GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek said on Monday that she was able to bring an end to Republican delay tactics primarily by improving communication with members of the minority caucus who were “not feeling that they were heard.” The Portland Democrat also said some House Republicans were growing weary of the long hours and looming threat of six-day workweeks necessary to catch up, after they insisted for the last month that bills be read in their entirety before receiving floor votes. They got back to business as usual last week, waiving the bill reading requirement in the Oregon Constitution in order to proceed more quickly. At the time, House Republican Leader Carl Wilson, of Grants Pass, avoided answering questions from reporters for The Oregonian/OregonLive regarding his agreement with Kotek.
Two weeks after Gov. Kate Brown signed a multibillion-dollar business tax and education spending bill into law, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers on Monday proposed broadly exempting agricultural businesses from the tax. Democrats who pushed the new tax through the Legislature on party-line votes wanted to keep the 0.57 percent tax as simple as possible, with few exemptions or special rates for particular industries or businesses. However, the law already contains exemptions for groceries, gas, hospitals and long-term care businesses. The new agricultural carveout introduced on Monday is an example of the pressure lawmakers face going forward to create more industry-specific breaks. House Speaker Tina Kotek on Monday expressed skepticism about the proposal.
Oregon moved to crack down on racially motivated 911 calls on Monday, responding to a series of publicized incidents across the country where predominantly white civilians called the police on black people going about everyday activities like napping or barbecuing. Victims of those police calls would be able to sue the caller for up to $250, under a measure overwhelmingly approved by state Senate on Monday. It passed the state House in April. The move is a joint effort by three black lawmakers and is meant to “shine a spotlight on an issue African Americans have known for far too long,” according to sponsoring Rep. Janelle Bynum.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A measure to prevent racially motivated calls to 911 passed the Oregon Senate on Monday. One of the bill’s chief sponsors, Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, was canvassing for reelection in a Portland suburb last summer when someone called the police on her. It was one of many stories of cops being called on black people who were participating in their normal, everyday activities — from making a call from a hotel lobby to napping in a college dorm common area to barbecuing or mowing the lawn.
The Oregon Legislature has approved a bill that would bar landlords from holding minor marijuana convictions or medical marijuana use against prospective tenants. The bulk of Senate Bill 970 prohibits the owners of manufactured home parks or marinas from interfering with a resident’s choice of real estate agent or subletting the unit while it’s up for sale in certain cases. But the marijuana provisions apply to all rentals across the state. The bill passed with little discussion in either chamber. After winning approval in the House last week, it next heads to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for signing.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
If lawmakers pass a sweeping carbon-reduction proposal this year, nearly a quarter of the money raised under the program could flow back to motorists, farmers and loggers — not to helping the state lower its emissions. Under a bill that passed legislative committee after a single hearing Friday, agricultural and forestry operations could apply for refunds that would compensate them for an expected increase in fuel prices under the cap and trade plan. Much more money might go to lower-income drivers, who could apply for tax credits that ease prices at the pump. The concepts housed in Senate Bill 1051 are designed to help settle Oregonians into a carbon-reduction system that’s central to the state’s plans for battling climate change, but which could raise gasoline prices by more than 16 cents a gallon if it takes effect in 2021.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will sign a proclamation June 7, declaring it gun violence awareness day. She will be joined by legislators and members of the Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Action, a national gun safety organization that campaigned for Brown in the 2018 election. Hilary Uhlig, the legislative lead for the Oregon chapter, said they were disappointed that the governor sacrificed her promised gun legislation earlier this month to end a Republican walkout and pass a large school funding bill.
Texting a sexually explicit image of another person without their permission is about to be illegal in Oregon. House Bill 2393, which today passed the Senate unanimously by a 28-0 vote, closes a loophole in prior legislation to make spreading intimate images on any medium unlawful. Currently, only sexually explicit images shared on internet websites are considered illegal. This bill extends the law to all mediums—meaning if a person texted an explicit video or photo of a sexual partner to friends, without that partner’s permission, it would be a crime.
Oregon lawmakers are mulling over an amendment that would fund the Leaburg Fish Hatchery for another two years, but as of now, the hatchery is still set to close on June 30. The move to review the amendment came during a work session for the Joint Subcommittee on Natural Resources for Ways and Means on Senate Bill 5510. The bill funds part of the Oregon Department of Wildlife’s budget through the general fund. During the meeting, Republican Rep. Cedric Hayden of Roseburg and Republican Sen. Fred Girod of Stayton both said they could not vote in favor of the bill without it funding the Leaburg Fish Hatchery. Committee co-chair Democrat Sen. Kathleen Taylor then moved to table the vote until Tuesday as they review the amendment that would send $1.7 million dollars to the hatchery over two years. Hayden told KEZI 9 News keeping the hatchery open would not only help keep trout in area lakes and streams but could also be used to provide a food source to orcas.
Selma Pierce, a former candidate for the Oregon House of Representatives and retired dentist, announced Monday her interest in replacing the late Sen. Jackie Winters representing District 10 in the state Senate. Winters died Wednesday at the age of 82 after living with lung cancer for nearly two years. Pierce, a Republican, has worked as an aide in Winters’ office during the 2019 legislative session and was considered her heir apparent by some in the Capitol.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Schools across Oregon are changing their sex education curriculum in response to a state law aimed at preventing child sex abuse. Oregon passed a version of “Erin’s Law” in 2015, as part of a national movement involving new laws in 36 states. In addition to Erin’s law, Oregon adopted new state standards requiring schools to teach students about consent, gender expression and sexually transmitted diseases starting in kindergarten. But the lessons aren’t the same at 5 as they are at 15.
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission has launched a preliminary review of Rahmat Shoureshi, the former Portland State University president who resigned under pressure last month. A majority of Portland State’s Board of Trustees pushed for Shoureshi’s departure this spring over concerns that he lied to them, that he had used university resources to benefit himself and that he had mistreated co-workers and members of his staff. A preliminary review is the first step toward a full-blown investigation. The ethics commission will consider the evidence and decide on July 12 whether to proceed with an investigation.
A Portland jury awarded $250,000 to a former Multnomah County sheriff’s sergeant who claimed now-retired Sheriff Dan Staton retaliated against him for reporting statistics that showed jail staff disproportionately used force against black inmates. After a four-day trial, jurors on Friday found Staton violated Oregon’s whistleblower protection law, after Sgt. Brent Ritchie contended Staton ostracized him in 2015. Multnomah County was listed as the sole defendant and must pay the verdict.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted temporary rules to allow anglers to use barbed hooks when fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout on the Columbia River. The change went into effect Saturday. The regulatory agency reported it adopted the rule so Oregon’s fishing regulations will remain concurrent with Washington in the jointly managed Columbia River. The rule will remain in effect until further notice, according to the announcement from ODFW, or until it expires in late November. The rule can become permanent only if the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission approves a rule change, which it plans to consider in the future.