Daily Clips

Apartment construction is drying up. Is affordable housing measure to blame?

The Oregonian

Portland’s apartment-building binge appears to be headed off a cliff.

Applications for new housing developments have nearly ground to a halt over the past year, and there are plenty of reasons for that. Construction costs have ballooned, as have land prices. The glut of new construction, meanwhile, has taken the wind out of rising rents, at least at the high end. But Portland officials are increasingly worried the city’s inclusionary zoning policy, which compels developers to set aside rent-restricted units in large apartment and condo projects, might be playing a role, too. And if home construction dries up, it could ultimately push housing costs even higher. Only 12 privately financed developments large enough to trigger the mandate, totaling 654 units, have sought building permits since the policy took effect last year. A more typical year in the recent housing boom has seen thousands of new apartments proposed. Those projects would create 89 units geared toward households earning significantly less than the median income.


Salem Lobbyists Slapped For Wasting Capitol’s Broadband

Willamette Week

In a Feb. 15 email to Capitol Club members, Penn said that the excessive usage was forcing the implementation of a new password or “prompt” to rein in excessive streaming.

Here’s how Penn explained the change to his colleagues:

Why do we need a prompt?


The simple reason for changing the Capitol’s “open” environment to a “captive portal” is security and WIFI bandwidth issues.  Legislative Admin’s IT department is now blocking certain websites in the Capitol area on the free public wifi – these include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, dating sites, gambling sites and gaming sites. They are retaining that new block at this time. Since implementing the changes, IT has seen over 322,000 attempts to access streaming video sites like Amazon, Hulu, HBOGO and others.  That is within the last three days.  Before this change, users were seeing significant reductions in bandwidth and access issues and they hope this will assist with connectivity within the building going forward.  Video streaming of non-business related content was consuming 40% of the available bandwidth, which negatively impacted folks trying to do work while connected to the public wireless.


Aging seniors create workforce boom for retirement homes, assisted living facilities

Albany Democrat-Herald

From 2001 to 2016, the most recent full year data is available from the Oregon Employment Department, the number of private nursing home and residential care workers in Linn and Benton counties increased from 1,893 to 2,481, a jump of roughly 31 percent. Nursing and retirement home employees now make up more than 3 percent of total workers in the mid-Willamette Valley, O’Connor said.


Editorial: Meth remains a scourge in Oregon

Mail Tribune

New numbers released last week tell at least some of the story in Oregon: The Oregon Health Authority, using information gathered from death certificates, reported 141 meth-related deaths in the state during 2016. (Statistics for 2017 are not yet available.) That 2016 number represents a considerable boost from 2012, a year that saw 51 overdose deaths from meth, the Health Authority said. In terms of fatalities, the 2016 toll from meth was just slightly less than the toll from opioids: The Health Authority reported 149 deaths from pharmaceutical and synthetic opioid overdoses in 2016.


The FBI said it failed to act on a tip about the suspected Florida school shooter’s potential for violence

The Washington Post

The FBI ignored a warning that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz might attack a school, failing to act on a call just weeks before Cruz allegedly carried out a shooting rampage at a high school in South Florida on Valentine’s Day, the bureau said Friday. The disclosure came two days after police say Cruz gunned down 17 people, most of them teenagers, at a high school in Parkland, Fla. The FBI — already facing intense scrutiny for its handling of political matters — described a Jan. 5 tip from “a person close to Nikolas Cruz,” a tip officials acknowledge should have initiated a response. The caller reported concerns about Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” the FBI said in a statement.


Trump backs efforts to improve federal gun background checks, White House says

Fox News

The White House revealed on Sunday that President Trump would support a push to improve the nation’s system of background checks for would-be gun buyers, days after the shooting massacre at the high school in Parkland, Florida. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump spoke on Friday to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn about a bill the Texas Republican had introduced alongside Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., which would “improve federal compliance with criminal background check legislation.” Sanders continued, “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”


Facebook will use postcards to verify political ads after Russian meddling


Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to sway the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director, Katie Harbath, told a meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State in Washington on Saturday that the company would send postcards to potential buyers of political ads to confirm they reside in the U.S. The recipient would then have to enter a code in Facebook to continue buying the ad. The method will first apply to ads that name candidates ahead of the midterm elections in November, said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone.


House Democrats approve bill eroding protections for vulnerable Oregonians receiving end-of-life care




Salem, Ore. – On a party-line vote, House Democrats today voted to approve legislation that erodes protections for vulnerable Oregonians receiving end of life care. Under current law, end-of-life decisions and advanced directive orders are protected by a specific process outlined in Oregon statute. HB 4135 has the potential to transfer power away from patients and into the hands of health care representatives and would task an unelected committee with shaping advanced directive laws moving forward.


“Under HB 4135, the legal authority of a health care representative in the state of Oregon could change to allow a health care representative to make a life-ending decision for an incapable person without his or her specific prior written consent in situations where a health care representative does not have this authority under current law,” said Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence).


Republicans argued the erosion of these protections could lead to unintended consequences related to the end-of-life care of Oregonians. Republicans were also critical of the process that produced HB 4135, citing the exclusion of pro-life advocates from participating in shaping the policy and the rushed nature of the bill’s passage.


“This bill is the perfect example of why Republicans are so critical of short sessions,” said Representative Bill Kennemer (R-Canby/Oregon City. “Just over two weeks into a legislative session, we are talking about significantly changing a law that has been on the books for more than 25 years. Surely an issue as important as this deserves more consideration than that. I am also concerned to hear that some opponents were excluded from policy discussions on this topic and that this measure was passed along party lines”


HB 4135 passed the House by a vote of 35-25.




Kate Brown Playing Politics With Lives of Foster Children


Kate Brown Playing Politics With Lives of Foster Children is “Enough to Make Your Blood Boil”

Oregon GOP Chair Says Governor’s Silence and Attacks on Audit Effectively Adds Her to List of Abusers

Wilsonville, OR – Democrat Governor Kate Brown has been caught playing politics with the future of children under state care while she continues to be slammed by the press for refusing to even acknowledge the crisis. Despite an audit outlining systemic failures in the state’s foster care system, leaving some children facing starvation, Kate Brown has resorted to petty partisan politics, attacking the audit rather than addressing its findings.


Now, the Bend Bulletin is again taking Brown to task, writing that Brown’s decision to play politics with the lives of Oregon foster children should be “enough to make your blood boil” and is “an outrage.”


Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, has been largely silent about the audit and what it found, even as members of her staff have accused Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a Republican, of using his auditing authority to his own political ends. Our kids deserve better.


…[Oregon children] deserve a governor who, upon reading the SOS audit, reacts with the outrage the audit deserves and a Legislature that can agree — with or without the governor’s approval — that our children deserve at least as much attention as a scheme to tax carbon emissions


Yet Oregon’s most endangered children, those who cannot live safely in their own homes, get neither. That’s an outrage, even if the governor and lawmakers don’t get it.


“By having her minions attack the audit while she remains deafeningly silent about the appalling neglect of foster children on her watch, Kate Brown is effectively adding herself to the list of foster kid abusers,” stated Oregon Republican Chairman Bill Currier.

“Oregon children deserve so much better than a governor who cares more about passing tax hikes to please her California billionaire buddy and the Big Government Unions than helping vulnerable children in need.  Of course, they make big contributions to her political re-election campaign.  These abused foster kids don’t.  This just proves that in a Brown administration, special interest politics comes first, while foster kids have to pay the price,” said Chair Currier.

“Another week, another scandal, and Oregon voters have yet another reason to end her disastrous governorship this November.”


Link to Online Posting:




The Oregon Republican Party is the state’s arm of the Republican National Committee. Its Chairman and officers are dedicated to promoting Republican principles within the state of Oregon and to improving the lives and livelihoods of Oregon’s working families through economic freedom and equal protection under the law.



The Senate should let HJR 203 die




Register-Guard on Health Care Constitutional Amendment:

“The Senate should let HJR 203 die.”


Editorial: A costly, or empty, promise

Register-Guard Editorial Board


Everyone ought to have health care. Everyone ought to have a job, too — and housing, and healthy breakfasts, and safe neighborhoods. Oregonians should not have a constitutional right to any of these things, however, unless the state is prepared to ensure that they are provided. The state is in no position to make such guarantees, yet on Tuesday the House of Representatives voted to place a measure on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would add the right to health care to the Oregon Constitution.


House Joint Resolution 203 proposes the following constitutional amendment: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.” The resolution passed on a party-line vote, with all 35 Democrats in support and all 25 Republicans in opposition. It now goes to the Senate.


The Legislative Counsel’s office doesn’t know whether HJR 203 is a costly promise, or an empty one: “Within the range of options available to the Legislative Assembly to ensure access to health care,” the office wrote in its analysis, “one could imagine mechanisms that would have minimal financial impact on the state as well as mechanisms that would have enormous financial consequences for the state.”


It all depends on how many weasel words lawyers could find in a constitutional amendment declaring health care to be a fundamental right. It might be argued that language in HJR 203 doesn’t actually guarantee health care, but “access to” health care — so the state could fulfill its obligation by publishing a directory of clinics and hospitals.


Others, however, would argue that if voters approve the amendment, their clear intent is that everyone should have health care, and that the state must pay the cost for anyone who doesn’t have it. The League of Women Voters of Oregon, a reliable ally of legislators seeking to expand access to health care, said it could not support HJR 203 because of its creation of an implied state responsibility.


If the amendment contained in HJR 203 does not bind the state to provide health care, it’s a piece of feel-good legislation that would add clutter to the state Constitution. If it would create an actual right to health care, Oregonians should determine the cost, and figure out how to pay it, before making the promise. Either way, the Senate should let HJR 203 die.




Click here to view this editorial online.


Daily Clips

Poll: GOP gains on generic ballot, Trump approval ticks upward


Republicans have erased the Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that, for the first time since April, also shows President Donald Trump’s approval rating equaling the percentage of voters who disapprove of his job performance. Fully 39 percent of registered voters say they would support the GOP candidate for Congress in their district, while 38 percent would back the Democratic candidate. Nearly a quarter of voters, 23 percent, are undecided.




Oregon House Democrats pass universal health care proposal, amid questions over cost

The Oregonian

The Oregon House voted along party lines Tuesday to ask voters in November to embed a universal right to health care in the state Constitution.


At the same time, a group that often agrees with progressive policies championed by Democrats is sounding the alarm about the potential impact. In Feb. 5 letter to the House Health Care Committee, the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Oregon wrote that the group supports access to basic health care for all people at the national level. Pinning it to the state level instead would be a mistake, the group said.


In letters to Greenlick and Parrish, chief legislative counsel Dexter Johnson wrote that the constitutional amendment would only require the state to provide access to “cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable” health care, but the state wouldn’t have to provide actual health care. Some of the Legislature’s options to fulfill such a mandate could carry a minimal cost, Johnson wrote, while others would have “enormous financial consequences for the state.”


“There is always a possibility that the state could be sued for failing to follow a constitutional mandate, but we cannot say whether such a suit would be successful and, if so, what the maximum extent of the state’s liability would be,” Johnson wrote in his response to Parrish.


Oregon State Lawmakers Vote To Make Health Care A Right

Oregon Public Broadcasting

House member and dentist Cedric Hayden, R-Fall Creek, said access to quality health care is a basic need, like food and water. But not a right. “I believe health care is very important. It needs to be stable. But I also believe that our foster care system is important, our education system is important, our environment is important, and the jobs that we create for Oregonians are important,” he said. “Clearly, we all want Oregonians to have access to basic health care services, but to advance a constitutional amendment that has the potential to radically change our state in ways we do not yet understand strikes me as incredibly risky.”


Oregon state lawmakers vote to make health care a right

Associated Press

Rep. Mike McLane, the House Republican leader, tried to convince legislators to vote no by highlighting the uncertainties about how health care would be funded in Oregon. “What’s been said today is there is no plan. We have no idea how much it will cost,” McLane said.


Capitol roundup: No holiday for lawmakers

Bend Bulletin

Democrats touted the resolution as an important “aspirational” statement to counterbalance the Trump administration’s moves to weaken or eliminate the Affordable Care Act. “If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be here — I would be dead,” said Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, a cancer survivor. Republicans argued it was an election-year stunt with no mechanism for ensuring the right to health care, leaving the state open to litigation and unknown expenses. “What’s been said today is there is no plan — we have no idea how much it will cost,” said House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte. Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, and Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, voted no.


Carbon sequestration proposed as ‘cap-and-trade’ alternative

Portland Tribune

Under House Bill 4109, the study would also examine “regional approaches” to reduce carbon emissions “other than adopting or participating in a greenhouse cap-and-trade system.” Oregon’s annual wildfires emit more carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, fine particulates and volatile organic compounds than industrial sources or vehicles, said Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, the bill’s chief sponsor. Supporters of HB 4109 argue it would encourage discussions about thinning over-stocked federal lands that are prone to catastrophic forest fires.


Gallbladder surgery keeps Senate from voting on unpopular tax bill

Statesman Journal

At issue is that SB 1528, in its current form, creates a net revenue-loss. It raises $80 million per biennium, but only when looked at in reference to current tax law, which includes the federal changes. If Oregon does nothing and remains tied to federal tax code as written, the state could lose an estimated $200 million per biennium. SB 1528 would make it so the state would lose $120 million. “I think Peter’s office didn’t really realize that until just this week,” said Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton. Hass, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue, said the Democratic caucus hadn’t yet discussed sending the bill back to committee, but Courtney, through a spokesman, confirmed later in the day that it would be.


Oregon Senate passes bill to tax repatriated money, delays vote on second tax bill

The Oregonian

In contrast, Democrats delayed a vote on a controversial companion bill that they say would prevent certain businesses from double-dipping on state tax breaks. They could push back the vote until next week, given that a key supporter – Sen. Chuck Riley of Hillsboro – is absent while he recovers from surgery. That delay signals that Democrats, who hold a 17-13 seat majority in the Senate and need only a simple majority of 16 to pass the plan, likely face united opposition by Republicans as well as a member of their own caucus. “We want to make sure we have all the votes in line and we’re down a few members,” said Sen. Mark Hass of Beaverton, chair of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee that drafted the bill. “I think we’re gonna be okay.”


Senate works to reverse budget impact of federal tax bill

Portland Tribune

Anthony Smith, a lobbyist for the Oregon chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, says that the bill will mean that the state’s small businesses will pay $212 million more in taxes in 2018 than they would if the Legislature did nothing. The bill also allows sole proprietorships to qualify for the state’s lower rates — if they also met certain other qualifications — and increases the state personal exemption credit, which is money a taxpayer can deduct for themselves and any dependents. But Smith maintains that the increase in taxes due to the loss of the deduction is greater than the benefits for small businesses.


Potential Corporate Tax Windfall Could Help With Oregon Pension Debt

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Sen. Brian Boquist, the top Republican on the finance committee, called the estimate “overly highly speculative” and said the state really doesn’t know how much it might collect from major corporations like Nike. In any case, Boquist added, several corporate officials thought the state was wrong in how they were interpreting the new federal law and that “they thought they were supposed to pay.”


Cancer risk doubles in industry-backed toxic air plan for Oregon

The Oregonian

For nearly the last two years, state regulators, scientists, advocates and businesses interests have met in public to come up with a plan to cut toxic air pollution statewide. But before it can be adopted, the state Legislature is stepping in with its own plan, crafted in secret and backed by industry. A group that includes two Democratic senators, a Republican senator, regulators and two industry lobbyists is drafting legislation that would do less to reduce toxic air pollution than what Gov. Kate Brown proposed in response to Portland’s 2016 toxic air crisis. No environmental groups or public health advocates were invited to participate in the lawmakers’ closed-door discussions.


Feds grants Oregon $54M to stabilize health insurance market

Portland Business Journal

“This federal funding recognizes our work to provide comprehensive health insurance options for Oregonians,” DCBS Director Cameron Smith said in a statement. “The Oregon Reinsurance Program will help provide market stability for over 200,000 individuals, and encourage insurance companies to offer plans in every corner of the state.”


Confused by Oregon Political Campaign Ads During the Olympics? Get Used to Them, Even Out of Election Season

Willamette Week

Political campaigns typically blanket the airwaves with ads during election season. But eagle-eyed viewers flipping between Blazers games and Olympic events have noticed something novel: dueling TV ads arguing about bills currently being weighed by the Oregon Legislature. The subject? The so-called “Clean Energy Jobs Bills,” which aim to reduce carbon emissions with taxes on big polluters and use the money to invest in green jobs. Viewers can’t vote on these bills. But they’re being urged to call their legislators and make demands.


Oregon Governor declares addiction a public health crisis

Associated Press

Brown on Tuesday announced an executive order setting a deadline for the state Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop a statewide plan to combat the problem, with intermediary deadlines as early as September. The plan would lay out steps for state agencies to ease access to recovery, treatment and prevention services.


Vicki Walker gets temporary top job at Oregon Department of State Lands


Vicki Walker, a former longtime state lawmaker from Eugene, was appointed interim director of the Oregon Department of State Lands on Tuesday. Walker, a Eugene resident, was the unanimous choice of Gov. Kate Brown, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and state Treasurer Tobias Read — the three members of the State Land Board — from a pool of five candidates.


Rep. Findley working on multiple house bills

Ontario Argus Observer

“I’m working hard to get these bills to the governor’s desk,” Findley said in a news release. “I believe these are good policies that would improve the quality of life for Oregonians around the state,” he said, adding that he hopes to sign on to other bills before the session is over.


Oregon’s puppy mill bill could be expanded to include rescue organizations

Statesman Journal

Oregon’s puppy mill bill won’t get a vote this year, but legislators will consider a bigger crackdown on pet sales and adoptions in 2019. House Bill 4045 would require dogs sold in pet storesto come from an animal shelter, humane society, dog control district or rescue organization. At a hearing on the bill Tuesday, supporters argued the proposal doesn’t go far enough. The legislation should be expanded to include cats, several people said.




Trump Tax Cuts Force a Portland Affordable Housing Developer to Cut Costs—By Trimming Wages

Willamette Week

The Trump tax cuts have blown a hole in affordable housing budgets across the country, even as construction costs in Portland continue to rise. That’s because tax breaks lower the value of tax credits, which are used to finance affordable housing.




Federal prosecutor Ryan Bounds resigns as chair of bar association’s equity committee

The Oregonian

“I write to you today with a heavy heart,” it read. “Unfortunately it has come to my attention that the board seeks my resignation, citing editorials I wrote as a college student nearly a quarter-century ago. I have acknowledged that those editorials were poorly worded and ill-conceived pronouncements of a youth who had much to learn about the world. I sincerely wish the board would judge me not on decades-old words, but by the work we have done together.”


ICE Arrests in the Pacific Northwest Increased 25 Percent in 2017

Willamette Week

The Seattle field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which covers Oregon, Washington and Alaska, arrested 3,376 people in 2017—a 25-percent increase from 2016. The jump in arrests was the sharpest increase on the West Coast, according to data published by the Pew Research Center, though agents working for field offices in California still detained thousands more undocumented immigrants than those working in the Pacific Northwest.




Who might be on the short list for Kruse’s replacement?

Roseburg News-Review

Heard declined comment Monday on whether he would seek the Senate seat. He said the current legislative short session has been time consuming, and because of the number of large, complex bills being rapidly pushed through, he hasn’t had time to focus on anything else. “I am focused diligently on doing the people’s work during this extremely stressful short session,” he said.


Brock Smith could not be reached for comment.


Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman, who served as a representative in the House prior to becoming a county commissioner, said many people had asked him if he intended to run for the seat. “Although honored by these requests, I have decided not to seek nor accept an appointment to the Oregon State Senate District 1,” he said in a written statement. “My focus since leaving the Legislature has been solely on the challenging and rewarding work as one of your Douglas County commissioners. I hope to continue this important work and continue serving my constituents to the best of my ability in this capacity,” Freeman wrote.


On Twitter, Oregon’s Top Officials Are Swarmed by Bots

Willamette Week

WW used Twitter Audit on seven of the biggest names in Oregon politics. It didn’t take long to spot a trend: Oregon’s governor and both U.S. senators, all Democrats, have huge followings—made mostly of bots. The state’s top Republicans have far smaller audiences, but they’re more real.




Medford schools to ask voters for $25 million

Mail Tribune

The decision on whether to fund new career and technical education facilities at Medford’s North and South high schools will fall to district voters after the Medford School Board voted 6-1 Monday to put a $25 million bond measure on the May 15 ballot. “I’m excited about moving forward,” said School Board Chairwoman Karen Starchvick, calling the decision “the right thing to do for our community.”




Editorial: A costly, or empty, promise


Everyone ought to have health care. Everyone ought to have a job, too — and housing, and healthy breakfasts, and safe neighborhoods. Oregonians should not have a constitutional right to any of these things, however, unless the state is prepared to ensure that they are provided. The state is in no position to make such guarantees, yet on Tuesday the House of Representatives voted to place a measure on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would add the right to health care to the Oregon Constitution.


Editorial: Problems with Oregon’s foster programs aren’t a political ruse

Bend Bulletin

Our kids deserve better. They deserve a governor who, upon reading the SOS audit, reacts with the outrage the audit deserves and a Legislature that can agree — with or without the governor’s approval — that our children deserve at least as much attention as a scheme to tax carbon emissions. Yet Oregon’s most endangered children, those who cannot live safely in their own homes, get neither. That’s an outrage, even if the governor and lawmakers don’t get it.


Editorial: Keeping the heat on

The Oregonian Editorial Board

While Sen. Jeff Kruse is resigning his seat, don’t mistake his departure as a sign that the sex harassment problem at the Capitol is over. An investigative report into Kruse’s behavior lays out just how many women felt they had to endure his touching and caresses, either because of his position of power or because they just wanted to be able to do their work.


Editorial: Hit-and-run bill survives first hurdle

Albany Democrat-Herald

Olson’s bill, which cleared the House Committee on Judiciary last week with bipartisan support, is an excellent example of exactly the type of legislation suitable for the short 35-day sessions that the Legislature holds in even-numbered years. It doesn’t represent a huge new policy direction. It merely makes a small modification to an existing law.


Editorial: College writing shouldn’t determine judicial selection

Bend Bulletin

Perhaps what’s truly disturbing for Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley is the conservative mindset the writings reveal. The senators apparently assume that a person who once expressed such views can never be trusted. There’s no room in their judgment for a student growing up and developing the more complex and reasoned discourse of a mature thinker. How would you like to be judged based on your college writings?


Editorial: It’s time to help called-up military members by supporting SB-1557

Statesman Journal Editorial Board

But current law only offers college and university tuition and enrollment protections for longer active-duty assignments. Oregon law recognizes that college or university-enrolled military members often have to withdraw or miss finals or other exams because they are called to active duty help or training. As worded now, the law allows them to seek redress only if they are called to duty lasting 30 days or longer. This bill would close the loophole in Oregon law, and help service members before they are discharged by covering military assignments of 30 days or less.


Guest: Justice for all abuse victims, not just the celebrity ones

Kimberly Koops-Wrabek, HD 11 candidate

I’m glad to see people in power being held accountable for their abuse of it, but in many cases, it’s still the powerful finally seeing justice. We need justice for everyone experiencing assault or harassment, no matter their position, their level of experience, or their connections.


Guest: The Gomberg Report

Lincoln News Guard

We’re only one week in but with abrupt deadlines and fast moving hearings, it seems like we’re half finished! With few exceptions, bills not scheduled for action by last Friday will not move further and already, the larger picture is coming into focus.


Daily Clips


Hundreds Besiege Oregon Capitol For Cap On Greenhouse Gases

Associated Press

“There are about 400 to 500 people here today,” marveled House Speaker Tina Kotek, one of the bills’ sponsors. “I think that shows the people outside the building really want us to make it a priority for the session.” Courtney said before the Legislature convened on Feb. 5 that while he believes there must be laws to restrict greenhouse gas emissions, he expressed doubt that it could be finalized in the short session.


Legislature seeks ways to improve its harassment policies

East Oregonian

The state capitol is a unique workplace that not only houses employees of the legislative branch, but also elected officials, lobbyists and constituents under its roof. While interns are considered employees and are covered by legislative personnel rules on harassment, lobbyists and members of the public are not. The presiding officers of the House and Senate have limited powers when it comes to disciplining members under the state’s constitution, Kotek said.


Oregon 5-year-olds less ready for kindergarten, state finds

The Oregonian

Oregon children on average were less ready for kindergarten in fall 2017 than the year before, according to measurements of their literacy recorded during their first days of kindergarten. The typical incoming Oregon kindergartner knew 8.2 letter sounds, compared with 8.9 letter sounds in fall 2016, could name 14.4 uppercase letters, compared with 14.8 the year before, and named 12.1 lowercase letters, compared with 12.5 in 2016. The state released those results this week.


Gov. Kate Brown pardons former Portland gang member turned mentor

The Oregonian

Gov. Kate Brown on Monday pardoned a former Portland gang member for a crime he committed 25 years ago, marking only the third time she has granted clemency in office. Dondrae Fair, 44, grew up in Northeast Portland during the height of the city’s crack epidemic and turned to the streets at a young age. He served a five-year prison sentence for an armed robbery in 1992, a felony conviction that followed Fair as he worked to transform his life and those of other young men caught up in a cycle of poverty, drugs and violence.


Governor Kate Brown pardons former gang member Dondrae ‘Choo’ Fair who became mentor

Associated Press

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has granted a pardon to a 44-year-old former gang member who turned his life around. Dondrae “Choo” Fair pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and other crimes after committing a carjacking at age 19. He returned to gang life after prison and was shot in the chest while leaving a funeral in 2000.


State bill looks to help homeowners remove racists clauses from property deeds


Fahey says HB 4134 unanimously passed the House Committee on Human Services & Housing last week. The bill is now headed to the House floor, where it is likely to be discussed this week. “Piece by piece, we want to make it clear that we want everyone welcomed here in Oregon,” Sen. Lew Frederick said, “and that we are not going to allow the marginalization that has been part of the past.”


‘Equifax bill’ requires faster data breaches notices

Portland Tribune

Dubbed the “Equifax bill,” the proposed regulations intersect with revelations Friday, Feb. 9, that cyber thieves last year accessed more personal information than previously reported by the Equifax. The security breach affected an estimated 145.5 million consumers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. “Oregon fared no better — over 1.7 million of Oregonians’ information was breached,” according to written testimony from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s office. “As one cannot change their Social Security Numbers, this is a breach that will follow Oregonians for many years to come. Not only does the sheer size of the breach cause concern, but the Equifax story revealed many other failures and unfair practices.”




A Oregon Senate bill submitted to the 79th Oregon Legislature that would modify Oregon’s mandatory reporting rules was set to be considered at the committee level this week. The bill, SB 1540, amends the state’s rules to define reportable offenses as sexual contact or intercourse as those in which lacked consent – or the victim had the inability to provide consent  – for teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21, if one of the parties is more than three years older, or if there is reasonable cause to believe the relationship was the result of force, intimidation or coercion.


Oregon lawmakers steer clear of tougher wake board rules for Willamette River

Associated Press

Prospects for expanding wakeboarding restrictions on a popular section of Oregon’s Willamette River appeared to recede Monday. The proposal would have expanded rules restricting the sport on a particularly popular section of the Willamette River, including a stretch known locally as “the zone,” and added penalties. But prior to a packed public hearing on the proposal Monday, the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Richard Vial, submitted an amendment that removed the language proposing the toughened restrictions. A study group would be created instead.




Zinke Ties National Parks Fixes To Oil, Gas Profits On Public Lands

Oregon Public Broadcasting

“Our parks are being loved to death,” Zinke told reporters. “This budget is all about rebuilding our parks system, and we’re going to use our energy holdings to pay for it.”


Trump budget goes after Bonneville Power Administration again

Portland Business Journal

Just as it had last May, the Trump administration on Monday proposed selling off the Bonneville Power Administration grid. But the 2019 Trump budget includes a second element related to BPA: A call for a change in how it sets rates for power it markets from dozens of dams in the Northwest. Either proposal would likely result in bigger bills for customers of the utilities BPA sells to.




Once Again, Congress Fails To Close Deal On Wildfire Legislation

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Exasperated members of Congress say they came close last week to ending the longtime stalemate over legislation aimed at reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires.

But they say last-minute roadblocks kept a tentative deal from being included in the budget bill Congress passed last week to keep the federal government open. “We all had high hopes we would get something done,” said Travis Joseph, president of the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council, a wood-products industry group. “I think everybody is frustrated.”




Bounds, nominee for federal judge vacancy, under fire for college writings

East Oregonian

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley say they no longer believe Hermiston graduate Ryan Bounds is a “suitable nominee” for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after reading a collection of opinion pieces he wrote during college, including one criticizing multicultural student groups that “divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns” and foster “race-think.”




Editorial: Reducing death by gunfire


A bill before the Oregon Legislature aimed at reducing gun injuries and deaths from domestic violence is stirring up a lot of interest. Much of the opposition, however, appears to be based on a misunderstanding of exactly what House Bill 4145 would do, or would not do. Oregon law already prohibits certain people in domestic violence situations from possessing firearms or ammunition. This includes people who have been convicted of stalking, molesting or threatening to kill an intimate partner or child and with whom they are living or have lived.


Editorial: Deschutes River footbridge bill has a glaring contradiction

Bend Bulletin

It’s a bridge right smack in an official state scenic waterway — far from any town. It encourages more people to hike and bike the trails along the river. In fact, it’s a critical link in a trail system that supports even more hikers and bikers tromping along the river trail from Tumalo State Park to Sunriver.


Guest: Clean Energy Jobs Bill is a huge, unwieldy tax increase in disguise

Allen Baker, Ashland

Useful projects might come from this unwieldy mishmash. But not a single kindergarten teacher will be hired. Not a single low-income housing complex will be built. Legislators are elected to allocate tax dollars thoughtfully. They shirk their duties when they don’t decide how our tax money is spent, and instead build convoluted, deceptive structures like the ones in this bill.


Oregon House votes to refer constitutional amendment with unclear fiscal impact




Legislative Counsel: HJR 203 could “have enormous financial consequences for the state”


Salem, Ore. – On a party-line vote, Oregon House Democrats today voted to approve a proposal to amend the Oregon Constitution to establish a right to health care. Passed just 8 days after the start of the 2018 session, HJR 203 would amend the Oregon Constitution with enormous potential financial implications for the state.


In analyzing the potential impact of HJR 203, Legislative Counsel wrote in an opinion that, “Within the range of options available to the Legislative Assembly to ensure access to health care, one could imagine mechanisms that would have a minimal financial impact on the state as well as mechanisms that would have enormous financial consequences for the state.”*


“It’s clear from Legislative Counsel’s opinion and from basic common sense that we have not had enough time to digest what this constitutional amendment would mean for our state,” said Rep. Cedric Hayden (R-Fall Creek). “Clearly, we all want Oregonians to have access to basic health care services, but to advance a constitutional amendment that has the potential to radically change our state in ways we do not yet understand strikes me as incredibly risky. While the goal here is admirable, the cost and consequences could be astronomical.”


An additional opinion from Legislative Counsel requested by Representative Julie Parrish (R-West Linn)  further illustrated the risks associated with HJR 203. Legislative Counsel wrote:


There is always a possibility that the state could be sued for failing to follow a constitutional mandate, but we cannot say whether such a suit would be successful and, if so, what the maximum extent of the state’s liability would be.


The proposed amendment itself does not specify how the state must ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care. Moreover, the proposed amendment does not require that the state provide such health care to every resident; the proposed amendment requires only that the state provide access to health care that is cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable.


There is a range of options available to the Legislative Assembly to ensure access to cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care. One could imagine mechanisms that would have minimal, if any, financial impact on the state, such as requiring providers to provide a certain level of charity care as a condition of licensing or limiting cost-sharing requirements imposed by insurers, as well as mechanisms that could have enormous financial consequences for the state, such as creating a government-run health care program.


The League of Women Voters, traditionally a left-leaning organization, also raised concerns regarding the potential financial impact of the proposal. The group wrote, “The League cannot support an amendment for health care as a right because there is an implied state responsibility to provide the health care for all residents. This would commit the State of Oregon to expand funding to include health care coverage for all without the federal partnership. The State of Oregon has insufficient income to support its current responsibilities and cannot provide the added cost of health care coverage for all its residents at this time.”


No fiscal analysis was conducted prior to the bill’s passage.


HJR 203 passed the House by a vote of 35-25. The amendment now moves to the Senate for further consideration. Should it be adopted by the Senate, it would then go before voters at the November 2018 election.




Copies of Legislative Counsel opinions and the League of Women Voters of Oregon testimony are attached to this release.


Click here to view this release online.


Daily Clips

The future of forestry: OSU college gets a major makeover, but not everyone approves

Albany Democrat-Herald

Now under construction, the centerpiece of the new Oregon Forest Science Complex is being built with massive panels of cross-laminated timber and wooden support beams, all of it sourced from within a 240-mile radius. The three-story classroom, lab and office building is calculated to serve as a showpiece for the Oregon timber industry and position the school as a leader in the emerging field of commercial construction using advanced wood products. “This building is transformational in what it’s going to do for our college,” said Dean Thomas Maness. But the project is also more than a year behind schedule, 33 percent over budget and, for some, a symbol of deep divisions within the college.


Native birds face legal threats, in Oregon and beyond

Bend Bulletin

However, possible changes to a century-old federal law could make it easier to accidentally kill migratory birds with impunity. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, originally introduced as a way of protecting native birds from human development, was the subject of a new legal interpretation, and conservationists are concerned about more changes to the federal law.


Former Governor John Kitzhaber Will Not Become OHSU’s Next President

Willamette Week

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber has told the chairman of the Oregon Health & Science University that he will not be a candidate to replace OHSU president Dr. Joe Robertson, who is retiring. Last month, DJ Wilson, a healthcare conference organizer who has worked closely with Kitzhaber, wrote a blog post proposing Kitzhaber for the OHSU job.


Editorial: A disquieting display


Nosse’s bill is far from a radical reaction to all this; it simply seeks to provide consumers with more information and require drug companies to justify price increases. The plan by members of the pharmaceutical industry to derail Nosse’s bill — by means that can most charitably be called deceptive — only reinforces the need for the greater transparency this bill would provide. On Friday, HB 4005 passed out of the House Committee on Health Care, with bipartisan support.


Guest: Oregon needs more options before falling back on foster care

Lena Alhusseini, former child welfare director for Oregon DHS

In Oregon, much planning and investment had gone into using Differential Response, yet officials abandoned the model in September 2016. I was hired as the state’s child welfare director two months later and soon after, my staff and I decided to return to the program. The state report rejecting the model in Oregon only examined cases from more than two years prior in three counties. I pushed for a statewide assessment to be completed to understand exactly what our challenges were. But that assessment was immediately stopped by the agency director because “it won’t look good.”


Senate braces for showdown over ‘Dreamers’

The Hill

The Senate is barreling toward a battle on immigration with no clear end game in sight. The chamber is expected to turn to the issue Monday evening, but where the debate goes after it begins is anyone’s guess. Senators are predicting a free-for-all, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is using a House bill not related to immigration as the base legislation in order to create a fair playing ground. “It sounds like Senator McConnell’s just going to pull up a shell bill and let people have at it. … It ought to be pretty fascinating,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), McConnell’s top deputy.


Progressives storm Democratic primaries


Progressive insurgents are launching challenges to Democratic members of Congress in some of the country’s bluest districts, sparked by deep frustration with the party establishment and anti-Trump anger. Most of the challengers are long shots at the moment. But some are putting a scare into entrenched incumbents, thanks to their muscular fundraising and a message of liberal disaffection on issues including Wall Street, criminal justice reform and single-payer health care.