GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Oregon’s first-in-the-nation rent-control bill may have had the unfortunate side effect of hurting some of the very renters it was supposed to protect. Some tenants say they saw hikes of up to $300 in their monthly rent, while some received no-cause eviction notices prior to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signing Senate Bill 608 on Feb. 28. The law went into effect immediately and was designed to prevent rent gouging that has hit many Oregon tenants. Ashland resident Joe Tomlin received a notice to move out about two weeks after he began to actively campaign for the rent-control bill, which caps annual rent hikes at about 10 percent and prevents no-cause evictions.
A senior Oregon State Police trooper is suing the head of the agency’s Office of Professional Standards and two supervisors, contending they failed to hold officers accountable for alleged misconduct, including one sergeant investigated for extensively using a racial slur on the job. Thomas Harrison’s federal and state whistleblower lawsuits paint a picture of a “caustic” culture in the state police Central Point patrol office in southern Oregon.
State lawmakers are considering more than two dozen bills that could affect Oregonians who consume recreational and medical marijuana. Oregon voters approved legalizing recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older in 2014. Since then, legislators have been shoring up the state’s system to regulate the newly legal product.
For states looking to profit off the new world of legal sports betting, there’s an app for that. The question for state lawmakers: Should they allow it? As state legislatures across the U.S. decide whether to authorize sports gambling, lawmakers are debating whether the bets — like almost everything else in daily life — should be allowed to happen online or made only in-person. Among their concerns is that the accessibility of online betting, especially on mobile devices, could be a pathway for minors to start gambling and make sports betting more addictive.
State Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, said Friday that he would consider a run for elected office in Portland if community groups called him to the task. “If there’s a need for leadership and they ask me to step up I would consider it,” Hernandez told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “But I haven’t had that happen.” That remark follows a Nov. 2018 tweet by Hernandez, which set off speculation that he would seek city office. In that tweet, the second-term legislator commented on Mayor Ted Wheeler’s off-the-cuff statement that he “cannot wait” for his term to end.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Roseburg Forest Products, one of the country’s leading manufacturers of particleboard and plywood, has ended production and sales of certain lumber products in the midst of a federal investigation into whether the wood came from the illegal logging of African rainforests.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to OPB that its Homeland Security Investigations division has an ongoing investigation into illegal imports of okoumé, a wood used for plywood and veneer siding. The Lacey Act prohibits the trade of plants and wildlife taken, stored or transported illegally.
A West Linn college student has taken the president of the West Linn City Council to court over her refusal to provide him with her hand-written notes taken during council sessions and other official meetings. Rory Bialostosky, a 2018 graduate of West Linn High who tangled with the city council over parking restrictions near the high school his senior year, said he has attended city council meetings or watched them online and also met with council President Teri Cummings. He has made it clear that he is not a fan of her leadership.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is running for president, and he’s doing it with the help of a former Hillsboro state legislator. Inslee, 68, announced Friday that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, joining a crowded field of contenders for the Democratic nomination, including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, California Senator Kamala Harris, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has also been publicly mulling over a presidential run, as has former Vice President Joe Biden.
Kiran Weasel vividly remembers her latest trip to the Arctic Circle and the moment she started to worry about the climate. Like, really worry. The Franklin High School junior was one of hundreds of students from across Portland who rallied Friday in front of City Hall against what they say is inaction against the harmful effects of climate change. The event was part of a worldwide student strike across dozens of countries by millions of kids. In Portland, students walked out of class to attend the 11 a.m. rally and march downtown.
The way dams and storage reservoirs on the Columbia River and its tributaries are managed could change dramatically in a short five years if negotiators from the United States and Canada don’t strike a deal.
When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-MA, introduced the Green New Deal just weeks ago, Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden signed on right away. While their support for this proposal to address climate change within a decade is exactly what we need, a discouraging number of Oregonians are still in denial of the crisis that we’re in.
Policy makers considering raiding the state’s workers compensation insurance corporation to backstop the Public Employees Retirement System would do well to recall the last time a governor and legislature took money from SAIF (“Governor considers taking $1.4 billion from SAIF workers comp surplus to reduce pension costs,” Feb 20).