Dennis Richardson, the Oregon secretary of state and first Republican elected to statewide office in three decades, died of brain cancer Tuesday night at age 69. Richardson had a lengthy and at times contentious career in Oregon politics, but rose to be his party’s most successful standard-bearer in more than a generation with his election as secretary of state in 2016. He died at his home in Central Point while with family and friends, Leslie Cummings, the deputy secretary of state, said in a statement. “Dennis leaves a legacy of always aiming high, expecting excellence, moving fast, and doing what is right for the people,” the statement said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such an incredible leader and wonderful friend. He will be greatly missed.”
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Richardson, the first Republican to hold the Oregon secretary of
state’s office in nearly four decades, died Tuesday night following a
battle with brain cancer, his office announced Wednesday morning. Gov.
Kate Brown will appoint Richardson’s successor, who must be a
Republican. But under the Oregon Constitution, that appointee cannot
ascend to the governorship in the case of a vacancy, as is the normal
chain of lineage. Brown has said she’ll appoint a Republican who will
not run for election to the office in 2020.
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson died Tuesday evening at his home surrounded by family and friends, his office has announced. Richardson, the only statewide elected Republican, had been fighting brain cancer. “Dennis leaves a legacy of always aiming high, expecting excellence, moving fast, and doing what is right for the people. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such an incredible leader and wonderful friend. He will be greatly missed,” Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings said. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff in honor Richardson.
Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, the highest-ranking Republican in Oregon state government, has died after a battle with brain cancer. He was 69. Richardson’s office said in a statement that he died at home Tuesday night surrounded by family and friends. Richardson announced in June that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer in May. As he battled the disease, he kept working, encouraging Oregonians to register to vote, using social media as a pro-democracy tool and overseeing audits done by his office’s audit team. As secretary of state, Richardson was Oregon’s top elections official. Gov. Kate Brown ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff in honor of Richardson.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Republicans on Tuesday displayed a shift in attitude toward
pharmaceutical companies as they questioned seven top CEOs in a hearing
about why their products have become so expensive, signaling they will
work to pass new drug pricing laws.The shift comes as polling shows that
prescription drug costs top voters’ concerns about healthcare and as
headlines about soaring prices of lifesaving medicines permeate the
news. While the hearing was devoid of shouting matches and executives
came out largely unscathed, the issues Republicans raised suggested they
have been getting an earful about the issue from constituents and from
other parts of the healthcare industry.
Oregonians should not be required to prove they are U.S. citizens or legal residents to drive a car. That’s the premise behind a bill filed in Salem this week by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers. If passed opens the door for non-citizens to obtain legal Oregon driver’s licenses, learner’s permits or general identification cards. It wouldn’t apply to commercial driver’s licenses. The Equal Access to Roads Act would amend state law to allow drivers to submit a statement saying they “has not been assigned a Social Security number” instead of producing documents proving U.S. citizenship or legal residency. Qualified applicants would still have to pass a driver’s test and show they live in Oregon. The bill would not apply to learner’s permits or commercial driver’s licenses.
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This year, a coalition is working on a fix to that in the Oregon Legislature. Peña is a development manager at Causa, an immigrant rights advocacy organization that this week filed a bill called the Equal Access to Roads Act. The act would reinstate the right to a driver’s license to Oregonians, including undocumented immigrants, who can prove who they are and who pass the written and driving test.
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Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and state Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, have clashed repeatedly in recent months, with allegations of wrongdoing lobbed in each direction. Now, Boquist has filed a resolution to boot the longest-serving Senate president in the state’s history. The catch: He needs Courtney to call it up for a vote. In a resolution filed late Tuesday afternoon, Boquist accused Courtney of violating personnel rules, lying to the public, misusing his office and violating state and federal laws. He did not offer details to back up the claims. The resolution asks senators to formally censure Courtney and to remove him as Senate president. Boquist’s filing came hours after Courtney spoke on the Senate floor, addressing harassment issues that have plagued the Senate — and his office — since 2017, and indicating that the Legislature is on the verge of settling a complaint from the Bureau of Labor and Industries.
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While it is legal to buy cannabis in Oregon, advocate Sam Chapman said it’s still illegal to smoke it in many places, like apartment rentals, hotels, cafes or even on the street. “We are aiming to create more legal avenues for the consumption of cannabis and the normalization of cannabis,” said Chapman, who works with the New Revenue Coalition. Senate Bill 639 would allow everything from home deliveries to cannabis tents at concerts and tastings at cannabis farms.
he Oregon House passed a bill on Thursday, Feb. 21, that requires rafting guides and outfitters to make helmets available for customers who plan on navigating more treacherous whitewater rapids. Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) District 49, introduced House Bill 2652 after hearing one of his constituents, Sharon Birge, died in a whitewater rafting accident in 2015. After originally introducing the bill in 2017, the concept was refined with input form stakeholders and industry professionals. The bill must be passed by the state senate before it can be signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown. “I am proud that we were able to get this passed in the House and look forward to advocating for it in the Oregon Senate,” Gorsek said.
Ten counties in Eastern Oregon could authorize up to 50 acres of industrial development outside urban growth boundaries under a bill approved 26-2 by the Senate on Feb. 21. Senate Bill 2, which is intended to spur economic development in Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur, Sherman, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler counties, will now be considered by the House. Under the proposal, the “industrial uses or other employment uses” could occur on up to 10 sites that aren’t located on high-value farmland or sage grouse habitat.
The Pendleton service started after the Oregon Washington Health Network was awarded a federal contract and $20,000 to launch the pilot project. OWHN is a coalition of nine partners — Lifeways, Umatilla and Walla Walla county health departments, Yellowhawk Tribal Health, St. Anthony, Good Shepherd and Providence St. Mary hospitals, Blue Mountain Community College and the Morrow County Health District — with a mission to improve health outcomes. The coalition subcontracted Heart to Heart to run the syringe exchange. Advocates say the economics of preventing HIV or hepatitis C are compelling. According to the CDC, the estimated lifetime cost of treating one person living with HIV is more than $400,000. Hepatitis C treatment can run more than $60,000 for 12 weeks of treatment.
The Daily Astorian
A top administrator for the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority who was put on administrative leave last spring is suing the organization and its executive director. In a lawsuit filed on Monday, Teresa Sims, the deputy director, alleges that she has faced retaliation from Todd Johnston and the housing authority for speaking out about mismanaged public funds and unlawful hiring practices. Sims is seeking nearly $1 million in emotional and economic damages.
A college-age Susheela Jayapal arrived in America dressed in corduroy pants, a turtleneck and a wool sweater. It was August — the middle of a sweltering Pennsylvania summer. “I was very short, very sweaty and very brown,” she recalled. Now, the tennis-playing, Vizsla dog-breed owning, fourth grade-skipping, “fairly orderly” 56-year-old former litigator and avowed progressive is ready for her next challenge: she’s sitting on the dais of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. But first, she has to teach everyone how to pronounce her name.
A bill inspired by Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener and championed by Lakeridge High freshman Claire Sarnowski received its first hearing before the Senate Committee on Education last week at the state Capitol in Salem. Wiener himself was not at the hearing. Tragically, he was struck by a car and killed in Hillsboro on Dec. 11. But he was represented by a huge crowd of friends and fellow survivors — so many people that there wasn’t enough time for all who hoped to testify in favor of a bill that would mandate Holocaust and genocide education in Oregon schools.
Social service providers that run cold-weather shelters extended operating hours to help homeless people stay warm and dry. The Egan Warming Center, a network of churches and public buildings that provide overnight shelter, started a carpool to get volunteers to and from the sites in the treacherous conditions. “It was a pretty heroic effort from a lot of individuals,” said Serra Joy, Egan’s volunteer coordinator. Egan had previously opened only when the forecast low temperature drops below 30 degrees. The forecast headed into Monday morning was above that threshold, but Egan decided to open anyway due to the expected snow accumulation, requiring quick action from many people.
Linn County will put the former Willamette Industries mill site up for public auction, it was decided Tuesday morning at a meeting of the Linn County Board of Commissioners. Commissioners Roger Nyquist and John Lindsey agreed to the decision. Commissioner Will Tucker was not present. The county has owned the 172-acre property since the end of 2010. It was foreclosed upon in lieu of some $500,000 in unpaid back taxes. Another 250 acres — known as the Knife River property — has already been deeded over to the city of Sweet Home.
Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, went to Salem to be an advocate for kids. She’s living up to that goal with her sponsorship of House Bill 3063, a measure that would end both personal and philosophical exemptions from the state’s immunization requirements. Helt joined forces with Sens. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, and Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, as chief co-sponsors of the measure, which eliminates all but medical exemptions from immunization requirements set by the state. The move comes in the wake of a measles outbreak that has infected at least 66 people, mostly unvaccinated children, in the state of Washington and another four in Oregon, with an additional unconfirmed case reported over the weekend. If anything, it’s overdue.
I appreciate the Feb. 17 letter from Susan Stitham, “Better options than non-affiliated primary,” and David Ellis’ guest opinion, “Oregon’s primary elections should be open to all.” Both pieces were about Oregon’s election dysfunction. Each conveyed our voting method as outdated, broken and failing to reflect the values of all Oregonians.
I am a mother of two children who attend public school. I am a family farmer, raising livestock and tending fields of blueberries, elderberries and hazelnuts. I strongly oppose House Bill 3063, which would eliminate non-medical exemptions from vaccinations for school children in Oregon. Parental choice in medical decisions is essential for a healthy, free society and for healthy children. This bill is responding to media hysteria rather than common sense public health concerns or a genuine emergency situation in our state.
The Oregon House on Tuesday approved new eviction protections and a first-in-the-nation statewide rent control policy. After the 35-25 vote, Senate Bill 608 now heads to a supportive Gov. Kate Brown after speeding through the Legislature with the backing of Democratic leaders in both houses. It will take effect as soon as she signs the bill. With Brown’s signature, Oregon would become the first state to enact a statewide rent control program. In other states with rent control policies, cities enact and administer local programs. The bill would cap annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation throughout the state. It exempts new construction for 15 years, and landlords would be free to raise rent without any cap if renters leave of their own accord. Subsidized rent would also be exempt.
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Oregon will soon be the first in the nation with statewide rent control. A measure that caps how much landlords can raise the rent and makes it harder for them to evict tenants without a reason sailed through the House on Tuesday with a 35-25 vote. It now heads to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk. Brown has said she will sign the legislation. Democrats spoke of constituents who were “living on the edge, one rent spike away from being homeless.” Rep. Mark Meek, D-Gladstone, said housing displacement was a devastating reality for too many Oregonians.