its electronics slowly breaking down because of a lack of maintenance. But with several firefighters freshly trained on the Trident and an agreement forming between the Port and the city to operate it, there is hope the vessel will be available to help fight fires.

NATIONAL

Measles Outbreak: New York Declares Health Emergency, Requires Vaccinations in Parts of Brooklyn

The New York Times

New York City on Tuesday declared a public health emergency following a measles outbreak in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city would require unvaccinated individuals living in select ZIP codes in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to receive the measles vaccine as the city escalated its efforts to stem one of the largest measles outbreaks in decades. The measure follows a spike in measles cases in New York City, where there have been 285 confirmed cases since the outbreak began in the fall; 21 of those cases led to hospitalizations, including five admissions to the intensive care unit. The majority of the cases have been concentrated in Hasidic communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn. Across the country, there have been 465 measles cases since the start of 2019, with 78 new cases in the last week alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.