GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Friday was a key day in the Oregon legislature, with any bill not scheduled to have a work session now considered to be dead for the session, as the Oregonian first reported. Among them were a mix of gun control bills brought forward by student activists and the faith group Lift Every Voice though an omnibus senate bill may still resurrect some restrictions favored by them. Others gained high public notice through media coverage that advanced into social media interaction with readers and viewers.
Oregon lawmakers have scheduled about four hours of public hearings on Tuesday to tackle what’s shaping up to be this year’s principal gun legislation. In the morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will take testimony on a 44-page proposal that would, among other things, penalize some gun owners who fail to lock up their guns and allow gun dealers to refuse to sell guns to people younger than 21. In the afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee will consider a more limited gun safety bill.
On Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno’s first full day in office Monday, three executives in her department were dismissed. The departures of Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings, chief of staff Deb Royal and governmental and legal affairs director Steve Elzinga came just a day after Clarno, an 83-year-old Republican former lawmaker, was sworn in. “Looking forward to serving Oregon as Secretary of State!” Clarno tweeted.
At least three top aides to former Secretary of State Dennis Richardson are out of jobs today as Richardson’s successor, Secretary of State Bev Clarno moves to shape her staff for the next two years. Gone are Richardson’s deputy, Leslie Cummings, his chief of staff, Deb Royal and his legal advisor, Steve Elzinga. The Salem Statesman Journal first reported the departures. All three worked in the “front office” of the secretary of state’s office, which means they were political appointees who served at the pleasure of the secretary of state.
Death penalty opponents told a panel of lawmakers on Monday that capital punish is expensive, leads to decades of delays and offers little comfort to victims’ families. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard nearly two hours of testimony, most of it from supporters of Senate Bill 1013, which would limit the death penalty to cases involving acts of terror that kill two or more people. The bill is expected to get a committee vote on April 8.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A bill that would defang Oregon’s death penalty without a statewide vote got its first hearing before a Senate committee Monday, drawing testimony that was overwhelmingly supportive of the novel approach. Senate Bill 1013 would leave the little-used death penalty in the Oregon Constitution — only voters can take it out. The bill instead would sharply narrow the definition of aggravated murder, the only crime punishable by death in Oregon.
Oregon students could access free feminine hygiene products at school under a proposal from their peers. A group of students from South Eugene High School brought the idea to state Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene. Fahey is chief sponsor of House Bill 3020, which would require public schools with students in grades 7 to 12 to make free menstrual products available in at least half of the school’s bathrooms.
While much of the local focus on Gov. Kate Brown’s budget has been on her proposals for education, tucked away in the Oregon Military Department budget is millions of dollars allocated for the Oregon National Guard’s facilities in Pendleton. Under Brown’s public safety budget, the department would spend $9.9 million for enhancements at aviation facilities in Pendleton and Salem during the 2019-21 biennium. Roy Swafford, the department’s director of installations, said the money would go toupgrading the aviation facilities to protect them against emergencies, including seismic structure improvements and backup power sources.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Since 2008, at least 306 people across the Northwest have died after being taken to a county jail, according to an investigation by OPB, KUOW and the Northwest News Network. Until now, that number was unknown, in part because Oregon and Washington have not comprehensively tracked those deaths in county jails. If they did, they would find a crisis of rising death rates in overburdened jails that have been set up to fail the inmates they are tasked with keeping safe.
The popular reservoir’s water level is 40 feet below normal, raising concerns that it won’t reach its “full pool” this summer or even come close. That could impact everything from recreation and tourism to wildlife and irrigation down the Santiam Canyon. The current reservoir level is 1,500 feet above sea level, while it should be closer to 1,540 feet. At present, the reservoir level is similar to the disastrous 2015 and 2001 seasons that saw historic lows.
Don’t expect to hear “paper or plastic” at checkstands anymore. Salem shoppers gave mixed reviews to a ban on plastic shopping bags that took effect Monday, with some praising it and others saying they found household uses for the plastic bags. John Meissner, carrying drinks purchased from a Salem Fred Meyer without a bag, called the ban “a bit of an imposition.”
The Daily Astorian
City leaders finalized a new ordinance Monday they say is necessary for traffic safety, but some fear it is an attempt to ban panhandling and believe it will hurt the homeless. The ordinance, modeled off rules enacted by other Oregon cities, would make it a traffic violation to give or take something from a car window while the vehicle is on the roadway. Violations come with a $75 fine.
So this is how Oregon residents get the opportunity to pump their own gas: One crack in the wall at a time. For decades, Oregon and New Jersey have been the only states in the nation that don’t allow gas stations to offer self-service pumps. In Oregon, it’s become one of the odd quirks that we (sometimes) appreciate about the state: To paraphrase the state’s motto, “She Flies on Her Own Wings, But She Lets Others Pump the Gas.” In Oregon’s case, the law banning self-service gasoline has been on the books since 1951, and the law lists 17 separate justifications for the ban. Those justifications include some that likely have occurred to you: For example, the ban creates jobs.