If the Republican primary for Governor was held today, who would you vote for?
State Senator Dallas Heard
Salem Oncologist Bud Pierce
State Representative Bill Post
Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam
Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith
Northwest Observer
Subscribe for Free Email Updates
Search Articles
Stan Pulliam Announces Gubernatorial Run
“Our current governor has ruled with a cold smugness”

Mayor of Sandy, Stan Pulliam, has announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Governor of Oregon in 2022.

Earlier in the day, Pulliam delivered the City of Sandy’s State of the City Address, where he touted accomplishments including securing funding for a local bypass study, stabilizing police funding, and saving millions on a needed wastewater treatment facility.

At 2:30 p.m., Pulliam walked to a podium at Meinig Memorial Park and made the announcement.

“Our current governor has ruled with a cold smugness inside a bubble of the ruling elite and special interests that continue to craft backroom deals, ignore scientific evidence of lockdown effectiveness, and prioritize the wish lists of her campaign contributors,” said Pulliam. “Maybe it’s time for a different approach. Maybe Oregon needs a mayor for Governor.”

Pulliam has drawn praise and national media attention for urging small businesses to defy Governor Kate Brown’s punitive lockdown rules and arbitrary metrics, opening safely under “high risk” guidelines when placed into “extreme risk” shutdown.



“We’ve all lost friends and family over the past year who have escaped to states with more realistic COVID lockdown metrics. Businesses that had no choice but to open as a matter of survival are now being crucified by state agency fines and administrative punishment.” Pulliam continued, “Our students are drowning in isolation and underachievement, while parents are forced to juggle homeschooling with their own careers – all while teachers unions and extremist activists have controlled school boards to push for longer timelines in reopening classrooms.”

Pulliam has also been critical of the City of Portland’s decline into a landscape of boarded-up businesses, open drug use, and skyrocketing violence.

“I look at Sandy and am still able to recognize my home state of Oregon: It’s pioneer spirit and it’s collaborative and supportive network of families, small businesses, faith communities, and local government,” Pulliam said. “Being mayor of such a place is a huge honor. It makes me wonder how our elected ruling elite continue to disappoint us with such an intrepid population of Oregonians behind them.”

Pulliam plans on a listening tour of the state over the next few weeks, joining other mayors in their communities to form an inclusive vision that unifies Oregon and moves us into the future.

Pulliam concluded by saying, “In the coming weeks I’ll be asking for your feedback and support on how we can heal Oregon together and bring it back to its rugged, pioneer glory of innovation, fortitude, and freedom.”

Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam was joined for the announcement by his wife MacKensey and their daughters Lucy and Olivia.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 17:15:16Last Update: 2021-04-15 17:41:57

School Bullying Bill Passes Oregon House
“Families offer the mental and emotional support students need”

Republican bill would take on school bullying by involving parents and guardians The Oregon House of Representatives unanimously passed a Republican bill that would ensure schools have policies in place to notify parents about instances of bullying.

Provisions are included to allow students to override this requirement in situations where it is warranted.

Bullying is pervasive in schools and requires support and engagement from not only school professionals, but families who can offer the mental and emotional support students need to recover from their trauma. Taking on bullying, harassment, intimidation, and cyberbullying are keys to achieving the goal of better mental health outcomes for students.

“So many of our kids are hurting, and those closest to them deserve to know,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby,) carrier of the bill. “This ensures that parents and guardians are notified if their child is a victim of bullying in school, giving them the opportunity to be part of a solution.”

HB 2631 was unanimously passed on the House floor.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:55:47Last Update: 2021-04-15 17:15:16

Enviros Block Salvage Logging
It is horrible for the canyon and the people of the canyon.

Environmentalist groups including Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Willamette Riverkeeper, Audubon Society of Corvallis, Audubon Society of Salem, Oregon Wild, and the Benton Forest Coalition have filed a suit challenging the ongoing post-fire salvage logging in the Santiam State forest east of Salem.

Environmental groups are upset as the Oregon Department of Forestry’s logging operations are impacting areas beloved by mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hikers including the Monument Peak horse camp and the Niagara area.

Post-fire logging typically removes most of the remaining trees and involves intense road building and maintenance.

Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis sais, "This is outrageous. It is horrible for the canyon and the people of the canyon. Out of county political groups need to stay the hell away from our recovery efforts!"

The Santiam watersheds drain some 1,800 square miles from the Cascade range, providing an abundance of clear, cold water that is beneficial to the Willamette River.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:34:27Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:55:47

Mink Wars
Are you being paid for your testimony?

From the "who would've thought that" department comes the fact that minks and other animals can be asymptomatic transmitters of the COVID-19 virus. Oregon is the home to many mink farms and because of this, regulations regarding testing of persons working on mink farms was proposed in HB 832 proposed by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene).

Animal rights activists have long had their sights set on mink farming in Oregon, and, it seems, COVID-19 has given them a chance to place pressure on the industry.

During a recent hearing, a veterinarian who works with minks was giving testimony and, as his testimony concluded, he was asked by Senator Prozanski how often he does this kind testimony and if he was being paid to testify.

Watch the video below to see his answers to these questions and the reaction of Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg).

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:14:01Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:33:20

Clackamas County Speaks on Transportation
“Most everyone is against tolling”

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners adopted values related to funding interstate projects in the region at their recent meeting.

Chair Tootie Smith said it was important to be a leader in this discussion. “Regional conversations are happening about how our transportation system will be funded that will significantly affect the residents of Clackamas County,” said Chair Smith. “We need to be a leader at the table and ensure the needs of our residents and businesses are represented.”

Depleted transportation funding at the state and federal level -- due to declining gas tax revenue as vehicles become fuel-efficient—are leading to funding gaps in building projects on the interstate system to reduce congestion and improve seismic resiliency. In response to the declining transportation revenues and growing congestion, the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Department of Transportation to study and implement tolling for managing congestion through House Bill 2017.

ODOT is planning tolling projects within Clackamas County along Interstate 205 near the Abernethy Bridge – an area that has little transportation options other than driving.

Given ODOT has the existing authority to implement tolling and continues advancing the concept of congestion pricing tolls to manage congestion on interstates, a values-based approach, rather than a traditional support or oppose position, allows Clackamas County to be proactive and nimble as discussions continue. The transportation funding values adopted by the BCC prioritize equity, safety, a vibrant economy, health and active communities, climate action, disaster resilience, and the reliable movement of people and goods.

Vice-Chair Paul Savas said, “Most everyone is against tolling. No one wants to pay for something they believe they are already paying for just to go to work or take their kids to school. However, if the legislature insists on tolling or congestion pricing, Clackamas needs to be in a leadership position to assure our residents receive benefit for the toll they pay. These values should get us there.” ODOT is nearing completion on the designs for the I-205 Widening and Seismic Improvement Project within Clackamas County, which will add a new lane in each direction of I-205 between Stafford Road and Highway 213, as well as upgrading the Abernethy Bridge over the Willamette River to withstand an earthquake. The Oregon Legislature is currently considering ways to finance project construction to begin early next year. As part of this effort, ODOT is pursuing tolling the project as a means of raising revenue, as well as using congestion pricing to curb traditional travel behaviors.
--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:10:14Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:34:27

The Late, Great Senator Jackie Winters
“She was a pioneer and a fierce advocate for the vulnerable”

The Senate Rules Committee heard moving commemorative testimony from many people who were touched by Senator Jackie Winters. The Committee passed a resolution, SCR 10 recognizing her life and legacy unanimously.

Jackie Winters represented the Salem area for two decades before succumbing to lung cancer at the age of 82. She was the first African-American Republican elected to the legislature and the first African-American caucus leader in Oregon history.

“I miss my friend, Jackie,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “She was a pioneer and a fierce advocate for the vulnerable and communities in need. Jackie was larger than life, and her spirit, dedication, and courage impacted more than she could have ever known.”

SCR 10 now moves to be considered before the entire Senate.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 14:39:26Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:10:14

Freedom Coming
“There’s a longtime cultural divide as big as the Grand Canyon”

Freedom is coming to a neighborhood near you.

This week, in a joint meeting of the Idaho Senate Resources and Environment committee and the Idaho House Environment, Energy, and Technology committee, lawmakers heard a proposal to incorporate much of rural Oregon into Idaho.

Rural Oregonians have felt increasingly dominated by urban decision makers in the Oregon Legislature. Years of attacks on agriculture and natural resource businesses, and overreaching decisions dominated by legislators from Portland Metro, have pushed the rural urban divide to the breaking point. “There’s a longtime cultural divide as big as the Grand Canyon between northwest Oregon and rural Oregon, and it’s getting larger,” Mike McCarter, President of Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, told Idaho lawmakers.

There once was a time that the Oregon Legislature was more balanced. During the 2001-2003 sessions, the Democrats controlled the Senate, and the Republicans controlled the House. The Speaker of the House at the time was Mark Simmons, a veteran legislator from Rural eastern Oregon. He was also the last Speaker of the house from a rural Oregon District. Simmons traveled to Idaho this week to speak about moving the border, describing how it would strengthen Idaho by adding the deep-water port at Coos Bay to Idaho, making it less dependent on Oregon’s decisions regarding ports and the federal government’s upcoming decisions to perhaps eliminate locks on the Snake river. “Values of faith, family, independence. That’s what we’re about. We don’t need the state breathing down our necks all the time, micromanaging our lives and trying to push us into a foreign way of living.”

The proposal made by the Move Oregon’s Border for a Great Idaho is simply a shift in borders that does not affect the balance of power in the US Senate. It does not create a new state or increase the number of states, and borders between states have been relocated many times throughout US history. If a deal were made that both the Oregon and Idaho Legislatures could support, a border change would almost certainly become a reality.



Idaho Representative Ben Adams (R-Nampa), said his interest was piqued but wondered why Oregon lawmakers would agree to the plan. “How is it being received right now by the state of Oregon?” Supporters of the border change let the Idaho lawmakers know that it is an ongoing conversation in Oregon and although there are currently no bills in the Oregon Legislature addressing the boundary changes, six counties (Baker, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur and Sherman) will be voting on the idea at the May Special District election. The outcome of that will be an indicator to the Oregon Legislature on the desire of rural communities to no longer be under urban Oregon lawmaker rule. “Before we can even begin to discuss the details, we have got to see a significant majority of counties in Oregon stepping up to support it”, Simmons shared.

The Democrats currently hold a supermajority in the Oregon House and a voting majority in the Oregon Senate, and they could potentially strengthen their position further by letting rural counties become part of Idaho. In addition, allowing rural counties to leave could be seen as an economic win for the remainder of the “new urban state”. Rural counties tend to be areas that generate less property tax revenue and have lower wage paying jobs. In addition, much of the proposed land that would be redirected to Idaho is Federally owned which is sometimes seen as a liability on the state rather than an asset.

The Chair of the Idaho House committee, Representative Barbara Ehardt (R–Idaho Falls) seemed to agree saying, “With everybody moving to Idaho, it isn’t lost on me the addition of landmass, water, resources, agriculture, timber; there are some appealing things to Idahoans, at least in my estimation, to even consider this.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 10:28:12Last Update: 2021-04-15 10:32:54

Separate Behavioral Health Facilities
Would be required for each county

Democrats in Oregon have now introduced legislation that will significantly increase costs of operating jails in each of Oregon's 36 counties. The exact cost is not yet known.

HB 3310 would require each county to have a facility jointly managed by sheriff and community mental health director to house and treat individuals with behavioral health disorders or intellectual or developmental disabilities who are in custody of county sheriff pending trial.

The bill is sponsored only by Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth)and is currently in the House Committee On Judiciary.

The bill contains the following details:
--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-14 14:47:10Last Update: 2021-04-14 20:09:30

Democrats Look to Overturn Fairness Principles in Workplace
Pass ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ Legislation

Senate Democrats charged forward with a plan to bulldoze principles of due process in the workplace.

SB 483 will create a presumption of guilt for employers accused of retaliation. The law would completely change accepted procedures of fairness.

SB 483 is sponsored by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland).

Discrimination and retaliation in the workplace have been illegal for decades. The existing ‘innocent until proven guilty’ system already allows employees to get justice if they have been wronged, evidenced by a 10-fold increase in OSHA complaints in the last year. SB 483 will presume that all employers are guilty of discrimination or retaliation even when the allegations are dubious, or the employee has filed an anonymous complaint. This would create a presumption when an employee alleges retaliation when they don’t get the shifts they want.

“This bill opens up employers to a wide variety of spurious allegations from employees and activist lawyers,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “This would send struggling businesses’ legal expenses through the roof at the same time they are trying to recover from a year of devastating lockdowns. Let me be clear, discrimination or retaliation in the workplace is unacceptable. The remedy for it is not to rewrite the rules of due process.”

Senate Democrats passed SB 483 along party lines. It now heads to the House of Representatives where they will have an opportunity to correct this terrible legislation.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-14 14:28:42Last Update: 2021-04-14 14:47:10

Pseudoephed Bill Clears Committee
Currently, it requires a visit to your doctor

A proposal, HB 2648, from Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) to allow the sale of pseudoephedrine products without a prescription passed out of the House Committee on Health Care this week.

This is the third time that Rep. Post has attempted to remove an unnecessary barrier for Oregonians to lower their health care costs when purchasing pseudoephedrine products. Products such as Sudafed will still be restricted to people who are at least 18 years of age with a valid ID under the proposal.

The impact on health care consumers’ wallets could be significant. Currently, purchasing a pseudoephedrine product requires a visit to your doctor to receive a prescription, which comes with an expensive bill.

“With health care costs skyrocketing, this simple bill to reduce the cost of a common cold medicine should be a no-brainer,” said Rep. Post. “We shouldn’t be asking people to jump through very expensive hoops by visiting a doctor to obtain a prescription to common cold medicine, especially when Oregon is the ONLY state requiring a prescription.”

HB 2648 passed out of the House Committee on Health Care with bipartisan support.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 13:28:29Last Update: 2021-04-14 13:34:07

Decades of Forest Mismanagement Marked
“The federal government needs to have some skin in the game”

The Oregon Senate has approved SJM 3, a memorial calling on the federal government to reimburse property owners for property damage that resulted from a fire that started on mismanaged federal forestlands. The memorial urges Congress to establish a program to give property owners this redress.

The federal government manages 60% of Oregon’s forestland. These federal lands are burning more land at a greater frequency. From 2000 to 2019, 15 of the 16 megafires in Oregon started on federally managed lands. In the last decade, 86% of burned forestland acres have been federal land. United States Forest Service Lands burn at nearly five times the rate of private and state lands.

Under state law, if a spark from your barbeque started a fire on your property and spread to federal land, you would be on the hook for the cost of the damage to federal land. If the fire starts on mismanaged federal forestland and destroys your property, there is no requirement for the federal government to compensate private landowners for damages. SJM 3 brings accountability to the federal government who currently has no incentive to manage forests in a way that will decrease wildfire.

“This legislation recognizes that the federal government’s mismanagement of Oregon forestland has set the conditions for catastrophic wildfires,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) and author of the legislation said. “Republicans have been fighting for responsible management of our forests for decades. Unfortunately, this legislative effort comes after people have died and beautiful forests have been destroyed because of mismanagement. We must turn our focus to prevention. Without active forest management, catastrophic fires will continue to happen.”



In 2020, wildfires in Oregon burned more than 1.2 million acres. The impact on communities across the state was devastating. More than 5,000 homes and commercial structures were destroyed. The 2020 wildfires threatened lives, businesses, homes, displaced thousands of Oregonians, and blanketed the state in dangerously high smoke levels.

In 2020 alone, the cost to fight the fires was at least $354 million. The total cost was even higher. FEMA has estimated that the cost of wildfire/wind damage, response, and debris removal is about $1.15 billion. As of January, Oregon has only received $32.2 million in FEMA Individual Assistance payments to Oregonians.

“The federal government needs to have some skin in the game when it comes to managing our forests responsibly. Oregonians also need to have redress when bad management takes their homes, property, and livelihoods,” Girod added. “I urge Congress to provide and fund an expedient and efficient system to fully reimburse state and local government property owners and especially private property owners for the damage that results from wildfires that start on federal land,” Girod added.

SJM 3 passed the Senate on a 29-1 vote and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 12:43:19Last Update: 2021-04-14 12:52:58

Former Marine Board Director Weighs in on Board Changes
Describes wakeboarding issue as “longstanding hot potato”

As reported in the Northwest Observer, opponents of wakeboarding have put up a bill to change the makeup of the Oregon State Marine Board, and it was suggested that the proposed changes to the board were being made in order to tip the scales on the wakeboarding issue.

If you can't get the legislature to pass the bill clamping down on wakeboarding, change the makeup of the board and have the board do it.

I am Paul Donheffner, and I served as Director of the State Marine Board from 1984 to 2010, so I have more than a little experience working with the members of the Marine Board. HB 2695 is a radical and unnecessary makeover of the Board, which will have negative consequences for years to come.

The reason for this bill appears to be a nexus with HB 2555 and wakeboarding, which is a longstanding hot potato. In a desire to ban wakeboarding on the Willamette River, advocates want to dismantle and re-design the Marine Board to achieve their goals. This is not the right answer. The Board makes decisions based on the statutes created by the Legislature. If the Legislature has a better prescription for wakeboarding, it should set that in law rather than destroying the Board over this one issue.

Re-making the Board using identity politics and labels will not enhance the Board, but instead divide the Board into interest group camps and members who feel an obligation to represent their identity point of view rather than a broader public interest.

Board members serve as citizen volunteers, giving many hours of often thankless work for only mileage and per diem. Board members are vetted by the Governor's office and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. Under this bill as few as two members would actually be boaters, which is just plain wrong.

It is a mistake to exclude persons who might want to serve on the Board because they don't check a certain box. Or because that box is already filled. In addition, if you go down the rabbit hole of identity labels, then this bill fails to check off other groups with a stake. There is nobody representing law enforcement or search and rescue, representing guides or charter boats, representing active water sports, representing marine dealers or tourism, representing local governments, and so on.

And the Division of State Lands and DEQ do not need to serve ex-officio on the Board. Why not ODFW? OSP? State Parks? This quickly gets very unwieldy and political influence sets in. It is not a good model for a volunteer citizen board.

The Legislature should tackle wakeboard policy, but leave identity politics out of the Marine Board. Please vote NO on HB-2695.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 11:23:10Last Update: 2021-04-14 12:22:10

State Marine Board Reconfiguration Motives Revealed
Spoiler alert: It’s about wakeboarding

Currently, the Oregon State Marine Board is comprised of five volunteer members who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Members serve a four-year term and may apply for a second term of service. Members represent different geographic regions of the state and different boating activities. Board members are also recreational boat owners of motorized, non-motorized or both types of watercraft.

Beneath the surface, and unknown to most Oregonians is a raging battle over a stretch of the Willamette River known as Newberg Pool. The battle is over wakeboarding. On one side are boaters who appreciate the deep, wide section of the river and it's use as a great spot for wakeboarding. On the other side are homeowners, concerned about erosion and paddle-wielding, radical environmentalists who won't stand for any vessel propelled by fossil fuels on their river.

For the last few legislative sessions, the wakeboarders have been surviving all attempts to legislate them out of existence. For instance, in the 2018 short session, HB 4099 was introduced to prohibit person from operating motorboat with wake-enhancing device between river mile 30 and river mile 50 on Willamette River and requiring person to operate wakeboard boat at slow, no-wake speed between river mile 30 and river mile 50 on Willamette River. It was later amended to merely set up a task force to study the issue, but even that version died in committee.

This session, HB 2725, introduced by Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), which provides that maximum loading weight of motorboat must be less than 4,000 pounds to obtain towed watersports motorboat certificate, authorizes State Marine Board to conduct study related to increasing prescribed maximum loading weight, and provides that person shall carry towed watersports endorsement if engaged in any towed watersports within Newberg Pool Congested Zone.

Now, desperate environmentalists are looking to HB 2695, introduced by Representative Witt to remake the Oregon State Marine Board. The five-member Marine Board will be replaced by a ten member board, with eight voting members, as follows:

A board of this makeup has fewer boaters who might be expected to be sympathetic to wakeboarders and more members who come from communities -- or could be picked by the Governor -- who are not sympathetic to wakeboarders. this bill is widely seen as a move to give environmentalists more control over the river, and put recreational boaters in their place.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 09:26:27Last Update: 2021-04-14 09:27:52

Fleeing Saudi Defendant Used Oregon Public Defense Funds
Defendant paid high bail with cashier’s check from Saudi government

On August 19, 2016, teenager Fallon Smart was struck by a recklessly speeding gold Lexus owned by Abdulrahman Noorah, a student from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia attending Portland Community College. Fallon died at the scene in her mother’s arms.

Noorah was arraigned at Multnomah County Court on charges including Manslaughter in the First Degree. A bail deposit of $100,000 was paid by the Saudi government and Noorah was released under court-ordered terms including an ankle monitor and participation in a police supervision program. Predictably, Noorah fled the United States before trial, aided by the government of Saudi Arabia—a country that does not extradite. Fallon Smart’s family now has no hope of her killer being brought to justice.

Recently uncovered documents paint an even more disturbing picture of the case, including Noorah’s use of over $32,000 in public defense funds meant for Oregon citizens who cannot afford an attorney—and who certainly do not have a foreign government bailing them out of jail. Noorah’s private attorney, Ginger Mooney of Hood River, appears to have been hired by Saudi Arabia as well, as she had been in several other cases involving Saudi defendants who were aided to escape justice and return home.

When Noorah was bailed out of jail, Mooney paid with a $100,000 cashier’s check from the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia, representing a 10% deposit on the full security amount of $1 million. Astonishingly, the bail paperwork that Noorah and Mooney filled out did not properly identify Saudi Arabia as the “person posting bail.” Instead, a “self-bail” box was checked, certifying that Noorah had paid his own bail.

Mooney then took the paperwork over to Multnomah court where “self-bail” was written twice on Noorah’s release agreement. This allowed the Saudi government to avoid the $900,000 bill when Noorah fled. Instead, the bill went to Noorah at his former Portland address, years after his flight from justice back to Saudi Arabia.

Even worse, it is now known that taxpayer money was used to pay Noorah’s case expenses through Oregon’s Office of Public Defense Services (OPDS), an agency which provides legal representation and other defense services for those who financially qualify. Before he fled, Mooney submitted a sworn affidavit to the Multnomah court certifying that Noorah was “financially eligible” for some expenses to be paid by OPDS. Let that sink in: Despite easily paying the $100,000 bail (and guaranteeing $900,000 more), Mooney claimed that Noorah’s case qualified for public funds.

Mooney’s request was approved by the Multnomah court, and OPDS was eventually billed $32,326.14. When Eric Deitrick, General Counsel of OPDS, was locating information relevant to my most recent public records request, he was surprised to see that public funds from his agency were used in Noorah’s case (and for at least one more of Mooney’s Saudi student defendants). Deitrick told me that this was “problematic,” and said, “Our public defense funds need to go to people who genuinely need those funds. I have no reason to believe the defendants in these cases did, particularly given the ease at which they posted bail.”

Seth Smart, Fallon’s father, is even more disturbed by this newly uncovered information. “The Saudi government can post $100,000 in bail money, but Ms. Mooney uses $33,000 of tax payer dollars to cover expenses in her client’s defense? One word: disgusting.” Smart continued. “As I find out more information about Ginger Mooney and her actions as legal counsel to my daughter’s killer I become more deeply appalled. It seems no matter what aspect of her actions are dug into, it always gets dirtier.”

--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-04-13 16:07:02Last Update: 2021-04-13 15:58:23

Youth Suicide Measure Passes House
Rep. Noble leads Republican caucus to help youth

The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill to address the alarming rise in suicidal ideation among children. Representative Ron Noble (R-McMinnville,) chief sponsor of the bill, was joined by nearly all of his Republican colleagues as co-sponsors.

The proposal would encourage mental health care providers who believe a minor is at risk of attempting suicide to disclose relevant information to a parent, guardian or other individuals who can help take necessary safety measures.

“We need to address the current mental health challenges that our young kids are facing,” said Rep. Noble. “Data has shown that the pandemic’s effects on children and youth coincides with a startling rise in mental health problems, including the increase of suicidal ideation among those between 10 and 17 years old. This bill will empower mental health professionals to rely on their experience and expertise to enlist support of a young person’s family and loved ones who can help before it’s too late.”

HB 3139 was passed with bipartisan support in the House.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-13 15:46:22Last Update: 2021-04-13 17:49:05

Another Leftist Riot in Portland
Has become a common occurance in Portland

On April 12, 2021, a little after 8:30 p.m., crowds gathered near the Penumbra Kelly Building in Portland, Oregon and began throwing objects at police.

The crowd assembled elsewhere and marched to the building. Portland Police officers acted in self-defense and in defense of property first by creating a visible barrier indicating the property was closed. A line of yellow tape, commonly used to close areas for security purposes, was strung across the southern driveway entrances to the property.

The crowd ignored and removed the tape. People threw glass bottles, frozen water bottles, rocks, ball bearings and other objects, and shot fireworks in the direction of police and the building.

Police issued verbal warnings, directing people to stay off the closed Penumbra Kelly Building property, and to remain on sidewalks. Force warnings were given, warning participants in the violent activity that they may be subject to dispersal, including munitions and may be subject to arrest.

The group grew to approximately 200 people, most acting aggressively toward police. The rioters blocked East Burnside to all traffic. Violent leftists from the crowd came onto the closed city property and attempted to set a dumpster on fire using an unknown accelerant.

Many in the crowd persisted throwing projectiles as described. Some continued lighting a fire on the east side of the building, adding wood and other flammable material to it. The violent leftists broke out windows on the front side of the building and there were repeated attempts to breach the front doors of the building. Agitators in the crowd continued to throw concrete, bricks and other objects at officers.

At about 10:20 p.m., officers began moving the crowd away from the Penumbra Kelly building and west on East Burnside.

Neighbors and bystanders called to report thefts from area yards. People in the crowd were stealing rocks and landscaping bricks and other property to use as weapons against police.

All the while, people continued throwing the rocks, bricks, concrete and other dangerous projectiles. Due to the continued coordinated violent, tumultuous conduct by so many in the crowd, which created the risk of public alarm, incident commanders declared an unlawful assembly. The conduct of the crowd did not improve, and incident command declared a riot.

Police purposely disengaged to allow people to begin acting lawfully and peacefully.

The Penumbra Kelly building is owned by the City of Portland and is utilized by offices from city bureaus, including the Office of Community and Civic Life and the Portland Police, as well as Multnomah County Sheriff?s Office. Dozens of calls for police service waited, some for hours, as officers from across the city responded to restore order in the North Tabor neighborhood, where the building sits.

Officers reported significant damage to the exterior of the building, including many broken windows, graffiti and broken light fixtures. Leftist rioters damaged police vehicles with thrown objects and metal devices designed to puncture tires. Officers reported suspects in the crowd fired ball bearings from wrist rockets at them. Many leftist rioters still continued to throw all manner of projectiles, including rocks, pieces of concrete, bricks, bottles and fireworks. Some attempted to burglarize the building by breaching the front doors.

There was no indication that anyone in the crowd attempted to stop the violence that led to the riot. Instead, most of those present actively participated or encouraged the criminal activity.

Police did not make any arrests during this incident, but investigations following the riot last night may lead to arrests. The crime of Riot is a felony in Oregon.

Prior to the riot, police issued numerous warnings, including force warnings, and direction for the crowd to act lawfully. During the riot police issued directions to disperse and continued force warnings. Portland Police utilized impact munitions, oleoresin capsicum (OC), and other control against resistance. No CS gas was used.

While this was happening, other rioters cut through city fences and damaged Portland Police vehicles.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-13 14:33:23Last Update: 2021-04-13 15:24:51

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Raises Questions
CDC and FDA issue joint statement

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has asked all of the state’s vaccine providers to immediately stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, per the announcement from the U.S. CDC and FDA.

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.

FDA will review and investigate these cases. Until that process is complete, the FDA is recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine in part to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.

The FDA claims to take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Health care providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-13 12:48:24Last Update: 2021-04-13 13:49:30

Analysis: Fagan BLM Tweet Out-of-Bounds
Cringeworthy tweet on a recent mistaken police shooting

Back when Dennis Richardson was running for Secretary of State, he stressed the non-partisan and non-political nature of the office. He was quoted as saying “If I’m secretary of state, you won’t be able to tell if I’m Republican or Democrat” and in the opinion of many people, he did run the office that way. According to some, that was a key to his being elected. Voters don't want a partisan in the state's chief elections officer.

Enter Shemia Fagan.

As details are still unfolding regarding what appears to be a very unfortunate mistake by a police officer in Minnesota, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) has posted a tweet -- as Oregon Secretary of State, not as herself -- politicizing the issue.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, including -- maybe even especially -- Secretary Fagan, but it's disappointing to see partisan opinion peddled under the banner of the Office of the Secretary of State.

It's as if she can't help herself from playing politics using a police officer -- who to all appears to have just made a mistake -- from a state halfway across the country.

Fagan is well-known as a political animal. First elected to the Oregon House in 2012, she served two terms until being recruited to run a primary race against then-State Senator Rod Monroe. From her State Senate seat, she ran a public-employee-union-funded campaign against fellow Senator Kin Thatcher.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-12 20:24:21Last Update: 2021-04-13 15:43:29

Kate Brown’s Cannabis Equity Board
Equity oversight of marijuana?

Democrats in Oregon now want to have oversight of marijuana and want to spend money as they see fit through a "Cannabis Equity Fund".

HB 3112 is a bill currently in the Oregon legislature that is sponsored by Representative Ricki Ruiz (D-Portland), Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene), Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), Representative Mark Meek (D-Gladstone), Representative Karin Power (D-Portland), Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), and Senator Kayse Jama (D-Portland).

HB 3112, if passed, would establish a Cannabis Equity Board within the office of Governor Kate Brown in order to provide "equity" oversight of cannabis industry in Oregon.

The bill contains the following proposals: The Oregon Judicial Department has expressed concern about the legislation via testimony.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-12 19:02:53Last Update: 2021-04-12 22:29:57

Record Low Temps Grace Portland
The dawn of global cooling?

The coldest it has ever been at the Portland Airport in the 80 years of records was 33° F. Friday night we got down to 33° F, and even lower at the Troutdale Airport. Radiative cooling under clear skies left a white frosty landscape by morning.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide did not save us.

And the record cold did not stop there. Here is the Weather Service Record Event report for our area:

SXUS76 KPQR 111629

900 AM PDT SUN APR 11 2021


ASTORIA 30° 31° (1991)
EUGENE 30° 31° (1991)
HILLSBORO 26° 30° (1947)
PORTLAND AIRPORT 32° 33° (1991)
SALEM 29° TIED 29° (1991)
TROUTDALE 29° 31° (1965)
VANCOUVER 28° TIED 28° (1980)

And for good measure, here are the record lows set on Friday morning:

Record Report

632 PM PST FRI APR 9 2021


ASTORIA 30° 32°/1982
TROUTDALE 31° 32°/1975

--Staff Reports with Dr. Gordon Fulks

Post Date: 2021-04-12 10:44:11Last Update: 2021-04-12 12:07:02

Bills Moving at a “Controlled Pace”
There’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline

For weeks, the Oregon House only met 1 day a week to read, debate and vote on bills. However, after a shutdown of the House floor due to a positive COVID-19 case, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) decided to kick the legislature into high gear. She began scheduling “daily double” floor session starting March 30th.

On March 30, there were 45 bills scheduled for 2nd reading, setting up the opening of the flood gates. The next day the House was able to move just one bill on a party line vote. Why? The bill voted on was only slightly controversial. It required local governments to allow the conversion of hotels and motels into emergency homeless shelters or affordable housing. While historically it was permissible by local land use planners, HB 3261, introduced by Representative Pam Marsh (D-Portland), would now require local jurisdiction to allow it.

However, that issue was not the cause of the delay. What brought the House to a crawl was the reading of the next bill, HB 2111 which was 170 pages long. The Minority party has refused to suspend the rules which requires the reading of each bill, in its entirety, prior to debate and vote. The bill took almost 8 hours to read.

In a recent article by Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer), he shared the rationale behind the minority request to read the bills in their entirety before a vote. “House Republicans are currently slowing down the Oregon Legislature which is trying to rush passing more than 4,000 wide-ranging bills in a pandemic session. While most bills will have bipartisan consensus like the budget, there are still about 10 percent of the proposals that are partisan, and I believe could make life far worse for Oregonians”.

By April 1, the House had only passed 11 bills including 4 agency budget bills which were moved up the list through bipartisan negotiations. The chamber was also originally scheduled to meet on Good Friday and the Saturday of Easter weekend, but those floor sessions were ultimately canceled by the Speaker of the House possibly as a part of the bipartisan negotiations. The House resumed on Monday the 5th with a planned week of “daily double” floor sessions. They quickly managed to whittle off 12 bills from the growing list, but the bills being 2nd read were ever growing and backfilling the 3rd reading list faster than it was being trimmed down. The House continued to meet twice a day through Saturday afternoon trying to shorten the list. However, at the end of the day Saturday, the 3rd reading list posted for Monday contained 50 Bills more than they had two weeks ago.

However, next week the flow of bills out of most of the committees will come to a halt. The calendar dictates that committee bills must be moved out of committee in the original chamber by the end of the day April 13. In addition, the committee chairs from the majority party started canceling committee hearings for next week -- after the 13th -- to clear the calendar for some exceptionally long floor sessions.

Starting Thursday, the House will meet 8 to 10 hours a day just to vote on bills. House Speaker Kotek appears to be determined to clear the list and keep all the bills in the queue moving despite pleas from the Republicans that the focus should be placed on agency budget bills, wildfire relief and COVID-19.

Despite procedural tools use by the minority party such as reading of the bills in their entirety and lengthy floor speeches supporting and opposing bills, there is little the Republicans can do to stop the agenda of the super majority.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-12 10:10:58Last Update: 2021-04-12 10:44:11

OLCC Approves Floor Pricing
Addresses public health concerns

On April 8th, after listening to spirited testimony, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) approved a floor pricing proposal for distilled spirits which increases the price of the lowest priced spirits sold in Oregon liquor stores.

The wine industry also provided the Commission an overview of its plan to recover from the state mandated lock-down and to return the industry to the growth trajectory it was on in 2019.

Earlier this year, in response to public health concerns around alcohol addiction, the OLCC proposed implementing a “floor” for the lowest priced spirits sold by the OLCC. In the weeks leading up to today’s Commission meeting, the agency received approximately 500 written comments about the proposal. The Commission framed the issue as balancing business interests with public health concerns.

During the mandated lock-down, the OLCC loosened alcohol regulations which have provided Oregonians with easier access to liquor. Liquor stores were deemed essential.

“We increased delivery and availability in the face of COVID,” said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks. “We became intently aware of the State’s alcohol problem and the impact that alcohol was having on Oregon itself. We principally put this forward as an option because it’s what we could do on the public health front. We control the pricing policy.”

Public health advocates and addiction researchers testified in favor of proposed floor pricing citing research that shows increased prices drive down purchases.

“Increasing the price of alcohol is an effective,evidence based strategy that we can now take to reduce excessive alcohol use,”said Dr. Reginald Richardson,Chair of the Oregon Alcohol Drug and Policy Commission.

Liquor store owners voiced their support by pointing out that low priced distilled spirits are “loss leaders” that are favored by customers who have addiction issues.

However,the hospitality industry and business groups affiliated with alcohol licensees said floor pricing jeopardizes the hospitality industry’s fragile recovery. Opponents testified that they believe it’s the wrong time for increasing bar and restaurant operating costs.

“Now is not the time to make it more difficult for bars and restaurants to do business and serve customers. Let’s build on the good will of the accomplishments of the past year,” said Greg Astley from the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Commissioners raised concerns about other price hike proposals being discussed at the legislature and the impact on Oregon small businesses.

“We’re all concerned citizens on this Commission”, said Commission Chair Paul Rosenbaum. “We are certainly aware of the terrible and difficult circumstances facing restaurant and bar owners in this state. We’re also aware of the drug and alcohol addiction, as well in this state. So there’s competing factors.”

The Commissioners ultimately voted to approve floor pricing, which will take effect July 1, 2021.

Oregon wine industry representatives provided Commissioners with their plan to recover from COVID lock-downs and wildfire impacts, which they estimate reduced wine businesses’ revenues by about 20 percent. In fact, before the pandemic the industry was generating $7.21 billion in economic impact for the state and Oregon wines were continuing their ascent in world-class stature. Fortunately, grape growers were able to partner with Oregon State University to swiftly test whether wine grapes had been impacted by smoke from the wildfires enabling growers to make informed business decisions about their harvest.

To recover from the mandated state lock-down, the industry is launching a marketing campaign called “True Character” to bring consumers back to Oregon wines and tourists back to Oregon wineries. The industry expects wine tourism will initially be limited to short-distance in-state travelers, and expects the overall recovery to be gradual in relation to the post lock-down comeback.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-11 18:03:25Last Update: 2021-04-11 18:45:14

Analysis: What the Court Did to Redsistricting
We’ve seen this process before, and seen it's results.

Finally citizens of Oregon have received some great news regarding the future of their representation in the Oregon Legislature and in Washington DC.

Once Every 10 years voter representation in both the State Legislature and in Washington DC is revisited. Lines are redrawn based on population changes obtained by the US census. The 2020 census appears to point to significant growth in Oregon’s population. Growth large enough to warrant adding an additional Congressional seat to Oregon’s representation in Washington DC. The process, however, has been in limbo from the very beginning due to the delay in census data availability.

The Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling that granted the bipartisan legislative request to extend the timeline to finish the redistricting process. They will issue a writ of mandamus allowing the Legislature to have the first chance to come up with a redistricting plan. The revised deadlines would require an emergency special session and would give the Legislature until September 27 to enact a redistricting plan, ensuring it becomes effective by February 1, 2022.

The opinion, issued by Chief Justice Walters, will keep the process from being transferred to Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan opposed the Legislature retaining control of the process. However, the Oregon Supreme Court rejected her attempt to block their control, calling her legal arguments flawed.

Last year The Oregon League of Women Voters began an initiative petition aimed at ending political gerrymandering in Oregon. They sought to ask the voters to approve the creation of an independent citizens' redistricting commission for reapportioning Oregon's state legislative districts. Commissioners would have been selected by county officials. 83 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 60 percent of Republicans support independent redistricting, according to data shared by Norman Turrill, Chair of the People Not Politicians, during a recent House Special Committee on Redistricting hearing. The House Republicans agree and continue to call for the Legislature to follow Washington and California by establishing its own independent redistricting commission. “Oregon needs to commit to a nonpartisan and transparent redistricting process,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (HD39-Canby.) “Shockingly, we are the only state on the west coast that does not currently have an independent redistricting commission. In fact, we’re behind 26 other states in the country that have or are moving to an independent system this year. Oregonians deserve better, and they overwhelmingly support independent redistricting” she concluded in a press release.

What could have happened is that the redistricting task could have fallen to the Secretary of State, where the job gets done behind closed doors, without transparency. We've seen this process before, and seen it's results.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-11 10:16:07Last Update: 2021-04-09 10:32:20

Measure 11 Lowered Racial Disparities
Measure 11 removes the hidden biases that come into play

Proponents of eliminating of Ballot Measure 11 uniformly claim, without presenting any evidence whatsoever, that the measure has increased racial disparities in the justice system. Not only is this claim categorically false, but the exact opposite is true. Ballot Measure 11 has significantly improved racial disparities in felony sentencing and imprisonment in Oregon, and among some minority groups, has totally eliminated those disparities. Any assertion to the contrary is simply false.

Academics utilize a data tool called the Relative Rate Index to quantify disparities among demographic groups. The RRI measures the rate at which a demographic group appears in the particular category under study against the rate at which that demographic group appears in the general population. For instance, if a particular racial group constitutes 10% of the general population, but 20% of infant mortality deaths, an obvious disparity exists. That RRI ratio of 1:2 represents a significant issue for policy makers to address.

To analyze over-representation by race in the criminal justice system, data analysts use the Relative Rate Index to compare the general population percentage of a particular race or ethnic group to the percentage of the prison population by race. Since the advent of Ballot Measure 11 in 1995, racial disparities in the prison system have improved dramatically. Disparities for Blacks have been cut in half, and disparities among Hispanics have disappeared completely in Oregon. Whites, on the other hand, have been incarcerated in prison at increasing rates since Measure 11 was instituted.

The obvious conclusion is that a sentencing system that encourages a fixed sentence (contrary to what opponents claim, Measure 11 is not a completely mandatory sentencing law) removes the hidden biases that come into play in a subjective sentencing process. The Relative Rate Index data is clear. Because of Ballot Measure 11, racial disparities in violent felony sentencing have improved as follows:

Hispanic disparities. In 1994, Hispanics made up 3.97% of Oregon’s general population, but 10.41% of its prison population. Today, Hispanics constitute 13.4% of Oregon general population, but 13.2% of Oregon prison population. Not only have all Hispanic racial disparities been eliminated among prison inmates in Oregon, but Hispanics now represent a lower percentage of Oregon prison population than they do in Oregon’s general population. Justice system incarceration disparities for Hispanics in Oregon have been eliminated since the advent of Ballot Measure 11. African-American disparities. In 1994, African-Americans made up 1.62% of Oregon’s general population, and today that figure is 2.20%. Using the RRI analysis for African-Americans in Oregon’s prison system, the RRI ratio in 1994 was 8.2:1. The ratio today is 4.2:1, meaning that justice system racial disparities among African-Americans have been cut in half since BM11 came into effect.

Native-American/Alaskan disparities. In 1994, Native-American/Alaska natives made up 1.35% of state general population, and today that figure is 1.80%. In 1994, justice system disparities for this group were 1.72:1. Today, that figure is 1.77:1, essentially unchanged.

White disparities. The white RRI ratio has increased from .787:1 in 1994 to .861:1 today. RRI data makes it clear that Measure 11 has increased the share of Oregon prison inmates who are white.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-10 18:40:32Last Update: 2021-04-10 21:40:13

Clackamas County Seeks Economic Justice
Hospital capacity remains stable in the region

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has sent the following letter to Governor Kate Brown in response to the governor moving the county to the high-risk level under the state’s public health framework for COVID-19, which is effective Friday.

Dear Governor Brown:

Oregonians have sacrificed and lost much over the past year as they have fought through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud of our Clackamas County residents and businesses who have complied with your orders and who take protective measures every day, such as masking up and changing business operations.

It brings us great delight to see children back at school and the hum of school buses traveling down our streets. Thank you for allowing a return to in-person instruction and activities. We know this will help the mental health of our youth. This disease has greatly harmed our children and it is time for us to help them recover and thrive.

Our businesses have been safely operating in Moderate Risk since Feb. 26, while continuing to abide by OHA’s guidelines. They have continued to make every effort to work in a way that will help slow the spread of the virus, often at a cost to them. We were frustrated to learn on Tuesday that, by tomorrow, Clackamas County businesses will be mandated to cut back on capacity as we are moved to the High Risk category. Our understanding was that we would receive a two-week caution period before having our risk category changed. Three days’ notice to our businesses to prepare to cut capacity does not afford them the time necessary to plan for inventory reduction, staffing changes, and every day operation modifications. As an example, many of our restaurants have spent $10,000 - $20,000 in purchasing supplies and retraining and hiring employees that will be lost by this sudden change.

We know that reopening schools to in-person instruction, coupled with businesses bringing employees and customers back, results in COVID-19 cases rising. This is not new information and it is not surprising.

However, reopening then closing businesses, and moving kids from hybrid in-person to only virtual learning, would cause harm in addition to rising COVID-19 cases. The economic hardships will be felt by our communities for years.

We believe there is an opportunity to consider other factors when determining community risk level.

For example, in Clackamas County, we have identified many of our positive COVID-19 cases are generally contained to outbreaks connected to school activities outside of in-person instruction, such as small social gatherings. We have also found that very few are related to workplaces. Holding back the entire community and demanding that hundreds of businesses reduce capacity – and place more people back in the unemployment line – is not sustainable and causes additional harm.

We understand that hospital capacity was a factor in your recent decision to move us back to High Risk, but we must point out that our hospital capacity remains stable in the region. We fully understand the need to keep cases low to ensure we have enough hospital capacity, ICU beds and ventilators. Although cases are going up, as expected, we have successfully maintained capacity and been able to provide the needed services for our most severe cases. Hospital capacity cannot be understated. Please consider a region’s hospital capacity and outbreak sources before deciding to move a county into a higher risk level. Reducing business capacity due to case counts alone, when other public health metrics should be considered, is another setback to our entire community.

As more and more have access and receive the vaccine every day, we ask that the risk levels determined by the state include other factors. Please consider elements beyond how many cases per 100,000 people. For example, if the cases are contained to outbreaks, an entire community should not be punished. Outbreaks were once a metric for reopening Oregon in the past and can be again.

We are also concerned about the accelerated timeline for vaccine eligibility that does not match available vaccine supplies. We want to continue to uplift the need for vaccine allocations to be redistributed to the most populated areas in the state, including Clackamas County, that are still behind in providing access to community members that have been eligible for weeks and frustrated, especially our local frontline workers and small businesses.

Our residents have been through much – three declared disasters in 11 months. While our communities are resilient, many businesses and their employees are on precipice of collapse. We must also consider the impact to our lower socioeconomic groups. This is about economic justice for people. Please allow us the two week caution period and focus the efforts of education and enforcement on the populations where the spikes are occurring.

Clackamas County is committed to work collaboratively with the State to fight the spread of the virus. We ask you to take our feedback and recommendations to heart. We work closest with our most affected communities and can provide insight in what is working and what is not. We are available to further discuss these considerations further.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-10 18:32:52Last Update: 2021-04-10 18:40:32

Hatchet Assault Suspect Arrested Again
Also robbed a donut shop with hatchet year ago

A man who threatened a driver with a hatchet is facing charges. He was charged in a similar crime nearly one year ago in the same city. Crime rates in Portland have been climbing since District Attorney Mike Schmidt's announcement to not prosecute some crimes in Multnomah County.

On Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 3:21p.m., Portland Central Precinct officers were called to a threat with weapon call near Northwest 20th Avenue and Northwest Northrop Street. As officers were responding, they learned that several callers were reporting someone swinging around a hatchet and hitting a car with it.

When officers arrived, a witness pointed out the suspect. They arrested Christopher L. James, 41, and seized the involved hatchet.

Investigating officers learned that James fixated on a subject sitting in a vehicle nearby. James, with hatchet in hand, ran towards the driver's side of the vehicle. As James approached, he raised the hatchet as if he was going to hit the caller who was seated in the vehicle. Fearing for his life, the caller started to drive off. As he did so, James struck the vehicle with the hatchet causing damage.

James was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Attempted Assault in the Second Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Menacing.

Officers used no force taking this armed suspect into custody.

Christopher L. James had also been arrested about one year prior, on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 3:42a.m in the morning he robbed a donut shop with a hatchet.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-10 16:15:10Last Update: 2021-04-10 16:54:08

Oregon Peeps Go After Vaccine Passports
More about stealing freedoms than about COVID-19 protection

A new movement across the state is budding called Tore Says Oregon Peeps. Inspired by a Cleveland radio host of Tore Says, Tore Says Oregon Peeps. Inspired by a Cleveland radio host of Tore Says, Tore Maras is exposing deep state activities. What is getting a lot of attention with the Tore Says Oregon Peeps is “vaccine passports,” which mimics travel passports but requires citizens to show proof they have received a vaccination for COVID-19 in order to be allowed to enter an area or establishment.

New York is the first state to formally launch a “vaccine passport” program called “Excelsior Pass.” It allows residents to pull up a code on their phones to prove they have been vaccinated or have tested negative. Hawaii has adopted a “Safe Travels” passport. Amazon is also discussing using this as a platform to handle financial transactions and tracking people. After Tore Maras sent letters in Ohio, legislation was introduced to not allow entities to require disclosure of vaccination status or anything similar to vaccine passports.

Tore Says Oregon Peeps is trying to keep this issue out of Oregon. They sent two rounds of letters that layout case law and federal law for Oregonians that do not want to get the vaccine and prohibits discriminating against. The letters to the Attorney General with a copy to Governor Brown and legislators were sent alerting them that Oregon businesses, schools and other organizations are receiving misinformation on mandating vaccinations, having no authority to mandate use of vaccines, which are not yet fully approved by the FDA. Moreover, any form of discrimination against those choosing not to be vaccinated is in direct violation of state and federal law. Code 28 CFR § 36.105(b)(2) specifically lists human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic). The letters demonstrate federal law prohibits private places of accommodation from discrimination against any person on the basis of their “physiological condition” which, by law, includes the present status of their immune system. In addition, employers are expressly prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of genetic information.

It is clear that the purpose for these passports is more about stealing freedoms than about COVID-19 protection. Otherwise, a certificate from a physician could establish whether you have had COVID-19 or a vaccine, so there is no need for the passport if that was truly the only intention, to say nothing of the fact that vaccination status is a personal healthcare decision, and should be covered by privacy laws.

Tore Says Oregon Peeps’ campaign is available for participation and have provided a draft letter to copy into an email and email addresses for those wishing to participate. You can also use their letter with the documentation, or use them for guidance.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abe Lincoln

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-10 09:34:14Last Update: 2021-04-14 11:23:10

Mandated Headlights in the Daytime
May be impossible to enforce

Yet another unnecessary burden may be placed on Oregonians if a new law is passed that has been proposed by an Oregon Democrat. The proposed legislation is related to vehicle headlight use.

Sponsored by Senator Lee Beyer (D-Eugene) SB 166 would require the use of motor vehicle headlights at all times when vehicle is being driven on highway.

Violations would be punished by maximum fine of $1,000.

The bill does provide exceptions for vehicles equipped with daytime running lights. The issue of visibility seems to be the driving force behind the proposed law, but proponents may be overlooking the bigger issue of drivers just not paying attention.

Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus once famously said: "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." Observers have noted this may be one of those instances where that saying again rings true.

Much documented testimony on record with the state legislature seems to indicate strong opposition to this legislation from Oregonians, and it's passage doesn't seem likely. However, the legislature is still operating with the public not allowed to participate in person at the Salem capitol building.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-09 11:14:36Last Update: 2021-04-09 12:42:53

High Court Sides With Legislature on Redistricting
Secretary of State Fagan

The Oregon Supreme Court has issued a decision that granted the bipartisan legislative request to extend the timeline to finish the redistricting process to September 27. The Constitution gives the Legislature authority to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries but that authority was put in jeopardy by delays in U.S. Census data.

The opinion, issued by Chief Justice Walters, would keep the process from the partisan Secretary of State and keep the process in the legislature. The Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan, opposed the Legislature, hoping to take control of the redistricting process. The Oregon Supreme Court rejected her partisan attempt, calling her legal arguments flawed.

“We have had a good working relationship among the Senate members of the committee,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), vice-chair of the Redistricting Committee, said. “Election integrity and fair districts live to fight another day because of this decision. It ensures that we can continue to work together to ensure that Oregonians can pick their representatives fairly.”

The Supreme Court will issue a writ of mandamus allowing the Legislature to have the first chance to come up with a redistricting plan. The revised deadlines would require an emergency special session. It would give the Legislature until September 27 to enact a redistricting plan, ensuring it becomes effective by February 1, 2022.

The High Court said, in a summary document:

If it were possible for the State of Oregon to comply with all the requirements of Article IV, section 6, the Court explained, it would require that it do so. But here, where it is not possible for the state to create a reapportionment plan based on federal census data and still comply with the constitutionally prescribed deadlines, and where it is possible for the state to fulfill its paramount duties in compliance with modified deadlines, the Court concluded that it had authority to direct the state to comply with modified deadlines.

“Oregonians expect their district to be fairly drawn,” Senate Republican Leader, Fred Girod said. “The most important principles for Republicans are ‘One-Person-One-Vote’ and upholding the Voting Rights Act. Gerrymandering is unacceptable and by keeping this process in the Legislature, we have a chance to come to a bipartisan agreement to draw fair lines.” The High Court restated the revised plan, with dates:


Wildfire Tax Relief Passes Oregon House
Some Oregonians are still rebuilding their lives

The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to help Oregonians who own property that was damaged or completely destroyed by wildfires.

The new law will authorize tax collectors in a county covered by a state of emergency declared by the Governor, due to wildfire or other act of God, to prorate taxes imposed on a property that was destroyed or damaged, putting more cash into the pockets of Oregonians who need it to recover from devastating losses.

Republicans also expedited the passage of the bill by waiving the requirement to read it in full on the floor before voting. Republicans have not been granting this waiver of the constitutional requirement during this session. Work on wildfire relief measures began during a special session in the fall of 2020 to immediately respond to historic wildfires that ignited during Labor Day weekend.

“I have met with people in my community that literally lost everything to these fires,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “The current process for relief is not working for those who lost their homes and so much more. We have to do everything we can to focus on supporting these Oregonians who are in this position to help them rebuild their lives. I know that this bill can make a big difference, and I hope it is just the beginning.”

At the end of March, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) issued a call for the Legislature to refocus its priorities on issues like wildfire relief that continue to be an immediate need for Oregonians.

HB 2341 was passed with unanimous support in the House.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-08 20:10:19Last Update: 2021-04-08 20:19:21

Bias Crimes Hit Outdoor Recreation
It becomes clear the penalties are particularly aimed at white people.

SB 289 was introduced as a study of laws relating to environmental equity. But, Senator Lee Beyer’s Committee On Energy and Environment saw fit to replace it. Not all committee members agreed with this move, but not the ones you would think. Thus far the session has produced bill after bill expanding the rights of inmates, early release, and benefits for rehabilitation. Along comes the amended version of SB 289 prohibiting a person convicted of a first or second degree bias crime committed on water or public land used for outdoor recreation from entering or remaining in any building, land or water of the state used for outdoor recreation for a period of at least six months, but not longer than five-years in addition to any other penalty.

When a bill is replaced, known as “gut and stuff,” the content being "stuffed" has to fall within the "relating to" clause. Finding the connection to “environmental equity” seems absent. Since it is claimed that the majority of convictions are people of color, isn't this a racist concept that goes against the equity agenda?

Digging deeper into the “bias crime,” it becomes clear the penalties are particularly aimed at white people.

In ORS 166.155 to 166.165, a person commits a bias crime in the second degree if the person intentionally subjects another person to offensive physical contact because of the person’s perception, perceived threatening alarm, or tampers or interferes with property, having no right to do so with the intent to cause substantial inconvenience to another person because the person’s perception of the other person is race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin; and it is a first degree crime if intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes these actions.

SB 289 not only seems discriminatory, but. ORS 166.155 should be of concern to every person when perceptions are used for conviction of a crime. What does it say about our liberties when you can’t read Huck Finn or Little House on the Prairie or the Bible in the open by the camp fire?

The bill heads to the Senate Floor for a vote.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-08 18:19:33Last Update: 2021-04-08 18:50:27

Breakthrough Cases Number Released
Vaccinated individuals test positive for COVID-19

The Oregon Health Authority has finally identified and released the count of 168 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases, including 3 deaths, as of April 2, 2021.

Breakthrough cases are when vaccinated individuals test positive for the virus.

OHA public health officials say it’s a reminder that no vaccine is 100% effective, and vaccine breakthrough cases will occur.

These cases have been reported in 25 counties and all health care preparedness regions. OHA is not reporting the regions in which the deaths took place.

Vaccine breakthrough cases are defined as instances in which an individual received a positive COVID-19 test result at least 14 days after the final dose of any COVID-19 vaccine series.

Many of the vaccine breakthrough cases identified experienced asymptomatic infection and were tested for other reasons. Eleven percent of the vaccine breakthrough cases were hospitalized within the 30 days following their positive test, and most occurred in people older than 65 or with underlying health conditions. The three deaths represent fewer than 2% of the vaccine breakthrough cases, and none of the vaccine breakthrough cases were associated with a COVID-19 variant.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-08 17:32:59Last Update: 2021-04-08 18:58:02

Legislature Moves Child Care Bills
Make childcare more affordable and accessible

The House Committee on Early Childhood yesterday passed four bills with bipartisan support to make childcare more affordable and accessible for families, provide broader and more immediate access to paid family leave and address a safety concern to protect infant lives.

Three of the bills were sponsored by Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) as either a chief or regular sponsor.

“2020 caused so many disruptions for families because of the pandemic and government-mandated stay-at-home orders,” said Rep. Zika. “Families need more options for affordable and accessible childcare as they continue to cope with working from home or dealing with prolonged closures of their previous childcare facilities. The additional access to paid family leave will also provide peace of mind that can be a big help as people continue facing many unknowns.”

Representative Boomer Wright (R-Coos Bay) and Representative Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook) also voted to pass all four proposals out of the committee.

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues in passing these important bills,” added Rep. Wright. “Our job this session should be helping Oregonians who are still facing severe hardship brought on by a year of the pandemic, natural disasters and more. These proposals represent the kind of work we should be doing to make things easier for them.”

“Accessible childcare and paid family leave are so important for providing stability in family life,” said Rep. Weber. “Whatever we can do as legislators to make life easier for Oregonians should be our top priorities.” At the end of March, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) issued a call for the Legislature to refocus its priorities to help Oregonians recover from negative effects brought on by the pandemic. Issues such as lack of adequate childcare continues to be an immediate need.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-08 12:26:49Last Update: 2021-04-08 12:42:50

Loans for Minorities Only
Brought to you by Kate Brown’s Racial Justice Council

In a House Committee On Economic Recovery and Prosperity meeting on April 6, 2021, Oregon legislators discussed the ramifications of passing HB 2266, a bill which would provide economic recovery loans for Oregonians, but only if their skin is a certain color.

Representative John Lively (D-Springfield) is the sponsor of the legislation which allegedly would direct the Oregon Business Development Department to study the use of economic development methods for purpose of assisting businesses, but is done with targeted outreach so that only a minority owned business would see the advantage.

While discussing the implications of such a unconstitutional law, Representative Kim Wallan (R-Medford) asked the committee if these unconstitutional race-based requirements might be removed in the spirit of reaching as many struggling businesses as possible.

The answer that the Republican legislator eventually receives comes from Leah Horner from the Office of Governor Kate Brown, and may seem disappointing to observers noting the regressive nature of racial segregation.

She simply states that Kate Brown's Racial Justice Council decided that the bill is intended to be written exactly as it is, including the unconstitutional racial elements, and they intend it to be passed as is.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-07 20:25:47Last Update: 2021-04-08 11:29:38

Dems Hide Cap and Trade Proposal
Unprecedented level of lurking in backroom deal

A proposal that would replicate a portion of one of the most contentious issues in recent years was finalized with special interests without ever publishing the language for the public.

A bill amendment to replicate part of cap-and-trade, one of the most contentious legislative issues in recent years, was drafted and then discussed during a committee hearing without ever providing the language to the public beforehand or knowledge that it would be discussed during the committee.

The House Energy and Environment Committee allowed public testimony on an unpublished amendment to HB 2021, introduced by Pam Marsh (D-Ashland) who also chairs the committee. The amendment introduces sweeping legislation that seeks to impose costly regulations on the state’s supply of electricity. Special interest groups testified at length in support of a “-5 amendment” that was not made publicly available to everyday Oregonians. Republican lawmakers on the committee received the draft language at 11am during session before the 1pm hearing, leaving them little time to read the amendment. Republicans criticized the move as the antithesis of transparency and the exact opposite of how the legislative process should be conducted.

Despite an hour and a half of prepared testimonies from special interests, the amendment will only receive a half hour of testimony on Wednesday now that it is public knowledge.

Prior to the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, the majority insisted that it would be the most transparent session despite keeping the public out of the building. This recent move by Democrats to quietly replicate a portion of cap-and-trade with an amendment behind closed doors calls that claim into question.

“The last thing we should do during this precarious pandemic session is conceive, draft and finalize legislation behind closed doors,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan. “Discussing a contentious proposal in a committee without ever providing it to the public beforehand is not transparent. It’s a false formality with the intention of passing laws that have zero public input. That’s breaking a promise we made to Oregonians ahead of this virtual session.”

While representatives from environmental justice organizations, investor-owned utility companies and even Democratic members of the committee repeatedly expressed support for an unpublished -5 amendment, members of the public were left in the dark.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 19:42:03Last Update: 2021-04-07 20:07:50

College Textbook Affordability
Do you remember the scam of college textbooks?

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission is pleased to share a new report submitted to the Oregon Legislature showing that Oregon’s statewide investment in textbook affordability is having a significant impact on making postsecondary education more affordable. The report analyzes the impact of the state’s investment from 2015 to the present on developing and promoting high-quality, no-cost and low-cost course materials -- Open Educational Resources -- for use in Oregon’s public colleges and universities. In short, the program provides modular online resources in place of expensive, cumbersome and environmentally impactful dead-tree textbooks.

Amy Hofer, coordinator of statewide open education library services for Open Oregon Educational Resources, says, “We expect that every grant dollar spent by the state will translate to six dollars saved by students in the current budget cycle. Faculty, librarians, and campus store managers are aware of the financial pressures facing students and are increasingly interested in using open educational resources or other low-cost alternatives to commercial textbooks. Affordable textbooks are especially important with students struggling to meet basic needs as a result of new hardships brought on by the pandemic.”

Kyle Thomas, director of legislative and policy affairs for the HECC, says, “Oregon’s forward-looking investment in expanding OER is successfully reducing the unexpected high costs that far too many students face with textbook and course materials. For every course that this investment supports in shifting to OER, hundreds of students can be impacted over many years. We commend the faculty, administrators, and our partners at Open Oregon Education Resources for their innovative work for students, and we look forward to continuing this momentum.” The report also summarizes a 2019 analysis of 19 public community college and university course schedules, describing the impact of courses being designated no-cost or low-cost, a requirement imposed by legislation in 2015. In 2017-19, 12 percent of courses at the reporting institutions were designated as no-cost or low-cost, representing an estimated savings of $34 million for over 375,000 students in those two academic years. In addition, Oregon community colleges significantly reduced the estimated cost of course materials for transfer degrees during the four years between 2015-19.

Oregon is a national leader in open education, with a well-developed community of practice around OER development and implementation. In addition to the grant funding, a new development in this work is external funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for 2020-2022, enabling Open Oregon Educational Resources to develop a statewide professional development course: the Equity & Open Education Faculty Cohort Model. This professional development course, designed by library faculty member Jen Klaudinyi at Portland Community College, is now available to faculty to help them consider open educational practices with an equity lens, including universal design, cultural relevance, and diverse perspectives. The next cohort will convene during summer term.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 19:07:19Last Update: 2021-04-07 19:19:06

Republicans Fight Controversial Bills
Bills with negative consequences for Oregonians, they claim

In an effort to focus on the issues most critical to recovery and stabilization, Republicans in the Oregon House of Representatives last week announced that they would waive the readings of budget-related bills to expedite their passage and the critical funding that they provide for communities across the state.

However, Republicans today stated that they are still committed to using legislative tools at their disposal to voice their opposition on several contentious bills moving forward that would have long-lasting negative consequences for Oregonians.

“It’s our job in the minority party to provide a critical check on the balance of power in the Legislature so that we aren’t passing bills drafted on the fly that would have serious unintended consequences for our communities,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Several proposals this year have been rushed through committees despite serious opposition from stakeholders and citizens who face hurdles navigating the virtual testimony process.”

Contentious bills moving through the Legislature include: “We are worried that the majority party’s agenda is disconnected from what people need right now. Its policies would kill jobs, make schools and communities less safe, and raise the cost of living in Oregon,” added Leader Drazan. “With the people’s Capitol closed to them, they need us to work on fundamental priorities: balancing the budget, supporting public health, recovering from natural disasters and fixing the damage done by the shutdowns for our kids and communities.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 18:33:05Last Update: 2021-04-07 20:17:03

Healthcare for Illegal Aliens
“The remaining gaps are in the BIPOC communities”

In 2009, the Legislature passed HB 2116, establishing the Health Care for All Oregon Children (Healthy Kids) program that made healthcare coverage available to children 0-18 whose family earned up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

The in 2017, SB 558, Cover All Kids, passed and extended coverage to all children residing in Oregon, regardless of immigration status, whose families fell below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. According to the Oregon Health Authority, at the end of the 2017-19 biennium, nearly 5,900 children had enrolled in Cover All Kids program.

In March, Governor Brown introduced HB 2164 which she referred to as “Cover All People Program”. The legislation came out of the Racial Justice Council Health Equity Committee. “All Oregonians must have quality, affordable healthcare regardless of who they are or where they live”. The Governor told the committee. “94% of Oregonians and 100% of children currently have access to healthcare, but the remaining gaps are in the BIPOC communities”. HB 2164 and the -3 amendment would work to close that gap.

HB 2164 was a placeholder bill until the hearing where the 14 page -3 amendments were introduced by Representative Salinas (D-Lake Oswego). By modifying the original language of the bill from Health Care for All Oregon Children Program to the Cover All People Program, it gets at the hear of the Governors desired changes. “Cover All People is a program to provide authorization for a State based Oregon health plan which would include coverage to medically underserved people for example undocumented adults, DACA recipients and legal permanent residents” she noted.

The Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in March of 2010, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, has eligibility requirements that exclude many people living in Oregon from access. It was pointed out by the Oregon Center for Public Policy in written testimony that “Latinos comprise Oregon’s largest group of immigrants. Because of exclusionary health insurance structures based on immigration status, Latinos have one of the highest uninsured rates among racial and ethnic groups in the state”. Indeed, the eligibility requirement to access the ACA program are that the individual must be currently living in the United States, be a US citizen or legal resident and not be incarcerated. The -3 amendment to HB2164 works around the ACA. SECTION 1 of the proposed amendment would eliminate that Federal barrier. The changes ORS 414.231(2) would now read:

“The Cover All People program is established to make affordable, accessible health care available to all residents in this state, regardless of immigration status. The program provides medical assistance, funded in whole or in part by Title XIX of the Social Security Act, by the State Children’s Health Insurance Program under Title XXI of the Social Security Act or by moneys appropriated or allocated for that purpose by the Legislative Assembly”.

Title XIX of the Social Security Act, more commonly known as Medicaid, provides health care to individuals who have low incomes, including persons who are blind or disabled. The only non-citizens covered are those that are lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and those admitted as refugees. The Health Insurance program under the Federal Title XXI Act is to be used to assist states in initiating and expanding children's health assistance programs to uninsured, low-income children. This program also does not cover noncitizen adults either. Therefore, the change to the program proposed under the -3 amendments would most likely be funded by moneys appropriated or allocated for that purpose by the Legislative Assembly, as stated in Section 1 (2):

Eligibility for the pilot program would be limited to Oregonians under 138% of the poverty level, 190% for pregnant women. As a portion of her introduction, Governor Brown stated that HB 2164 and the -3 amendment are “really smart economic policy”. Unfortunately, as of press time, Legislative Fiscal had yet to produce a Fiscal impact statement which would show the estimated economic impact of the policy to the State General Fund.

HB 2164 and the -3 amendment are scheduled for a work session on April 8, 2021 at 3:15pm in the House Committee on Health Care.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-07 18:21:45Last Update: 2021-04-07 20:05:53

Civics Education Bill Promotes Public Participation
GOP bill gives students foundations in political processes and institutions

The Senate has approved SB 513 today, which would require Oregon high school students to take a semester of civics education before graduating. While the Oregon Department of Education already has standards for civics and government courses, SB 513 would carve out dedicated class time to focus on the principles of America’s and Oregon’s political institutions.

“This is an important and timely piece of legislation,” said Senate Republican Leader, Fred Girod (R-Lyons). “The past year has shown how government decision-making can deeply impact lives and livelihoods – for better or for worse. As kids return to school, it's important they understand the ins and outs of how decisions get made and how they can be involved. This is a good, bipartisan bill that I urge our colleagues in the House to pass.”

SB 513 has broad support from teachers, leading Oregon businesses and organizations, government officials, college and university faculty, and concerned citizens nearly 600 of whom have signed letters calling for its passage.

“The broad, diverse support we are seeing for the Civics Education Act is an acknowledgment of the importance of giving young Oregonians the foundations they need to participate in our democracy,” said Erin Esparza, Executive Director of the Classroom Law Project, a non-profit organization committed to preparing Oregon students to become engaged and involved participants in the democratic process. “We are living in a time where nearly one-third of Americans are unable to name any branches of government. Yet, Oregon is one of only 11 states that do not currently require a civics education class for graduation. It's time to do better by our students, our state, and our democracy.”

SB 513 passed by a 25-3 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 12:29:31Last Update: 2021-04-07 12:47:53

Why We Read
What if Republicans were back in control of the House?

House Republicans are currently slowing down the Oregon Legislature which is trying to rush passing more than 4,000 wide-ranging bills in a pandemic session. I felt it was important to explain the reasoning behind this while addressing some of the concerns that the media portrays as well as the concerns from my colleagues in the House Democrat caucus.

I believe we are all familiar now with the difference between the Constitutional requirement to “read the bills” in their entirety and the traditional “waiving” or “suspending the rule” on reading. What may not be known is the “why” behind the reading of the bills or the suspension of the rules.

While most bills will have bipartisan consensus like the budget, there are still about 10 percent of the proposals that are partisan, and I believe could make life far worse for Oregonians. This bipartisanship is something Oregonians can be proud of but unfortunately the media does not often report on this important fact. The media constantly reports on the 10% or so of the bills that are controversial. When one party is in a majority or even more a supermajority, those 10% can be very contentious. I am asked often by my colleagues from across the aisle why we won’t suspend the rules when what we are currently voting on is not controversial. It is precisely the 10% that creates the need for a way to “slow down the process”. The statement is often made “this is the will of Oregon voters, they put us in the majority”. That may be true, but let’s turn the tables for a moment…

What if Republicans were back in control of the House? I would assume the minority party would do everything in their power to stop what they would consider to be extreme, partisan legislation, including the reading of the bills and even the nuclear option: walk out, which they’ve used before. This past year has been a tough one for Oregonians. They need a unified Legislature to provide them with immediate help on the most pressing issues they’re facing. That’s what Republicans are calling for, and that’s why we will use every legislative tool at our disposal to encourage this kind of bipartisan consensus on relief measures.

No legislator was elected to this position based on that 10% of the bills. No legislator when campaigning really proposed any of the 10% controversial bills. We each were elected because we were able to connect with the voters who chose us because we represented their values better than our opponents did. I believe it was because of the 90% of legislation that passes out of this chamber. I would hope that, especially in a pandemic session, we all would keep our eye on the prize of helping to heal Oregon. Not promote divisive legislation promoted by special interest groups that is not important to the vast majority of Oregonians who only believe and desire that we should all work together to help our state.

--State Representative Bill Post

Post Date: 2021-04-06 21:06:37Last Update: 2021-04-06 21:09:43

House Republicans Suggest Spend of Federal Aid
Keys on long-term infrastructure projects, workforce development, and jumpstarting job recovery

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement outlining the House Republican recommendation for spending Oregon’s portion of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“After a difficult year for Oregon, it’s time to help every corner of the state recover and rebuild. While specific issues related to COVID-19 have their own source of relief funding, the Legislature should use these federal dollars for restoring Oregon’s natural environments, job recovery, infrastructure projects, and returning Oregon to long-term economic stability. These investments will bring all Oregonians lasting benefits across the state.

We must resist creating short-term spending obligations that will not help us rebuild our state, and that Oregon taxpayers will not be able to sustain once the money is gone.

The following projects are how Oregon can start rebuilding for long-term recovery. Public hearings to discuss the federal dollars for Oregon will be held by the Joint Ways and Means Committee the weeks of April 12 and April 19.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-06 14:06:18Last Update: 2021-04-06 14:17:31

Capitol Parking Bill Mushrooms
Now it includes an accelerated time table for state purchase of zero emission vehicles

As state government prepares to pave the way toward a kinder, gentler, greener planet -- one that includes electric modes of transportation as well as the subsidies that accompany them, Governor Kate Brown has requested that HB 2027 be introduced this session.

On the one hand, this bill looks pretty harmless. It allows the Oregon Department of Administrative Services to establish boundaries in Salem where department manages parking facilities and to establish rules for parking rates. It also allows the department to establish by written policy low-emission vehicles available for purchase by state agencies. Remember, this is only the parking that is operated by the State.

However, the House Committee on General Government adopted an amendment which changes operative date from January 1, 2029, to January 1, 2025, for the law requiring agencies to purchase light-duty vehicles that are zero-emission vehicles whenever possible.

This change was supported by three environmental groups, Climate Solutions, The Oregon Environmental Council and Forth, which submitted a letter of testimony:

We support the proposed changes provided in HB 2027 to clarify the role of DAS in setting meter rates in capitol area parking facilities and discouraging single occupancy vehicles. However, we also propose the bill be amended to update the policy for state agencies to transition to electric and zero emission light duty vehicles.

This change will have the effect of driving up costs to the state for acquisition and maintenance of these vehicles. It is not known if the this bill was created for the purpose of being a vehicle for this amendment, or if the bill was located because it's "relating to" clause could be used by the people who wanted the amendment.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-06 11:56:57Last Update: 2021-04-06 11:57:16

Cap and Trade Amendment to Bill Found
Though, as of this publication, it’s still not on the website

We previously reported that an amendment to HB 2021 was widely discussed in committee, though the text of the amendment was not made public, nor shared with all committee members. This is certainly a high breach of transparency, especially since the amendment is so substantive.

Though the 43 page -5 amendment to HB 2021 has still not been posted on the legislative website, we've been able to find a copy of it and have provided a link to it.

The amendment is the basis for a Cap-and-Trade plan for Oregon -- a similar proposal that was cause for the Republican walk-out in 2020.

Some have viewed this as a less-than-good-faith effort of Representative Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), who is both the Chief Sponsor of the bill, as well as the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environment, where the bill is being heard.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-06 11:23:14Last Update: 2021-04-06 11:51:12

Yamhill County Officials Rebuked
County will have to pay for their opponents

Yamhill County has been involved in a very disputed battle over a trail which never came to be, but was to be called the Yamhelas Westsider Trail. The dispute over the trail arguably played a part in one of the three Yamhill County Commissioners not being re-elected, changing the balance of power on the commission.

In an unusual move seldom seen, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals awarded almost $50,000 attorney’s fees to Wellington Law Group in the case of Van Dyke vs. Yamhill County. Wellington Law represented a group of plaintiff farmers who sued the County to stop construction of a bridge on an abandoned rail line which the County intended as a future transportation corridor.

The County had been previously remanded by LUBA because their planned bike path/walking path/horse trail could not qualify under land use laws. Those laws prohibit conditional uses on land zone exclusively for agriculture if the conditional use cannot pass an agricultural impact study. The County attempted a study that clearly showed the conditional use was not compatible with farm practices.

In a sham declaration of compliance the County continued pursuit of the trail even under remand. One retired Commissioner and current Commissioner Casey Kulla were the driving force behind the illegal efforts, and both have been rebuked by LUBA. They received the necessary backing from County Counsel Todd Sadlo and former County Administrator Laura Tschabold. The local paper consistently lent moral support to the misguided in this series of events. The Capitol Press did a good job of reporting both sides of the argument. “This has been a real test of property rights” declared John Van Dyke, “we’re very pleased that LUBA has provided this unusual rebuke to officials attempts to circumvent the law”.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-04-06 09:25:41Last Update: 2021-04-06 09:57:54

Brown and Friends on COVID Breakthrough Cases
The party of science passing the buck around on COVID-19 breakthrough cases

At a recent virtual press conference, Lisa Balick a reporter from KOIN News asks what should be a simple question -- how many breakthrough cases do we have? A breakthrough case is one in which a vaccinated person gets the disease.

After all, this isn't something elusive, like an asymptomatic transmission or a problem with collection of data across county lines. Once a case is confirmed by a health care professional, it's not hard to find out if that person was vaccinated. Additionally, they can't be serious when they are suggesting that patient privacy is an issue. No one cares who exactly has a breakthrough case. People only care about how many breakthrough cases there are.

Balick set's up her question simply:

"State across the country, including Washington, are informing the public about the number of breakthrough cases -- in other words, getting COVID after being fully vaccinated. I was told last week that OHA won't provide that information due to privacy, but without providing identifying information, will Oregon provide the number of breakthrough cases to keep the public aware that the vaccine is not 100% effective, but also to encourage people to get tested if they have symptoms after getting the vaccine?"

The answer from those people who claim to be the party of science, is pretty much "go away." They didn't want to provide the data and tried to play the "privacy" card and when that didn't work, they took a page out of the current playbook: "We'll look into that and circle back."

Transparency builds trust and if the number of breakthrough cases is indeed very small, make the number known.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-06 08:35:33Last Update: 2021-04-06 10:38:09

Man Arrested in Attempted Murder Of Police
Suspect in multiple firebomb attacks

A suspect has been arrested in Indianapolis, Indiana, related to multiple firebomb attacks on police officers in Portland, Oregon in 2020.

The Portland Police Bureau Arson Unit, Portland Fire and Rescue Fire Investigators, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives , and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been investigating uses of firebombs, also known as Molotov Cocktails, used against police during riots in the summer and fall of 2020.

On Friday, April 2, 2021, 24-year-old Malik Muhammed was arrested in Indianapolis on multiple warrants, including Attempted Aggravated Murder, Attempted Murder in the first degree, Attempted Murder in the second degree, Unlawful Manufacture of a Destructive Device, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Unlawful Possession of a Loaded Firearm in Public.

Investigators were assisted in serving the arrest and search warrants by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and FBI.

The investigation implicated Muhammed in significant incidents of violence and destruction. Muhammed threw the firebomb that scorched the uniform of a police officer on September 23, 2020 near the intersection of Southwest 2nd Avenue and Southwest Main Street, in Portland.

Muhammed was responsible for throwing an incendiary device, which did not ignite, at police officers at the Penumbra Kelly Building, 4735 East Burnside Street, on September 21, 2020. Muhammed was responsible for tens of thousands of dollars of damage to windows in downtown Portland, including at the Oregon Historical Society, on October 11, 2021.

"I am grateful to the investigators who spent many hours over the last few months following up these violent attacks against police officers and the community," said Chief Chuck Lovell. "I am also grateful to the brave officers who put themselves in harm's way serving this community. More investigations are underway. Anyone who thinks they can get away with trying to murder police officers and destroy this city should think again."

Muhammed will be the subject of an extradition hearing, to be scheduled.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-05 23:33:02Last Update: 2021-04-05 23:40:06

Oregon State Bar Fails to Disbar Attorney
The Oregon State Bar exists in order to protect the public

Attorney Erik Graeff Not Disbarred for Violent Felony The Oregon State Bar’s failure to protect the public A few days before Christmas in 2017, Portland-area attorney Erik Graeff exchanged several heated emails with Terrance Hogan, another attorney with whom Graeff was working on a case. Graeff spent the rest of the afternoon drinking beer in a local bar, apparently blacking out but still managing to drive 30 minutes through rush hour traffic to Hogan’s office in Beaverton. There, Graeff fired six rounds from his 9 mm handgun at the building. One of Graeff’s bullets shattered a window and missed the firm’s office manager by mere inches.

The crime was shocking in and of itself, but it also should have had immediate consequences for Graeff’s professional law license. After all, an attorney who believes that guns are an appropriate means of settling legal disputes is a clear and direct danger to the public, whom the Oregon State Bar is supposed to protect.

However, the Bar refused to immediately suspend Graeff’s law license while the criminal investigation played out. And even worse news for the Oregon public is that the Bar had ample warning about Graeff’s threats and acts of violence, including complaints that they had received from before the shooting. The complaints that the Bar ignored are disturbing.

On August 24, 2017, the Bar received notice that Graeff had physically assaulted his former client’s wife earlier that very day: Graeff had “laid hands on her and shoved her against a wall,” which resulted in “visible injuries” and the filing of a police report.

Just a few months later, in November, another complaint against Graeff came in to the Bar, from former clients Chelsie Buchanan and Raymond Stull. The pair provided the Bar with an email from Graeff in which Graeff threatened to “simply break” Stull’s “goddamn face,” and announced that he kept licensed firearms in his office, “so you have been warned.”

In early February, 2018—after the Beaverton shooting, but before his arrest for that incident—the Bar received yet another complaint about Graeff. That victim forwarded a threatening and profane email he had received from Graeff, which stated: “You listen to me you son of a bitch. I have had it with bad reviews from people whose case I don't take. I was attentive and generous with you. Take your ing fraudulent review down, or I will show you a real legal battel [sic]."

In the two months after his arrest in late February 2018, the Bar received two more complaints about Graeff. One client alleged that Graeff had intimidated and scared her with abusive language, telling her to “shut the f up” and “forget [she] ever heard” that a court date had been scheduled in her matter. Another client said that Graeff had threatened him and his wife over the phone.

Even after this eight-month avalanche of claims about Graeff’s violent threats and conduct, it took the Bar another nine months to suspend him—seventeen months in total—and the Bar did so only after Graeff had pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the shooting incident.

In other words, the Bar acted only after their licensee got his due process, and, moreover, the Bar acted only after another of their licensees, attorney Hogan, had been injured by Graeff. To boil that down even further, the Bar showed no concern over Graeff’s violent and abusive threats to his non-lawyer complainants, and the Bar only acted after Graeff turned violent and abusive against another lawyer.

Even worse, almost all of the complaints against Graeff were dismissed outright by the Bar, and the single one that did proceed—that of former clients Buchanan and Stull—went forward on charges unrelated to Graeff’s violent threats against them. Unbelievably, the Bar only charged Graeff with “failure to keep clients informed” about the status of their legal matter. His face-breaking threat was apparently okay with the Bar because Graeff was only threatening an ordinary citizen—not a lawyer.

After he pleaded guilty and served less than a year in prison for Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Reckless Endangerment, the Bar finally proceeded with their disciplinary case against Graeff, which consisted only of the shooting incident, felony drug manufacturing charges, and Buchanan and Stull’s watered-down charges. Graeff was sanctioned in 2020 with a three-year suspension from the practice of law. Rather than simply being grateful that he was not disbarred for literally shooting up another lawyer’s office, Graeff appealed his suspension to the Oregon Supreme Court, who heard oral arguments in the case in early January, 2021.

Ironically, the same Bar who charged Graeff with failure to keep his clients informed, failed to keep Graeff’s victims Buchanan and Stull informed about how the disciplinary case against him was proceeding. The Bar told Buchanan and Stull nothing about the progress of the Supreme Court case, and they first heard about the case progress from me, when I sent them copies of the court filings and a video of the oral arguments.

After reading the filings and watching the video, Buchanan and Stull sent a letter to Chief Justice Martha Walters and the other six Supreme Court Justices, informing them of the Bar’s “gross negligence” -- including, but by no means limited to, the Bar excluding them from testifying at Graeff’s disciplinary trial and failing to heed their clear warnings about Graeff’s unhinged behavior and violent threats.

“The Bar failed to intervene when Graeff threatened us,” Buchanan told me, “And then someone got shot at. Graeff even wrote a letter to the Bar trying to paint us as crazy just a few days after he shot into an occupied office building. Talk about crazy. I guess the Bar only cares when it’s another lawyer who gets hurt.”

The Oregon State Bar exists in order to protect the public against misconduct by the attorneys it licenses. If only the Bar had listened to the victims of Graeff’s misconduct instead of springing to action only when one of its own licensees needed help, then there wouldn’t be so many appalling stories like Buchanan and Stull’s.

Unfortunately, there are many more of these stories; and in a shocking number of them, the Bar allows the lawyers to weasel out of founded ethics charges by gaslighting the victims, calling their own former clients crazy, and aggravating the harm the lawyers inflicted.

Buchanan and Stull’s letter—regarding their negligent treatment by the Bar and the disturbing underlying case that Erik Graeff was working on for them -- can be read here in its entirety. I will be following up on this story, and if you have one of your own to share, feel free to send it, confidentially if necessary, to the editor@NorthwestObserver.com.

--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-04-05 18:10:54Last Update: 2021-04-05 18:25:41

Lack of Transparency in Lawmaking Process
Backroom dealing on highly contentious issue

A bill amendment to replicate part of cap-and-trade, one of the most contentious legislative issues in recent years, was drafted and then discussed during a committee hearing without ever providing the language to the public beforehand or knowledge that it would be discussed during the committee.

The House Energy and Environment Committee allowed public testimony on an unpublished amendment to HB 2021, sweeping legislation that seeks to impose costly regulations on the state’s supply of electricity. Special interest groups testified at length in support of a “-5 amendment” that was not made publicly available to everyday Oregonians. Republican lawmakers on the committee received the draft language at 11am during session before the 1pm hearing, leaving them little time to read the amendment. Republicans criticized the move as the antithesis of transparency and the exact opposite of how the legislative process should be conducted.

Despite an hour and a half of prepared testimonies from special interests, the amendment will only receive a half hour of testimony on Wednesday now that it is public knowledge.

Prior to the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, the majority insisted that it would be the most transparent session despite keeping the public out of the building. This recent move by Democrats to quietly replicate a portion of cap-and-trade with an amendment behind closed doors calls that claim into question.

“The last thing we should do during this precarious pandemic session is conceive, draft and finalize legislation behind closed doors,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan. “Discussing a contentious proposal in a committee without ever providing it to the public beforehand is not transparent. It’s a false formality with the intention of passing laws that have zero public input. That’s breaking a promise we made to Oregonians ahead of this virtual session.”

While representatives from environmental justice organizations, investor-owned utility companies and even Democratic members of the committee repeatedly expressed support for an unpublished -5 amendment, members of the public were left in the dark. Hours after today’s hearing, the amendment was still not posted on the Oregon Legislative Information System website.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-05 16:15:25Last Update: 2021-04-05 22:11:30

Republican Sex Crime Legislation Clears Senate
Human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal enterprise

The Oregon Senate approved both SB 515 and SB 535 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The measures add more reporting opportunities to help prevent sex crimes in public spaces where traffickers frequent.

SB 515 requires employees of bars and restaurants to report reasonable belief of suspected human trafficking or unlawful employment of minors.

SB 535 adds hotel workers to the list of mandatory reporters and requires the immediate reporting of suspected child pornography by computer technicians or processors.

“Republicans are committed to standing up for victims this session,” Senator Fred Girod, chief sponsor of the legislation and Senate Republican Leader, said. “That requires us to give law enforcement the tools to prevent and stop heinous crimes in real-time. SB 515 and SB 535 also empower our communities to report and stop these crimes. By all of us taking a little responsibility for the most vulnerable in our communities, we can make a difference.”

Traffickers specialize in keeping victims out of sight by constantly moving around but interact with workers in at hotels and bars. This legislation empowers those workers to be vigilant and partner with law enforcement to save lives.

The United States Department of Defense has identified human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the United States. Portland has been identified as a hotbed of trafficking, with nearly 750 victims from 2018–2019.

“Trafficking and sex crimes are happening in our own backyard, and we need more tools to fight them,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend). “It's not just Portland. Traffickers use public spaces, like bars, restaurants, and hotels, up and down I-5 and other routes to hide. These employees can play an important role in reporting.”

“Amid unbelievable rising crime rates across Oregon, advocating for public safety and victims’ rights must be among the Legislature’s top priorities,” Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) added. “Sexual exploitation crimes often go unreported and victims don’t have the resources they need to find help. The more reporting the community does, the better.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-05 12:28:04Last Update: 2021-04-05 12:56:57

Equity Instead of Equality
What a difference two little letters makes

Oregon law currently defines four advocacy commissions and broadly defines their missions as to work for the implementation and establishment of economic, social, legal and political equality for the group. The four advocacy commissions include Hispanic Affairs, Black Affairs, Women, and Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs.

The days of equality are over. Oregon law and policy are slowly turning away from what was articulated by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, when he looked forward to the day when his children would be judged by the "content of their character and not the color of their skin." Equality has to do with equal treatment under the law and equality of opportunity -- policies that are hard to argue against. Equity has to do with outcomes, and under examination, has less support.

Governor Brown has asked that HB 2030 be introduced, which changes the mission of each of these commissions from "equality" to "equity."

The desire to make a commitment to equity flows from the idea -- expressed in critical race theory -- that inequalities exist because of past injustices, many of them embedded into social and political structures. It's a bit hard to make this case in a country which just elected a black president and that many people of color flock to, both legally and illegally.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-05 11:00:22Last Update: 2021-04-05 12:28:04

Sanctuary on Steriods
Protection for illegal aliens reaches new heights

In 2013 the Oregon Legislature passed SB 833 which directed the Oregon DMV to issue driving credentials to illegal aliens. Activists quickly gathered signatures for a referendum to put the issue to their voters. By a vote of 66%, Oregonians overturned the act of the Legislature.

It took Democrats in the Legislature several years to get the courage to overturn the will of the voters, but in 2019, they passed HB 2015, introduced by Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) and Representatives Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) and Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro), which effectively did so, removing the requirement that a person provide proof of citizenship to obtain a drivers' license.

Now Democrats in the legislature are doubling down, with Senator Chris Gorsek (D-Portland) and Representatives Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn), Khanh Pham (D-Portland), and Wlnsvey Campos (D-Aloha) introducing HB 3265 which not only clarifies Oregon's status as a sanctuary state, it "prohibits law enforcement agency or public body from denying services, benefits, privileges or opportunities to certain individuals on basis of federal civil immigration actions, inquiring about individual's citizenship status without connection to criminal investigation or providing information about individual in custody to federal immigration authority."

The bill interferes with communications between the federal government and local law enforcement, a move that could put the public at risk. Section 4 reads:

If a public body receives a request or communication from a federal agency that relates to immigration enforcement, the public body shall decline the request and document the communication or request. The documentation described in this subsection must be provided to the director or other similar management personnel of the public body.

Section 9 of the bill also creates a private right of action for any person to use against law enforcement or a public bodyAs resources become scarce, local law enforcement may become averse to enforcing any law -- not just immigration related law against a person who appears to be be an illegal alien.

Any person may bring a civil action against a law enforcement agency or public body that violates subsection (2) or (3) of this section to enjoin the violation.
(b) A person injured by a violation of subsection (2) or (3) of this section may also bring a civil action against the law enforcement agency or public body to recover damages.

For whatever reason, the illegal-alien-protection-industry has found a home in the liberal wing of Christian Churches in Oregon, as one can see by the lopsided testimony for the bill. One wonders what the ultimate motivation is as our schools, health care system and economy continue to be overwhelmed.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-04 17:19:22Last Update: 2021-04-04 18:02:12

COVID Big Brother

Since the pandemic began, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been one of the strong arms of the Governor’s COVID-19 enforcement team. They have written rules and levied hefty fines against businesses that do not follow the COVID-19 rules as a way to bring them into compliance. However, these fines are small compared to the ones levied against a multi-location athletic facility in Salem. The first fine was in November for $90,000 and the most recent one was assessed in January for an additional $126,749. The fines were for operating when the Governor’s orders were to be closed.

OSHA has been levying these penalties under a temporary rule issued in November of 2020. However, temporary rules cannot remain in effect longer than 180 days and they cannot be extended. The temporary rule expires on May 4, 2021. The only option the agency has is to issue the guidelines under a permanent rule. So, in January, OSHA issues the permanent rule for public input. The permanent rule is 126 pages long and is much more expansive than the rules currently in place. It is also unclear what the new fines will be for not following the existing rules being extended and the new ones being added.

For example, In Oregon Administrative Rule 437-001-0744 under COVID-19 vaccination for workers, it states:

(A) The employer must cooperate by making its employees and appropriate space available at no cost to the workers whenever a local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority indicate that COVID-19 vaccination within the workplace is necessary.

What triggers a local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority to deem that a COVID-19 vaccination at the workplace is necessary?

(C) Unless the local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority directs otherwise, employers need not require employees to accept the vaccination. If employees who are offered the vaccine decline to be vaccinated, the employer must document that declination.

Why would an employer be documenting an employee’s personal health choice? Is this a violation of the 1996 Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA)? Also, what about businesses that have employees that are under 18? Who signed the consent form to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Note: Oregon OSHA will provide model declination forms for use by employers in documenting such declination. It is the considered opinion of both the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA that all individuals should accept vaccination unless it is medically contra-indicated.

Contra-indicated is a specific situation in which a drug should not be used because it may be harmful to the person. What will be on the OSHA approved form? What if the employee refuses to provide the employer with information required on the form such as address, phone number, etc.? How will the employer know if the employee is medically contra-indicated; again, another possible HIPAA violation?

OSHA has stated that they do not intend these rules to be permanent in perpetuity and that the rules will end when the Governor’s state of emergency ends. The Permanent OSHA rules will take affect on or before May 4, 2021. The Oregon Health Authority Vaccine distribution chart has Phase 2 eligibility (all people who are 16 and older) being eligible May 1, 2021. With Governor Brown already on her 6th Executive Order extension for the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which lasts until April 25th, a 7th extension would seem inevitable based on the OSHA rule timeline and vaccine rollout dates. A 7th extension of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration would last into the end of June.

The public comment period on the OSHA rules has ended. So, for now, all businesses and Oregonians can do is sit and wait to see what OSHA implements and how long the Governor will keep the rules in place by ongoing Executive Order.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-04 16:22:57Last Update: 2021-04-04 16:33:49

ODE Denied Request to Skip Standardized Testing
We need comparable, reliable, and valid student learning data

The US Department of Education has denied a request from the Oregon Department of Education "to waive the requirements to administer the same statewide assessments to all public elementary and secondary school students in the State in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science for the 2020-2021 school year." These requirements have been in law since 1965.

The Department appreciates ODE’s work to develop the SEED Survey. The information that you collect through this survey will provide useful information to support you, your schools, and your educators as you plan for student needs next year. We believe there is a great deal to learn from ODE’s work in this area, and we strongly support expanded use of opportunity to learn measures nationwide.

The Oregon Department of Education had been promoting the idea of a SEED Survey, to partially replace standardized testing. According to the ODE, data from the survey will be used to support the following five purposes:
  1. Honor the importance and necessity of incorporating student voice into the continuous improvement process for Oregon’s public education systems
  2. Provide Oregon districts with actionable data regarding investments and quality pedagogy that can be used to increase student group outcomes (e.g., academic achievement, graduation rates, post-secondary success)
  3. Develop promising practices guidance regarding appropriate uses of SEED Survey data independently and in combination with comparison to summative assessment results
  4. Expand reporting beyond outcomes to include information about investments and quality pedagogy that Oregon’s education systems make in supporting students, their families, and the educators who serve them
  5. Validate summative assessment approaches by reviewing SEED Survey results in comparison to summative results, reviewing expected and unexpected patterns in relationships
The letter, from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs Ian Rosenblum, concluded, "We remain committed to supporting Oregon and all States in assessing the learning of all students, while we recognize that we are in the midst of a pandemic that requires real flexibility and creativity. We are eager to continue to work with ODE on a plan that addresses your State’s specific circumstances and maximizes the amount of comparable, reliable, and valid student learning data alongside the important data you plan to collect from the SEED Survey."

Standardized testing has been a perennial battle between teachers' unions and school accountability supporters.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 20:15:18Last Update: 2021-04-03 20:16:25

Displaying a Noose Criminalized
Democrats claim that the new law would not violate the Constitution

The Oregon Senate has passed SB 398, introduced by Senators Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) and James Manning, Jr. (D-Eugene) which categorizes the act of displaying a noose as a crime of intimidation. The bill passed out of committee on party lines and passed off the Senate Floor with a 27-1 vote. SB 398 parallels Oregon’s bias crime statute which was passed in 2019.

“Displaying a noose is a hateful act. It is meant to intimidate and harass,” said Senator Burdick, who carried SB 398 to passage. “Hate crimes are disturbingly on the rise in Oregon, including in my district. A noose is a racist symbol, it is intimidating to our neighbors of color and it needs to be banned,” she added.

Oregon case law has held that to legally restrict speech, in any form, the speech must amount to a communication that “instills in the addressee a fear of imminent and serious personal violence from the speaker, is unequivocal, and is objectively likely to be followed by unlawful acts.” Both the Oregon Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court have concluded that preventing the type of harm that results from those types of communication justify a narrowly tailored restriction on speech and do not violate the U.S. Constitution or the Oregon Constitution.

“The display of a noose should have been a crime long ago. It’s not okay. Louisiana, Virginia, California, New York, Maryland and Connecticut have criminalized the display of nooses because they all know exactly what that noose implies,” said Senator Manning. “The noose is a racist relic. Its roots lie in fear and hate. It reminds us of the 4,400 documented lynchings of African Americans between 1800 to 1950. A noose doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, it means something much more imminent, terrifying and unacceptable to BIPOC communities. It’s not okay. I am glad we passed this bill today. This should have been a law much sooner,” added Senator Manning.

Several instances of fake noose incidents have made the news in recent years. NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace reportedly had a noose placed in his garage which later turned out not to be a hate crime. In another recent incident, entertainer Jussie Smollett was caught falsely reporting a noose incident to police.

SB 398 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 18:54:40Last Update: 2021-04-03 19:39:47

A Deeper Look at an Antifa Attack
Victim was traveling to church

Editor's note: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive. Reader discretion is advised.

One of the many victims of Sunday's far left attacks was a 55 year old man who claims to have been on his way to church when he was attacked by several far left extremists in Salem, Oregon.

The victim wished to remain anonymous as he recounted his attack during an exclusive interview with “The Black Conservative Preacher”.. The man's voice broke at times as he described Sunday's terrifying attack -it was “like something you see in the movies”.

The victim was driving his late father's Ford F150. He knew there was a gathering in the area and decided to bypass his usual route to church in an attempt to avoid driving directly in front of the state capitol, he claims he could not have known that police had cleared the violent mob from in front of the capitol and they were now on the very street he was headed down.

As he made his way down the street the victim said he could see a large mob dressed in all black, and he began to feel uneasy. His truck was painted with red, white and blue stripes and was dawned with American flags and patriotic bumper stickers, though the victim states he previously removed his bumper stickers showing support to our 45th president. The victim was nervous and had no choice but to continue forward and make his way past the the mob en route to his church. As the driver made his way down the street, the mob began their attack and then vandalized the windshield of his truck with yellow paint. The man got out of his truck to investigate the damage, and immediately two attackers ran up and attempted to spray the victim in the face with what looked like pepper spray.

As the man shielded himself from their attack the mob hurled objects and began to move toward him with bats, sticks, batons and other weapons while screaming "Go home Nazi!”. Glass breaking can be heard as they busted out the victim's back passenger window, the victim signaled for witnesses to call for help but no one stepped up to help the man. The man stayed close to his vehicle as he attempted to make his way around the back end of his truck to assess the damage. What he didn’t know at the time was that they were also spraying bear mace into the cab of his truck.

The frenzied mob did not relent and continued to scream obscenities as far left attackers approached the victim they could be heard yelling "he has a gun”, and ”shoot me mother". The entire time the far left extremists never stopped their attack on the man and his vehicle and continued moving threateningly toward him. As the man rounded the back end of his truck and looked toward the busted out back passenger window, one of the far leftist extremist sprayed the man in the face with mace.

Fearing for his safety, the victim who is a CHL holder says he drew his firearm, “I didn’t know what to do”, I thought the gun would stop them”, my “eyes were burning so bad,” “I was scared”.

With his firearm in his right hand pointed down toward the ground, he outstretched his left hand and told the mob,” get away from me.” However, the mob continued their attack screaming threats as they charged the man. Recounting this moment during his interview with The Black Conservative Preacher, the victim stated “I was freaked out being attacked by that many people, it was like something you see in the movies.”

The police rushed in immediately after the man's weapon was drawn, and the victim placed his firearm in the bed of his truck and complied with all officer commands.

With police on the scene, the violent mob could be heard taunting the man as he lay on the wet ground surrounded by officers. The far left mob hurled insults at the man, calling him a “Proud Boy” and a “Nazi," slanderous terms they are notorious for using during their attacks. As the victim crouched on the wet ground holding his eyes from the pain he states he had a hard time laying down flat because his “eyes were on fire”. His taillights were broken out by the violent mob.

The victim states that after law enforcement officers spoke to witnesses and other motorists he was released from handcuffs and was not arrested or charged.

He states he had no association with the Freedom Rally that Sunday. The victim stated that he thought drawing his firearm would get the violent mob to stop, and was surprised that his weapon did not deter his attackers, only when the police arrived did the attack stop. The far left extremists who typically expresses vitriol for all forms of law enforcement now seemed okay to have the police subdue their victim. During his interview with The Black Conservative Preacher, the victim repeatedly stated how scared he was during the attack but that he was happy the police got the truth after talking to witnesses.

The victim states that he now looks in his rear-view mirror when going home to make sure no one is following him. “There is nothing you can do about this” , “I am a target, I feel like I am a target now”.

Since the attack on Sunday, the victim has supposedly taken all of the American flags off of his truck as well as at his home. He has taken off all of his red white and blue decals because he claims the incident has scared him. He had taken his Trump stickers off prior to Sundays attack due to constant harassment, as he had previously been spit at and almost ran off the road.

The victim states “it is just going to get worse, not better” and fears that “offending” someone may provoke another attack. The victim states he has heard stories of what far left extremists do once they have your information and is concerned about what has been shared by the media already. He is talking to an attorney and states he feels lucky to have a police officer living next door.

Such extremist groups work hard to change the definition of words but they cannot hide their acts of violence, cowardice, blatant racism and indeed fascism. With the rise of violent hate crimes and outright lawlessness coming from the far left, Oregonians and all Americans are right to be concerned with the onslaught of anti-second amendment legislation such as SB 554 and HB 2543 being crammed through at the state level.

Far left extremists who reassemble ISIS militants dress in tactical gear while carrying weapons and blocking our roadways, have violently attacked and even murdered individuals on the street. They have assaulted passing motorists at times pulling them out of their vehicles and beating them unconscious until forced to stop, they continue to terrorize our cities, communities, and businesses in full view of the world and with seemingly full support of the main stream media and leftist “leaders”.

Watch the videos for yourself and then go see what media is or is not saying about what happened.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 18:30:39Last Update: 2021-04-03 19:06:52

Another Strange Incident in a Portland Park
Victims threatened with axe and paintball gun

In Portland, Oregon, Parks and Recreation Rangers, as well as a community member, were threatened by a suspect with an axe and a paintball gun in Downtown Portland.

On Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 10:09a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the precinct front desk on a report that victim had walked in to report being shot by a suspect with a paintball gun. The victim told the officers he was riding his bicycle in Chapman Square Park, near the intersection of Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Main Street. The victim said a suspect fired a paintball gun at him, striking him once. The suspect then fired several more paintballs toward the victim as he fled. The victim suffered a minor injury.

Officers located the suspect, Randy A. Graves, 32, and arrested him. They located and seized a paintball gun, axe, and stun gun (photo) from Graves.

Officers spoke to the Park Rangers on scene. They told officers that they had approached a group about 9:00a.m., intending to distribute fliers informing the group that the park was going to be closed for restoration work. Graves threatened to kill them, and although they did not report being threatened with a weapon, Graves followed them yelling threats to kill them as they tried to disengage.

About 45 minutes later, another team of Park Rangers responded to a fire burning in the park, which is a violation of park rules. Park Rangers reported requesting assistance from Portland Police as they went to address the fire. Graves pulled out an axe and threatened the Rangers If they did not leave. The Park Rangers also witnessed the attack on the community member with the paintball gun.

Graves was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Menacing (7 counts), Unlawful Use of a Weapon (3 counts), Assault in the Fourth Degree, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree (7 counts), Reckless Endangering (7 counts), and City Code Possession of a Weapon in a Park (3 counts).

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-03 13:02:17Last Update: 2021-04-03 18:10:33

Analysis: How the Speaker Bungled the Session
Quest for power gets in the way of business

Even before the 2021 session started, the wars had begun. Some, like House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) found themselves with arrows in the front and back.

A well-publicized battle between the BIPOC or Black, Indigenous and People Of Color segment of the Democratic caucus attempted a power grab -- with some success -- and ended up with a few gavels, or committee chairs. The smoke and noises of that battle, as well as the inevitable scuffles with Republicans, are starting to boil over and though the source might not be apparent, these were seeds planted months ago.

1. Focusing on Extreme Legislation, not the Nuts and Bolts
From racial justice to climate action to housing issues to restricting second amendment rights, Democrats have been pushing a full-cart radical agenda. It's expected that the party in power will get their way on some ideologically divisive issues, but this session has seen more than its share of agenda-driven policy.

2. Expanding the Number of Committees
In the 2019 full session -- the last full session, there were 12 House committees that saw actual substantive policy legislation come out of them. This session has seen that number balloon to 19 plus three subcommittees, for a total of 22 House committees, and that doesn't even count an increased number of new join committees.

3. Very Tight COVID-19 Capitol Lockdowns
Though COVID-19 is no one's fault, the Capitol lockdowns have interrupted communications, made committees less smooth, and contributed to Republicans' -- and Oregonians' -- dissatisfaction with the session. As the state opens up -- and Oregon is one of the slowest states to open -- the Capitol shows no sign of return to anything like normal. It is as locked down as it was in the beginning.

4. Attempting to Go Around Republicans, Instead of Cooperating
Republicans are not yielding the constitutional requirement that each bill be read in its entirety before being voted on, and this is based at least in part on the tidal wave of radical Democratic ideological agenda bills. A lighter agenda might have found more cooperation with Republicans -- or at least a compromise at this point. Instead, Speaker Kotek has gritted her teeth and pushed on.

5. Plain Old Extra Stuff to Do
Sure, every session has its unique policy challenges, but this session seems to have a more generous share with COVID-19 and the federal money to divvy up, wildfire clean up and relief from last year, as well as redistricting. Maybe it wasn't such a great year to work on racial justice, climate justice and the rest of the radical agenda. Democrats may pay dearly for their inability to focus.

At this point, Speaker Kotek may have mangled the session beyond repair. As both parties claim to want to do "the people's work" it may be too late to salvage much out of this session. Let's hope they can at least pass budgets.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 18:44:36Last Update: 2021-03-31 19:42:32

Addressing the Educational Impact of COVID-19
Only two bills in the would address COVID-19’s impact on education

Of more than 100 bills in the House Committee on Education, legislation from Rep. Owens and Rep. Alonso León is one of only two bills related to COVID-19’s negative impact on K-12 education.

Despite the enormous disruption COVID-19 has had on Oregon’s education system, only two bills in the House Committee on Education address the negative effects of COVID-19 on students.

Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) and Representative Teresa Alonso León (D- Woodburn) are chief sponsors of HB 2962, which would direct a formal evaluation of students’ education needs resulting from COVID-19 closures, a step towards identifying how students can recover from gaps in learning.

“It is critical we identify and address the serious gap in education our students have experienced during the last 12 months because of COVID-19 and government-mandated stay-at-home orders,” said Rep. Owens, who also serves as a member of the Crane School Board. “There is much more we should be doing as lawmakers to address this critical issue for Oregon students, and it is great to see the bipartisan support for this proposal that will hopefully lead to others.”

“We should not be hiding from the truth that virtual learning has seriously harmed our kids’ educational development,” added House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “After Oregon’s education officials announced plans to abandon standardized testing that would measure learning gaps, we need proposals like this more than ever.”

Negative academic effects from distance learning still have not been adequately measured in Oregon, and plans to do so have been delayed.

Even 2020 high school graduation rates are misleading since the Oregon Department of Education drastically altered its graduation standards. As recently as 2017, Oregon had the second-worst graduation rate in the country. The full impact of virtual learning on graduation rates is still not clear.

Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education selected by President Joe Biden, affirmed the need for evaluations nationwide when saying that student data obtained from standardized tests is important to help education officials create policy and target resources where they are most needed. “We have to make sure we laser-focused on addressing inequities that have existed for years. … Every bit of data helps,” added Cardona during a legislative conference. Oregon remains the second to last state for reopened schools according to a tracker from Burbio, a website that aggregates school government, library and community event information and consists of more than 80,000 K-12 school calendars from all fifty states.

Numerous studies have been conducted which indicate a correlation between native mental health impacts for children due to closed schools:

“Beginning in April 2020 the proportion of children’s mental health-related ED visits among all pediatric ED visits increased and remained elevated through October. Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5-11 and 12-17 years increased 24 percent and 31 percent respectively.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 13, 2020.

Additionally, most states in the country have been reopening after a variety of studies point to safe conditions that would allow willing students to attend school in-person with minimal COVID-19 risks:

The CDC guidance, under President Biden, recommends that schools can reopen with successfully implemented mitigation strategies.

“Our data indicate that schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies.” – American Academy of Pediatrics, January 6, 2021.

“…we see no indication that in-person school reopenings have increased COVID-19 hospitalizations in the counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week. Neither the levels nor the trends change in any direction when schools open in [counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week], even as far as 6 weeks after schools reopened. In fact, we often see precise estimates suggesting declines in hospitalizations in these low-baseline COVID-19 counties…” – National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH), Tulane University, January 4, 2021.

HB 3350 is a second bill that addresses COVID-19’s impact on education.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 14:12:17Last Update: 2021-04-02 14:22:06

Budget Framework Released
This all hinges on the American Rescue Plan Act

The Co-Chairs of the Oregon Legislature's Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton), and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) – released their 2021-23 Budget Framework. The document serves as a starting point for the 2021-23 budget cycle.

Joint Ways and Means Co-Chairs have schedule hearing dates on the 2021-23 budget framework. What stands out for taxpayers is the increase of $780 million for new programs and services. That means an increased budget of $780 million every biennium in the future plus cost-of-living increases and growth in those programs. Very few new programs are ever terminated and give credence to the term “big government.” The Budget Framework shows that these new programs ($780 million) are funded in 2021-23 by one-time funding from the American Rescue Plan Act Funds, which is expected to be $2.6 billion. The framework reserves $520 million for the 2023-25 biennium out of those federal funds, but that doesn’t cover the cost of the new programs. And where does the funding come from in future biennium’s?

The five dates and times for Ways and Means budget hearings are by congressional districts.

District 1 - Wednesday, April 14, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 2 - Saturday, April 17, 1:00-3:00 pm
District 3 - Wednesday, April 21, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 4 - Thursday, April 22, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 5 - Saturday, April 24, 1:00-3:00 pm

What is curious about these times is that Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittees have been meeting on budgets since January. One committee will have held 26 hearings. Multiplied by seven committees, all trying to squeeze and expand their programs into current levels. Now they are told to cut one percent more to meet budgetary goals. How do all these hearings and testimonies get incorporated and resolved into the Ways and Means two-hour District meetings? What is even more curious about the budget is the moving numbers. The initial 2021-23 Ways and Means Co-Chair Principles shows a current service level for 2021-23 to be short $1,741,500,000 General Funds, but new numbers have brought that down to $606,700,000 in the March Budget Framework. The Co-Chair target requirement is to bring that number to zero. With the addition of $520 million American Rescue Plan Act Funds and cuts of 1% to each budget they have initially meant their goal. However, the door is still open for the BIPOC caucus for resources needed to advance racial equity initiatives in Oregon. Their needs will influence the final development of the final 2021-23 budget. Each committee is asked to review their budgets for more than the 1% cuts to fund their special needs.

This all hinges on the American Rescue Plan Act sending $2.6 billion our way. What if it doesn’t?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:51:32Last Update: 2021-04-04 10:41:42

Family Medical Leave Act Expansion Proposed
It’s before the program even takes effect

In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2005. It created the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to provide partially or fully compensated time away from work. Starting January 1, 2022, eligible employees who worked at least 90 days for an employer can apply with the state for 12 weeks of paid leave per year for qualifying family, medical, or safe leave, and up to 14 weeks for certain pregnancy-related leave.

HB 2005 applies to employers with 25 or more employees in Oregon. Employers and employees will contribute to the leave fund through payroll deductions beginning January 1, 2022. Employers will make 40% of the required contributions to the plan and employees will pay 60%. The required contribution will be no greater than 1% of the employee wages with a cap of $132,900 per year. The State of Oregon Employment Department will determine the exact percentage of contribution. The Oregon Employment Department will also manage the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan.

However, before the program even takes effect, Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) introduced HB 2474. This bill would modify the Oregon Family Leave Act. It changes the current leave laws and lowers the employer eligibility to those with only 1 employee from the old threshold of 25 and takes employee eligibility for leave from 90 days to 30 days and covers part-time workers. Current OFLA rules apply to workers that average 25 hours a week for 180 days. OFLA is not paid time off. Rather, it is unpaid time off for up to 12 weeks with the guarantee that your job will be held by your employer. In addition HB 2474 also expands the definition of leave to include time off for caring for a child when their school or child care provider is closed by order of public official for public health emergency which is not covered under current OFLA rules. While OFLA is not paid time off, it is a guarantee that your job will be held by your employer. It could be speculated that the proposed changes to OFLA are a test to see if the soon to roll out Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan could be modified to include employers with only 1 employee. After all, when HB 2005 was introduced it was proposed as: “Employer” means any person that employs one or more employees working anywhere in this state, a political subdivision of this state or any county, city, district, authority, public corporation or entity, or any instrumentality of a county, city, district, authority, public corporation or entity, organized and existing under law or charter.

HB 2474 was scheduled for a work session on March 31, but Representative Power indicated to the committee that interested parties were still working on coming to consensus on proposed amendments. The next schedule work session for the bill is April 5.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:40:36Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:50:50

OSHA Comments Still Open
“...Nor excessive fines imposed” Article I, Section 16, Oregon Const.

Today, April 2nd, is the last day to submit testimony, particularly needed from impacted business owners, to OSHA opposing their proposed rule changes. OSHA agency staff are not elected officials, yet are trying to change COVID-19 temporary workplace rules, like masks and social distancing, as permanent rules that inherently create a double-fine situation for Oregon small businesses who are already struggling to survive in this state. Another business store closure was one of the original Dari Mart stores, located in Eugene.

Until today, there were 44 family owned and operated stores from Albany to Cottage Grove. These small, neighborhood stores employed more than 500 people. However, today, Dari Mart announced, via Facebook that it was closing one of its stores. They posted: The Dari Mart store located at 1785 W 18th will be closing its doors for good at 8PM this evening. This is a sad day, as this is one of the original stores. The city of Eugene and State of Oregon are making it increasingly difficult to run a business. Minimum wages have increased over $4.75 and hour, which we could support, except the State put on the backs of businesses a Corporate Activity Tax and the City of Eugene, an employment tax. This location cannot sustain those additional costs of doing business.

Unfortunately, Dari Mart is not alone. Many businesses are facing tough decisions and the Oregon Legislature, run by a super majority that is known for passing legislation that hurts, not helps, small businesses, alongside State Agencies and local governments that are not doing much to help businesses out.

Having double-fine threats from both the Oregon Health Authority and OSHA is a way for those running our state to double-dip with fines and further drain our small business owners and their families, placing more at risk of poverty and placing countless more out of work.

Just days ago, OSHA announced that they had fined Kevista Coffee in Bend $27,470, three times the minimum penalty for stated violations. Struggling business owners Krista and Kevin Lauinger said they chose to re-open the coffee shop even though they were aware that it went against workplace health requirements, as they were desperate to save their business. The huge fine quote, "reflects the need to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect..." states the OSHA release. It appears as though they are trying to make an example out of these owners as they up the fines to even higher amounts than previously placed on other establishments.

In February, OSHA fined Florence based Firehouse Restaurant $18,150 for violations of standards, twice the minimum penalty for such violations, again, to quote "ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect" toward other businesses in Oregon.

These exorbitant punitive damages, slapped on local businesses for simply trying to operate viably, despite research clearly showing that asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is not an issue. A new peer reviewed paper, led by lead author Dr. Henry Ealy, titled, "COVID-19: Restoring Public Trust During A Global Health Crisis," reiterates what others, including what Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that asymptomatic spread of a virus does not drive pandemics. The published paper outlines this critical research that mainstream media continues to ignore:

Asymptomatic transmission is the basis for public health policies regarding masking and social distancing. So what about the economic pandemic evolving here in Oregon around growing poverty, a burgeoning homelessness population and countless cases of business closure and increased rates of suicide? It seems as though those metrics don't fit in with the current narrative or agenda that is being played out by Governor Kate Brown and her state agencies, despite Oregon not having the same drastic COVID-19 impact as other states have seen, yet imposing some of the most draconian and tyrannical lockdown measures and school closures with moving goal posts and changing county risk-level threshold categories with NO stated end in site. Have we all become prisoners of Governor Kate Brown’s no-end-in-sight reopening plan?

As the Oregon Legislature continues to do its work this session, there are more bills being considered that could be the next policy that pushes even more businesses to leave the state and relocate or shutter their doors.

If the Democrat Supermajority doesn’t switch course and focus on saving, not dissolving more of our small business owners, it’s up to the Republican Senators to deny quorum, as many slated controversial and hindering bills otherwise will likely pass.

It begs the question: does the Democrat Supermajority ultimately want to help or hurt Oregonians with policy this legislative session, and will they abandon their radical and special interest agenda to step up into supporting the majority of the population that lives and works in Oregon? Only time, and their actions, will tell.

For another opportunity, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which is the parent agency of OSHA will accept testimony on its budget and performance -- including the performance of OSHA -- on Monday April 12 at 8:00am. This is a virtual hearing and in order to provide testimony, you must register first

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:31:09Last Update: 2021-04-03 09:59:09

How Safe Are Your Kids?
“We need to have people who can serve as role models”

Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) has submitted an amendment to HB 2942, which she co-sponsored with Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland). The bill allows individuals convicted of drug dealing and sex crimes to be licensed or registered by Teacher Standards and Practices Commission allowing them to teach in K-12 schools. It further opens the door for convicted criminals to work and volunteer in K-12 educational settings.

HB 2942 removes existing prohibitions on who can be employed as an educator and work with other people’s children. Those prohibitions identify many crimes including those that have been prohibited by the proximity of schools to limit the exposure of students to that environment and influence. The prohibitions include unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances (including methamphetamine, cocaine, etc.) within 1000 feet of a school, and the delivery of those same drugs within 1000 feet of a school, as well as prostitution. This bill does not deal with possession of drugs -- this bill essentially says that a drug dealer may ultimately become a teacher.

The bill takes the decision away from the Teacher, Standards, and Practices Commission and puts it in the hands of individual school districts by creating an arbitrary standard. This says to parents that the very best people we can put in front of your children are convicted drug dealers, manufactures and prostitutes, which does not help school districts attract and retain the very best teachers to serve our children.

Testimony that supports putting school children at risk said such things as, “we believe in restorative justice and the ability of individuals to transform their lives,” and “in order to break the school to prison pipeline, we need to have people who can relate to them and serve as role models.”

The Oregon School Boards Association said they support HB 2942 because “Oregon is in the midst of reforming a criminal justice system that has, deliberately or otherwise, had the effect of removing a disproportionate number of people of color from the school community.”

However, many parents expressed opposition to using their children as test cases to whether a convicted criminal is truly rehabilitated. Instead of letting the bill fade away as a bad idea, Representative Bynum doubles down with an amendment that puts the burden on the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to assess the rehabilitation mentality of a criminal applicant and authorizes them to refuse to issue a license or register a convicted person.

HB 2942 is scheduled for a work session on April 6 before the House Committee on Education.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:21:25Last Update: 2021-04-02 09:31:09

Oregon’s Economy is Soft
Oregon continues to lose local businesses

The first Dari Mart store opened in 1965 by Gladys and Howard Gibson. The couple had owned and operated Lochmead Farms in Junction City since 1941, and the store was a way to get their farm fresh milk direct to customers. Three generations later, about 20 Gibson/Straube family members still work with the Dari Mart and Lochmead Farm companies.

Until today, there were 44 family owned and operated stores from Albany to Cottage Grove. These small, neighborhood stores employed more than 500 people. However, today, Dai Mart announced, via Facebook that it was closing one of its stores. They posted: The Dari Mart store located at 1785 W 18th will be closing it's doors for good at 8PM this evening. This is a sad day, as this is one of the original stores. The city of Eugene and State of Oregon are making it increasingly difficult to run a business. Minimum wages have increased over $4.75 and hour, which we could support, except the State put on the backs of businesses a Corporate Activity Tax and the City of Eugene, an employment tax. This location cannot sustain those additional costs of doing business. Please support the stores nearest this location at:

835 W 28th Ave and 2920 W 11th Ave. A big thank you to all of the loyal customers of that store. We appreciate you.

Unfortunately, Dairi Mart is not alone. Many businesses are facing tough decisions and the Oregon Legislature, State Agencies and local governments are not doing much to help them out. For some it is the impacts created by the Oregon Legislature by implementation of mandatory minimum wage increases, paid sick time or the Corporate Activity Tax.

In 2019, Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) stood on the floor of the Oregon Senate and said, regarding businesses, “Let’em leave. Someone else’ll come in” referencing the Corporate Activity Tax. His prediction is partially coming true, businesses are leaving. In May of 2019 Stimson Lumber announced that it would lay off 60 people at its Forest Grove mill (40% of the workforce) and move some of its operations to Idaho and Montana siting the Corporate Activity Tax. Stimson Lumber has operated in Oregon since 1933. "I do not need to be hit with a 2×4 in the face to see that Oregon is an urban state and rural Oregon is a place for urbanites to recreate," said CEO Andrew Miller in an interview with Willamette Week in 2019. He continued, "Investment capital and jobs are mobile. I see the smoke. I do not need to wait for the fire. It is time to adapt to a changing environment by moving on."

As the Oregon Legislature continues to do its work, there are more bills being considered that could be the next mandate that forces more businesses to leave Oregon.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-01 15:26:39Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:51:32

Balancing Budgets to the Front of the Line
“This is the kind of focused work that Oregonians need”

In a partial sign that the Oregon Legislature remains committed to doing what is constitutionally required for the current session, leaders in the Oregon House have announced that the 2019-2021 rebalanced budget bills will be moved forward -- starting immediately -- to prioritize relief for Oregonians.

Republicans will also vote to expedite this funding for communities by waiving the requirement to read the budget bills in full.

The announcement followed a statement made earlier this week by House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby,) who said Republicans are committed to passing 2021-2023 budget bills as efficiently as possible as well.

“This is a great, bipartisan action for Oregon to provide relief through the 2019-2021 budget, sending communities additional dollars to mitigate wildfire impacts, support unsheltered individuals, provide education enrichment opportunities and more,” stated House Republican Leader Drazan about the rebalanced budget bills. “This is the kind of focused work that Oregonians need from us right now, and we will continue to find ways to collaborate on priority issues like a balanced budget.”

Democrats have been intent on marching controversial legislation to the front of the line.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-01 15:04:15Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:13:43

Public Union Negotiation Transparency Bill Discussed
Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony in support of SB 666, transparency legislation that would allow public notice of government union contract negotiations.

Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls), the chief sponsor of SB 666, released the following statement:

“The public deserves to know how their tax dollars are being negotiated. This is a simple issue of transparency. The more information the public has about how their tax dollars are being spent, the better.

“The Oregon Institute of Technology and faculty and administration have failed to come to a new labor agreement for over a year. Taxpayers have no idea why the two parties cannot agree because current law doesn’t require these negotiations to be made public.

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Taxpayers should know if their tax dollars are being held hostage. OIT is an important part of our economy in Klamath Falls. We need to make sure their important work continues and simple transparency can aid in ensuring that happens.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-01 14:40:23Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:04:15

More Antifa in Salem
Why Oregonians need their second amendment freedoms

A heavy set far left extremist dressed in what Antifa calls “Black-Bloc -- used as an intimidation tactic -- could be seen waiting for motorists in the street. He held a cigarette in his left hand and a police style asp-baton in his right. As a large blue pickup truck with an American Flag made its way down the street the individual in Black-Bloc quickly whips out his baton, he is wearing a bullet proof vest and appears to be carrying a firearm on his left side. A megaphone slung over his right shoulder, he watches as two violent members of his group rush the approaching blue truck and began attacking the vehicle, as the driver attempts to get away the attackers rip a large flag from the bed of his truck, and what sounds like breaking glass can be heard in the background. As the far left mob continue their attack the driver speeds up to escape his frenzied attackers but they continue to pursue him on foot. In the chaos one of the extremist tries to block the driver and the driver is forced to slam on his breaks to avoid hitting the person, he then quickly navigates his truck to safety.

The mob is relentless and chases after the truck throwing objects and screaming in hysterical delight as they encourage each other to attack. False claims from local news outlets have claimed that the motorist "plowed through the crowd”-though the video clearly shows multiple vehicles being rushed and surrounded during Sundays attacks with weapons at the ready. That is exactly what happened to the driver of this vehicle, he was surrounded, attacked and attempting to escape the violence of far left extremists.

Ironically the target of Sunday's far left hate was aimed at fellow Oregonians who were part of a freedom rally celebrating the very freedoms these individuals are quick to invoke while they engage in their terror campaigns against citizens, neighborhoods, businesses, police and yes, even Ted Wheeler. The American flag is somehow offensive to the far left who love to abuse the freedoms defended for them by the countless men and women that our great American flag represents. Far left extremist have a habit of showing up with the intent to engage in violence anytime a gathering takes place that was not approved by them, or does not fall in line with their anti-American extremist agenda. These far left extremist engage in mob violence and embody fascism while hiding behind the acronym ANTIFA. The hypocrisy doesn’t stop there, this far left group accuses anyone who dare oppose them, or will not comply with their fascist dictates to be a Nazi, a white supremist -- white or not -- a racist and most ironically, a fascist.

Lets quickly go over what a fascist is: A fascist is characterized by dictatorial power and individual(s) who try to control others in a forceful and unfair way, expecting unquestioned obedience through intimidation. Fascists like “ANTIFA” forcibly suppress opposition and demand a strong regimentation of society and of the economy, fascist have been known to call what they were doing a form of revolution, and as you would expect they will often never admit they themselves are actual fascists. Hiding behind the acronym “ANTIFA” which they claim stands for “Anti-Fascist”, these violent far left extremist engage in overt and covert fascist tactics which take place daily on the streets of Portland, Oregon and across America. Fascist like so called “ANTIFA” use and condone violence when attacking individuals that they view as “other”, they co-opt movements and are engaged in racist and hateful tactics. Keep in mind the recent tensions between members of BLM and Antifa who both seem to hide behind acronyms insisting they are the “good guy” while committing unspeakable acts of violence. These far left anti-American extremist groups have co-opted a movement and used it as a shield while spewing hate and propaganda against the Americans they see as opposition.

Antifa and other far left extremists have taken over neighborhoods and streets while demanding that tax paying citizens come out of their homes and that diners stop eating and come and join them in the streets. If homeowners or diners refuse, they risk intimidation and/or attack, if a citizen is caught in the cross fire of one of these vicious mob gatherings the far left extremist will demand that innocent bystander leave the area under threats of violence, and often times they will brutally attack. No one is safe from the mayhem that the far left has unleashed on our society, we have witnessed motorists dragged from vehicles and beaten unconscious in our streets, and sadly as we have seen they will even commit murder on a busy sidewalk in a busy downtown area, like what happened to Aaron Jay Danielson in Portland, Oregon this summer.

Far left extremists have been committing lawless acts and countless violent crimes, including murder in full view of witnesses for far too long. They commit these unspeakable acts with almost no intervention from law enforcement due to destructive polices from politicians like Kate Brown. They are brazen and many know that Democrat run cities will not hold them accountable, why else would they commit these criminal acts in full view of law enforcement while recording their own lawlessness, afterwards they will celebrate. When these far left terrorist took over the streets of Salem and began attacking motorist on Sunday many pro-freedom Oregonians surely feared for their safety, if not their lives. Many of them may have hoped that nearby law enforcement would intervene swiftly, unfortunately multiple motorists would be violently attacked and their vehicles badly damaged before OSP, SPD and SWAT finally intervened.

When you read our next article regarding the 55 year old man who was forced to draw his firearm for protection, you will further understand why now more than ever, Oregonians need their second amendment freedoms in all places and at all times.

Video courtesy Sergio Olmos and Maranie R. Staab

--Esther August

Post Date: 2021-04-01 09:37:17Last Update: 2021-03-31 18:10:46

Antifa Comes to Salem
Several confrontations lead to arrests

PT News Journalist and live streamer, The Black Conservative Preacher -- also known as BCP -- from Portland, joined fellow hard working Oregonians who drove from Sandy to our state Capitol in Salem on Sunday to exercise their first amendment right of Free Speech and to peaceably assemble. Men, women, children and senior citizens caravanned to Salem in an effort to celebrate freedom and express their frustration with being shut out of our state capitol while unconstitutional legislation is forced through without a vote of the people. Those who made the trip were met by a violent mob of far left extremist who could be seen on video waiting with large rocks and other weapons for vehicles to approach. Passing motorist were even fired upon with paint ball guns.

According to a statement made by The Black Conservative Preacher, motorists including veterans and individuals not associated with the rally were violently attacked by an estimated “200-300 Antifa” on Sunday afternoon. This was not a gathering where two groups in opposition of one another met up, this was a gathering of violent far left extremists flying their red and black flag while attacking motorists on an American street if those motorists dared to fly the American flag.

In watching the 1:27 video you can see what looks like members of the militant terrorist group ISIS wearing all black. Many are in tactical gear armed with weapons and wearing bullet proof vests, aggressively blocking streets and violently attacking motorists. The ISIS like mob came armed with a variety of weapons including what appeared to be firearms, they were clearly ready to instigate violence and had been preparing to do so for over a month, according to a post made on a far left Facebook Page.

In action and in tactics this group largely resembles ISIS though you may be surprised to learn they are not, the majority of them are violent far left extremists, “Antifa”, and other far left sympathizers. Holding true to their historic violent nature, their purpose was to interrupt this peaceful demonstration and to do so with extreme violence, they dawned helmets and carried make shift shields with their gas masks at the ready. They came ready to attack and were armed with large rocks, wooden poles, paintball guns, bats, skate boards, law enforcement style asp batons, bear mace, and anything else they could get their hands on, including paint, which they threw on cars. During the violent attacks the mob plunged a large tree branch through the passenger side windshield of a small red truck where a female passenger was sitting. The violent mob was relentless, attacking vehicles, ripping private property from the beds of passing motorists trucks, kicking and punching at vehicles, threatening countless individuals and blocking traffic. They terrorized motorists and even attempted to blind them by pointing lasers into the eyes of drivers as they operated their vehicles, a crime that Anthony Villandea, 18 was arrested for on 5 counts. With clear disregard for human life, the far left attackers lobbed rocks through the windows of passing motorists vehicles, at one point shattering the drivers side window of the small red truck which sent glass flying into the cab and the faces of the driver and his passenger.

The violent mob could clearly be seen waiting for motorists to approach as they blocked traffic and threw objects, seemingly unchecked by local law enforcement in the area for some time. With all of the violence and chaos instigated by far left-extremist on Sunday, it is shocking that only 4 arrests were made, of those arrested were; William Lloyd Isham, 34 who is facing charges of interfering with a Police Officer, Nathan McFarland, 33 is facing charges of disorderly conduct in the second degree, and Andrew Alan Foy, 34 is facing charges of disorderly conduct in the second degree.

Though crimes such as Reckless Endangerment ORS 163.195, Menacing ORS 163.190, Unlawful use of teargas/mace ORS 163.212, and many other crimes were committed on Sunday, the most profound were the Hate and Bias crimes committed by far left extremists against motorists for their race, gender and perceived religious beliefs and national origin. Far left extremists and their supporters are not quiet about their distain for White males, Christianity, the American Flag or America. Watching the videos one can clearly see that each individual attacked on Sunday meets all or part of the above criteria. One well known far left sympathizer and suspected ANTIFA affiliate made a recorded video statement while talking to “The Black Conservative Preacher” (you will learn more about BCP in a separate article) stated that the only reason he was talking to BCP was because BCP was “black” and referred to the white individuals standing next to The Black Conservative Preacher as “Trash” . It was not lost on BCP that he was being judged by the color of his skin instead of the content of his character or value as a human being. The hypocrisy and racism of the far left is undeniable and Sundays crimes should be evaluated as the hate crimes that they really are. In a follow up article you will hear more about the attacks that took place on Sunday March 28th 2021.

Video courtesy of Independent Media PDX

--Esther August

Post Date: 2021-03-31 09:23:01Last Update: 2021-03-31 16:37:17

Moss on the Voter Rolls
We learned a new term: ‘essential’ work

Of note the last few years have brought much change to our state due to rural forest fires and riots on the streets of Portland. We see an exodus form our state on one side and a migration of homeless encampments everywhere. None of us want anyone out on the streets. Still, we need to operate our government. How does this affect our election process?

Towns have burned down from our forest fires. Businesses contend with COVID-19 operational restrictions. People have lost or changed jobs. We learned a new term: ‘essential' work. Second amendment law infringements motivate people to move away. Things are different in Oregon.

The Transition Project on Irving currently has 381 active voters and 1,802 inactive voters registered when I checked with Multnomah County Elections officer, Eric Sample. The people registered to vote at this address get some services here such as their mail. I question if we should be saying these are permanent residences and never require their address to be updated as HB 2681 would change, Currently, anyone would need to vote or update their address within the 10 years. If they don’t vote for 10 years, that might be an indication that they are living somewhere else. HB 2681 would remove any requirement to vote or update the address.

I also understand from Eric Sample that he estimated somewhere between a few hundred and a thousand people were registered at the elections office. He said it was difficult to look up by address without checking specific voter, although their office was able to check the other address for me.

Portland has acquired some motels in the area to house homeless folks. There are a number of other homeless facilities in just Multnomah County. God bless all the people who made this happen to bring some comfort and protection to our neighbors. These facilities are not permanent residences. They are temporary facilities by design.

Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) has introduced HB 2681, which reads “Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the registration of an elector may not be considered inactive due to an elector not voting or updating the elector’s registration for any period of time.” The Election Assistance Commission suggests as well as Oregon used to require a voter to vote in 2 consecutive federal elections or be removed from the voter rolls. Secretary Richardson moved to have that change to 10 years. With our homeless population on the rise, fires destroying whole towns, and changing demographics we should not go to ‘never update’ the voter rolls but instead tighten, go back to the four year Supreme Court sanctioned time frame, if we want our population to be accurately represented in the vote. If our goal is to have accurate voter lists.

Most states require proof of residency. We do not. HB 2681 will weaken our voter rolls. Our voter rolls will become bloated and cost tax payers more money to deliver ballots to people who no longer live here. Just plain old dirty voter rolls.

When voters loose confidence in the election they stop voting. We must build confidence in our election process and that starts with clean voter rolls.

The House Rules Committee will have a work session on this bill and consider amendments on Thursday April 1 at 1:00pm. No fooling.

--Janice Dysinger

Post Date: 2021-03-31 09:11:56Last Update: 2021-03-31 15:48:34

Get Ready for Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements
They dig a hole right back into a class society

Waiting in the wings for a work session is HB 2991, introduced by Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland), seemingly a spokesperson for BIPOC. The bill requires the Legislative Policy and Research Office to prepare an estimated racial and ethnic impact statement, if requested by a member or committee of the Legislature to determine the effect on “traditionally marginalized groups.” If a negative impact is estimated, the bill cannot be moved to the floor of either chamber.

For many years, bills were required to have a fiscal impact statement -- what the cost was expected to be for state government -- and a revenue impact statement if either were applicable. Recently, bills are required to have an Open Government Impact Statement. Perhaps we're seeing the mushrooming of different kinds of "statements" that need to follow bills around. One can imagine a "Carbon Footprint" statement, but let's not say that too loudly.

What might seem to be beneficial for the “traditionally marginalized groups”, could have grave unforeseen consequences. These groups are defined as:

(a) Women
(b) Persons with disabilities
(c) Blacks or African-Americans
(d) Hispanic or Latinx persons
(e) Asians or Pacific Islanders
(f) American Indians, or
(g) Alaska Natives

The statement is to be “impartial, simple and understandable” including the “methodologies and assumptions used in preparing the estimate.” But then it violates its own “impartial” requirement by “including a description of any consultation with community-based organizations or persons with expertise in the impact of implicit or inherent bias on traditionally marginalized groups.” Where is the impartiality when only the marginalized communities are consulted?

To further restrict the bills being introduced, the committee must consider ways to eliminate or mitigate the estimated negative impact on any “traditionally marginalized groups,” and must be resolved for a positive impact before it can be moved to the floor for a vote. Why not make this a resolution for everyone? These statements would be very time consuming to document a subjective guess that has no basis in fact, and make it look impartial with an underlying assumption that all bills will be partial to the “traditionally marginalized” with a blind eye to equity. At what point does it become "reverse discrimination?" When there is an overwhelming benefit or handout to the 'underprivileged' ‘underserved’ to such an extent that it affects every law, then socialism has taken control. Oregon's population is 85.06% white. So, the under-represent is 15% of the total population. How much does the 85% have to give through taxes, jobs, opportunities, businesses before it violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. which says: “No State make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privilege or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Public policy covers everyone equally and when you start naming a group, it is no longer equality.

As much as BIPOC wants to equalize social and economic circumstances, the more they dig a hole right back into a class society that is kept by government. When the free market is manipulated with estimates aimed at a specific group, the results are never economically sound.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-31 08:57:43Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:15:18

Legibot. No, Really.
A machine is doing the required reading of the bills.

Last week the Oregon House due to confirmation of an individual testing positive for COVID-19. The individual had been present on the House floor on the 15th and 16th. Legislators were notified on the 22nd at the end of the first House floor session of the day. All other House floor sessions for the week were canceled.

This week House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) had planned daily double floor sessions to start moving the flow of backlogged bills. However, Sunday afternoon, Lindsey O’Brien, Chief of Staff for Speaker Kotek sent out an email to members saying in part:

With another confirmed COVID case, floor will be effectively canceled tomorrow (Monday 3/29).

In addition, the Speaker has directed the Clerk to begin using computer software to read lengthy bills upon final passage to further reduce the risk of virus transmission when the House is in session for the purpose of bill reading.

The requirement to read bills aloud before the final vote on the House or Senate floor is imbedded in the 1859 Oregon Constitution. However, it can be suspended by a vote of 2/3 in order to save time. In the House that is 40 votes. In the Senate it is 20.

After the Supermajority Democrats adopted rules this session allowing the Speaker to fine unexcused lawmakers up to $500 a day, essentially ending the walkout option, the Republicans turned to the Constitution to slow the movement of bills. This is one of the few remaining tools available to Republicans, who hold 23 seats in the 60-member House. Last week, House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) reiterated this to Speaker Kotek expressing that bills were moving too fast through committee with little public input. She said, “As long as the building is closed to the public and deeply controversial legislation continues to be fast-tracked in committees, we will continue to depend on the Constitution, to remind the supermajority we should not operate like it’s business as usual while the public is shut out."

This rational has not set well with Democrats. During a floor session earlier this month, House Majority Leader Barbara Smith-Warner (D-Portland), expressed her displeasure with the Republican tactic by stating “It is so disappointing that, yet again, we are being forced to read non-controversial bills on the floor to delay the legislative process. This feels like another tactic designed solely to slow down the process of doing the people’s work”. She went onto say that “the work we are doing here is critical”.

However, just days later, HB 2060, which was only 11 pages long, was read in its entirety and took only approximately 15 minutes. After the reading, Representative Smith-Warner made a motion to send the bill back to the Rules Committee. Representative Smith Warner is Chair of that committee. She noted that “there are a few items in this bill, that given further review, we believe, need some more work, so we are hoping to send it back to rules.” This begs the question; if this bill had not been read in its entirety for the third time before the vote, would the flaw in this bill have

been corrected once it reached the Senate? If adequate time and testimony are being given in committee, why was this not caught before sending it to the floor?

Also, according to a spokesperson for House Speaker Tina Kotek, the rationale behind the computer voice being used for third readings was “to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for everyone who works in the chamber. However, as the House got back to business on Tuesday morning, the Clerk was present on the floor and continued to read the messages from the Senate, first and second reading of bill titles, of which there were 73, as well as a proposed amendment change to the House Rules. Only the third reading of the bills was placed on the computer. When it was time for the 3rd reading of the bills, Representative Power (D-Milwaukie) tried to move the first bill of the day, HB 2111, back to committee in order avoid the mandatory 3rd reading of the bill before the vote. The motion failed on party lines. Motions to rerefer need 40 of the 60 votes.

Rep. Smith-Warner then moved to suspend the rules for the reading of the bill in its entirety for today only, but again the motion failed due to it needing 40 votes.

The computer system then began reading the first bill of the day, HB 2111 which is 170 pages long and “Changes the name of Oregon Liquor Control Commission to Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Control Commission”. As Representative Smith- Warner said, “the work we are doing here is critical”.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-30 18:31:30Last Update: 2021-03-30 19:01:34

Legislative Pace Slows
Hard-core legislation is starting to move

As strongly partisan Democrat bills inch toward the finish line, Republicans in both chambers have been using multiple tools to stop what they consider to be legislation harmful to the state.

SB 554 was slowed in the Senate as six Senators walked out and the remainder engaged in procedural slowdowns on the floor of the Senate. The bill barely passed the Senate anyway with 16 yes votes. It has moved to the House, where it has been read for the first time. It has not yet been assigned to a committee.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) indicated that Republicans were about prioritizing 2021-2023 budget bills in the Oregon Legislature, saying, “As legislators, our priority is to help Oregonians with programs and support that they need, especially after a year of the pandemic and natural disasters,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Part of this commitment is to ensure we have a balanced budget prior to our constitutional deadline before adjourning this session. That’s why today Republicans committed to suspend third readings of 2021-2023 budget bills, which ensures we prioritize critical funding for Oregonians.”

Republicans have the option of using other slowing tactics like having every member speak on every bill and making motions regarding the status of the bill. These tactics have the effect of slowing down legislation in general as well as creating a bargaining token to give back in exchange for killing some piece of legislation.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-30 17:17:33Last Update: 2021-03-30 17:40:23

Female District Attorneys Criticize Bills
The victims we serve deserve better

Eight of the nine Female District Attorneys from across Oregon released a joint statement accusing Senate and House Democrats of proposing bills that would threaten the safety of Oregonians.

“We should not return to the days when a rapist would merely receive a probationary slap on the wrist or the man who nearly killed his wife would be simply admonished to ‘walk away next time she pushes your buttons’,” stated the news release from the Marion County District Attorney’s Office.

“This statement is a compelling and powerful condemnation of attempts to repeal Measure 11,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “We should listen to these women and abandon dangerous plans to remove these protections for crime victims and communities.”

Outlined in the release are four bills that would fully repeal Ballot Measure 11, which provides a crucial safeguard for the public: SB 191, SB 401, HB 2172and HB 2002

“Our criminal justice system can always get better. And while we support smart, responsible policies that can make the process more equitable and fair for all, repealing Measure 11 does not do that. And the victims we serve deserve better,” added the District Attorneys in their release.

The signers include:

Paige Clarkson, Marion County DA & Oregon District Attorney’s Association President
Lanee Danforth, Lincoln County DA
Rebecca Frolander, Wallowa County DA
Beth Heckert, Jackson County DA
Gretchen Ladd, Wheeler County DA
Kelsie McDaniel, Union County DA
Patty Perlow, Lane County DA
Carrie Rasmussen, Hood River County DA

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-30 12:53:03Last Update: 2021-03-30 13:51:12

SEIU Sued by Member for Racketeering
The case involves racketeering, fraud and violation of civil rights.

Staci Trees isn’t the first Oregon public employee to file suit against her union over its refusal to grant her opt-out request. Nor is hers the first instance of the union clearly forging a signature on a membership form so it could continue to confiscate dues from a worker who no longer wanted to pay.

But Trees’ case is the first to invoke the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, alleging the union engaged in a pattern of fraudulent activity victimizing both her and other union members.

The lawsuit was filed on March 29th in U.S. District Court in Eugene by the Freedom Foundation, a national nonprofit watchdog organization specializing in public-sector union abuses. It names Service Employees International Union 503, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services and its director, Katy Coba, as defendants.

Trees, employed by the Oregon Department of Transportation, was required to either sign a union membership card or pay an agency fee to SEIU 503 when she was originally hired in 2009. But in June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union membership, dues and fees in the public sector are a violation of the worker’s First Amendment rights.

Within a month, Trees contacted the union and requested her release.

After numerous delays, SEIU 503 finally canceled her membership in December 2020. But Trees was informed in an email that the union would continue deducting around $100 a month in dues until at least February 2021 because, under the terms of a new agreement she signed in 2016, all memberships would be renewed automatically unless the worker opted out during an annual two-week window.

Trees, however, couldn’t remember signing such an agreement and, when she demanded to see it, not only had her signature been forged, but important personal details had simply been made up.

“If Staci Trees was the only person this had ever happened to, you could conceivably blame it on inefficiency or incompetence,” said Freedom Foundation attorney Rebekah Millard. “But this isn’t an isolated case.”

The Freedom Foundation is currently litigating four other forgery cases involving SEIU 503 in Oregon and has taken action in more than a dozen total forgery cases involving public-sector unions on the west coast.

“This is a pattern of behavior,” Millard continued. “This is how government unions are responding to Janus — by intimidating employees, lying or suppressing the truth about their rights and fighting every single attempt to opt out. “And when all else fails,” she said, “they simply forge their signature on a phony contract, locking employees into new terms they never agreed to.”

Millard said SEIU’s actions violate both state and federal RICO laws because the union issued numerous electronic communications that fraudulently claimed Trees authorized deductions she didn’t.

Moreover, the complaint cites four other current lawsuits in which the SEIU 503 engaged in similar behavior against other Oregon public employees.

“It's time for the courts to recognize these are not isolated instances and take action to hold SEIU 503 accountable,” said Jason Dudash, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon director. “And that’s just what this lawsuit is intended to do.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-30 09:07:04Last Update: 2021-03-29 21:53:03

Following Science
Does Oregon need an Independent Scientific Review Board?

In 2015, the Oregon Legislative Assembly enacted SB 202 establishing the Task Force on Independent Scientific Review for Natural Resources. The Task Force evaluated and assessed the need for independent science reviews in Oregon and made recommendations to the Governor and appropriate legislative committees.

In 2017, SB 198 was introduced and would have created a permanent Oregon Independent Science Review Board. However, it only received a single public hearing and never moved out of committee. During the hearing, several natural resource organizations submitted joint testimony in opposition to the bill. They shared that “While we appreciate the Task Force's effort to design an independent and unbiased scientific review process for Oregon, given the extraordinary difficulty of eliminating perceived bias, we are highly skeptical that this process will produce any kind of consensus around answers to politically charged "high impact" questions”.

Currently, Representative Holvey (D-Eugene), believes that SB 198 from 2017 deserves to be revisited and has introduced HB 2386. The bill is almost identical to the 2017 legislation. It is summarized as:

“Establishes Oregon Independent Science Review Board. Establishes Independent Scientific Review Secretariat as administrative section within the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University. Establishes Independent Scientific Review Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in fund to Higher Education Coordinating Commission for distribution to Oregon State University for purposes of board and secretariat. Declares emergency, effective on passage”.

The bill received a hearing earlier this month and was again opposed by the same group of natural resource advocates as in 2017. The major concerns were similar but also emphasized the current climate that Oregon is facing. “Ultimately, this board risks becoming another place for special interest advocates to pursue changes to public policy by seeking the endorsement of a board appointed by a political office,” the coalition concluded. William Edge from Oregon State University, who was on the original 2015, taskforce stated in testimony that “The task force concluded that most single agency scientific reviews can be met with existing State, Federal and academic resources, but we did find that review practices and capacity for conducting quality reviews varied substantially among agencies”. The last statement he made were the same concern that the coalition, in opposition to the bill, had when raised when they stated, “The bill language fails to provide the board with direct oversight, limits to discretion, performance standards, legal obligations or overall best practices for scientific review”. Therefore, it appears that the concerns of Edge regarding agency lack of best practices are also the concerns of those opposed to the bill.

Several legislators asked questions of Edge during the testimony around, how things would be handled since science does not always agree, how industry experts would report to this board, and how the board would assess validity. Representative Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro) raised a concern that encompassed many of these feeling when she asked, “There are scientists all over the world and one panel of scientists in Oregon being the only place for us to have what we are considering to be ‘the science board’ or ‘the blue-ribbon board’, causes me some concern."

The bill is currently scheduled for a work session in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on March 30 at 3:15pm.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-29 21:35:19Last Update: 2021-03-29 21:45:52

Gubernatorial Poll Up
Survey shark says there’s blood in the water

Some would say that Democratic Party mismanagement of the state is what has attracted numerous Republicans to stick their necks out early and test the waters.

If you're on a desktop or laptop, you can participate in our informal poll, above, and let us know who you'd vote for.

Editor's note: if you're on a mobile device, you can vote next time you are at a laptop or desktop.


Post Date: 2021-03-29 14:57:27Last Update: 2021-03-29 20:02:47

Stabbing in Bend
Deschutes County Sheriff responded

On March 28, 2021 at about 12:00 AM deputies from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Officers from the Bend Police Department were dispatched to a stabbing on China Hat Road near Sunset View Drive. A female witness called 911 and reported her friend was stabbed in the neck and the head by an unknown male.

Law Enforcement and Paramedics from the Bend Fire Department met up with the victim at the Walmart parking lot. The male was transported to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend with serious injuries.

Detectives from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office were called to conduct an investigation. The investigation determined that Reyes knew the victim and believed the victim was a witness in another criminal case involving Reyes.

Reyes met up with the victim and a female witness on China Hat Road with the purpose of assaulting the male, because Reyes believed the male gave information about him in the other criminal case.

When Reyes arrived, he and the victim got into a physical fight where the victim was eventually stabbed.

Deschutes County Sheriff arrested 33 year old, Anthony J Reyes.

The investigation is still ongoing. No further information is available for release at this time. The sheriff’s office was assisted by Bend Police Department and the Bend Fire Department.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-28 19:29:24Last Update: 2021-03-29 14:43:19

Mental Health and Addictions Volunteering
Interested residents in Clackamas County should apply

Clackamas County Commissioners are seeking interested residents to serve on county Advisory Boards and Commissions (ABCs). These ABCs offer residents the opportunity to become very involved in their community.

Individuals interested in this opportunity can apply online or via a paper form that can be obtained from the Public and Government Affairs Department by calling 503-655-8751 or in person at the Public Services Building at 2051 Kaen Road in Oregon City.

The Clackamas County Mental Health and Addictions Council has 13 openings, each of which carries a three-year term. The council advises commissioners and the county Behavioral Health Director on community needs, gaps in services, barriers and priorities related to providing mental health and substance use services (including education, prevention and treatment), review grant proposals or other funding requests for state funds as required by ORS 430.350, and other grant requests as feasible, and provide a link to the community at large through advocacy, public information, and education.

The council has ten meetings that are scheduled each year on the fourth Tuesday of the month (no meetings in March/December) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. These meetings are currently being held virtually via Zoom.

If and when they go back to in person, the meetings will be held at our Clackamas County Mental Health Crisis Clinic at 11211 SE 82nd Ave, Suite O, Happy Valley, OR 97086.

More on the Clackamas Mental Health and Addictions Council can be found online.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-28 16:59:14Last Update: 2021-03-29 14:44:34

Foreign Interference in Local Courts
Saudi students aided in fleeing justice in Polk and Benton Counties

Recently, it was discovered that several Saudi Arabian college students studying in Oregon who had been charged with various felony level crimes had fled the United States before trial, with the help of the Saudi government. The students were all represented by Oregon attorney Ginger Mooney. At least two of the cases happened right here in Polk and Benton Counties.

What nobody has reported until now are the irregularities with the bail money that was paid by Ginger Mooney’s client, the Saudi government, to Oregon’s circuit courts. In at least one case, a large amount of bail money paid to the Polk County court is apparently unaccounted for.

It is a state-wide law (ORS 135.280) that when a defendant out of jail on a 10% bail deposit fails to appear in court, the court must order that bail money forfeit -- even the remaining 90% that had not yet been paid. All of Oregon’s circuit courts and attorneys know exactly how to properly handle bail, which is why these two local Saudi cases stand out.

In the 2014 Polk case (No. 14CR30024), defendant Abdulaziz Hamad Al Duways was accused of violent sexual crimes against a fellow student at Western Oregon University. At his first appearance, then-Judge Sally Avera ordered bail set at $4.5 million. While that may sound like an appropriate amount of bail for such horrific crimes, it is actually wildly unconstitutional according to Oregon law -- which sets bail amounts by the offense charged. In this case, bail would normally initially be set at or about $1.25 million.

Judge Avera certainly knew that it was not constitutional, which calls into question what she thought she and court staff were doing.

At Al Duways’ next appearance, Ginger Mooney negotiated Judge Avera down to $500,000 -- a sum that the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia agreed to pay, turning over the 10% deposit of $50,000 into the custody of Polk court staff.

When Al Duways was spirited back to Saudi Arabia and failed to appear in court, a month and a half after his release on bail, Judge Avera was required by law to immediately follow Oregon’s statewide bail procedures: She had a duty to send an official notice to the Saudi Royal Consulate, then release the $50,000 deposit to Oregon’s Department of Revenue, and then enter a court order compelling the Saudi government to pay the remaining $450,000 in bail money through the court, to be released to the Department of Revenue.

Instead, Judge Avera did nothing. She sent no notice, signed no order, failed to acknowledge the $50,000 that was already in the court’s possession, and failed to send a bill for the remaining $450,000 owed to Oregon by the Saudi government.

The fate of the $50,000 paid to the court remained entirely unknown until 2019, after Ginger Mooney and her Saudi cases was first reported by national and international media. That spring, I brought the issue of the unreleased bail money to the attention of Polk Trial Court Administrator Heidi Bittick, on the off chance that she had somehow overlooked it. Bittick refused to give a straight answer, and would state only that “$50,000 is being held in the state of Oregon.” Technically, that would not be a lie even if the money was being hidden in Bittick’s sock drawer. However, Bittick was terminated as Court Administrator shortly thereafter. In a Bureau of Labor and Industries complaint that Bittick filed in the wake of her termination, she claimed that she was fired by Polk Presiding Judge Norman Hill due to her “whistleblowing activity,” and that Judge Hill subjected her to “unwarranted discipline” regarding court cashbox money she discovered to be missing. The Saudi bail receipt was filled out by Bittick personally. Whether Bittick misappropriated the money herself or did so as part of a larger scheme is a question that may be answered by the records surrounding her termination. Except those records are unfortunately “confidential” according to the Oregon Judicial Department, who refuses to release them to the media or the public.

Other Saudi cases at Polk and other courts strongly suggest that this was just one episode of a repeated scheme to take custody of large amounts of Saudi bail money that would then be abandoned when the Saudi government predictably removed the defendant from the US, causing him to fail to appear in court.

Regarding Al Duway’s case in Polk, Judge Hill was recently notified that the court had failed to order the release of even the $50,000 deposit to the State of Oregon. Judge Hill has thus far also refused to act, or even acknowledge, that there is a problem in his courthouse regarding the disappearance of bail money.

The situation was slightly better in a 2014 case (No. 14CR16191) in Benton County, although the crimes charged were even more abhorrent: ten counts of encouraging child sexual abuse. That defendant, Waleed Ali Alharthi, was bailed out with another $50,000, again paid by the Saudi Royal Consulate.

It took another half-year for Alharthi to flee the same way Al Duways had, but he did so -- using his Saudi passport, even though it was supposed to be held securely in the custody of the court.

Unlike Polk County, the Benton court ordered the $50,000 deposit released to the State of Oregon immediately. But like Polk, Benton also refused to send the Saudi government the bill for the remaining 90% ($450,000) they owe to the State Oregon.

Even after the Benton District Attorney vehemently complained to the court about letting the Saudis off the hook for the $450,000, Ginger Mooney inserted herself into the discussion, confusing the matter and encouraging Judge Matthew Donahue not to follow Oregon law.

These two cases alone represent $1 million that should, by statute, have been used by the State of Oregon to support the Crime Victims Fund. The fund was set up by the legislature to help Oregonians victimized by criminals to recover mentally, physically, and financially from exactly the kinds of crimes these Saudi defendants were charged with -- and were enabled to escape trial for. So far, only 5% of that million dollars has reached the Crime Victims Fund -- a mere $50,000, all of it from Benton. Polk still has not turned over a single penny.

If the law is not followed in extreme cases such as these -- in which defendants accused of horrific crimes are enable to flee back to a country they cannot be extradited from, such as Saudi Arabia which has no extradition treaty with the US, then when can the public count on Oregon’s courts and judges to follow the law?

If it takes only $50,000 to buy justice for a Saudi defendant accused of horrific sexual offenses, what else can criminals getting away with by leaving piles of cash unattended with the courts?

US Senators Merkley and Wyden have shown lasting concern and interest in these Saudi cases from an international perspective. They need to hear from the public that Saudi interference in Oregon’s court system is unacceptable.

--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-03-28 14:59:14Last Update: 2021-03-28 17:01:32

Electoral Chaos
Delays in election counting and reporting erode confidence

Numerous bills are being introduced this Legislative session that would inject chaos into our election day calendar. Each bill as a separate issue, but it’s hard to get the big picture without talking about the overall effect.

After Election day, we already have a two week period to ‘cure’ ballots that were rejected for bad signatures or no signature at all. Maybe we should go back to in person voting so we can make sure their signature matches in the first place.

Representative Rayfield, Senator Dembrow introduced HJR 11 that would allow same day voter registration. Do you want bus loads of people showing up to register to vote on election day? Its happened before.

Harney County Clerk, Dag Robinson sent in testimony for HJR 11 objecting to the bill. He cited two different instances where there were real threats to our Oregon election system from same day voter registration.

Now, we are considering letting ballots come in by mail up to 10 days after the election. What is the big push to do these things? After all, we have automatic voter registration.

Senator Knopp introduced SB 694 which requires ballots for general and primary elections that are received after election to be counted if postmarked no later than Saturday before date of election and received no later than seven calendar days after election. Prohibits individual from collecting and returning ballot of other individual, subject to specified exceptions. Requires Secretary of State to submit biennial report to Legislative Assembly identifying name, address and birthdate of each individual who cast more than one ballot in single election during previous two years. Declares an emergency so it would be effective upon passage.

Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) introduced HB 2226. This bill requires ballots returned by mail to be postmarked not later than date of election. Requires county clerks to announce status of tally of ballots received after election date on third and eighth calendar days after date of election. Prohibits individual from collecting and returning ballot of other individual except on date of election. Applies to elections held on or after January 1, 2022. Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) also introduced HB 2687 which requires ballots returned by mail to be postmarked not later than date of election. Requires county clerks to announce status of tally of ballots received after election date on third and eighth calendar days after date of election. Applies to elections held on or after January 1, 2022.

We already have early voting, nearly three weeks We don’t need to extend the time to get a ballot to the elections office so we have late voting too. There are drop boxes all over the county people can access in those last days.

Delays in election counting and reporting erode confidence and create opportunities for fraud. Besides, people want the results on election evening. Once results are known then there is knowledge of how many ballots are needed to change close races. Extending the time only gives opportunity to for clandestine ballots to manipulate the count.

It doesn’t make sense for good governance to inject opportunities to commit fraud.

--Janice Dysinger

Post Date: 2021-03-28 12:29:48Last Update: 2021-03-28 12:39:14

Who Would Jerry Vote For?
Most victims just want to see justice

Jerry was my older brother. He was a popular guy and known for is big wide smile. He was full of fun, talented, skilled and hard working. I loved and admired my brother. Jerry had two children and was a devoted father! His son David was six and the his daughter Michelle was 11. He loved those kids so much!

Jerry loved camping, hunting and fishing and being outdoors. He was an engineer with the forestry service. He mapped out the roads and helped manage large areas of eastern Arizona forest and then later worked in Whitefish Montana doing the same thing. Eventually the warm climate of Arizona brought him back. The forestry service valued his service a great deal. He had a helicopter at his disposal to go out to check on how the decisions he engineered would impact the forest. He cared a lot about the forest, the people and animals.

One day he was at a dance where a woman approached him for help. She said that her boyfriend was drunk and after her and she was scared. He really didn’t want to be involved with their relationship but she begged him a number of times because she was afraid. He eventually went with her to a restaurant to have some coffee and talk.

The drunk boyfriend, Ted, followed them. When Jerry saw him he asked they guy to sit down, told him he would leave so they could work things out. The fellow, Ted, said: “NO! But you are going to be sorry!” Ted left.

Jerry went to pay for the coffee, as he told me later, he had a horrible feeling something bad was going to happen. As they stepped out of the restaurant the bullets started flying. Ted had gone home and got his 22 rifle, came back and was looking for them. He fired multiple times. The girl got under one of the cars outside of the restaurant. People were there and called the police. But in those few minutes Ted turned on my brother and shot him in the back. Jerry fell to the ground after one shot hit him in the spine.

Jerry was paralyzed as the guy stood over him threatening to finish him off. When the police came, Ted turned the gun on himself. The police talked him out of it. I talked to Jerry about the night he was shot. I heard what happened directly from him.

Jerry lived for two more weeks while the doctors tried to help him recover after surgery. The bullet had bounced around from organ to organ and he had so many injuries. Finally blood clots went to his brain and he died.

Jerry was trying to make sense of the situation. Being an active outdoorsman and facing being paralyzed was a huge blow to him. He had done nothing wrong and was a productive member of society taking care of his family.

The day the blood clots struck his brain was so hard. I knew in my spirit the moment it happened and called the hospital to find the doctor was working on him and they were on their way to surgery to see if they could alleviate the stroke. For three days I sat beside his bed as the doctors had to establish every cell in his brain was dead before they could turn off any life support that was keeping his heart pumping. That was due to the fact that his was now a murder case and the hospital did not want to be responsible for any chance at causing his death, so they did every test twice. His hands already had rigor mortis in them.

I was a nurse. The X-rays around the room showed the extensive injuries he endured. I knew he was gone, but the docs said we needed to keep talking to him because he might come back. My mom and dad were grief stricken. The whole family was. Three long days we sat with him, talked to him about our childhood, our home, our families time together and how we loved him.

He left behind two young children. They miss him, Lots of people miss him. He died at age 38. I will always miss him. Ted took all of Jerry’s rights -- forever removed by this fellow who served six years because the judge said Ted was drunk when he killed my brother so he really wasn’t responsible -- fully. Jerry is still gone. Senators Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), Chris Gorsek (D-Portland), Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton), Representatives Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) have sponsored SB 571 to restore the voting rights of incarcerated felons so they can register and vote while serving time in prison. I suppose they will have more voters from it. Proponents say it will help connect the prisoners with the community.

People are in prison for violating other peoples rights and to protect society from harm they may perpetrate. It is the consequences they face.

I think it is great when people face their mistakes and change their life direction for good. We are all sinners. I do believe in redemption, but some people don't care , feel remorseful or repent. I gave Ted a bible with his name on it. I told him about Jesus how he died to save us all from the punishment from hell and restore us to himself for eternity. Ted never said a word to our family. I have to leave it there. It is in God’s hands.

Those who have violated others all need to serve their time. Most prisoners will be released at some point. Let them enjoy their restored voting rights then.

My brother's rights were permanently taken from him. SB 571 is about justice. Most victims of violent crime and their families just want to see justice. We do not seek revenge. We know all to well nothing will bring them back. But there has to be some justice for crime. There just has to be if we are to live in a just and peaceful society. Our family members are precious to us. Does the judicial system say their lives don't really matter? Do they have value to society? Its just not ok to violate other people’s rights and face zero consequences.

The Senate Committee On Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation will have a work session on SB 571 on March 31 at 8:00 AM to decide if felons should have their voting rights restored while they serve time in prison.

--Janice Dysinger

Post Date: 2021-03-27 21:11:51Last Update: 2021-03-27 22:29:48

Felon Arrested After Ten Hour Standoff
Felons should not be in possession of guns

An armed, wanted felon had barricaded himself in his home for 10 hours in the Richmond Neighborhood in Portland, and the Portland Police had asked neighbors in the area to shelter in place.

The subject was identified as Robert W. Delvin, 50.

He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Felon in Possession of a Firearm (5 counts), Reckless Endangerment (3 counts), Discharge of a Firearm in the City (city code), and Attempt to Elude by Vehicle.

The investigation began on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 when the Portland police were called to the home in the 3700 block of Southeast Brooklyn Street.

Investigating officers learned that at about 11:30a.m., Delvin fired a handgun at someone outside his home.

The person he fired at is still unidentified and there is no indication that person was injured. But officers learned that a 5-year-old girl and her nanny were nearby (in the direction where the pistol was pointed) when the shot was fired. They were not physically injured but ran after the shot. Officers with the Central Precinct Neighborhood Response Team did follow-up investigation and applied for the search warrant.

The felony Attempt to Elude charge was added due to Delvin's failure to stop when officers tried to pull his vehicle over Friday.

After Delvin was in custody, Central Neighborhood Response Team and Central Precinct patrol officers served the search warrant. They located and seized as evidence five firearms (two handguns, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle, and a shotgun) and at least 500 rounds of ammunition.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-27 13:33:22Last Update: 2021-03-27 22:11:39

Oregon Second-to-Last Re-opening Schools
Keeping primary schools closed linked with declining mental health

A tracker from Burbio on K-12 school openings ranks Oregon second to last in the country.

Burbio.com aggregates school, government, library and community event information and consists of more than 80,000 K-12 school calendars from all fifty states.

The extensive amount of time that Oregon students have attended school from home may have serious implications for their academic success and mental health. Even a hybrid schooling method still requires a significant amount of time at home:

“Beginning in April 2020 the proportion of children’s mental health-related ED visits among all pediatric ED visits increased and remained elevated through October. Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5-11 and 12-17 years increased 24 percent and 31 percent respectively.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 13, 2020.

“These findings suggest that the decision to close US public primary schools in the early months of 2020 may be associated with a decrease in life expectancy for US children.” – University of Washington, Seattle and University of California, Los Angeles, November 12, 2020.

Most states in the country have been reopening after numerous studies point to safe conditions that would allow willing students to attend school in-person with minimal COVID-19 risks:

The CDC guidance, under President Biden, recommends that schools can reopen with successfully implemented mitigation strategies.

“Our data indicate that schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies.” – American Academy of Pediatrics, January 6, 2021.

“...we see no indication that in-person school re-openings have increased COVID-19 hospitalizations in the counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week. Neither the levels nor the trends change in any direction when schools open in [counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week], even as far as 6 weeks after schools reopened. In fact, we often see precise estimates suggesting declines in hospitalizations in these low-baseline COVID-19 counties…” – National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH), Tulane University, January 4, 2021.

The negative academic effects of at-home learning still have not been adequately measured in Oregon, and plans to do so have been delayed. Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education selected by President Joe Biden, this week affirmed the need for standardized testing when saying that student data obtained from the tests is important to help education officials create policy and target resources where they are most needed. “We have to make sure we laser-focused on addressing inequities that have existed for years. … Every bit of data helps,” added Cardona during a legislative conference.

Even 2020 high school graduation rates are misleading since the Oregon Department of Education drastically altered its graduation standards. As recently as 2017, Oregon had the second-worst graduation rate in the country, and the true extent of negative impacts from at-home learning on graduation rates is not clear.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-27 10:00:23Last Update: 2021-03-27 10:14:10

Gut and Stuffable Revenue Bills
Some bills to watch in the Revenue Committee, but not just yet

Editor's note: This is the sixth in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

"Gut and stuff" may sound like something that a hunting party does after a successful day tracking big game, but it's actually something less dramatic. It describes the process in the Legislature of amending a bill by removing all the contents of the bill and replacing them with something else. It's pretty common.

Often, legislators will introduce "placeholder" bills because the concepts behind them are still being discussed. In the 2021 session, there are several of these lurking in the House Committee on Revenue -- where all bills for raising revenue must originate.

The bills are: Don't for a minute think that the House Revenue Committee needs to pass a law to get the Legislative Revenue Officer to prepare a report on some tax issue.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-27 09:48:58Last Update: 2021-03-20 22:29:55

Virtual Crash
Why is the Oregon Legislature so unprepared for a virtual Legislative Session?

On March 8, 2020 Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-03 Declaring and Emergency for COVID-19. On April 15, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 20-16 after several County and City elected officials asked for a variance in public meeting law so that they could continue to conduct the business of the public as safely as possible throughout the declared emergency. The EO allowed elected officials and appointed public boards to use video communications to hold public meetings and allow the public to access and participate in those meetings while keeping in person gatherings at a minimum.

Ten months after the initial Emergency declaration and nine months after moving all other public bodies to video meetings one would have thought that the State of Oregon would have been better prepared to handle a virtual legislation session.

When the legislature convened on January 19, 2021, there were no custom designed Oregon Legislative virtual meeting platforms, but rather the Legislature chose to use Microsoft Teams, an off the shelf chat-based collaboration platform. A platform designed for business use, not for running and managing public meetings.

Written testimony and meeting links remained on the legacy system used by the legislature, The Oregon Legislative Information System. However, video being used was no longer the legacy 1-way systems where video cameras broadcast the hearings live from the hearing rooms. Instead, the meetings were conducted on the Microsoft Teams platform managed from wherever the Chair of the Committee might be hosting from that day. Some host from their homes and others from their offices at the Capitol. Equally, due to the Capitol not being open to the public, many legislators also join the meetings from their homes rather than their Capitol offices.

One of the issues with the virtual hearings, that has become evident, is that not all legislators are well versed or well trained in the use of Microsoft Teams. They try to run the meeting both judicially and functionally. This is a challenge they do not have to do when committees meet in person. During that situation, the committee administrator and the assistant manage the technical aspects and the legislator does what they do best; they run the meeting. Another distraction with the virtual hearings has been the loss of professionalism and decorum. If a person chooses to go to the capitol to testify, there were rules of engagement for the public to follow and the process was typically professional, and the elected officials were treated with respect and those testifying were treated with mutual respect. This session during the virtual hearings there has been video of lawmakers falling asleep on camera, people testifying using their middle finger at the camera, a Legislator with a cat wrapped around their neck, and people on camera, but not testifying, making lunch, and proceeding to eat it on camera. Unlike in person committee meetings where attention of committee members was easy to gauge, and public testimony and spectators kept in check.

In an open letter posted on the #Timberunity Facebook page to House Speaker Kotek from Jen Hamaker, she expressed some of the frustrations held by many Oregonians since session began in January. She wrote in part:

“Representative Kotek, this legislative session has been anything but transparent.

I’ve waited for hours to give testimony only to have the meeting end before I was able to testify. I’ve rearranged my day, and childcare to give testimony only to have the hearing cancelled and rescheduled. I’ve seen technical glitches and issues galore that prohibited Oregonians from being able to testify. I’ve witnessed Committee Chairs cut people’s testimony to 30 seconds instead of 3 minutes”.

She closed her letter with a plea that summed up the desires of many Oregonians. She said,

“If you don’t want public engagement, you’re going at it the right way! I request that you organize our House so that it reflects inclusivity, transparency and democracy which means a government where people participate”.

The Oregon Legislature and the Oregon State Capitol has always been the people’s house. COVID-19 has shut the people’s house down and turned the 81st Legislative Session into bad version of the 1960’s version of Hollywood Squares.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-26 09:53:31Last Update: 2021-03-26 15:09:09

Reductions in Deductibility
These bills have the effect of raising taxes.

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

As short -- less than a page -- bill, HB 2254, requires addition, in determination of Oregon taxable income, of amount of compensation above $1 million threshold paid by taxpayer to any individual and deducted as business expense. In short, tax deductions won't apply to income over $1 million, at least for the purposes of calculating state taxes.

It's pretty clear that the spirit of the bill -- introduced by Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) -- is to generate extra revenue from "the rich," but it may have the effect of punishing small businesses, because of the way they file taxes. Many small businesses file as individuals and while $1 million is a large annual income for an individual, even a very small business can generate that level of revenue.

The effective part of the bill reads.

There shall be added to federal taxable income the amount of any individual’s compensation paid by a taxpayer that is in excess of $1 million for the tax year and that has been deducted on the taxpayer’s federal return under section 162 of the Internal Revenue Code.

HB 2255, also introduced by Representative Wilde, is similar. It limits, for purposes of personal income taxation, availability of itemized deductions, using phaseout based on adjusted gross income of taxpayer.

A taxpayer’s itemized deductions are the amount of the taxpayer’s itemized deductions as defined in section 63(d) of the Internal Revenue Codeshall be reduced by five percent for every $50,000 by which the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income exceeds $500,000.

In a time of record revenues coupled with a recession focused on small businesses, some think that these proposals are unnecessary and even mean-spirited. Neither bill has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Revenue, but this committee is not subject to the chamber deadlines faced by other committees.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-26 09:39:53Last Update: 2021-03-20 22:09:38

Concealed Carry Restrictions Passes Senate
It’s about the kids, you know

Today the Senate Majority Party passed controversial SB 554. Their press release shortly after the vote, however had an interesting headline: “Senate Democrats Approve Bill to Protect Students, Public Workers and Communities from Gun Violence.” How?

During the over 3 and a half hours of testimony, never once did the sponsors of the bill or the supporting Senators explain how Concealed Handgun License holders were a threat to students, public workers and communities. In one of his many speeches on the floor during debate, Senator Knopp (R-Bend) stated that “CHL holders are some of the most law-abiding citizens and in fact they are even more law-abiding that police officers when it comes to committing crime.” Not once during questioning and debate on the floor by the Republican Caucus was the question answered by the Democrats as to how a sign saying “no CHL allowed on the premises or in the building” help.

Still, Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), the driving force for many years behind the regulation of firearms and attacks on legal gun owners stated when she presented the bill “I, like so many Oregonians, have been distressed by the tragedy of gun violence and the rise of extremism. Communities throughout Oregon deserve the ability to decide whether to allow firearms into public buildings, such as schools and office buildings. SB 554 will create safer environments for learning and working while allowing flexibility for schools and local governments.”

One of the motions by the Republicans to refer the bill to Ways and Means for a fiscal was due to asking the question “Isn’t this just the same as the honor system we have in place today?” asked Senator Knopp. The question centered around the cost to truly keeping all guns out of public places and the cost of metal detectors for those places if they were to adopt SB 554. It does not stop criminals from conceal carrying in public buildings only those that go through extensive background checks for the legal right to do so. Senator James Manning (D-Eugene), another champion of the bill expressed his support and pleasure in passing the bill saying “SB 554 does not impact one’s ability to get a CHL, but if a public entity decides, they can eliminate firearms on their premise no matter your CHL status, which I believe removes intimidation and leads to a healthier workplace. It gives choice. It will make our schools safer, public workers safer and the community members who need to go to these buildings safer,” said Senator Manning. Again, the Senator failed to answer the question how it will make the schools, public workers, and community members safer without law abiding citizens being allowed to legally carry a firearm?

It should be noted that Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) crossed the aisle and voted against the bill along side the Republican Caucus. The bill now heads to the to the House for further consideration.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-26 09:22:54Last Update: 2021-03-26 13:54:48

Cash is King
Despite banning cash, they were unable to avoid COVID-19

Most legislation focuses on one issue or one area of law. Bills look at healthcare or transportation or water or housing and suggest changes to existing laws or implementation of new ones. However, some bills grab several areas that could be impacted by a single specific action such as discrimination and groups them together in one bill. SB 746 is one of those bills. While it is dealing with many topics around discrimination, it has brough back one specific topic from a bill heard during the 2020 session, HB 4107. The topic of accepting cash as legal currency for goods and services.

In 2020, HB 4107 was modified in committee and took on a broader scope which could have made it difficult to implement or possibly not legally enforceable. However, in a rare move, the bill was substituted on the floor of the House with the Minority Party Report and then moved over to the senate with some bipartisan support. There it was further fine-tuned and amended into HB 4107 B. Due to the walkout, the bill never finished its journey and died in the Senate Committee on Rules. Had SB 746 passed, businesses would have been forced to accept cash, with limited exceptions under the new law despite the declaration of an emergency.

However, during the pandemic some businesses choose to go to credit only payment and refused to accept cash. Dutch Brother Coffee was one of the most prominent businesses to do so. Shortly after the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, they made the decision to “temporarily suspended the use of cash due to COVID-19”, according to their web site. At the beginning of February 2021, almost a year into the pandemic, Dutch Brothers responded to an inquiry on their Face Book page as to why they were still not accepting cash. They shared “We’re so sorry for this inconvenience! At this point, we do need to maintain our touchless transactions for the safety of both our customers and our baristas. We’ll be accepting cash again as soon as it’s safe to do so”!

Despite Dutch Brothers banning cash, they were unable to avoid COVID-19 being contracted by their employees. Several locations over the last year have reported cases of COVID-19 among their workforces. Cash has never been determined by the Center for Disease Control or the Oregon Health Authority to be a source in the contraction of or spreading of COVID-19. Just over a year after the temporary suspension, Dutch Brothers is once again accepting cash. However, the Governor’s emergency Executive Order surrounding COVID-19 remains -- as does the existence of the disease. Senators Floye Prozanski (D-Eugene) and James Manning (D-Eugene) have introduced SB 746. SECTION 1 of the bill, PROTECTION AGAINST PAYMENT DISCRIMINATION is identical to the SECTION 1 in HB 4107 from the 2020 session. It would require businesses to accept cash as legal payment. Perhaps this time the bill will get across the finish line and those citizens that only choose to or need to use cash, will no longer be left out of the ability to purchase goods and services.

SB 746 currently resides in the Senate Committee on Labor and Business and has a public hearing and a possible work session scheduled for April 1, 2021.

--Terese Humbolt

Post Date: 2021-03-25 19:26:12Last Update: 2021-03-25 19:43:32

Rollback of CHL Rights Passes Senate
“This radical policy does nothing to solve gun violence”

In the wake of tragic shootings, Democrats advanced what many call "feel-good legislation" that threatens the safety of communities by rolling back Oregonians’ self-defense rights.

Amid rising violent crime, Democrats voted to advance SB 554, which would strip responsible Oregonians from defending themselves in certain settings, notably, public buildings. The move comes the same week Democrats entertained legislation that would let violent offenders off with lighter punishments.

“Let me be clear, this radical policy does absolutely nothing to solve gun violence or make communities safer,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “It will make it worse. Democrats have brought forth zero evidence that this will do anything except criminalize responsible Oregonians. At a time when Democrats are advancing ideas that would embolden violent criminals and hamstring police, to simultaneously strip responsible Oregonians of self-defense rights is unconscionable.”

After Portland politicians defunded the Gun Violence Reduction Unit, shootings have skyrocketed by 2,000%. Firearm homicides have reached record levels, none of which have been alleged to have been committed by a CHL holder. Portland-area residents have rushed to get a concealed carry license to protect their families and neighbors.

Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) one of the chief sponsors of SB 554. “I am a gun owner. I’m a military veteran and a former law enforcement officer. That means I have seen -- many times -- that when a gun is present the situation is more dangerous and the loss of life is more likely,” said Senator Manning. He did not elaborate on these incidents. “SB 554 does not impact one’s ability to get a CHL, but if a public entity decides, they can eliminate firearms on their premise no matter your CHL status, which I believe removes intimidation and leads to a healthier workplace,” added Senator Manning. “The bill makes sense. It gives choice. It will make our schools safer, public workers safer and the community members who need to go to these buildings safer,” said Senator Manning.

SB 554 will make it harder for communities who have to bear the brunt of bad public safety policy to exercise their right to defend themselves,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) said. “It also increases the cost to access that right. That will only serve to price low-income Oregonians out of defending themselves and their families.”

Republicans offered alternatives that would have given Oregonians and policymakers insights on how to bolster public safety. A 2020 Rand Corporation study found no existing data adequately evaluated the relationship between “gun-free zones” and mass shootings. Republicans’ Minority Report commissioned a study to gather valuable data about gun violence in public spaces. Democrats rejected this evidence-based approach.

Republicans also offered Oregonians the chance to weigh in on this divisive legislation by proposing an amendment to send it directly to voters. Democrats rejected this pro-democracy proposal. SB 554 restricts where Oregonians can defend themselves from violent attacks but fails to mandate that local jurisdictions who adopt these restrictions provide other safety measures. Republicans requested information about the cost of implementing metal detectors and hiring security. Again, Democrats blocked this prudent public safety step.

“Republicans proposed common-sense, data-driven approaches that would protect Oregonians’ constitutional rights and enhance public safety,” Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) said. “It is unbelievable that Democrats weren’t interested in the facts and instead, are clearly determined to pursue a political agenda at the expense of our rights. The data we have make it clear that CHL holders are some of the most law-abiding citizens in our state. This bill will simply single them out at no benefit to public safety.”

Data suggest that less than 0ne-hundredth of one percent (.0074%) of Oregonians with CHLs commit felonies. In Texas and Florida – two states that track concealed carry license data in detail – permit holders commit crimes at 1/6th the rate of police officers, a group that already very law-abiding.

CHL holders also stop crime. According to the FBI, 3.2% of active shooter situations are stopped by someone with a CHL. Other research suggests that they stop up to 16.5% of mass murder situations.

While Democrats were rejecting common-sense Republican proposals, they also voted against the United States and Oregon Constitution. The Republican Minority Report included clauses affirming Oregonians’ Constitutional right to defend themselves. SB 554 also makes responsible Oregonians criminals overnight with punishments of $125,000 and up to 5 years in prison. These are the same monetary fines as rape in the third degree and some child pornography charges.

“Our society is beginning to embrace a principle of rehabilitation for non-violent offenders to decrease prison populations,” Senator Girod (R-Lyons) said. “This bill flies in the face of that. The stiff penalties it imposes are completely contrary to that principle.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 12:12:22Last Update: 2021-03-25 16:22:54

Democrats Claw Back Kicker
Senate Democrats approve plan to steal $15 million from taxpayers

Over unified Republican opposition, Democrats voted in lockstep to keep money that is projected to be returned to Oregon taxpayers.

SB 846, introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney, would divert $15 million from the anticipated Kicker to other programs. Oregon’s unique kicker law is the last check Oregonians have against runaway bloating of state government.

“At a time when Oregonians need money in their pockets, Democrats are intent on nickel and diming them,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “Republican legislation that would exempt stimulus checks from state taxes is being stalled in Committee, while the Governor’s proposals that take millions from taxpayers move at breakneck speed. All the while, the state is raking in billions in federal aid.

“Our budget is doing better than expected but that is obviously of no consequence to Democrats. Oregonians are struggling. Taking money that constitutionally belongs to them is unacceptable and wrong.”

By changing the dates of future budget changes, Democrats are setting themselves up to take even more of the Kicker in the coming months. If revenue projections hold steady, Oregon taxpayers would get $570 million back via the Kicker. With the changes in SB 846, the Kicker has been reduced to $555 million. Further changes in the bill set the stage for Democrats to prevent the kicker from kicking altogether.

Oregon’s unique Kicker law enshrines in our Constitution the principle that tax dollars belong to Oregonians, much to the disdain of Democrats. In recent years, they have stolen more than $100 million from taxpayers.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 11:37:40Last Update: 2021-03-25 12:12:22

OHA Monitoring Four People for Ebola
And you thought COVID was bad

Public health officials in Oregon are monitoring four people who recently visited the West African countries of Guinea and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Regions in each of these countries are currently experiencing outbreaks of Ebola virus disease. There is low risk for people in Oregon.

Oregon Health Authority, Directed by Pat Allen, and local public health departments have been in contact with these individuals, who are considered “persons under monitoring,” since they arrived in the state earlier in March. The goal of this contact is to determine their risk, if any, of being exposed to Ebola and ensure their safety, as well as the safety of their families and the community.

“We want to make sure these individuals have the support they need to monitor their health, stay in contact with public health officials and safely get help with medical services if it comes to that,” said Richard Leman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Health Security, Preparedness and Response at the OHA Public Health Division.

As of March 24, Guinea has reported 18 Ebola cases and nine Ebola-related deaths. The Guinea outbreak is centered in Nzérékoré Prefecture, which is in the southern region of the country near the Liberian border. Democratic Republic of the Congo has reported 12 Ebola cases and six Ebola-related deaths. The outbreak in DRC is in North Kivu Province, which is in the eastern part of the country near the Ugandan border. The outbreaks are limited to small areas of each country and are not in large population centers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued Level 3 travel warnings for the affected regions in both countries, recommending people avoid nonessential travel there.

Beginning March 4, CDC has required all airlines to supply contact information for all U.S.-bound travelers who have been in Guinea or Democratic Republic of the Congo in the last 21 days — the largest known incubation period for Ebola. U.S.-bound travelers who have been in affected countries are routed through six international airports: Dulles in Washington, D.C.; John F. Kennedy in Queens, NY; Newark Liberty in Newark, NJ; O’Hare in Chicago, IL; Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, GA; and LAX in Los Angeles, CA. Upon arrival, they are interviewed to determine if they are symptomatic and to confirm their contact information. If they are symptomatic, they will be offered medical evaluation. CDC shares information for travelers from affected regions whose itineraries include Oregon. That way, public health authorities can contact these travelers and ensure they know symptoms to watch for and how to receive prompt medical evaluation if they become ill with symptoms consistent with Ebola. OHA and local public health officials also are reaching out to international non-governmental organizations with services in the affected countries to request early notification for any volunteers traveling to Oregon after recent work in those areas.

In addition, OHA and local public health officials are contacting community-based organizations in Oregon to help the persons under monitoring with language access and other support services.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 11:34:36Last Update: 2021-03-25 11:37:40

Eternal Voter Registration
It’s hard to not suspect bad motives behind the proposal

Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) has introduced HB 2681, which reads “Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the registration of an elector may not be considered inactive due to an elector not voting or updating the elector’s registration for any period of time.”

This will degrade our election voter rolls and list maintenance from this year and every year going forward it will get worse.

The directive in this bill is contrary to the advice from the US Election Assistance Committee, which says, “The National Voter Registration Act allows states to remove voters who have not voted in two consecutive federal general elections and failed to respond to a confirmation notice from an elections office. Other reasons for removal include death, felony conviction, having moved from one jurisdiction to another, mental incompetence, or at the voter’s request.”

Voter list maintenance increases the veracity of the voting rolls, giving voters greater access to the ballot by not letting someone else get the voters ballot. The voter gets the right ballot for their district, it reduces the number of provisional ballots, allows for better planning of the election and improves the voter experience. It also saves the taxpayer money.

The National Voter Registration Act -- commonly referred to as the “motor voter” law because it contained provisions about voter registration at local DMV offices -- provides guidance for when a state may remove the name of a voter from a list. Oregon allows 10 years of inactivity before removing an inactive voter currently. The NVRA only suggests 4 years and then removal. This bill would even remove the 10 year safeguard.

People registered at local colleges and universities would never have their voter record updated from the dorms. Apartment dwellers and others would have numerous ballots delivered to them from the previous residents from this time forward, every election. People often do not notify the Elections Division of their move out of state. New people at that address do not always notify the Elections Division that the person is no longer living there. Some states do a cross state voter check, to compare voters from state to state. They also employ various agency lists to find accurate information on name changes, deaths, felon charges, and changed addresses. HB 2681 will increase costs of elections by sending ballots to addresses that are no longer accurate for that voter. This bill will facilitate voter fraud opportunity. It will cost the taxpayer a lot of money in wasted printing, paper and postage.

Accurate voter lists improve the election process for everyone: the voter, the election workers and the candidates. HB 2681 will degrade our election process,

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, March 30 at 1:00pm for a hearing and possible work session.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 10:08:58Last Update: 2021-03-25 01:24:40

Marijuana Revenue Tinkerings
Dude, rural counties got the munchies

Editor's note: This is the fourth in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

Marijuana taxes have become a big part of Oregon's budget, brining in a whopping $133,150,349 in fiscal year 2020. 40% of that goes to schools and 15% goes to the State Police, so over half of the revenue is offsetting general fund money that would otherwise have to be paid by Oregon income taxpayers. It's play money for the Governor and the Legislature.

Since the passage of Ballot Measure 91 in 2014, marijuana has been seen as a cash cow, and like many other addictive products, there is incentive to turn up the spigot and generate even more revenue -- or at least change the rules for distributing the revenue.. People who are opposed in general to marijuana might support a tax increase also.

Right now, local taxes on pot are capped at 3% and have to be approved by the voters. State Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) has a proposal, HB 2015, which would raise that cap to 10%. Some might argue that it's a sin tax and might deter some from weed, while generating revenue for local communities.

He's also introduced HB 2014 which changes the formula for redistributing marijuana revenue to cites -- currently based solely on population -- and bases it partly on sales.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 09:32:15Last Update: 2021-03-20 21:46:31

“Anti-Vaxxers” Targeted by Attorney General
By effectively rooting out fraudulent information, you can prevent death

Oregon's Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum (D-Portland) has signed on to a letter originated by the Attorney General of Connecticut to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Mark Zukerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook asking them "to take immediate steps to fully enforce your companies’ guidelines against vaccine misinformation."

In this, the latest play in the information suppression scandal surrounding social media, the rhetoric has reached a new level. According to some, it's scandalous that the level of paranoia and suppression of free exchange of ideas has reached these heights.

The letter, making several references to "anti-vaxxers" calls for nothing less than the suppression of speech. It reads:

As Attorneys General committed to protecting the safety and well-being of the residents of our states, we write to express our concern about the use of your platforms to spread fraudulent information about coronavirus vaccines and to seek your cooperation in curtailing the dissemination of such information. The people and groups spreading falsehoods and misleading Americans about the safety of coronavirus vaccines are threatening the health of our communities, slowing progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and undermining economic recovery in our states.

As safe and effective vaccines become available, the end of this pandemic is in sight. This end, however, depends on the widespread acceptance of these vaccines as safe and effective. Unfortunately, misinformation disseminated via your platforms has increased vaccine hesitancy, which will slow economic recovery and, more importantly, ultimately cause even more unnecessary deaths. A small group of individuals use your platforms to downplay the dangers of COVID-19 and spread misinformation about the safety of vaccines. These individuals lack medical expertise and are often motivated by financial interests. According to a recent report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, so-called “anti-vaxxer” accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter reach more than 59 million followers. “Anti-vaxxers” are using social media platforms to target people of color and Black Americans specifically, members of communities who have suffered the worst health impacts of the virus and whose vaccination rates are lagging.

Given “anti-vaxxers’” reliance on your platforms, you are uniquely positioned to prevent the spread of misinformation about coronavirus vaccines that poses a direct threat to the health and safety of millions of Americans in our states and that will prolong our road to recovery.

The updated community guidelines you have established to prevent the spread of vaccine misinformation appear to be a step in the right direction. However, it is apparent that Facebook has not taken sufficient action to identify violations and enforce these guidelines by removing and labelling misinformation and banning repeat offenders. As a result, anti-vaccine misinformation continues to spread on your platforms, in violation of your community standards.

We call on you to take immediate steps to fully enforce your companies’ guidelines against vaccine misinformation. By effectively rooting out fraudulent information about coronavirus vaccines, you can prevent needless illness and death and hasten our road to recovery.

One wonders, if the ideas of the so-called "anti-vaxxers" are so outrageous, that allowing them to persist in public might be a more effective way to control so-called "misinformation." Similarly, if the vaccines are truly safe and effective, the so-called "anti-vaxxers" would only be a threat to themselves, and not to those who have taken the vaccines.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 09:28:50Last Update: 2021-03-25 01:34:36

Gov. Brown Announces Fed Fund Distribution
“We must create a more just and equitable Oregon”

Governor Kate Brown has released a 10-Point Economic Recovery Plan for Oregon. The 10-Point Plan, which was developed with input from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and Racial Justice Council, builds on the work of local economic development districts across the state to help Oregon families and businesses. It provides a framework for economic recovery related to COVID-19 and wildfires, with a specific focus on strategically supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.

The Governor also outlined her principles for the use of federal American Rescue Plan resources, to guide state agencies and local governments in making investments that will maximize immediate benefits for Oregonians in an equitable way.

“Thanks in part to the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Oregon’s outlook for a rapid economic recovery is strong, if we act quickly to get relief to Oregonians," said Governor Brown. "We have the opportunity now to lift up Oregon families and businesses, by immediately investing state and federal resources to help them recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic."

“We must do so by creating a more just and equitable Oregon, helping the communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and wildfires. By rooting our recovery efforts in equity, we can support economic growth for Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Tribal communities.

“My 10-Point Plan provides a roadmap for economic recovery, and will guide our state and local governments as we invest our shares of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan. Aligning programs and activities funded through these dollars will help ensure we are coordinating, not duplicating efforts, and collaborating on what will make a difference in our economies.”

Between state and local governments, Oregon is slated to receive approximately $6.4 billion in federal funds from the ARP. The Governor also laid out her principles for making investment decisions with ARP. Investments should be made now in a way that maximizes economic recovery efforts for Oregonians this year, while also addressing the existing disparities that were exacerbated by the pandemic, particularly for women and BIPOC communities.

“Oregon businesses have worked throughout the pandemic to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. We are pleased with the direction Governor Brown is taking with this plan to immediately invest state and federal resources towards shared prosperity and a robust recovery,” said Joth Ricci, CEO and President of Dutch Bros and Chair of the Oregon Business Plan Steering Committee. “Oregon businesses need both short-term relief and long-term investments like those in the Governor’s plan to help get our state back on its feet and thriving.” "Without prioritizing equity we can not have social and racial justice," said Jan Mason, co-chair of the Community Chamber Coalition of Oregon. "I support the Governor Brown priority in grounding and leading with racial equity and justice. We simply cannot achieve economic justice and prosperity without these priorities."

The Governor applies these principles for equitable and rapid economic recovery in her 10-Point Plan: These principles and 10-Point Plan are a starting point for conversations with the legislature, community stakeholders, the RJC, and the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors to develop a process for funding decisions related to ARP dollars. More information will be provided as decisions are made.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-24 17:44:19Last Update: 2021-03-24 18:08:58

SOS Recommends Improvements for COVID Response
Fight COVID with bigger government

The Secretary of State Audits Division, under the direction of Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) has released an advisory report identifying several steps the Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Health Authority, and the Oregon Legislature could take to improve infection control in long-term care facilities -- which includes nursing facilities, assisted living and residential care facilities, and memory care units. The improvements identified in the report could help the COVID-19 response, as well as responses to other illness outbreaks common to these facilities, like flu and norovirus.

Among the improvements recommended and challenges identified in the report: “COVID-19 has stressed every system in our nation and laid bare challenges and inequities that existed long before the pandemic,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D-Portland). “This is a moment for all of us to take stock and ensure we are improving the vital systems and services that Oregonians count on to provide care and support. The goal of this advisory report is to offer concrete steps to improve the safety of these facilities, for the residents and the workers providing their care.” For this advisory report, the Oregon Audits Division reviewed infection control in long-term care facilities to identify gaps in Oregon’s laws, rules, and practices that, if addressed, could help the state further contain the COVID-19 virus and prevent future communicable disease outbreaks. Audit staff focused on oversight of 685 long-term care facilities including nursing facilities, which are regulated by the federal and state government, and community-based care facilities, which are regulated only by the state. Community-based care — assisted living and residential care — includes almost all the state’s memory care units.

Today’s report is a research-based project, not an audit under government auditing standards. This reporting method allowed for a timelier project to recognize the impact on state agencies’ bandwidth as they respond to COVID-19. The report has undergone the same quality assurance process as audit reports from the Audits Division.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-24 10:18:12Last Update: 2021-03-27 09:52:18

Measure 11: What Today’s Opponents Want
Early release will re-traumatize victims of violent crime

Editor's note: This is the fourth of a multi-part series on Measure 11 and its impact on crime. This series is adapted from letters written to the legislature by Kevin Mannix, the author of Measure 11.

The attack on Measure 11 is clear, comprehensive and deliberate. This is a complete list of all the bills that make changes to the provisions of Measure 11. Many of these, if enacted, will change the face of criminal justice in Oregon. Each of these bills requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber, which means 40 votes in the House and 20 votes in the Senate.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-24 09:51:00Last Update: 2021-03-20 21:15:29

ACLU Director Named to Fill Hernandez’s Seat
A year ago, she filed a restraining order against Hernandez

The Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners unanimously appointed Andrea Valderrama (D-Portland) to fill the vacant House District 47 seat formerly held by Representative Diego Hernandez. Valderrama will serve the remaining term of Representative Hernandez, who resigned effective March 15. Valderrama’s term will last through the end of 2022.

District 47 is located entirely in East Portland between Interstate 205 and Rockwood. The district is at the center of some of the greatest challenges facing Portland, including increasing traffic deaths, poverty, and racial and health disparities.

“She’s been such a strong voice and champion on immigrant rights, on women’s rights and education, said Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, an East Portland resident and a former representative from House District 47. “I’m really proud to support her today and to look forward to partnering with her as a neighborhood resident, as a county commissioner and a constituent in the really important and big work that we have as we’re moving forward.”

Valderrama brings more than a decade of experience in policy and budget advocacy, grassroots community organizing and coalition building. Having grown up in poverty, she said she knows firsthand the experience of living paycheck to paycheck. She’s also a first-generation college student, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree from Portland State University. Most recently, Valderrama served as the policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. A mother and community organizer, she also serves as Chair of the David Douglas School Board. Her endorsements included Senator Kayse Jama (D-Portland), David Douglas School Board Vice Chair Sahar Muranovic, and community activist Deian Salazar.

In March 2020, Valderrama filed a restraining order against then Representative Hernandez. In court documents, Valderrama wrote that while they were living together between January and April 2019, he was prone to violent outbursts, including throwing things at her while under the influence. She said that he usually mixed “alcohol, narcotic pills and marijuana.”

“I have also been a mom raising my daughter, I know what it’s like to push that stroller in the mud, to be concerned about the lack of lighting and other infrastructure here,” Valderrama said. “My lived experience in poverty and my values of economic justice are so critical in this role and really important for me to prioritize in all decision-making as we’re looking at recovery.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-24 09:45:10Last Update: 2021-03-24 11:23:40

Gas Tax Dollars Going to Bike Paths
“Everyone should have the ability to get from one place to another without the use of a car”

Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), is an avid cyclist and the chief sponsor of SB 395. A member of his staff, Jennifer Wig, testified on his behalf saying “the goal is to expand access to safe bike and walking infrastructure and to ensure equitable access to that biking and walking infrastructure”.

In 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2017 referred to as Keep Oregon Moving. It included significant changes to the existing Connect Oregon Grant Fund directing the Oregon Transportation Commission to divide the grant fund into two new parts: 55% for air, marine, rail, bicycle, and pedestrian projects and 45%, for projects of statewide significance in air, marine or rail modes. Beyond the structural changes HB 2017 also included a new, first in the nation, bike tax of $15 each on bikes over $200.

In 2019, the Oregon Legislature again revisited the issue of pedestrian transportation options and passed HB 2592. This bill established the Multimodal Active Transportation Fund for bicycle and pedestrian projects. It stated that 7% of the Connect Oregon Fund plus revenues from Oregon’s bicycle excise tax were to be used to provide grants for bicycle and pedestrian transportation projects. It also directed $4M of lottery revenues biannually be allocated for outdoor recreation improvement projects related to bicycle and pedestrian projects.

This session, SB 395, at the request of The Street Trust led by former Portland mayoral hopeful Sarah Iannarone, looks to once again adjust the funding associated with bicycle and pedestrian projects. It would increase the allocation for footpaths and bicycle trails from 1% to 5% of the State Highway Fund. One of the supporters of SB 395, Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla testified that “Everyone should have the ability to get from one place to another without the use of a car”. He explained that 1% was not enough for Yamhill county to meet the needs of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. He said “In our county we spent our entire 2019 allocation on one separated foot path on one rebuilt bridge.

The project that Commissioner Kulla may be referring to is the Yamhelas Westsider Trail. This was a project he championed starting back in 2013. It was a proposed 13-mile bike and pedestrian trail on an abandoned rail spur from McMinnville through Gaston. The project has been continuously tied up in land use lawsuits and appeals. Most recently, Yamhill County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer called for an audit of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail bridge construction project. She said “According to my numbers, the county spent approximately $970K of the authorized $1,012,000 from the Connect (Oregon) VI agreement. The county spent an additional $56,250 from the parks grant. When any public agency spends a considerable amount of taxpayer money on a project and the ‘finished product’ does not reflect the cost or promised deliverables, an audit is warranted”.

Commissioner Berschauer’s oversight concerns were echoed by testimony on behalf of over 25 Yamhill residents “ODOT authorized further grant expenditures to build a bridge without land use approval or any assurance that the county could meet its land use obligations. Meaning, ODOT authorized an entity to build a bridge to nowhere” the submitted testimony said.

The bill also had concerns from other rural residents throughout the state. Kim McCarrell of Bend had concerns with the bill authorizing electric scooters to be operated on trails and the impact that could have to others who use those trails. Keith LaHaie of Central Point, asked the committee in his written testimony if the 5% increase in spending on footpaths and bike trails is the result of actual demand from residents state-wide or from region specific groups or special interest organizations? Supporters of the bill focused on how SB 395 could assist with equity and climate change. Lee Helfend, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon shared that negative impacts on our environment from single vehicle occupancy usage create emissions and those have “harmful impacts disproportionately affect communities of color, low-income communities, and other vulnerable populations that lack the time and resources to fully advocate for themselves in this process”. He also added that “as part of the rule-making advisory committee for the Governor's executive order directing state agencies to take actions to reduce and regulate greenhouse gas emissions on climate change, we’ve had in-depth conversations around how we cannot only address the climate crisis, but also center equity and inclusion in this charge”. Brett Morgan, Metro Regional Advocacy Manager for 1,000 Friends of Oregon agreed. He said “Ensuring that we begin prioritize non-automotive investments is a critical equity issue for those that are transportation disadvantaged, and for Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American Pacific Islander, and other communities of color.

The bill is currently in the Joint Committee on Transportation.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-24 09:14:24Last Update: 2021-03-24 09:45:10

Homeless Camps Allowed Anywhere?
Cities would be forced to conform

Two laws are now being proposed by Oregon Democrats that would essentially forcibly allow homeless camping in every Oregon city. Both HB2367 and HB 3115 are currently being discussed in the House Judiciary Committee.

Similar legislation had been attempted by the Democrats in 2017 with HB 2215 and failed. At the time, the public was allowed to lobby the state officials in person and attend committee meetings. However this current 2021 legislative session is seeing aggressive moves from the Democrats to push through heavy handed policy and constitutional changes while the public is essentially unable to participate due to the Capitol building having banned the general public from attending.

While being discussed in a House Judiciary Committee meeting on March 9th, City of Hillsboro attorney Chad Jacobs explains that all cities in Oregon would be forced to change their ordinances to allow for the homeless encampments.

HB 2367 states that it would make violations of this "Right to Rest Act" to be unlawful practice enforceable by Commissioner of Bureau of Labor and Industries or by civil action. In other words, the state would threaten action against any city that does not accept the terms of the Act.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-24 06:41:30Last Update: 2021-03-24 07:04:03

Leaving Victims Behind
Soft on violent criminals by reducing sentences

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony about a bill that would gut Measure 11, and go soft on violent criminals. Under the guise of “criminal justice reform,” SB 401 would allow rapists, attempted murders, child pornographers, and kidnappers to get up to 40% off their sentences, and is a part of a suite of bills intended to gut the spirit of Measure 11. This bill was introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee which is chaired by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene)

Recent polling shows that a strong majority of Oregonians support maintaining or increasing sentencing requirements for violent offenders like rapists and murderers. 78% of Oregon voters also oppose repealing Measure 11, which SB 401 effectively does.

“This is a perfect example of the Democratic supermajority’s extreme disregard for bipartisanship and consensus-building,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “Reasonable criminal justice reforms are possible, but instead Democrats opt to take the extreme position that rapists, kidnappers, and child abusers should be given lesser penalties.”

“Proponents of SB 401 cherry-pick the mildest offenses to justify completely rewriting punishments for violent criminals,” Vice-Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) said. “For victims trying to move on and heal from abuse, letting their abusers off with lesser sentences is unconscionable.

“Gutting Measure 11 would make our communities less safe. It guarantees that those who prey on kids and assault our neighbors get time in prison that they deserve. These sentencing guidelines give victims of heinous crimes the certainty they deserve; Repealing them will destroy trust in our criminal justice system.”

Today, eight of the nine female prosecutors in Oregon issued a letter outlining how dangerous bills, like SB 401, in the legislature would cause more victims to suffer in silence.

SB 401 is scheduled for a work session on April 7. The Northwest Observer is featuring a multipart series on Measure 11.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-23 18:02:54Last Update: 2021-03-23 18:18:26

Parents Squeezed Out
Oregon does not ask permission

Parents’ Rights in Education is asking: “Do Oregon parents know that the Oregon Health Authority gathers private info about their children?” The Oregon Health Authority, under the direction of Pat Allen, gives students the Oregon Student Health survey every two years starting at age 10. When they reviewed the survey for 2020, they found profiling questions giving 17 choices for face or ethnicity, along with sexual identity, and socio economic questions. The 36 page survey probes into their home life, personal sexual experiences and whether condoms are used, drinking and smoking habits, and yes there are COVID-19 questions including job loss and suicide. When the question is asked who did you go to about physical or mental health problems, parents wasn’t an option, not even to write in.

Reading how the questions are framed, it becomes clear they are promoting School-Based Health Centers and diverting the student away from parental controls. It’s accentuated by questions like who at school really cares about you, or who notices when you’re absent.

There is a heightened awareness regarding race and ethnicity, sexual identity, bullying and how those factors affect a suggestion of feelings, depression and self-harm. If they’re not depressed by the end of those questions, they are asked about hygiene, eating, gambling, drinking, smoking and sexual habits. To be continued with questions on what they and family members think about these habits along with questions about family members being depressed, drinking, and what makes them fearful.

When Parents’ Rights in Education investigated the dangerous and invasive content shown to 10-year-olds, they discovered the survey was illegal under: 20 U.S.C. § 1232h - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 20. Education § 1232h. Protection of pupil rights, which puts limits on survey, analysis, or evaluations.

No student shall be required, as part of any applicable program, to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning--
(1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student's parent
(2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student's family
(3) sex behavior or attitudes
(4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior
(5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships
(6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers
(7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student's parent, or
(8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).

As Parents’ Rights in Education points out, Oregon does not ask permission. Parental/guardian permission is assumed if not physically submitting a filled-out Oregon Student Opt-Out Form, which most schools provide parents at the beginning of the school year regarding all permission activities. However, the Opt-Out Form only lists: No where does it allow an opt-out for health surveys. What does the Oregon Health Authority do with this possibly illegally acquired information about you, your student and your family’s thinking and habits through the eyes of your 10-year-old?

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-23 16:27:03Last Update: 2021-03-23 18:02:54

Linthicum Calls Out Democrats
SB 223 Targets Private Schools

Sen. Linthicum on Democrats Targeting Private Schools with SB 223 Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) issued a statement on SB 223, which he calls a direct attack on private schools through mandatory state registration:

“The state is seeking complete control of Oregon’s private schools with SB 223. The bill claims to allow ‘voluntary’ registration for private and religious schools with the Department of Education. However, it insidiously forbids schools that choose not to register from participating with other organizations that provide accredited interscholastic activities, such as sports, music, vocational training, or apprenticeships.

“Private schools are already accredited, and many private schools out-perform their peers in public schools. SB 223 would allow state bureaucrats and their special interest counterparts to actively hijack local, independent, and community-controlled educational opportunities. Centralized state control would thwart local school board initiatives and squash parental contributions and insight.

“Pressuring private schools to abandon their fruitful endeavors for obedience to the state's one-size-fits-all regimen will dismantle the private, religious, parochial, and charter school paradigms that have been successful in Oregon. The corrosive pressure from the woke-minority of the Democrat-led legislature will undermine scholastic competition, traditional values, and American ideals that have been integral components of our educational heritage.

“I see increased educational opportunities as the solution to Oregon’s failing school performance problem. Parents with genuine concerns need better alternatives for improving the lives of their children, and SB 223 does the opposite by taking school choice options from those parents.

SB 223 has no sponsor. It was introduced by the Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland).

Senator Linthicum has made it a priority to advocate for school choice and has sponsored three bills this session:

SB 657 increases the percentage of kids who can enroll in virtual charter schools from 3% to 5%.

SB 658 would establish an education savings account program to give low-income families the ability to choose a private school without tax penalties.

SB 659 allows any child to attend any school in the state without the approval of the school board.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-23 10:59:36Last Update: 2021-03-23 12:15:08

Three Feet is Now the School Guidance
Other distance guidelines have been adjusted

Referencing a recent change announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Oregon Department of Education has changed it's guidelines for distancing between students in the classroom from six fee to three feet.

In a letter announcing the changes, the Oregon Department of Education said, "The Center for Disease Control’s March 19, 2021 Science Brief revised physical distancing recommendations for K-12 schools to reflect at least 3 feet between students in classrooms and provides clearer guidance when 6 feet is recommended or required." The Oregon Department of Education is Directed by Colt Gill.

The 89 page manual for school guidelines, entitled Ready Schools, Safe Learners has been updated, and several other changes have been made. The Oregon Department of Education letter makes a strong case for continued mask wearing:

“SARS-CoV-2 infection is transmitted predominantly by respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe. CDC recommends community use of masks, specifically non-valved multi-layer cloth masks, to prevent transmission of SARS- CoV-2. Masks are primarily intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets (“source control”), which is especially relevant for asymptomatic or presymptomatic infected wearers who feel well and may be unaware of their infectiousness to others, and who are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions. Masks also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer (“filtration for personal protection”). The community benefit of masking for SARS-CoV-2 control is due to the combination of these effects; individual prevention benefit increases with increasing numbers of people using masks consistently and correctly.”

It goes on to cite extensive research that has informed changes in the guidance.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-23 10:24:29Last Update: 2021-03-23 10:59:36

Measure 11: Before and After
The low range of the sentencing guidelines was the norm

Editor's note: This is the third of a multi-part series on Measure 11 and its impact on crime. This series is adapted from letters written to the legislature by Kevin Mannix, the author of Measure 11.

The reality of the sentencing guidelines as they were actually carried out in 1994, the last year before Measure 11 went into effect, is that the low range of the sentencing guidelines was the norm. In fact, in many cases convictions for very serious crimes lead to sentences under sentencing guidelines of probation rather than incarceration in state prisons.

For example, in 1994 60 persons were convicted of Rape in the First Degree. Five of these 60 convicted rapists were sentenced to probation rather than prison under the complex formula of sentencing guidelines. This was the case even though the lowest guideline sentence for Rape in the First Degree was supposed to be 34 months.

Proponents of the elimination of Measure 11 argue that it is sufficient to rely on the felony sentencing guidelines system. So, it is helpful to compare the mandatory minimum prison sentence under Measure 11 with the guideline sentence range.

Crime 1994 Sentencing
Guidelines in Months
Measure 11 Mandatory
Minimum Sentence
in Months
Murder 120-269 300
Manslaughter in the first degree 58-130 120
Manslaughter in the second degree 16-45 75
Assault in the first degree 34-130 90
Assault in the second degree 16-45 70
Kidnapping in the first degree 58-130 90
Kidnapping in the second degree 34-72 70
Rape in the first degree 34-130 100
Rape in the second degree 16-45 75
Sodomy in the first degree 34-130 100
Sodomy in the second degree 16-45 75
Unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree 34-130 100
Unlawful sexual penetration in the second degree 16-45 75
Sexual abuse in the first degree 16-45 75
Robbery in the first degree 34-72 90
Robbery in the second degree Probation or up to 30 months in local jail 70

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-23 09:50:27Last Update: 2021-03-20 20:41:15

Schools Got the Munchies
Marijuana sales revenue to schools may go up in smoke

In 2014, Oregon was the 3rd state in the nation to make possession and sale of recreational marijuana legal. 56% of Oregonians voted in favor of Ballot Measure 91. In Multnomah County, 69% of the voters approved it. In Nov. 2014, the Oregonian published an article on the passage of Ballot Measure 91. Longtime Advocate Anthony Johnson was quoted as saying "We have ended a painful, discriminatory, harmful policy that has terrible consequences for our state, we replaced it with a policy that is smarter, more humane...It's a policy whose time has come." Ballot Measure 91 was a way to correct the racially disproportionate citation, arrest and conviction of minorities related to marijuana use. However, one of the other selling features was the large portion, 40%, of the revenue that would be sent to help with the state school fund.

In 2020, Ballot Measure 110 was approved by 58% of the voters. It made personal non-commercial possession of a controlled substance no more than a Class E violation (max fine of $100 fine) and established a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded in part by the state's marijuana tax revenue and state prison savings. What was not widely known by voters was that the Common State School fund would also be taking a reduction in revenue from marijuana sales in order to help create the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund.

Now, less that four months after the passage of Ballot Measure 110, HB 3112 has been introduced by a group of Democratic Representative and Senators looking to change the formula yet again. One of the chief Sponsors of the bill, first term Representative Ruiz (D-Gresham) testified in the Judiciary Committee earlier this month that “HB 3112 creates the Cannabis Equity Fund. This fund is aimed to invest in home ownership, job placement, skill building, small business support and education for Black, Indigenous, and Latin X communities. The inequities between Oregonians are addressable and the growing cannabis industry presents us with the ability to address them.”

Representative Ruiz was joined by many other supports of the legislation. In written testimony from the Office of Community & Civic Life, Cannabis Program, they shared that “over 100 years of draconian cannabis policies and disparate cannabis related arrests, convictions, and sentencing have had long-lasting legal, social, economic, and inter-generational consequences to these specific communities….and HB 3112 is an opportunity for the state to pass the most comprehensive and truly effective cannabis equity legislation in the United States”. The bill also establishes the Cannabis Equity Board within the Governor’s office to provide equity oversight of Oregon’s cannabis industry. It would monitor and oversee the new Cannabis Equity Fund formed by redirecting marijuana tax revenues from the Oregon marijuana account and the elimination of the existing Oregon marijuana account currently overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The Board would make sure that the cannabis industry does everything possible to address diversity and represent communities most negatively impacted by the historic cannabis prohibition. It would also give direction to OLCC regarding licensing for those in the marijuana industry and include a reduced-fee equity license for those applicants that have been convicted of a marijuana related crime in the past that are also from a minority group.

The Oregon Department of Revenue prepared a report for the committee on the Marijuana tax distribution showing the history of Ballot Measure 91, the changes already passed in Ballot Measure 110 and the projections if HB 3112 passes. Using projected revenues from the Office of Economic Analysis for the 21-23 biennium, $318.45M was used to show the distribution of the adopted ballot measure compared to the proposed HB 3112. The change would look as follows:

Measure 91
Measure 110
HB 3112
Transferred to the Common School Fund $103.5 M $36 M $27 M
Transferred to the Oregon Health Authority $51.7 M $18 M $3.375 M
Transferred to the Oregon State Police Account $38.8 M $13.5 M $0
Sent to Cities $25.7 M $9 M $6.75 M
Sent to Counties $25.7 M $9 M $6.75 M
Transferred to the Oregon Health Authority $12.9 M $$4.5 M $13.5 M
Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund NA $228.45 M $228.45 M
Cannabis Equity Fund NA NA $22.5 M
Cannabis Equity Fund (formerly Oregon State Police NA NA $10.125 M

What was not discussed in the hearing on the bill, was the loss and redirection of the marijuana funding and the impacts to the Common School Fund. Ballot Measure 110 cut the Common School Fund by almost 1/3. HB 3112 would cut it by 75% from the original Ballot Measure 91 in 2014. There was also no discussion about the additional restrictions that HB 3112 would place on the funds that the Common School Fund would still receive. The bill removes the “State School Fund ORS 327.008 – which is the state school general fund and replaces it with restrictions that are culturally targeted. It says that money received by the state school fund must be used under the following restrictions: The bill will have another hearing on March 23 and it is scheduled for a work session on April 8.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-22 17:14:14Last Update: 2021-03-22 21:46:11

Groups Pen Letter to Senate Republicans
If you fear the media, remember, you have already been labeled

Several activist groups have written an open letter to the Oregon Senate Republicans. It reads:

Stop allowing the majority party to eviscerate the rights and liberties of all Oregonians. This letter is a combined effort from the leaders of groups and communities across our state, who speak on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members we represent from all backgrounds, color, creed, age, gender, religion, and political ideologies: Senate Republicans, you have our full support to walk out before irreparable harm occurs due to the policies set forth, this legislative session.

We, as Oregonians, are witnessing the makings of a societal train wreck, and the complete destruction of our State, if the current agenda is tacitly consented to, via quorum requirements. The supermajority Democrats won’t work collectively or collaboratively on many of the core issues Oregonians care about, and we are watching them dominate the 2021 legislative session with an agenda that ignores Oregon families. Rebuilding our economy, and providing structure for a secure, safe and vibrant future must be our focus.

Radicals within the Democratic Caucus don’t feel they need to collaborate with the public, due to their supermajority status, and they certainly won’t, unless we use our last bargaining chip. They have removed the referendum process, by adding emergency clauses onto proposed bills to prevent a public vote and have locked the people—and even some media—out of the capitol. In fact, their elitist attitude has brought them to the belief that they are our collective leaders, not our elected representatives.

Our legislators have critical issues to address, and putting continued time and resources towards one-sided social engineering is marginalizing a large number of Oregonians, and indifferent to human suffering.

Who would have thought that after such a challenging and costly time for Oregonians, one party would focus their efforts on special interest bills, such as crippling new tax increases like a 30-60% increase in property taxes and an exorbitant beer and wine tax, micromanaging our local schools, expanding the Oregon Health Authority’s power within educational institutions, and rewarding criminal behavior? There are just too many proposed bad bills and issues to list here. Governor Kate Brown preaches equity and equality, but not for law abiding taxpayers who see their rights evaporating while our cities burn.

This legislative session, we are witnessing an across-the-board assault on our values and the constitutionally protected freedoms held dear by countless Oregonians.

Our priorities should be getting kids back to school, in person and full time, and helping workers and small businesses recover—not doing all we can to perpetuate failed, costly and untested policies that deride the very fabric of society and place unforetold consequences and risk upon the next generation of Oregonians. If the proposed bills pass, they will forever change the physical, economical, emotional, and livable landscape here in Oregon.

While some Republicans have claimed they need to continue to allow these attacks on our liberties so they can influence redistricting, under the current leadership, it is clear that Secretary of State Shemia Fagan will ignore Republican input. If public meetings are being abruptly closed after important, clarifying questions are being asked but then censored for comment (as we saw during Senator Dallas Heard’s simple committee question directed to the Police Chief providing testimony), what realistic chance do you have to provide influence over the redistricting process?

Fagan, whose extreme partisanship is reflected in her almost daily fundraising emails, is determined to hijack the process irrespective of your attendance. She has even hired outside counsel specializing in Constitutional law, instead of relying upon the Attorney General’s office, as every other Secretary of State has previously, and legally, done.

We can all agree, the state of Oregon has been run very poorly. The hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who were victims of the failed unemployment claim system can attest to that, and a recent poll, reported on by The Oregonian, reveals that Governor Kate Brown’s already low approval rating has now “tanked” after this past year. In 2019, Republican Senators walked out TWICE and we stood behind you, because you walked out to protect our people and our families against radical proposed legislation.

If you won’t stop what is coming this week, there’s nothing to stop the steamroller of dangerous, unproven and failed policies being rammed through by the ruling party.

If you fear the media, remember, you have already been labeled, simply because you are a Republican Senator trying to uphold the constitution, just as many of our groups—with which you claim to share values— have already been falsely labeled as “extremist.” We have suffered censorship, baseless attacks and even slander, yet continue to press forward in our efforts despite these assaults. Will you stand up for us and protect us, or will you allow them to silence our voices?

Unelected bureaucrats continue to formulate, enforce, and extend draconian regulations with no input from elected representatives, and the people are still locked out of the process as the Democrats continue to pretend that a failure-prone “virtual” reality and biased treatment of testimonial guests is a substitute for face-to-face engagement.

Your continued participation in this process will not help the people who elected you to protect their rights and liberties. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to, once again, display the courage that served you, and countless Oregonians, so well in the past.

You won’t get favorable media coverage by the mainstream, left-leaning media anyway, and if you don’t walk, you will face major backlash and negative press from the conservative media as well. Staying will not help the people or our precious children who look to those that have come before them to protect their future. Republicans, what happened when you came back to the capitol? The Democrats came to the table and negotiated a reasonable outcome. There were clear benefits to your party that included reelection and an overall increase in seats held across the legislature. Let’s not forget that your past willingness to stand up increased your standing with your supporters and constituents, who celebrated you as heroes, many of which became first-time Republican voters because of your bravery.

We urge you to walk out and not return until the Oregon Democrats agree to stop these alarming and irreversible attacks on our inalienable and inherent rights.

What other recourse do we, law-abiding Oregon citizens who do not consent, have at this point? Many of the organizations that have signed onto this open letter have supported Republican legislators with both their votes and contributions for candidates.

While the aim of this letter is NOT to talk politics, we ask you, Senate Republicans, to once more, hold the line for the safety and protection of Oregonians. We must all stand TOGETHER in fighting against this special interest agenda before it’s too late to continue working and living in our beautiful state.

If you don’t walk, you risk losing ground with all your supporters. We understand the sacrifices you would be making. Remember, we have all been making great sacrifices this past year—since the “two weeks to flatten the curve” were announced. We all feel the crippling effects of overreaching policies, and we need your leadership now more than ever.

We ask you to unite, as we have, for the good of the people of Oregon, for your families and ours, and the very future of our state, before it’s too late. Unprecedented times require unprecedented acts of great courage in the face of failure and fury.

Please, it’s YOUR responsibility to stand up for US. We are calling on our members to contact Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod, and the rest of the Senate Republicans.


Oregonians for Fair Elections
Oregon Grassroots United
Democrats for Informed Choice
Libertarian Party of Oregon, PAC
Oregon Push Back
Columbia County Republicans
Oregon Liberty Coalition
Freedom Believers
Oregonians For America
Free Oregon
Oregonians for Medical Freedom
Representative Jeff Kropf (Ret)
Richard P. Burke, Former Chair, Oregon Government Ethics Commission
The Northwest Connection Newspaper, JoLinn Kampstra, Publisher
Oregon Department of Education Fight Club
Peoples Rights Oregon
Oregon Citizen Lobby
The Roseburg Beacon Newspaper
Parents’ Rights In Education, PAC
Oregon Firearms Federation
Rob Taylor Chair of the Committee to Preserve the Second Amendment
Lindsey Graham, former Glamour Salon owner and founder, Patriot Barbie
Lyle Mordhorst Polk County Commissioner
Mae Huston, Jefferson County Commissioner
Chairman William Harvey Baker County Commission
Mary Starrett, Chair, Yamhill County Board of Commissioners
Robert “Bob” Main, Chairman, Coos County Commissioner

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-22 16:09:55Last Update: 2021-04-15 14:39:26

COVID-19 Hits the Capitol
Diagnosis delays Oregon House floor sessions until next week

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) issued a statement today announcing that the Oregon Legislature learned that an individual who was present at the Capitol has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Potential exposure may have occurred on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives on March 15 and March 16. This was confirmed by Jessica Knieling, Interim Human Resources Director at the Capitol. She said "We have been notified an individual who has been present at the Capitol has been diagnosed with COVID-19. We are notifying those individuals who appear to have had close contact with the individual."

Human resources for the branch is notifying all individuals who appear to have had close contact with the individual. Due to HIPAA laws, no further information will be disclosed about the individual who tested positive.

After consulting with Marion County Public Health, the Legislature has been advised that all symptom-free individuals who were on the House Floor should quarantine for 10 days following the last exposure, which is through Friday, March 26. The House will not return to floor session until Monday, March 29, at the earliest. Committee work, which is being done remotely, will continue as planned.

Anyone who shows symptoms should be tested and quarantine for at least 14 days. Testing is also being encouraged for anyone who was on the House Floor. Facilities staff will fumigate the House chamber and wings today and continue to diligently, thoroughly and regularly clean the Capitol in line with the CDC’s guidance on environmental cleaning and disinfection.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) said, “First and foremost, I hope that the individual who tested positive makes a speedy and full recovery. We all knew that this outcome was possible, which is why we have taken additional precautions since the start of this session to minimize risks for individuals who must be in the building.

"Out of an abundance of caution, my immediate recommendation is for legislators and staff to minimize the risk of an outbreak in Oregon’s capitol by returning home and quarantining for 10-14 days from the date of possible exposure per OHA’s recommended guidelines and schedule testing. There are several elected members from the House with underlying conditions who have not had the opportunity to vaccinate yet.

"We need to do everything we can to keep everyone safe in the building.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-22 16:02:34Last Update: 2021-03-22 22:01:20

Typical Lawlessness in Portland
Police find gun, stolen car, drugs on welfare check call

On March 21, 2021, at about 3:30 a.m., Portland Police officers assigned to North Precinct were dispatched to check the welfare of a person passed out behind the wheel of a stolen car. The car was in a parking lot near Northeast Wasco Street and Northeast Grand Avenue.

When officers arrived they found a person still passed out in the driver seat. They could see a pistol on the front passenger seat in plain sight. Officers took the driver into custody, and conducted an investigation.

Officers determined the suspect, later identified as 58-year-old Robert Marshall Chambers, was in possession of over 27 pounds of marijuana, over 11 grams of methamphetamine, and about one and half grams of heroin. Officers recovered the drugs and other evidence, as well as the loaded pistol and stolen car. Chambers had stolen property officers were able to return to rightful owners.

Chambers was booked into jail for Unlawful Possession of a Loaded Firearm, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Distributing a Controlled Substance -- Heroin, Distributing a Controlled Substance -- Methamphetamine, Distributing a Controlled Substance -- Over 8 pounds of Marijuana in Public Place.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-22 13:10:08Last Update: 2021-03-22 13:16:43

Leaders Trade Letters
That scraping noise you hear is teeth grinding

In a sign that the legislative session is starting to unravel, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) have traded letters regarding how they see the rest of the 2021 Legislative Session proceeding.

In her letter, Speaker Kotek said:

As we navigate the daily challenges of operating the 2021 legislative session during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been committed to four top priorities: safety, transparency, strong public participation, and the completion of the people’s work.

So far, we have been able to create a safe workplace while ensuring transparency and strong public participation. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been perfect. We have had many conversations about how we can improve committee procedures for both legislators and the public. I value all constructive feedback and will continue to do everything I can to make this session operate as smoothly as possible.

House members have been hard at work, and our committees are sending out many good bills for the chamber to consider. I am asking for your help to ensure we can meet those four priorities as we move into the next phase of our legislative work.

Next week, we are scheduled for 19 hours on the House floor. Several legislators who are not yet eligible for a vaccine have expressed concerns that this additional time on the floor will create unnecessary and additional risks of spreading COVID-19 among staff, legislators, and our families. The Oregon Health Authority has confirmed that decreasing the amount of time we spend together in close proximity reduces the risk of transmission. Therefore, I am requesting your assistance in the following actions to ensure our floor sessions are as safe and efficient as possible:

We all have a responsibility to keep each other safe. Until the county risk levels broadly reach the Lower Risk category and more members, staff and our family members are vaccinated, we have to work together to do the people’s work safely.

The impasse can be summarized as the party in power is upset because they have been unable to move a large agenda at a robust speed. Representative Drazan replied with this letter

I have received your letter detailing your approach to this unprecedented legislative session. I share your concern for maintaining public health, and would add to that a rising concern for the need to come together to heal and recover as a state and nation.

The Oregon Legislature is not alone in navigating our obligation to fulfill the people’s work while minimizing health risks. In fact, several states have implemented measures that reflect innovative management of the legislative process, focusing not only on masks and social distancing, but recognizing the inherent inadequacy of the policymaking process itself under these circumstances. Below are a sampling of states that have announced and adopted changes to their legislative approach:

Here in Oregon, the House is running a crushing number of committees and pushing controversial legislation which impacts and reshapes our energy markets, labor practices, business mandates, criminal penalties, public safety, land use laws, housing policies, tax and spending policy, constitutional rights and quality of life. These concepts, many of which are being drafted on the fly and pushed to work sessions, are moving through committees despite substantial opposition and without a willingness to compromise or work to build bipartisan support.

Here are a few examples of the points of concern from this virtual session:

This is not authentic engagement. This is closed door, offline, predetermined outcomes, not to be confused with meaningful bipartisanship in a public process.

As long as the building is closed to the public and deeply controversial legislation continues to be fast-tracked in committees, we will continue to depend on the Constitution, to remind the supermajority we should not operate like it’s business as usual while the public is shut out.

I understand from your letter you recognize that your recently proposed work schedule does not support public health. I agree. Branch staff and legislators alike are put at extreme risk by the proposed work schedule, which is designed to exert pressure and ensure the passage of controversial legislation, at the expense of public health.

The solution to this challenge is not to marginalize the minority or dismiss the concerns of the public. Experts have declared it is unsafe to open the building. It is no less dangerous to expose staff to more than 12 hours a day, working in a closed Capitol.

There is a better way.

We are ready and willing to limit bill reading when the House changes course with a demonstrated commitment to work together:

This is a year for healing, in our state and nation; a time to come together. It is not a time for deeply divisive, partisan legislation while the public is locked out of the building. Struggling Oregonians don’t deserve to be traumatized further. Instead, let’s give them hope.

I look forward to working with you to find a path forward and encourage you to work with us to not only protect public health but find common ground in the days and weeks ahead.

The gravity of the impasse was felt during the floor session on Monday, March 22, when the Speaker asked that the Republican Caucus vote to move a bill back to committee without reading the entire bill. The bill is 171 pages long -- and would take an estimated eight and a half hours to read -- and the Republicans refused to grant a waiver on the requirement to read the bill.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-22 11:39:45Last Update: 2021-03-22 12:34:26

Measure 11: Under Assault by the Governor and Legislature
Every victim of these criminals will have to be contacted

Editor's note: This is the second of a multi-part series on Measure 11 and its impact on crime. This series is adapted from letters written to the legislature by Kevin Mannix, the author of Measure 11.

Proponents of the elimination of Measure 11 argue that it is sufficient to rely on the felony sentencing guidelines system. So, it is helpful for current legislators to compare the mandatory minimum prison sentence under Measure 11 with the guideline sentence range.

An examination of the reality of the sentencing guidelines as they were actually carried out in 1994, the last year before Measure 11 went into effect, is instructive. The low range of the sentencing guidelines was the norm.

In fact, in many cases convictions for very serious crimes lead to sentences under sentencing guidelines of probation rather than incarceration in state prisons. For example, in 1994 60 persons were convicted of Rape in the First Degree. Five of these 60 convicted rapists were sentenced to probation rather than prison under the complex formula of sentencing guidelines. This was the case even though the lowest guideline sentence for Rape in the First Degree was supposed to be 34 months.

Thanks to a comprehensive 1997 Oregon Criminal Justice Commission report, we can take a look at the actual prison sentence imposed under Sentencing Guidelines throughout 1994, in 34 out of the 36 counties in Oregon (two counties did not submit data). 1994 is the last year in which Measure 11 did not exist.

Here are some reality checks, all based on real world data of Oregon courts in 1994: The criminal justice system, sadly, under Sentencing Guidelines, fails to provide justice to victims of some of the worst violent and sexual assault crimes. This is the same sentencing system which opponents of Measure 11 want to return to. The actual statutory description of many of the 16 crimes covered by Measure 11 will help people understand why it has often been said "the crime defines the time" regarding the mandatory minimum Measure 11 prison sentences. Governor Brown is considering granting early release for Measure 11 criminals who helped fight Oregon Wildfires. The only way the Governor can reduce any Measure 11 mandatory minimum prison sentence is by using her constitutional clemency power. Many believe that the exercise of clemency power requires that the Governor evaluate each specific case in which clemency is considered, and that she cannot carry out massive clemency grants which have the effect of changing established law regarding criminal sentences.

Many oppose this proposed reduction of sentences as to violent and sex criminals in light of the crimes which are involved and in recognition of the rights of victims to be consulted about this. Under the Oregon constitution every single victim of these Measure 11 criminals will have to be contacted in regard to this early release. This in itself imposes additional trauma on these victims.

Photo by Issy Bailey on Unsplash

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-22 09:49:16Last Update: 2021-03-20 20:45:26

An End to Statewide Concealed Carry
There’s a reason the pre-emption statute prevents a patchwork of laws

Imagine a government so out of control that it stops at nothing to provide extended rights to criminals while removing the basic rights of law abiding American citizens. You don't have to imagine because this is already happening on a local and national level. House Representative Brian Clem (D-Salem), Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), and other career politicians are doing everything they can to fulfill the agendas of politicians and special interest groups while ignoring the will of the American people that they are in office to serve.

When the government wants to make laws that restrict your rights and then follows up with legislation that removes your right to defend yourself and restricts your ability to challenge them -you get legislation like HB 3005, and we are no longer a free people.

Legislators in Oregon have already introduced a number of anti-second amendment bills that have been met with strong opposition, however in true politically motivated fashion they are moving forward with this unconstitutional legislation and ignoring the will of the people once again.

If passed, HB 3005 will Repeal Oregons statute creating state preemption of local firearm regulation and statutes creating exceptions to preemption. This means that all of the anti-second amendment legislation that does not pass at the state level can be enacted on a county level. Local jurisdictions will be able to impose unconstitutional gun laws and ordinances throughout the state of Oregon which will vary from county to county. This is clearly another attempt to further confuse and legislate away the second amendment rights of all Oregonians.

Some would say that anti-second amendment groups will continue to gaslight law abiding Oregonians by fanatically insisting that bills like HB 3005 and HR130 will save lives and will not impact law abiding citizens if they just fall in line. This type of ignorance leads to dangerous legislation that costs lives and removes a citizens right to protect themselves in any place and at anytime. This is not "common sense legislation", this is out of touch and intentionally designed to disarm Oregonians. If allowed to pass HB 3005 and others like it will allow the government to further dictate how and where you must store your firearm, when and where you can carry your firearm, and will require the investigation of reports of improper storage of firearms and ammunition and will vary by locality.

There is a reason that the pre-emption statute prevents local jurisdictions from creating their own patchwork of laws and regulations, and why more than 40 states already prohibit the type of legislation proposed by HB 3005 of confusing and unconstitutional legislation which turns law abiding American Citizens into violators, criminals and felons. There are countless accounts of individuals in Oregon alone whose quick thinking and quick access to their legally obtained firearm saved their lives and the lives of others. Laws like this would cost more Oregonians their lives as they would be forced to lock up their firearms or leave them at home depending on the county they were in, passing through or visiting. In a self defense scenario seconds matter, criminals will not wait for you to get to your safe, unlock your firearm and perhaps load it while they wait to attack. This legislation lacks all evidence of common sense no matter the scenario. Anti-second amendment legislation is opposed by the majority of Oregonians. Just ask the self described "left of center leaning" pro-second amendment "Liberal Gun Club" who has over 30 state chapters. Oregonians do not believe the false narrative that supporters of our first and second amendment freedoms are only conservative right leaning individuals. According to some, this characterization is used by politicians seeking to further divide Oregonians while simultaneously eroding our constitutional rights. We see the divisive rhetoric from politicians, special interest groups and from biased media outlets who publish outrageous article such as "What if they want you dead?, Leftists Bear Arms in self-defense," published by OPB that seems to take a somewhat pro-second amendment stance depending on how far right or far left those seeking to utilize their freedoms lean. We see through the hypocrisy, political tactics, and outright lies, Oregonians must continue to unite in opposition of this onslaught of unconstitutional legislation being proposed by out of control politicians.

The once slow erosion of our freedoms in Oregon and across our beautiful country is picking up pace and we are moving quickly toward true tyranny. Politicians are out of control in their demand for a passive and dependent populace. We have a president and politicians in office who have stated to the American people that they have "personal reasons" for enacting strict gun laws, it's time to remind them that they are not in office to fulfill personal agendas, its time to remind them that they are in office because we allow them to be our voice and if they cannot put aside personal and political agendas to represent the people, they must leave.

--Esther August

Post Date: 2021-03-21 20:38:46Last Update: 2021-03-22 08:09:55

Does the Capitol Have to be “Open” to the Public?
What does “open” mean?

The closure of the Oregon Capitol during the 2021 Session begs the question, "Where in law does it require that the Capitol be open to the public during sessions?" There are two places in the Oregon Constitution that could be read as requiring this. The first is pretty explicit:

Article IV, Section 14. Deliberations to be open; rules to implement requirement. The deliberations of each house, of committees of each house or joint committees and of committees of the whole, shall be open. Each house shall adopt rules to implement the requirement of this section and the houses jointly shall adopt rules to implement the requirements of this section in any joint activity that the two houses may undertake.

This requires that the deliberations be open, but doesn't define what "open" means. The 2021 session featured many electronic methods of openness -- implemented with more or less success -- but that may or may not be "open." It hasn't been litigated. The second is less explict:

Article I, Section 26. Assemblages of people; instruction of representatives; application to legislature. No law shall be passed restraining any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner to consult for their common good; nor from instructing their Representatives; nor from applying to the Legislature for redress of grievances.

"Consult for the common good" can be read as discussing politics.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-21 12:35:38Last Update: 2021-03-20 21:04:37

Measure 11: The Background
What does Measure 11 do?

Editor's note: This is the first of a multi-part series on Measure 11 and its impact on crime. This series is adapted from letters written to the legislature by Kevin Mannix, the author of Measure 11.

Up to 1989, Oregon law appeared to give judges wide sentencing discretion for felonies.

Felonies were divided into three classes, separate from murder. Judges could impose up to the following maximum sentences: 20 years for Class A felonies, 10 years for Class B felonies, and 5 years for Class C felonies. However, the discretion of judges was actually significantly limited because a parole board appointed by the governor could reduce sentences and release convicted felons early. It routinely did so. This was "reformed" by the adoption of felony sentencing guidelines in 1989.

In 1989, Oregon was confronted with a shortage of prison beds and a lack of "truth-in­ sentencing" because the parole board had broad authority to reduce sentences imposed by judges, and often did so. A comprehensive reform package was passed by the Legislature to establish a felony sentencing guideline system. Judges were constrained from imposing felony sentences outside the guidelines. They could only go outside the guidelines for "substantial and compelling reasons."

At the same time, sentences imposed by judges could only be reduced by up to 20 percent for good behavior in prison. Accordingly, the parole board power was restricted for sentences imposed under the new system.

The problem with the sentencing guidelines is that they were written to reflect Oregon's limited prison facilities, not a determination as to the appropriate sentence from the perspective of justice. The felony sentencing guidelines were resource-driven rather than justice-driven. Proponents of the guidelines promised that additional prison facilities would be established, and the guidelines could be strengthened as the facilities came online.

Between 1989 and 1994, no legislation was passed to provide additional prison resources or to enhance the sentencing guidelines. This led me to author Measure 11, which passed by a 66% favorable vote, in November 1994. Measure 11 established mandatory minimum prison sentences for the 16 most violent crimes. Oregon voters placed Measure 11 on the ballot on November 1994 and it passed with a 66% favorable vote. Measure 11 went into effect in April 1995. Measure 11 establishes mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for criminals who have been convicted of 16 specific violent and sexual crimes. Measure 11 does not involve sentences for property crimes or drug crimes. Measure 11 only addresses the worst levels of violent and sexual crimes. For example, there are four levels of criminal assault and Measure 11 only applies to Assault in the First Degree and Assault in the Second Degree; there are three levels of robbery, but Measure 11 only applies to Robbery in the First Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree.

There are 16 crimes - out of the scores if not hundreds of crimes defined in Oregon statutes - which are covered by voter-passed Measure 11:
--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-21 09:37:23Last Update: 2021-03-21 09:45:46

Proposed Law Would Endanger Free Speech
Legislation would block independent journalists

HB 2486 can certainly be described as anti-independent-journalism legislation. It is proposed legislation by three Oregon Democrat legislators that would take away the power to bring important news to the people of Oregon from any organization who is not credentialed though the government.

When government heavily mandates journalism, the truly free press cannot easily or accurately portray the news of the stories happening around us, information that we all rely on for various reasons. Free speech in danger can endanger us all.

Representative Karin Power (D-Portland) and Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) are the Chief Sponsors of this bill as well as being Regularly Sponsored by Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene). The law proposes to grant favoritism to only select main stream media outlets.

The proposed law states that it would give officials of public bodies the power to grant news media representatives access to scenes of emergencies or emergency police activity that are otherwise closed to the public. It does provide exceptions when access may be denied.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the bill directs the Department of State Police to develop guidelines for press credentialing. Furthermore, the law also requires the department to consult with law enforcement and fire department personnel, representatives of local governing bodies and representatives of news media organizations in developing those guidelines.

And, as usual in Oregon, the Emergency Clause has been attached to this legislation, which would make the law instantly effected into law.

Apparently it is added in the law that access to scenes of emergencies or emergency police activity may be denied if the presence of news media representatives or the activities being conducted by new media representatives compromise the safety of emergency response employees, impede the response of emergency equipment or personnel or impede the investigation of the incident that constitutes the scene of emergency or emergency police activity.

Nothing in this alters the applicability of Federal Aviation Administration regulations that govern the closure or restriction of airspace over incidents.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-20 13:29:05Last Update: 2021-03-20 16:38:10

Democrats Move Bill Allowing Convicted in Schools
“Democrats are intentionally putting felons inside the classroom”

HB 2942 which would allow individuals convicted of drug dealing, sex crimes into K-12 settings, and open the door to convicted criminals working and volunteering in K-12 educational settings has passed out of the Oregon House Judiciary Committee. It is now headed to the House Committee on Education. The bill is sponsored by Representative Bynum (D-Clackamas), Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), and former State Representative Diego Hernandez (D-Portland).

HB 2942 would create a pathway for individuals charged and convicted of crimes such as manufacturing and/or delivering hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth or prostitution—including crimes targeting children within 1,000 feet of a school—to be eligible to work in school settings.

“It’s completely unacceptable that the Salem supermajority is intentionally putting felons inside the classroom and on the playground with our kids, even when their crimes included making and selling hard drugs next door to a school,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Keeping our children safe means keeping convicted criminals out of our classrooms.”

HB 2942 would let the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the state agency in charge of licensing teachers, allow individuals convicted of certain crimes to work in a classroom setting. If HB 2942 passes, Oregon’s youngest students could be in the care of role models who will guide their social and emotional development and stand at the head of a classroom with convictions that include: The hearing in the House Committee On Education is scheduled for March 30 at 1:00pm.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-20 06:50:37Last Update: 2021-03-20 21:05:35

Are In-Person Public Meetings a Thing of the Past?
What about connectivity and the digital divide?

Over the past year, Oregonians have figured out how to continue to conduct business virtually. The Oregon Legislature and other publicly elected bodies are no different. April 15, 2020 Governor Kate Brown announced Executive Order 20-16 which stated:

During this emergency, state and local governments must continue to operate, provide essential services, and make decisions in a public and transparent manner. Governments must do so safely, consistent with my emergency directives. Public participation is essential to the functioning of our state and local governments, but in-person attendance at public meetings presents a risk to the public health and safety of Oregonians, unless appropriate measures are taken. Thus, during this emergency, public meetings should be held via telephone, video, electronic or other virtual means, whenever possible, to keep Oregonians safe, and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Shortly after that, during the 1st special legislative session in June of 2020, the legislature passed HB 4212 which codified into law the ability of public governing bodies to be able to conduct public business remotely until 30 days after the end of the declaration of a state of emergency expires.

One year later, the 6th extension of state of emergency keeps HB 4212 in place. School boards, city councils and the legislature continue to operate in the virtual world. Now, the legislature would like to see this practice become permanent through the introduction of HB 2560 by Representative Meek (D-Gladstone) and Senator Steiner Hayward (D-Portland). This legislation would require meetings held by public governing bodies to reasonably provide opportunities to the general public to access and attend the meeting by telephone, video, or other electronic or virtual means and to allow oral and written testimony by electronic or virtual means.

During a hearing on the bill earlier this month a great deal of written testimony was submitted, but only a hand full of people signed up to testify virtually in person. One of those was Mary Kyle McCurdy with 1,000 Friends of Oregon. She expressed support for the bill stating, “Remote access to public hearings and meetings opens these to so many more Oregonians”. Kathryn Jernstedt with Friends of Yamhill County also testified on the bill. Although she was in favor of the bill, she wanted to make sure that it was “not the only option because there are barriers to this as we well as the pre-COVID systems”. She was specifically concerned with connectivity and the digital divide. Ironically, during her testimony, her connection to the meeting had issues adding validity to her concern. Mark Landauer with the Special Districts Association of Oregon also testified on the legislation. He reminded the committee that “it was local government that originally approached the governor asking for this type of electronic communication to be allowed”. They knew that they were not going to be allowed to conduct business in traditional ways during the State of Emergency, but the business of the people needed to continue. However, if made permanent, challenges remain with actual implementation and managing public expectations. There are 950 special districts that hold public meetings is some manner. They are not all going to have the capabilities to livestream meetings considering that at least 300 of them don’t even have websites currently. The bill was amended in committee for a technical fix and HB 2560 is headed to the House floor for a vote.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-19 18:05:43Last Update: 2021-03-19 18:31:22

Frontline Workers to the Back of the Line in Oregon
Accelerated Vaccination Timelines given by Governor Brown

Multiple journalists could not get a straight answer from Oregon's Governor Kate Brown in a press briefing with the Oregon Health Authority on Friday, March 19th, 2021.

She was asked why front-line workers were not highly prioritized for COVID vaccinations in Oregon as neighboring state Washington had done and as the CDC had recommended, but all that reporters got for an answer from her seemed rather hollow and disingenuous.

Governor Kate Brown held the press conference to announce Oregon’s accelerated vaccination prioritization timelines.

The Governor was joined by Patrick Allen, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director; Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Epidemiologist; and Holden Leung, Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Health & Service Center.

"As vaccination efforts speed up, I want to thank Oregonians once again for making smart choices throughout this pandemic. Oregon continues to hold one of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the entire country. We have the fourth lowest infection rate since the start of the pandemic, and fifth lowest mortality rate. " said Governor Brown. "As we open up eligibility to all Oregonians on May 1st, I remain committed to the equitable distribution of vaccines for our seniors, frontline workers, and Oregonians with underlying health conditions."

"The Oregon Health Authority tells me that, provided supplies come in from the federal government as anticipated, we expect to have enough doses for every Oregonian who wants a vaccine to have the opportunity for at least a first dose by the end of May."

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-19 16:58:28Last Update: 2021-03-19 18:45:40

Required Acceptance of Governor’s Orders Proposed
More emergency powers for Oregon’s Governor

HB 2305 and HB 2308 are being considered by the super-majority Democrat Oregon legislature, and are bills that would assign further emergency powers for the state's governor.

Observers in Oregon have noted current Governor Kate Brown's response to a variety of emergencies over her tenure, especially as of late, and her decisions do not always inspire confidence. More gubernatorial emergency powers might not be a good thing at this time, as checks and balances are still quite important in government.

Both HB 2305 and HB 2308 are sponsored by Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth), and could easily be passed with support from the super-majority Democrats, who currently have control of the state legislature. Details within those proposed laws include the following:

Authorize the Governor, if necessitated by emergency, to require any person in this state to accept and fulfill orders for manufacture, sale or distribution of certain goods.

The bills do specify conditions under which a person may reject such orders.

It also provides that "a person that accepts order is not liable for contractual damages resulting from act or omission necessary for compliance with Act".

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-19 12:39:57Last Update: 2021-03-19 13:25:22

Rental Housing Permits Are Down
Spoiler alert: Democrats in the Legislature aren’t helping the situation

Editor's note: This article was adapted from a presentation to clients of Portland area realtor Royce Rogers.

Oregon has a housing shortage. The Urban Growth Boundaries, created by Oregon's land use laws in the early 1970s, are filling up. Supply and demand drive prices of single-family homes to levels that are unaffordability. Apartments must provide a higher percentage of dwellings.

Unfortunately, new regulations show a disconnect between policy makers and the incentives that cause risk takers to build apartments. In December 2016, Portland’s City Council enacted a strong inclusionary housing requirement that all new apartment buildings in Portland would have to set aside a portion of their units for low- and moderate-income housing. The new requirement didn’t kick in until February 2017, and because the requirement applied to nearly all apartment buildings with 20+ units there was a land rush of developers who filed under the old rules which in turn produced a temporary flood of new apartment buildings, that have, over the past four years, mostly been built.

This decline in multifamily permits signals trouble for Portland's apartment supply for the coming years. While in the short-term rent increases have been minimal and supply has increased, national forecasters like Zillow are predicting a rapid rebound in demand for urban markets post-pandemic. That has owners of existing apartments with an excellent chance to profit in Portland as housing providers continue to stay one step ahead of politicians enacting feel-good ordinances. The new requirements have also signaled more permanent changes. One of the key aspects of the requirements is that it exempts buildings that have less than 20 units, which has prompted many developers to shift to smaller buildings.

This has also led developers to get creative as the requirement of 20 units only applies to a single building, meaning you can build multiple buildings in one development project. There is a good example in Northwest Portland where developer Noal Johnson is building eight five-story residential buildings which total to 145 units although each individual building contains less than 20.

Overall inclusionary zoning may have helped with supply and rents in the short term but the fact that very few new buildings are being built now will hurt Portland in the near future. The new apartments that aren’t being built now in Portland will almost certainly lead to higher rents and less affordability in the years ahead—exactly the opposite of the expressed intentions of those who enacted this policy.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-03-18 16:26:05Last Update: 2021-03-18 11:58:43

Fagan Responds to Redistricting Petition
The Constitution gives the Legislature authority over the process

The Oregon Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D-Portland) on behalf of Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D-Portland), has filed a response to the Oregon Legislature’s petition for a writ of mandamus, related to state Legislative redistricting, with the Oregon Supreme Court. A writ of mandamus is a directive by the courts to a government to have them act or cease acting.

Secretary Fagan’s response notes that the Legislature’s requested delays in redistricting timelines for state Legislative maps will require moving the 2022 primary elections in all 36 counties and numerous other elections-related deadlines. The response demonstrates that the Legislature can access quality population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s partner in Oregon, the Population Research Center, and can use that data to produce redistricting maps without delay, leaving opportunities to incorporate Census data when it becomes available.

“As Oregon’s chief elections officer, I am responsible for safeguarding the elections process for all Oregonians. I am deeply concerned about the ability of our state’s county clerks to administer stable, predictable elections next year if the Legislature is successful in moving deadlines and changing 2022 election dates,” Secretary Fagan said. “As detailed in our response, moving the 2022 May primary would strain county and state resources and risk significant voter confusion at a time when it is more important than ever for us to build and maintain public trust in our elections. We owe it to Oregonians to do everything we can to fulfill our constitutional obligation on time and without impacting the 2022 elections.”

In the filing, Interim Oregon Elections Director Brenda Bayes detailed the list of potential impacts on the state’s 2022 election cycle if state Legislative redistricting dates are allowed to be pushed out 60 days after the redistricting data arrives. Those potential impacts include: Each decade, states are required to redraw boundaries for state Legislative and federal Congressional districts to account for population changes. Oregon’s state Legislative redistricting process is detailed in Article IV, section 6 of the Oregon Constitution. The Constitution gives the Oregon Legislature clear authority over the process, with the Secretary of State as a backstop if, for some reason, the Legislature is unable to complete its process. The process for federal Congressional redistricting, which redraws Oregon’s district boundaries for the United States House of Representatives, is guided by state law with the Oregon Supreme Court as a backstop. The Secretary of State has no role in federal Congressional redistricting, which is not addressed in the Legislature’s petition.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-18 13:59:43Last Update: 2021-03-18 14:05:57

Policymaking Impacts Quality Health Care
Democrats promise program they know they can’t deliver

After 8 failed attempts, Senate Democrats rammed through SJR 12 legislation that promises utopian health care coverage. The results of which would degrade the quality of care and take away health care choices for Oregonians. The resolution was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland) and Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland)

According to a 2017 report commissioned by the Legislature, a government-controlled health care system is completely unfeasible. The system would blow out the budget by requiring a 134% increase in state taxes. This would include an 83% hike in income taxes and a new 6.5% payroll tax on small businesses. The total cost of government-controlled healthcare would be over $70 billion per budget cycle.

“This bill promises something that Democrats know they can’t deliver,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod said. “The bill doesn’t fund any system to deliver on that promise. If Democrats are serious about giving Oregonians free health care, they should come up with an actual plan. This kind of lazy policymaking lacks important details Oregon voters need to make an informed decision at the ballot box.”

The Oregonian Editorial Board and League of Women Voters have opposed this measure because of its obscurity.

Government-controlled health care would be a travesty for Oregonians. It would degrade the quality of care by limiting choices and make Oregonians wait for important care.

Government-run health care leads to longer wait times for important medical care and takes away individual health care decisions from Oregonians. Oregon’s 2017 report confirmed that government-controlled health care would cause ‘congestion’ (read wait times).

“This unfunded mandate is one of the final steps to completely government-controlled health care,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), Vice-Chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, said. “There is a reason similar plans have been spiked in other deep-blue states. It would destroy quality health care in Oregon.” SJR 12 fails to outline a plan as to how the state is going to give unlimited health coverage to everyone. That raises concerns that the courts will ultimately force political branches to create a backdoor system with little public involvement or transparency.

Senate Democrats voted down a motion that would have given Oregonians clarity on how much the proposal would cost.

If passed by the House of Representatives, the amendment would be put to voters on the November 2021 general election.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-18 12:09:04Last Update: 2021-03-18 12:27:12

The Homeless Industrial Complex
We keep spending money and not solving the problem

HB 2004 takes money from the General Fund and the Community Services Revolving Account for low barrier shelters which goes to DAS to create navigation centers. Housing and Community Services is directed to study the issue. It has bipartisan support. HB 2006 defines an "emergency shelter" and requires local governments to allow siting of qualifying emergency shelters by qualifying entities notwithstanding land use laws and regulations. Three Republicans cosponsored this bill and coincidently their districts would get money. Both bills were introduced by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland).

The homeless situation is on many minds these days and the legislature is attempting to show the voters that they care. Using $27 million in grant money as bait and an additional $18 million in direct payments to cities with representatives on the committee sponsoring HB 2004, money will be appropriated for a popular concern. Is that the right way to go?

The history of caring for the unfortunate relied on mutual aid societies -- churches, fraternal organizations, dedicated non-profits. They supplied charitable services to the less fortunate. Government has slowly replaced many of those volunteer efforts and continues its quest for market share. Mutual aid societies have paid staff but were, and still are, heavily dependent on dedicated volunteers with intimate knowledge of the challenges they face and personal commitment often through personal experience. The recipients of generosity are vetted constantly. Gaming the system is very difficult with mutual aid societies. In the past, government’s role was in service to the productive sector that financially sustained those seeking charity through mutual aid societies. People in need got a temporary hand up, not a permanent handout.

Fast forward to today, and we see government doing what it can to increase and centralize power. Enticing municipalities through grants, state government grows in size while enlarging dependency on state government. Those who “are down on their luck” are just pawns in the game. Representatives bring the pork home to their constituencies, claiming humanity and solutions for the common good.

Examples of mutual aid societies doing the highest quality work at a fraction the cost versus government are everywhere. If politicians feel they must address every highly visible problem that has its day in the sun, maybe they could incentivize local communities to use the systems they already have in place. Multiple tax credits for donations to outfits like Union Gospel Mission in Salem, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul in Eugene and dozens of other non-profit groups doing yeoman’s work would support those currently most effective and give a greater return on taxpayers dollars.

Addiction and mental health problems are at the core of homelessness. The breakdown of the family structure plays a big role of this growing social phenomenon as well. Can we buy our way to a solution? No. Should we rely on politicians to find answers? This is a tough love situation, who can supply the tough love? Probably not your rich uncle from out of town.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-03-18 11:58:43Last Update: 2021-03-18 12:09:04

Will Outdoor Venues be Open this Summer?
Fairs and festivals will begin to make decisions as to their plans for Summer

Could we see outdoor celebrations return this summer?

Today Governor Brown and the Oregon Health Authority announced some changes to the capacity guidelines for outdoor events in anticipation of County fairs and festivals this Spring and Summer. The new guidelines for capacity are tied to the current Oregon Health Authority Sector Risk Level Guidance Chart. However, the guidelines for new outdoor entertainment establishments including zoos, gardens, theaters, stadiums and fairs and festivals, changed effective March 17th they are now: Closing times for all outdoor Entertainment is 11pm except Low Risk which is midnight.

Early to announce was Linn County Fairgrounds. Tuesday at the Linn County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Roger Nyquist announced “I’ve had some dialogue with the public health community at the state level that led me to believe that by the time we get to mid-July, we’ll be able to host a county fair,” he continued “I’m an optimist, so I think that the people who have enjoyed going to the Linn County Fair in the past should expect to do so come July.” While this is good news, it also indicates that the end to social distancing and limits on social gatherings may not be returning to normal in the near future. On February 25, 2021, Governor Brown signed Executive Order 21-05 which extended the state of emergency declaration through May 21, 2021. This is the 6th extension of the original declaration of emergency from 2020. The next extension, if done, would be issued before the current one expires and would could last another 60 days or up until July 20th. If a return to normal was expected before summer, the new OHA guidelines and capacity restrictions would not be necessary. Until then, fairs and festivals will begin to make decisions as to their plans for Summer.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-18 07:30:00Last Update: 2021-03-18 07:52:05

Black Carbon
Your grandma would have called it soot

This Legislative session, like 2019 and 2020, has seen multiple bills relating to environmental impacts and climate change. HB 2479 introduced by Representative Karin Power (HD41 – Milwaukie) in one in a series this session that proposes a solution to climate change mitigation.

At a hearing on March 1st Representative Power introduced the bill to the committee stating “In order to help integrate the scientific importance of black carbon into our state planning HB 2479 (is needed) to modify the definition of greenhouse gasses to include black carbon”. With the definition modified, the Department of Environmental Quality will then have the ability study black carbon specifically and look for mitigation strategies to reduce it.

Dr. Erika Maria Moseson, MD, MA,a Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Physician, testified in support of the bill. She said, as a physician, she knows that it is “Vitally important to get the diagnosis right before you treat. Actually, measuring black carbon will help us diagnose where we need to focus to save lives.”

Representative Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) recalled to the committee that throughout all the conversations on cap and trade, carbon sequestration and global warming, “we have talked about diesel emissions being one factor, but black carbon has never been a topic of conversation”.

So, what exactly is black carbon?

Drew Shindell, Nicholas Professor of Earth Sciences at Duke university shared with the committee that black carbon is commonly referred to as soot. With that terminology clarification, Representative Brock Smith then shared that it is his understanding that the major global sources of soot are from developing countries and this trend is expected to increase. The largest contributors are Asia, Latin America, and Africa. China and India together account for 25%-35% of the global soot. Drew Shindell agreed, but also noted that the US is still a contributor and although the US has done a good job of continuing to mitigate soot since the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970, the US has fallen short in addressing specific contributors. He then stated that “those specific contributors are non-highway diesel motors used in construction and farm equipment, ATV’s, and diesel generators”. With the specific target of soot emitters defined by Drew Schindell, the question then becomes, has the conclusion already been drawn that these emitters are already the problem? After all, Representative Power is also one of the chief sponsors of HB 2674 which proposes to implement an immediate privilege tax on nonroad diesel equipment (construction and farm equipment, ATV’s, and diesel generators) to mitigate their soot contribution to climate change?

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-18 06:53:53Last Update: 2021-03-18 07:47:03

Italian Sports Car Recoverd with Meth
Alfa Romero was fraudulently purchased

Portland Oregon is a city riddled with crime these days, sadly and another car theft seems to have been attempted by a suspect carrying a large amount of methamphetamine with them in an Italian sports car.

On March 17, 2021 the Portland Police East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) received information about an Alfa Romeo car, which was fraudulently purchased from a dealership near Southeast 92nd Ave and Southeast Stark Street.

NRT officers began investigating and located the car in a nearby motel parking lot. Officers developed information about the suspect and conducted surveillance on the car. When the suspect returned to the car, officers took her into custody.

Officers recovered forged documents, and approximately 164 grams (5.7 ounces) of methamphetamine. Officers returned the car to the dealership.

The suspect was identified as 38-year-old Mary P. Nguyen, who was booked into jail for Aggravated Identity Theft, 7 counts of Forgery I, Aggravated Theft I, Distribution of a Controlled Substance -- Methamphetamine, Possession of a Controlled Substance -- Methamphetamine, Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle, and Computer Crime.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-17 17:57:29Last Update: 2021-03-17 18:14:05

CAT Tax Exemptions
As business start to pay, they start to not want to pay

Editor's note: This is the third in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

The year 2019 saw an increase in Democratic numbers in the Legislature and with it, the ability to raise taxes without any support from the minority party. That brought one of the largest tax increases in the history of the State of Oregon with the Commercial Activities Tax that was created to fund the Student Success Act. Not surprisingly, a backlash has begun as targets of the tax seek to free themselves from its burdens.

HB 2259 exempts receipts from sales of prescription drugs and medical supplies or from provision of medical services from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax.

HB 2268 exempts interest received on financial institution loans made to small business concerns from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax.

An exemption that carries perhaps the highest price tag, HB 2293 exempts receipts from sales of agricultural, floricultural, horticultural, viticultural or food products from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax. It was introduced by Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane).

HB 2429 has been introduced by Representatives Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene) and E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls) Modifies provisions of corporate activity tax, expanding exemption for grocery sales to include groceries held by consignee store operator and expanding exemption for motor vehicle dealer transactions to include all new vehicle exchanges between franchised motor vehicle dealerships.

Representative Christine Drazan (R-Canby) has introduced HB 2633 exempts, from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax, contractor receipts from repair or rebuilding of structure destroyed or damaged by wildfire.

HB 2753 prohibits pharmacy benefit manager from including in contract with network pharmacy term barring price increase to customer to offset estimated amount of corporate activity tax paid by pharmacy and attributable to sale of prescription drug. This has been introduced by Representative Ron Noble (R-McMinnville)

The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-17 16:41:42Last Update: 2021-03-15 16:56:41

Oregon House Passes Energy Affordability Act
No longer just a regulator, the PUC may now be an agent of social change

The Oregon House voted today, mostly along party lines, to allow the Public Utility Commission to create special rates for certain classes of Oregonians, including low-income people.

“Energy is an essential part of daily life, and we know many Oregonians have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), one of the bill’s chief sponsors. “This will allow the PUC to help low-income and cost-burdened Oregonians afford their energy by creating a lower rate class or providing discounts, as many other utility districts like water and sewer already do.”

HB 2475 also allows environmental justice groups to participate in PUC processes. The bill expands access to non-state-funded resources for entities representing the broad interests of customers, including the interests of low-income ratepayers and environmental justice communities, in the same manner that other customer groups currently access these funds. The increased access for environmental justice communities will benefit low-income communities statewide. One lawmaker pointed out that the bill has no curbs on who could receive preferential rates. "They could assign electric rates based on skin color."

“Before I joined the Legislature, I was privileged to work with frontline rural communities as a community organizer working on environmental advocacy,” said Rep. Khanh Pham (D-Portland), the bill’s other chief sponsor. “We found that, despite the divisive rhetoric pitting rural and urban communities against each other, we have so much in common in terms of what our communities need. Relief from high energy bills is a perfect example of what our communities—both in rural and urban areas—need most.” The Public Utility Commission is responsible for rate regulation of Oregon's investor-owned electric utilities to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates. This will change if this bill becomes law, adding environmental and social justice to the list of responsibilities of the statewide regulator.

HB 2475, which passed 36-20, now moves to the Senate.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-16 18:09:52Last Update: 2021-03-17 18:16:04

Higher Taxes Due to Relief Funds
Republicans offer to counter Democrat plan to tax PPP loans

Oregon House Republicans are introducing legislation to combat a new proposal from Democrats that intends to tax Oregon businesses for paycheck protection program (PPP) loans they received that were vital to keeping people employed during the pandemic last year.

HB 2457 is just a sleepy revenue bill reconnecting Oregon's tax code to the federal tax code for simplicity, but as it is proposed to be amended would disregard a commitment made by Democrats and Republicans in Congress by taxing PPP loans Oregon businesses received in 2020. The amendment has been proposed by Representative Khanh Pham (D-Portland).

“This new proposal would completely undo the intention of the paycheck protection program,” said Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls). “The state of Oregon already received a two-fold benefit from PPP: the state receives more income taxes because people remained employed, and fewer Oregonians needed to utilize unemployment benefits. Surprising businesses with this retroactive tax is completely contrary to what Democrats and Republicans in Congress intended when they passed the CARES Act.”

Proponents of this -1 amendment to HB 2457 claim that businesses received the double benefit of a forgivable loan that could also be claimed as a business expense.

“I would instead ask why the state, flush with cash, would consider squeezing Oregon businesses for additional dollars when many are just trying to stay above water and keep people employed after a difficult year,” Rep. Reschke said in response.

Rep. Reschke’s amendment would prevent PPP loans from being treated as taxable income.

Oregon House Republicans also announced a proposal to help Oregonians who may have their taxes negatively affected by stimulus checks. “Stimulus checks were crucial for Oregonians struggling to make it through the worst of the pandemic in 2020,” stated House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “No one should be paying higher taxes just because they received this financial help. We should not be making things more difficult for Oregonians.”

While the stimulus checks that Oregonians received aren’t considered taxable income, they can still raise the tax liability some Oregonians may be responsible for when they file taxes this year.

HB 3383 will soon be read on the floor and would undo the impact that stimulus checks can have on tax liabilities.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-16 17:59:38Last Update: 2021-03-16 18:40:28

Kate Brown Wants Her Political Appointment Confirmed by Senate
May not be best way to fix Oregon’s foster care crisis

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown has announced that she has submitted a list of state board and commission appointments to the Oregon Senate for confirmation.

Among those Kate Brown has selected, one choice seems to stand out as a curious selection for the Governor's Child Foster Care Advisory Commission.

It seems that Kate Brown has nominated a highly partisan Democrat operative in Casey Dreher, who once worked with the Washington State Democrat Party as a field organizer, according to his social media profile.

Partisanship and controversial decisions like these may be heavily contributing to the fueling of frustrations and polarized political divisions which seem to have become a dominant theme these days. Strictly merit-based appointments may be a wise move for several reasons, especially in this case when the ones affected are innocent children in need of legitimate help. Proper decision making from our political leaders certainly affects all of us. If confirmed by the Oregon State Senate, Casey Dreher would likely continue his political agenda in the same manner as his past advocacy, such as working with the Public Defender Services of Lane County.

Recently, the Public Defender Services of Lane County has made radicalized political statements in strong support of rioting and Leftist/Marxist/Communist groups in Oregon.

One of those statements can be read here:

"This shouldn’t be a remotely controversial or political position, but in the wake of almost a week of protesting after the brutal police killing of African American George Floyd, it needs to be stated and affirmed. In our office, we don’t have the same level of overrepresentation of African Americans in the criminal justice system as larger communities. But we do have a justice system that targets and punishes those of color. We know that police do not always afford the same rights or protections to our minority clients as they do to our white clients. They are quicker to assume harm, and quicker to arrest and slower to listen and to understand."

"We have followed the actions of the protesters who are showing up to protest the death of Mr. Floyd and the system racism in the criminal justice system. We have struggled with how to balance the competing desire to be safe from Covid-19 but to also make our voices heard at the same time. We stand in solidarity with the protesters. We reject the narrative of “both sides” that equates police violence as being equal to the property damage that has resulted as police have provoked protests into full blown riots. And we will continue to thoroughly document police misconduct and build a knowledge base to dismantle the credibility of police officers who lie, employ excessive force or violate the civil rights of our clients. At PDSLC, we believe in client centered representation. It is a privilege to work at an office where our focus on protecting our client."

Dreher may have also been involved with some controversy regarding student transparency while he served as Arizona Students' Association Executive Director.

The Governor has made several questionable decisions throughout the COVID lockdown that has dragged on for over a year and this decision regarding Oregon's foster children care is not likely to inspire confidence in observers.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-16 14:11:51Last Update: 2021-03-16 20:59:06

Gervais Schools to Use Contact Devices
Prom night is going to be a big problem

The Gervais School District has announced that they will be using contact tracing devices as students return to school in order to comply with guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education. In a letter to parents accompanied by a video the district has explained what the contact tracing devices are and how they work.

Students from grades 6-12 will wear the contact tracing devices on a lanyard, suspended from the student's neck while in school and if one contact tracing device comes within 6 feet of another device, it will vibrate and blink red. When the students -- and the devices they are wearing -- separate beyond six feet, the devices will turn green and stop vibrating.

At the end of the day, students return the devices and the data is downloaded from them. If there is a positive case, a report can be run outputting the contacts of the infected student, as well as how long other students were in their vicinity.

According to the district, these devices will not be worn by students in Preschool through 5th grade because those students are much more contained and have fewer people in their groups. I also want to emphasize that the tracers are not GPS devices. The tracers do not track the location of students or staff. They only track the amount of time the device spends while within 6 feet of another device.

The school district circulated this video, which explains how they work and what measures the district is taking.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-15 17:01:28Last Update: 2021-03-15 21:40:13

Diesel Tax Impact Considered
Purchasers “are not considered to be a taxpayers”

With the stated goal of bolstering the Clean Diesel Engine Fund HB 2674 would financially harm both retail businesses and consumers, once the 48-page expected amendment is adopted. The bill has been introduced by Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland). It would create administrative burdens for businesses and state government. Is the goal of this bill to raise revenue, discourage the use of diesel equipment or to increase the number of state employees? How will the bill affect industry and the consumer?

It proposes a 3% tax on tires. The tax must be recorded on a separate invoice from the sale. The tax on nonroad diesel equipment is 1.5%. The tax on rentals of nonroad equipment is 3.5% and on general diesel equipment 2%. Purchasers “are not considered to be a taxpayers”. It is a tax on those with the privilege of providing the equipment for sale or lease. However, tax on nonroad diesel equipment purchased from out-of-state sellers will be the responsibility of the purchaser. The tax will be reduced by the amount of any tax paid out-of-state sellers but not to an amount below zero. Sales to nonresidents are exempt from this tax. Excess taxes are refunded to purchasers when equipment is surrendered or traded in. The purchaser is burdened with proof for refunds claimed.

Every provider of nonroad diesel equipment must register with the Oregon Department of Revenue and keep records. Enforcement will be through the Circuit Tax Court of Oregon. They have power to subpoena individuals in prosecuting owners and officers of sellers out of compliance. Rules for appealing rulings are established as are punishment including criminal charges. Revenue Department moneys may be held by the Treasurer’s Department. Moneys to reimburse the Treasury Department shall not exceed 5% of monies held in suspense. Moneys from rentals shall be transferred to the counties where the transaction occurs. Moneys in excess of 2% shall go to the Clean Diesel Engine Fund. The bill would put Oregon at a competitive disadvantage from our current posture, contributing yet another obstacle to attracting business to our state. Diesel power drives farming, mining, fishing, construction and forestry to name a few industries. Utilities providing water, sewer, electricity and communications run on diesel as does fire protection, emergency services, police and military. This tax would eventually be borne by the consumer and provide no discernable benefit.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-03-15 16:41:15Last Update: 2021-03-15 17:01:28

Ranked Choice Voting Proponents Prepare for Hearing
Requires the use of ‘weighted ballot counting”

Ranked Choice Voting is confusing to most voters, it is a strategic game at best as voters will have to not only choose their favorite candidate, but they will have to guess who is likely to win and factor that into 2nd and 3rd choices, to have their vote count at all.

Three Democrat Legislators have introduced ‘Ranked Choice Voting’ bills for this 2021 Legislature to consider. Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland), Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) brought this counting scheme to us. Ranked Choice Voting is only used in Alaska and Maine for selection of their state and congressional members per the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some other cities use it for their local elections.

On Tuesday The Senate Rules Committee will hear SB 343 which permits counties to adopt ranked-choice voting to conduct county elections and SB 791 which establishes ranked choice voting as voting method for selecting winner of nomination for and election to nonpartisan state offices and county and city offices except where home rule charter applies.

A traditional run off race is more definite if a clear winner is not selected on the first vote. In a second separate race, everyone is fully informed as to their choice of governing authority selection. That is why we have a primary vote in the first place. Ranked Choice Voting would require ballot counting tabulators that can do the recalculating of the results that would be necessary as late votes are accumulated. We already have enough mistrust of these machines after the last Presidential Election. Votes were proven to be defective in Michigan due to the fact that the Ranked Choice Voting algorithm of ’weighted votes” was in enabled for the calculation.

The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the pros and cons for Ranked Choice Voting and one of them is that the legislature will have to supply the machines that can accommodate the software that can do the weighted tabulation. The state will also have to educate the public as to how this election will work. Among the difficulties with this system they list the following concerns:

“Arguments against RCV Fairness is in the eye of the beholder. Who’s to say that winning with a plurality but not a majority is a problem? In addition, if a voter decides to only vote for one candidate and not rank the others (sometimes called “bullet” voting), and the counting goes to a second level, the voter’s ballot would be “exhausted” and may not count at all, thus nullifying that citizen’s vote.

A Polarized Populace. While supporters argue that ranked choice forces candidates to appeal for second- and third- place votes, doubters say that today’s polarized environment likely means voters won’t cross the aisle in significant numbers anyway.

A Complex System. Because RCV is a divergence from the traditional and historical voting method in the United States there are concerns that the voting populace will not be properly educated about the new system. This could lead to frustration by voters and the possibility that voters will not properly complete their ballots and have their votes nullified if they only vote for one candidate and that candidate does not advance beyond the first round.”

In conclusion, Ranked Choice Voting not only has the problems listed above but is a great threat to our election security as it will require the use of ‘weighted ballot counting” option in our counting tabulators. Knowledge of these settings are off limits for the public to know. This setting is part of the Secretary of State Shemia Fagan's secret security plan and only election officials can know it. How will voters know if it is turned off or on for other races? Voters expect to have the vote counted as one vote, not directed whole or in part to another candidate.

--Janice Dysinger

Post Date: 2021-03-15 08:09:20Last Update: 2021-03-15 14:40:35

The Baton Pass in the Legislative Relay
A ton of bills are about to die.

This week the Oregon Legislature will reach checkpoint #1 in its path to sine die -- the Constitutional end of session on June 28. March 19th marks the day when bills need to be scheduled for a work session in the Chamber of Origin. House bills need to have a hearing and work session scheduled by a committee of the House, and in the Senate, it is the same. If this fails to happen, the bill is effectively dead for the session. The only committees without this deadline are Rules, Revenue, Ways and Means and other Joint Committees. Bills assigned to those committees remain in play until the final days of the Legislative Session.

With hundreds of bills assigned to the various committees and many of them yet to be heard, it is expected that committee agendas will become a bit more packed between March 19th and April 13th. April 13th is checkpoint #2 where bills must have received a vote on the original chamber floor, or they are dead for the session.

Already this week, hearing agendas are packed with bills. Some of the bills have already had public hearing and are headed to work sessions, others are simply getting started. What is certain is that this is a week full of bills that affect every Oregonian. Here are a few examples of bills that are starting the hearing process. Other bills can be found on the legislative website. Monday:

Tuesday: Wednesday: Thursday: If you are interested in testifying for or against a bill, it is not that hard to do. However, this can only be done when a bill is scheduled for a public hearing. Also, keep in mind that this session there have been multiple occasions where bills were scheduled for a hearing but due to the volume of people wanting to speak, they only got to 20-40% of those that signed up. Just because you ask to be heard does not mean you will be. Therefore, it is important to have you talking points ready for a 1–2-minute window of time and submit written testimony as well.

Use the OLIS system to do both. Once you locate your bill and the hearing, scroll to the bottom of the agenda for instructions: you will see links where you can submit written testimony on a bill or topic scheduled for a public hearing. You can sign up to testify live.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-15 07:48:02Last Update: 2021-03-15 08:09:20

One Year of Flattening the Curve
What are we afraid of, at this point?

It's been one year since the state started keeping statistics on the "flatten the curve" graph and it looks as if the trajectory of the disease is being driven by the disease and not by state-enforced behaviors such as mask mandates and restrictions on public spaces such as restaurants. This point is made even more salient if Oregon is compared to other states such as Florida which had relatively fewer mandates and rules, yet have a curve similar to this.

While the potential impact on hospital capacity was unknown a year ago, it's pretty clear now that hospital capacity is not now in jeopardy and in hindsight never was. There is no reason that government, through regulation, needs to "flatten the curve." To some, those words are an indictment of a power hungry government, insensitive to the little guy. The economic impact of COVID-19 has fallen disproportionately on small businesses and lower-wage workers.

The graph -- which has been the top of the stack since last year -- has a caption at the side which reads:

"When people say we want to "flatten the curve," this is the curve they are talking about. We want to slow the number of new cases of COVID-19 so our healthcare system isn't overwhelmed and can provide care to everyone who needs it."

Another amazing thing is that the seasonal flu seems to have been eradicated. The Oregon Health Authority report on influenza like illness shows a remarkably low incidence of flu this year. Maybe it was because everyone was wearing a mask. Or maybe it was because every flu case was diagnosed to be COVID-19, driven by hospitals and governments which were incentivized to record it as such.

Buried deep on the OHA site is this graph, which compares flu seasons. This season is the orange line at the bottom.

As a fearful legislature huddles in a boarded up, fenced up Capitol, unsure if they are more afraid of right-wing protestors or COVID-19, some are calling for an end to lockdowns. Maybe the party in power just prefers to legislate without the rabble second guessing them.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-14 18:01:55Last Update: 2021-03-14 20:04:29

Lane Sharing Bill Proposed
Would let motorcycles go between lanes in congested traffic.

This isn't the first time that a lane sharing bill has been put before the legislature. As in previous sessions, this bill has bipartisan support. In an era of tight transportation dollars, solutions to congestion often carry a high price tag. Except this. SB 574 is free.

The practice of "lane sharing" or "lane filtering" refers to how motorcycles can navigate slow or stopped traffic on multi-lane roads. Lane sharing generally refers to a motorcycle passing slower or stopped vehicles by proceeding between the lanes of travel, while lane filtering usually refers to cases where a motorcycle moves back and forth between lanes to pass stopped or slowed vehicles. Both practices are meant to allow motorcycles to continue moving when the general flow of traffic is slowed or stopped, and are meant to prevent overheating of motorcycle engines, rider fatigue, and protect the safety of riders by preventing them from being rear-ended in areas with high levels of traffic congestion.

The basic part of the bill says that

a motorcycle operator does not commit the offense of motorcycle or moped unlawful passing in a lane with a vehicle under the following conditions:

(a) Traffic is stopped or has slowed to a speed of 10 miles per hour or less and
(b) The motorcycle operator:

(A) Operates a motorcycle with two wheels between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction
(B) Travels at a speed of no more than 10 miles per hour greater than the speed of traffic
(C) Operates in a prudent manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic
(D) Overtakes a vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction
(E) Merges with the regular traffic flow when traffic begins traveling at a speed of more than 10 miles per hour and
(F) Is driving on a highway for which the speed limit established...is 50 miles per hour or higher.

Nicholas Harris, the Western States Representative for the American Motorcyclist Association who was very involved with the California effort, AB 51, to formalize and codify lane splitting. The bill passed and was signed into law in 2016, as well as legislation in Utah in 2019, resulting in the passing of HB 149, which also allows lane filtering in certain circumstances, testified on the bill.

"Perhaps one of the more dangerous situations for any on-highway motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators and environmental conditions pose an increased risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard. Even minor contact under such conditions can be disastrous for motorcyclists.

"The key factor identified in the most recent study on the subject by U.C. Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, was the speed delta—the difference in speed between the motorcyclist and surrounding traffic. As indicated by the lead researcher, Dr. Thomas Rice, a delta of 15 mph or less, up to a surrounding traffic speed of 50 mph, did not result in any associated changes to injury types or occurrence rates.

"The AMA believes that SB 574, which proposes significantly more conservative limits than the practices identified in the study, is an excellent opportunity for this practice to be introduced in Oregon.

In many countries, lane splitting is considered a normal practice for motorcycle and scooter riders. Particularly in the highly urbanized areas of Europe and Asia, riders are expected to pass between conventional vehicles and advance to the front of the group."

To date, over 600 testimonial letters have been posted as testimony for the committee, nearly all in support. The bill had a hearing on March 2 and is now awaiting a work session to vote it out of committee. It needs to be scheduled by one of the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation, Senator Lee Beyer (D-Eugene) or Representative Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro).

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-14 09:42:30Last Update: 2021-03-14 03:30:06

Minority Reports
This is a little understood procedural tactic

Minority reports as used in the Oregon Legislature are a tool that allows a group of members -- usually in the minority party -- to present their version of a bill as an alternative to a piece of legislation that is voted out of committee. Two committee members who voted in opposition to a bill coming out of a work session in their committee may subscribe to a minority report which would then accompany the base bill, or committee report, to the floor. Committee members must notify the Chair and the committee staff of their intent to file a minority report within two hours of the adjournment of the committee.

Minority reports may only be applied to measures coming out of policy committees. This means that a minority report may not come out of any of the joint committees, statutory committees, subcommittees, special committees, or conference committees.

Timeline for Minority Reports

1. Potential issues to be included in a minority report are submitted as proposed Legislative Counsel amendments and distributed to the committee for possible consideration. If a work session occurs within 24 hours of the first House public hearing, a minority report may be drafted containing issues that came under discussion on the measure in committee.

2. Two members who vote in opposition to a piece of legislation provide the Chair and Committee staff notice of their intention to file a minority report within two hours of the committee adjourning.

3. For the 2021 session, members giving notice of a minority report have until 5 p.m. on the second business day to deliver the Legislative Counsel draft of the minority report to the committee staff. Minority reports must be filed with committee staff no later than the next business day if the Speaker has declared Sine Die to be imminent.

4. Minority Reports will be filed at the Desk on the same day as the committee report.

Floor Procedures

If the committee report has an accompanying minority report, it will be taken up under Propositions and Motions before the reading of other bills. The carrier of the bill will have 10 minutes to speak to the committee report and then upon a motion to substitute the committee report with the minority report, the carrier of the minority report will also have 10 minutes to speak. Members will each have 5 minutes to speak on whether the minority report should be adopted. The discussion should be limited to why the minority report should replace the committee report and not to the merits of the overall concept.

Because the motion to replace a committee report with a minority report is a parliamentary procedure, the threshold for adoption is only a majority of the members present not a majority of the full body.

Should a motion to adopt the minority report be adopted, it will replace the committee report and immediately move into third readings. Should the motion to replace the committee report with the minority vote fail, the committee report will immediately move into third readings. The House will then take up the measure for a vote.

Unless there is a split in the majority caucus, a minority report is unlikely to prevail. It may be regarded as a messaging tool, by some and therefore may have some value even if it does not prevail.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-13 18:31:00Last Update: 2021-03-13 18:34:00

Illegal Firearms Recovered in Attempted Murder
Suspect is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing a firearm

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that 32-year-old Cole Miller is charged with the attempted murder and assault of a person that happened last month in the Hazelwood neighborhood. As part of this investigation, law enforcement recovered multiple firearms, including five AR-15 rifles and a ghost gun. Ironically, this is happening as the legislature considers more restrictions on firearms, which opponents say will leave only the criminals with guns.

Miller is charged with one count of attempted murder in the second degree with a firearm, one count of assault in the first degree with a firearm, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm with a firearm enhancement and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon with a firearm.

This investigation started when Portland Police responded to a shooting on February 1, 2021 in the 10500 block of East Burnside Street. When they arrived, they located a person shot inside a vehicle.

According to court documents, the shooting victim said, “in case I die, I want someone to know that it was Cole Miller who shot me.” During the investigation, law enforcement learned that Miller and the shooting victim are known to each other and have been involved in a dispute.

On March 10, 2021, Portland Police received information about a disturbance involving a firearm at a convenience store at Southeast 42nd Avenue and Southeast Woodstock Street. The store employee reported a disturbance involving someone who tried to microwave food inside the business, which is against their policy. During the incident, the suspect allegedly pointed a gun at the employee. A description of the vehicle and suspect were provided to Portland Police.

Hours later, Portland Police responded to the 3700 block of Southeast 42nd Avenue to conduct a welfare check involving a vehicle and suspicious activity involving the driver. When police arrived, they identified the vehicle as being the same car involved in the incident at the convenience store. Police identified the driver of the car to be Miller, according to court documents. Miller was later identified as the suspect in the convenience store disturbance.

During a search of Miller’s vehicle, police recovered five AR-15 rifles, a Glock 17 handgun, two Glock 43 handguns, a ghost-gun resembling a Glock 19 and a loaded .45 caliber handgun.

According to court records, Miller is a convicted felon and therefore prohibited from being in possession of a firearm.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-13 17:44:43Last Update: 2021-03-13 17:54:03

Leftist Violence Continues in Portland
Pearl District destruction during “peaceful march”

Police Officers in Portland, Oregon detained a group of about 100 in a march that devolved into property destruction in the Pearl District.

On Friday, March 12, 2021 at about 9:00pm, a group began marching in the street, blocking vehicular traffic, from Jamison Park, 810 Northwest 11th Avenue. They were advised by loudspeaker that the street was open to vehicular traffic, but the crowd continued to march in the street.

At about 9:15pm, at Northwest 15th Avenue and Northwest Overton Street, some in the crowd began breaking windows. Officers moved in to address the criminal behavior. They created a perimeter around the group on Northwest Marshall Street between Northwest 13th Avenue and Northwest 14th Avenue.

The group was advised that they were being detained for investigation of crimes, they were not free to leave, and they should comply with officers' lawful orders. Failure to comply may result in arrest or force being used against them to include, but not limited to, crowd control agents, impact weapons, or tear gas. Legal observers, press, and anyone who was medically fragile or anyone who needs immediate medical attention were invited to leave the enclosed area if they wished. Those that were being detained were identified and photographed, as part of a criminal investigation, before being released. Some refused to comply and locked arms together in an effort to interfere with the investigation. Officers escorted them away and they were arrested. A suspect in the earlier window vandalism was arrested and charged.

Officers discovered numerous items left behind by people inside the perimeter, including a crowbar, hammers, bear spray, slugging weapon with rocks, high impact slingshot, and knives.

As the event unfolded, groups formed on the outside and physically challenged officers. Some threw rocks and full cans of beer at officers. Officers deployed some OC (pepper) spray and one impact munition. Arrests were made, including two suspects carrying firearms, wearing body armor and helmets.

Thirteen people were charged with crimes: The investigation is continuing and additional charges are possible.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-13 12:28:11Last Update: 2021-03-13 16:31:00

Alonso Leon Wants Extra Protections for Foreign Nationals
Oregon legislator herself was formerly “undocumented”

As the Oregon 2021 legislative session rolls on, and still with the public banned from accessing the state's Capitol building, laws are being made inside that building which will certainly affect all of the people of Oregon. One such bill which is currently making it's way through committee is HB 3265.

The bill seems to have a number of stipulations within it which would further protect any foreign nationals if they are taken into custody by local United States law enforcement. HB 3265, whose Chief Sponsor is Teresa Alonso Leon(D) Woodburn, seems to be extra accommodating to anyone not a United States citizen.

The following is a summarized list of what the bill is intended to do: And, as the supermajority Democrat Oregon legislature often does with the attachment of the Emergency Clause, the law will be declared effective immediately upon it's passage.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-12 17:41:39Last Update: 2021-03-12 19:42:30

Governor Releases Plan to Open Schools
Enforcement? Expect it to be tepid

After releasing her executive order requiring schools to at least partially reopen, the Governor touted her achievements in a press conference today.

In the press conference, she declined to commit to enforcing her order by saying she would be “flexible” with school districts that don’t meet the timeline.

Many school boards failed to reopen schools after the Governor kicked that responsibility to them in December. Now, she is letting them define what ‘reopening’ is. Some have indicated they will skip academic classes altogether and simply hold study halls or other elective courses.

“After keeping the vast majority of Oregon students locked out of their classrooms for a year, the Governor should hold off on crowning herself as the champion for Oregon students,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “Too many kids have lost an entire year of education. She should not fail them again by not enforcing her own order. Teachers are vaccinated and cases continue to decline. Students should return to the classroom.”

Jennifer Noonan, a mom of 4 and a social work student, has been fighting for nearly a year for schools to reopen. She represents families whose needs aren’t being met by current government school policy:

“The Governor’s hybrid loophole doesn’t work for working families like mine,” Noonan said. “As a mom and a student, I go to school and work on the weekends to lift my family out of poverty. I can't afford to continue to be a part-time teacher also. “This is a social justice issue. The Governor should mandate that all schools open for full, in person, 5-days-per-week instruction for families who need it. Science says we can do this safely.

It's what is best for our kids, low-income families like mine, and our communities of color.” Earlier this week, the Governor and Democrat lawmakers released a proposal for summer enrichment programs. A week before, Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee, announced a similar plan.

“After losing a year of education, our students need options to get caught up,” Senator Thomsen said. “As lawmakers, we need to hold the Governor accountable and ensure she delivers on her promises to Oregon students.

“So far, she has been light on details. Much of this money will be going to brand new programs. Her administration has only months to implement them. Are teachers unions going to willingly staff these programs? Where does the money go if all of it is not spent?

“These are the questions Oregonians deserve answers to if the Governor expects them to believe her promises.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-12 17:40:55Last Update: 2021-03-12 17:46:29

Regulation of Private Schools to be Debated
The independence of Private Schools is at Risk

Many years ago, voluntary private school registration was administered by the Oregon Dept. of Education so that student teaching could take place in registered private schools and teachers in private schools could maintain their licenses. That licensing rule was eliminated in 2009. Then Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction, Suzan Castillo, asked the Oregon legislature to repeal the voluntary private school registration laws to reduce workload and expenditures, and because it did not align with ODE goals. In 2011, the Oregon legislature repealed voluntary private school registration by adopting SB 26.

Currently, there is no law on the books requiring private schools to register with Oregon Department of Education. For Oregon’s Christian schools, that independence allows us to provide a faith-based curriculum in line with our families’ values and beliefs and free from state oversight. But that independence is at risk this session.

The Senate Committee on Education, under the chairmanship of Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) has introduced a bill, SB 223, that would require private schools to register with the state or risk their students’ ability to participate in interscholastic activities -- athletics, music, debate, etc. SB 223 uses students as leverage to force private schools, including Christian schools, to register and conform to State Board of Education criteria. According to some, it threatens religious freedom and parent choice and undermines the goal of private education. It also adds layers of bureaucracy and costs to the day-to-day management of private schools with little to no benefit to the families that are enrolled.

According to some, the underlying goal of SB 223 is to promote the safety and well-being of students. Fortunately, that’s the goal of private schools as well. In 2019, legislation was passed to ensure that students are safe, rendering this bill unnecessary. Following the global pandemic, our students should be given the opportunity to reengage with their peers, not prevented from participating in the extracurricular activities that they enjoy.

SB 223 is up for a public hearing in the Senate Committee On Education on March 17 at 3:15pm.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-12 09:01:52Last Update: 2021-03-11 14:25:11

Agency Impacts on Small Business Looked At
Most agencies merely “check the box”

State Agency impacts on small businesses in rulemaking HB2334 When the legislature passes new laws, they often then need to pass that law onto an appropriate state agency who then writes administrative rules for how the new law actually works. For example, in 2017, Oregon became the first state in the nation to impose a bike tax on the purchase of new bikes over $200 with the passage of HB 2017. Rules pertaining to the implementation, collection or expenditure of the new tax would need administrative rules written and the Department of Transportation was tasked with writing those rules.

During the last year, various state agencies took drastic measures in writing temporary and permanent administrative rules under the umbrella of public health and safety. Often these rules were written with little consideration of the impact to private businesses that would be affected by the administrative rules. This despite a current law that requires them to do so. ORS 183.336 – Cost of compliance effect on small businesses. The ORS states that the statement of cost of compliance effect on small businesses must include:

(a)An estimate of the number of small businesses subject to the proposed rule and identification of the types of businesses and industries with small businesses subject to the proposed rule;
(b)A brief description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping and other administrative activities required for compliance with the proposed rule, including costs of professional services;
(c)An identification of equipment, supplies, labor and increased administration required for compliance with the proposed rule; and
(d)A description of the manner in which the agency proposing the rule involved small businesses in the development of the rule.

HB 2334 would help reinforce the original goal by making sure that agencies actually consider the economic consequences of either temporary or permanent rules at the time the rule is being developed. During testimony, Samantha Bayer, with Oregon Farm Bureau stated that “Unfortunately, instead of earnestly undertaking the small business impacts analysis and mitigating the impacts of costly administrative rules on Oregon’s small businesses, most agencies have chosen to treat the analysis as merely a cursory “check the box” step in passing administrative rules”. She also addressed this last year which has been filled with temporary rules stating that “Under current law, agencies are not required to undertake the small business impacts analysis for temporary rules, which can last up to 180 days and subsequently be made permanent”.

Agricultural workers were also hit with their own set of changed administrative rules and some of them were very costly. Sanitation facilities went from 1 for every 20 workers to 1 for every 10. So, field sanitation units for a farm had to double almost overnight. The average cost is around $5,000 per unit. They were also required to be completely disinfected three times a day adding cleaning and labor costs onto the farm operator. The bill is sponsored by Representative Bonham (R-The Dalles) who is himself a small business owner. He owns Maupin’s Stoves and Spas in Maupin, OR. During his introduction of the bill to the committee, he reminded them that he is a small business owner, and that this bill hits close to home.

He told the committee that “what we are really hoping for, is for small business to be considered with any rulemaking change that could have a direct fiscal impact on small business and then consideration of what measures or what threshold of business could be considered to potentially remove that that undue burden on small business”.

The bill has until March 18th to be scheduled for a work session in order to move forward.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-12 08:39:23Last Update: 2021-03-12 08:59:55

Extending Voter Rolls
“Never leave a voter behind”

National news since the November election has been consume with voter fraud scenarios. One of the documented ways is ‘ballot harvesting’ where ballots are delivered to voters that have moved or died, illegally filled out, and submitted for count. HB 2681 capitalizes on this activity to increase the number of stray ballots available for fraudulent submission.

Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) is chief sponsor of HB 2681, which extends the registration of an elector indefinitely preventing removal due to an elector not voting or updating the elector’s registration. It effectively removes Oregon voter roll maintenance and creates the inability to effectively prepare for an accurate election. It is impossible to know who are electors, which opens elections to higher risk for corruption.

The bill states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the registration of an elector may not be considered inactive due to an elector not voting or updating the elector’s registration for any period of time.”

People register at local colleges and universities that never have their voter record updated from their dorms. Apartment dwellers have numerous ballots delivered to them from all the previous residents. People move out of state and seldom notify the elections office of a move, unless they register to vote from a new address. You would think that with ‘motor voter” registration that addresses would be updated by virtue of driver’s license renewals or lack thereof.

Oregon allows 10 years of inactivity before moving a voter to inactive and remove them from the voter rolls. The National Voter Registration Act only suggests four years before removal. We are way beyond that requirement at 10 years. This bill would remove this safeguard altogether and allow old registrations to pile up, available for harvesting.

The names that do get removed, through notification, each county clerk is required to report to the Secretary of State identifying each voter and reason for moving the name to inactive status during. That is after the county clerk mails a notice to each elector informing them that their registration is now inactive and the reasons. A notice is sent before both the first primary election and the first general election immediately following the inactive date. There is no privacy written in the bill to protect voter status, or the names submitted to the Secretary of State.

Delivering notices increases costs of elections, facilitates voter fraud, discloses protected voter status, and prevents the county clerk to do voter list maintenance.

People move on the average of every four years. Younger people move more often. That adds up quickly.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-12 08:31:56Last Update: 2021-03-12 08:39:23

Walkout Fine Proposed for Senate
Needs a chamber vote

In a sign that they fear another disruption to their agenda -- possibly the spate of firearms regulations pending in both chambers -- Senate Democrats have introduced a proposal to amend Senate Chamber Rules to allow the Senate President to fine state senators who are not excused from a Senate Floor Session and choose not to attend, walking out on Oregonians and abandoning their oaths of office. The amount of the proposed fine – $151 – is equal to the per diem payment that legislators receive for expenses of working in Salem for the session.

“Walking out on Oregonians is unacceptable and it’s an affront to democracy. Even worse, when Senate Republicans walk out, they continue to accept a paycheck and compensation for their daily expenses,” said Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego). “Oregonians aren’t paid when they don’t show up for work. It is unprofessional to walk out on the job and unethical to accept daily expenses when you didn’t show up for work – and stopped others from doing their jobs. Voters in Oregon expect senators to be held accountable when they refuse to show up and do the work that Oregonians sent them to Salem to do. When lawmakers take their oath of office, they swear to uphold the constitution and do the people's work.”

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) went on the offensive in response:

“As Republicans, we believe rules should be applied fairly. This rule change doesn’t go far enough. No senator should be receiving their per diem when the public is shut out of the democratic process and their Capitol.

“The Democrats think that just because they control the schedule, they can walk out whenever they want. By scheduling minimal floor sessions, they have held up the people’s work for weeks now. We have important work to do this session, but it is being held up by the Democrats. Oregonians deserve better than these performative gestures to appease radicals in their own party.”

“Each of us was elected to serve our constituents and all Oregonians. The centerpiece of legislative service is showing up on the Senate Floor to do the people’s work,” said Senator Wagner. “State Senators receive daily -- taxpayer-funded -- pay for fulfilling this basic responsibility. If they are unwilling to fulfill that responsibility, they should not receive that pay.”

The change to Senate Rule 3.10 proposed today will need to be taken up for a vote of the chamber in order to be in effect.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-11 13:02:01Last Update: 2021-03-11 14:01:52

Ranked-Choice Voting
All in one election and very confusing to the electors

Senators Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), Jeff Golden (D-Ashland), and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) want to revamp our election system with a ranked-choice method of election. SB 791 describes the ranked-choice voting as counting first and multiple choices for federal and state elections, and non-home charter counties effective January 1, 2023.

“Ranked-choice voting” is a complicated method of casting and tabulating votes in which a ballot provides the elector the option to rank the candidates in order of choice. In summary, this method gives a voter first and second choice so if the first choice is eliminated by receiving the fewest votes, the voters second choice becomes their vote. Consequently, it gives that voter two votes or an additional chance to change the initial outcome. In contrast, the person voting for the top candidate cannot double their vote to solidify their preferred candidate. As each round of elimination is completed, fewer and fewer voters will be counted in the final tally as all their choices get eliminated. Oregon Constitution, Article II, Section 1. Elections free. “All elections shall be free and equal.” How “equal” is it to eliminate voters?

Janice Dysinger with Oregonians for Fair Elections, says: “Rank Choice voting makes it very difficult to see the winner by simply tallying the votes. Instead, every vote has an alternate vote depending on the overall tally. It requires some gymnastics inside the tabulator. In fact, a special tabulator software is required. In the past you would have had one set of winners followed by a runoff election if there was a two-part election. This tries to do it all in one election and is very confusing to the electors. It will disrupt confidence in the election process.” Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) introduced SB 343, a county version of ranked-choice voting, which only applies to county elections. Some jurisdictions have adopted ranked-choice voting but none have implemented the process. The bill also provides for funding for the Secretary of State to provide compatible computers, voting machines and vote tally systems, which SB 791 does not.

It would change campaigning. You have candidates who are competing not just for a first-place position, but also working to be somebody's second- or third-choice candidate. One election may save election costs, but the system is more vulnerable to fraud and errors in each round of recount. Election reform starts with integrity in our election system.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-11 09:11:15Last Update: 2021-03-11 09:32:16

Clean Diesel Engine Taxes
If it can’t be banned, it can be taxed to death

In 2019, HB 2007 was introduced by Representatives Tina Kotek (D-Portland), Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), Rob Nosse (D-Portland), Senators Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie). It was an extensive bill aimed at eliminating diesel vehicles that pollute the air by producing carbon throughout the state.

At the time, the environmental groups came out strongly in support of the legislation. However, in an effort to reach bipartisan support, the bill was reshaped to focus on phasing out older diesel engines in the Portland Metro area ONLY. The compromise included retrofit and replacement of older on-road engines in heavy traffic areas, like the Portland area, while exempting agricultural trucks, log trucks and small truck fleets.

Two years later HB 2007 seems to have resurfaced as HB 2674. Again introduced by Representative Nosse (D-Portland). It appeared as a one page bill directing the Department of Environmental Quality to study the impacts of engine emissions on the environment and provide results of the study in a report to interim committees of Legislative Assembly no later than September 15, 2022. However, all that changed with the proposed -1 amendments also submitted by Representative Nosse.

The 48-page amendment to the original one page House bill, changes the intent of the bill from study of an issue to a mandated solution. The new intent is in the title of the amendments, the “Clean Diesel Engine Taxes.” The amendments propose the following: The compromise in HB 2007 narrowed the scope of the legislation to just the following: The initial meeting of the taskforce was to take place in the fall of 2019 and make recommendations to the legislature no later than September 2020. The taskforce would be repealed as of December 31, 2020. The taskforce held four meetings and at the final one on August 28, 2020, they reviewed a proposed timeline for how to implement the intent of HB 2007.

Sep. 2020 File Rules with Secretary of State and begin public comment period
Oct. 2020 Public Hearing
Dec. 2020 DEQ Staff Report to Environmental Quality Commission
Jan. 2021 Environmental Quality Commission Action – The final Administrative rule was filed and effective January 21, 2021
Q1 – 2021 Outreach and Develop Program Materials
Q2 – 2021 Open Grant Program
Q2 – 2021 Review Applications and Award Funding

Although HB 2674 was filed before legislative session began, it was not filed on behalf of the Supporting Businesses in Reducing Diesel Emissions Task Force. In written testimony, Erin Hansell-Heideman a Morrow and Gilliam Co. Wheat Farmer and President of the Morrow County Wheat Growers agreed stating “I know that the year-long Diesel Task Force considered many of these taxes and chose not to proceed”. So, it is unclear who the driving force is behind this legislation, and why it was introduced now when HB 2007 is only in the outreach portion of the timeline and the grant program itself is not targeted to begin until Q2 of this year. What is known is HB 2674 has drawn the attention of some of the same people that helped mitigate HB 2007 in 2019. On March 3rd, the bill was scheduled for a hearing in the House Energy and Environment Committee. However, it was never heard due to other bills that were scheduled for a work session that same day. The hearing had over 100 people submit testimony, and it was overwhelmingly in opposition to the bill. In written testimony Agelita Sanches, with Timber Unity reminded the committee that “This is a direct attack on farmers and loggers. Many of whom you exempted just a short time ago”. However, Jenny Dressler, on behalf of Oregon Farm Bureau Federation summed it up best in her written testimony when she said “OFBF opposes the proposed -1 amendments, which would levy countless new taxes on rural businesses—farmers, ranchers, and small woodland owners—in order to fund diesel engine replacement and retrofit in the densest areas of the state. Rural communities aren’t responsible for Portland’s air quality, but the -1 amendments to HB 2674 puts that responsibility squarely (and inappropriately) on our members’ shoulders. The proposed -1 amendments taxes our tires, our farm equipment, our trucks, and the dyed diesel used in off-road equipment to grow food and fiber.”

As Legislative session moves towards the March 19th deadline when bills must be scheduled for a work session so that they may be moved out of committee to their chamber floors by April 13th, it will be interesting to see if HB 2674 receives an actual hearing, a work session, or is again amended and morphs into something different.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-11 09:05:31Last Update: 2021-03-11 09:32:49

What Does COVID-19 Have to Do With Mink?
Is this prohibition in the name of public health?

If SB 832, has been introduced by Senator Prozanski (D-Eugene) on behalf of Animal Wellness Action and Center for a Humane Economy. The Animal Wellness Action based in Washington D.C. and the Center for Human Economy headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland both have similar mission statements around preventing cruelty to animals by promoting, enacting and enforcing good public policies and encouraging corporations to honor their duties to social responsibility.

If SB 832 is passed into law, all mink farms in Oregon could close by the end of the year. According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, there are 11 state-permitted mink farms in Oregon -- eight in Marion county, one in Linn and two in Clatsop. If adopted into law, Oregon would lead the nation by being the first state to adopt a prohibition on mink farming.

The legislation mandates that mink farm owners not operate unless they have tested negative for COVID-19 within previous 10 days and directs the State Department of Agriculture to establish and implement contact tracing for mink farm workers. However, even if the farm workers remain continuously COVID negative the operation of the farm would only continue until the Oregon Health Authority determines the soonest feasible date for implementing prohibition all together.

More than 85% of pelts used in the world’s fur trade come from small, family-run farms. There are an estimated 275 mink farms in the US covering 23 states. Wisconsin is the leading mink-producing state with over $2.9M in pelts produced in 2019 out of the total $59M produced US wide. Oregon is the 4th largest producer in the US. Today’s farm-raised mink are among the world’s best cared-for livestock and are nationally regulated. In addition, mink farmers voluntarily adhere to stricter codes of animal husbandry than many other species farmers. So why are the mink farms being target for extinction in Oregon? The bill does not state why, but rather appears to tie the mink and mink farmers to COVID-19 disease transmission. The bill may also be looking to legally address the elimination of mink farms after an experience in Denmark last fall where a COVID-19 mutation appeared in a mink farm. In response to that mutation, Denmark ordered farms to exterminate the entire mink population of the Country -- a total of 17 million minks. However, the legality of such an order is now being questioned and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has apologized for the killing calling it a “regrettable mistake” and admitting the government may not have had the legal jurisdiction to kill so many animals. Passing SB 832 would circumvent any legalities of ordering the elimination of the mink and the mink farms.

However, the Centers for Disease Control says, “At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.” The CDC did note that people spread the COVID-19 virus to mink, and that mink can spread the virus to other mink. However, “the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low”.

With such a small portion of the total global market, some might say that eliminating mink farming in Oregon will only affect a few farms and with go a long way to protect those in the state. Marc Kaufman, a fur merchant in New York City whose family has been in the business since 1870 would agree with that line of thinking. He states in an NBC News report on December 1,2020 that there is no reason for his industry to worry. “With furs, if it’s not made one place, it’s made some place else. Demand is there and need for the product is there. If Copenhagen doesn’t farm the skins, Russia will. If Russia doesn’t, China will. Either way there is gonna be a supply because there is demand.”

However, with no concrete evidence that mink farms or specifically Oregon mink farms are contributors to COVID-19 transmission, it begs to question if the requestors of the bill are asking for this prohibition in the name of public health, or is it an excuse to legally eliminate an industry that has been under fire by animal activist groups for years?

SB 832 has not been scheduled for a hearing so these questions may all be answered during the public heearing.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-11 08:55:40Last Update: 2021-03-11 09:05:31

River Wars
Keyboard warriors zoom into Capitol committee hearings

Tuesday night in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on several bills, including HB 2734 that would create a new “excise tax” of 5% on purchase of wake boats, equipment, storage and transportation. HB 2725 would in effect ban all motor sports on the “Newberg Pool” of the river which after the Oregon State Marine Board banned wake surfing on most of the rest of the river, would effectively ban it on the entire river.

In the hearing, the panel of proponents included one Senator, one Representative and as an “expert” a homeowner on the river. Each was given as much time as they needed while over 75 people were waiting to testify for or against -- most were against. One homeowner in fact took over 20 minutes to go through her slide show. When Representative Jami Cate (R-Lebanon) pointed that she doesn’t live on the portion of the river that currently allows wake surfing -- she lives on a banned portion -- she was not allowed to elaborate on why that was important.

Then, after the panel, no opponent panel was called on, it was on to public testimony. The Chair, Brad Witt, ended the hearing leaving over 35 people hanging. They decided to voice their opinions anyway as the meeting quickly spiraled out of control -- including one person from Willamette Riverkeepers who testified with his middle finger. The chair tried to get it back but instead ordered the committee staff to shut it down.

One citizen filed a complaint.

I would like to formally complain about the rude aggressive behavior of the scientific presenter from the Willamette Riverkeeper Travis Williams (see attached photos) who made threatening and disgusting gestures and mouthed profanity on screen during my statement to the Committee.

I would ask that he be sanctioned and not allowed to appear at future public gatherings on this topic, as it appears he poses an on going risk for harassment to these opposing his views.

This is indicative of how the super-majority Democrats are running committees in this “virtual” setting. There are increasing compliants of limited time for opponents, limited testimony, limited hearings and a generally chaotic environment.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-10 18:43:11Last Update: 2021-03-10 19:14:05

Bi-Partisan Coalition Calls for Independent Redistricting
“Voters should choose their politicians. Politicians shouldn’t choose their voters”

At a press conference today, House Redistricting Vice Chair Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) and House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) were joined by Former State Representative Jeff Barker, a Democrat and Independent Party of Oregon co-chair Andrew Kaza to call for an independent redistricting commission to ensure a fair and accountable process.

“It’s vital that new legislative districts accurately reflect the electorate, and without access to 2020 Census data, lawmakers should not be the ones drawing their own new boundaries,” stated Rep. Boshart Davis. “We need to pass legislation to get the responsibility out of the hands of partisan legislators and into a nonpartisan, independent commission.”

“Oregon voters should choose their politicians, politicians shouldn’t choose their voters. It’s a conflict of interest,” added Leader Drazan. “The independent commission we’re proposing would ensure the accountability and transparency that Oregonians deserve for fair representation from their lawmakers.”

“The current system is vulnerable to political gerrymandering which is detrimental to voting integrity,” said Hon. Barker. “This proposal would greatly reduce this risk by removing politicians from the process.”

“Political gerrymandering can destroy the public’s confidence in the electoral process,” stated IPO co-chair, Andrew Kaza. “We should remove all doubt that this year’s redistricting process is anything less than just and impartial by handing responsibility over to an independent commission.”

Leader Drazan’s work with House Joint Resolution 7 intends to create the pathway to establish an independent redistricting commission to carry out this process.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-10 14:55:22Last Update: 2021-03-10 15:02:01

Is Racial Equity Equal Justice?
At what point does it become “reverse discrimination?”

The introduction of HB 3363 is one in a string of so called “equity” bills intended to bring justice to an unfair republic system.

Introduced by Representatives Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), Ricki Ruiz (D-Gresham), and Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), HB 3363 establishes a Racial Equity and Justice Student Council of 15 students, two administrators and two cultural representatives appointed by the Governor. The council essentially becomes an agency that is compensated. The Governor appoints members as a way to promote her agenda in schools, indoctrinating the next generation in socialism through equity justice. The purposes of the council are to advise the Governor’s office, the Legislative Assembly, the State Board of Education, the Department of Education, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the Early Learning Division and the Youth Development Division on education police, consideration of racial equity and justice at local levels, reimagining student leadership programs, providing support for underserved students, and establish a hotline as a resource.

The Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), is sponsoring SB 732 requiring school districts to establish an educational equity advisory committee. SB 732 is no ordinary handout to the underserved. This committee would act as an unelected board member with veto power.

The Governor is also using “equity” against schools. She requested HB 2166 for the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene an advisory group to review equity in the education system for all grades from prekindergarten through post-secondary education. Wait a minute, isn’t the Governor the Superintendent? What is equity except an excuse to micromanage school districts?

So what is “equity” that it has become the current political platform for leadership? SB 582, Senator Michael Dembrow’s bill, the -1 Amendment Section 2 (8) defines ‘Equity’ as meaning

“the effort to provide different levels of support based on an individual’s or group’s needs in order to achieve fairness in outcomes and the acknowledgment that not all people and communities are starting from the same place due to historic and current systems of oppression. Equity requires the redistribution of resources, power and opportunity to communities most impacted by systemic oppression.”

You read that correctly, “redistribution” of wealth, right out of the socialist play book. SB 582 includes an equity study on the availability of opportunities and barriers in the recycling system for women and minority ‘underprivileged’ individuals. The ‘underpriveleged’ also shows up in HB 3112, which establishes the Cannabis Equity Board within the Governor’s office to provide equity oversight of cannabis industry in this state.

Governor Kate Brown has put forth a number of “equity” seeking bills. HB 2161 directs office of Governor in consultation with the Racial Justice Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee, to study laws related to economic opportunity, with a focus on policy changes that address racial equity in economic opportunity of those who experience systemic economic disadvantages in business creation, as well as access to traditional capital and wealth creation redistributing wealth to small businesses owned by members of minorities. She also requested SB 289, which directs the office of Governor, in consultation with Racial Justice Council’s Environmental Equity Committee, to study laws related to the environment with a focus on potential policy changes that address environmental equity. Of course, these studies are to give their reports by September 15, 2022, before she leaves office. Representative Diego Hernandez, who will be leaving the legislature soon, also jumped on the equity band wagon introducing HB 2566 and HB 2567, which directs the Secretary of State to establish a task force on Audit Equity Analysis, and to study and make recommendations regarding best practices for conducting audits related to equity issues, and to conduct a performance audit that includes objectives related to equity issues by December 31 this year.

Not to be left out Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) introduced HB 2353 that requires agencies to include in rulemaking notice a statement identifying how adoption of the rule will affect racial equity.

Let’s not leave energy out. SB 247 directs the Department of Energy to study opportunities and challenges in Oregon for renewable energy, energy equity and development of clean energy workforce. If energy doesn’t hit home, then perhaps SB 167 will. Senator Lee Beyer’s bill provides that assessed value of property that is not be greater than a formula is also not to be greater than a value determined to be necessary to effect fairness and equity in assessed values of property and property in same area in same property class.

Health wasn’t left out of this equity game. HB 2505 directs Governor's Child Foster Care Advisory Commission to establish Child Welfare Equity Advisory Committee to advise the commission and Department of Human Services regarding equitable provision of child welfare services. HB 2760 and SB 70 defines "Regional Health Equity Coalition" and "Regional Health Equity Coalition model," and requires Oregon Health Authority to work with the Regional Health Equity Coalitions and groups utilizing the Regional Health Equity Coalition model, which is to recognizes the impact of structural, institutional and interpersonal racism on the health and well-being of communities of color and other priority populations. And Medicaid gets an overhaul in HB 3353 seeking federal approval to permit coordinated care organizations to use a portion of global budgets to improve health equity, improve overall health of community or enhance payments to providers who advance health equity.

At what point does it become "reverse discrimination?" The majority of bills introduced have some overriding benefit or handout to the 'underprivileged' ‘underserved’ to such an extent that socialism has taken over. Oregon's population is 85.06% white. So, these bills represent 15% of the total population. How much does the 85% have to give through taxes, jobs, opportunities, businesses before it violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. which says: “No State make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privilege or immunities of citizens of the United States;… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Governor Brown continues to separate and divide society by racial application of laws in lieu of "equal treatment" for everyone. Top down mandates under the disguise of equity is dividing the state through unnatural, guarded relations. The more equity measures, the less equitable everyone feels.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-10 06:31:12Last Update: 2021-03-10 08:11:15

Commercial Rent Relief Grants Announced
Supposedly to help small businesses

The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board allocated $100 million to Business Oregon for a new program to provide financial assistance to small businesses and commercial landlords impacted by the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.

The program provides grants to building owners to cover outstanding lease payments from small business tenants that are behind on rent due to the government mandated lockdown. The grants can go up to $100,000 per each business tenant lease, but not more than $3 million for each landlord. The landlord must agree not to evict the tenant for six months and waive any rights to collect outstanding penalties or interest, or enforce eviction clauses related to the delinquent lease payments between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021.

The program is intended to help small business tenants that have 100 or fewer employees. The agreement will include additional stipulations for tenants, such as non-eviction clauses, and a waiver of penalties and interest.

The program will open for applications on Monday, March 8. Both the business tenant and property owner will need to participate in the application process and sign the grant agreement, but the initial application needs to be completed by the landlord. The application period will be open for two weeks, with eligible submissions chosen by a lottery system that will also ensure geographic distribution across all regions of the state. The program is split into two rounds, the first $50 million will be allocated in the application period that is opening March 8. The remaining will be used in an additional application period that will open in late April. Unsuccessful (but eligible) applicants from the first round will automatically be considered in the second round, as will any new round two applicants.

This is the seventh COVID-specific program Business Oregon has implemented to help businesses navigate the impacts of the government mandated lockdown. One of those programs — the emergency small business grant — gave about 7,500 small businesses with $43 million in grants to help offset revenue impacts from the lockdown.

More program information and eligibility details are available on Business Oregon’s website. The application will be available on that website on March 8, 2021, and be available in multiple languages.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-09 20:09:25Last Update: 2021-03-09 20:23:43

Drazan Calls Out Majority Leader
Minority has a shared governing role amid Democrats’ attempts to dictate process

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) made the following remarks during Tuesday’s floor session regarding the Capitol building’s public access restrictions and attempts by House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) to marginalize the participation of Republican members:

“We are not here to facilitate the ease of the passage of someone else’s agenda that harms my community and my state long-term.”

The statement was made following a decision by Republicans not to dispense with Article IV, Section 19 of the Oregon State Constitution, which requires that all bills be read aloud. Ordinarily, because of the length of the bills, the chamber is able to get a two-thirds majority and merely read the title of the bill. The operative section of the Oregon Constitution reads:

Every bill shall be read by title only on three several days, in each house, unless in case of emergency two-thirds of the house where such bill may be pending shall, by a vote of yeas and nays, deem it expedient to dispense with this rule; provided, however, on its final passage such bill shall be read section by section unless such requirement be suspended by a vote of two-thirds of the house where such bill may be pending, and the vote on the final passage of every bill or joint resolution shall be taken by yeas and nays.

View Leader Drazan’s full remarks in the video below.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-09 16:49:57Last Update: 2021-03-09 16:58:58

Women in Prisons
When girls go bad, gender roles take a beating in law

HB 3096 exposes a paradox of some of the more extreme gender constructs that permeate our culture today. We are increasingly told that gender is fluid, subjective and non-binary -- an elusive and even out-moded way of categorizing and boxing-in human beings.

Occasionally, reality hits us smack in the face and we have to affirm the existence of gender so that we can create effective policies and govern ourselves in a sane way. HB 3096, introduced by Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland), calls for the Oregon Department of Corrections to study issues specific to women in custody of department and to provide results of study to Legislative Assembly. This is probably a good thing. It's not hard to imagine that the crime/punishment experience of women is different than that of men, and that different policies might make sense.

The bill has an amendment readied for it, which looks likely to be adopted. The amendment fully recognizes the binary, non-fluid, non-subjective classification of gender -- based in science -- and intends to craft policy appropriate to those facts. For instance, the amendment says,

"Gender-responsive" means taking into account gender-specific needs that have been identified in research, including but not limited to socialization, psychological development, strengths, risk factors, pathways through systems, responses to treatment intervention and other unique gender-specific needs facing justice-involved persons.

One wonders, if this is to pass, how transgendered, lesbian and other subjective, self-described gender models fit into this legislation. One also wonders how the concept of "Disparate impact" applies. Disparate impact is the notion that if outcomes are disproportionately distributed across race or gender, that this is prima facie evidence of discrimination. How do we regard the fact that only 7.7% of inmates incarcerated in Oregon's prisons are women?

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-09 12:03:12Last Update: 2021-03-09 12:41:01

You Big Meanie
Definitions proposed for “coercive control”

State Representative Courtney Neron has introduced HB 3186 which attempts to define "coercive control" in the context of the Family Abuse Prevention Act in ORS 107.700

The basic part of the bill is in Section 2:

A person exercises coercive control over another when the person engages in a pattern of threatening, humiliating or intimidating action that is designed to isolate and exploit the other person, including:
(1) Isolating the other person from friends and family;
(2) Controlling how much money is accessible to the other person and how it is spent;
(3) Monitoring the other person’s activities, communications and movements;
(4) Name-calling, degradation and frequently demeaning the other person;
(5) Threatening to harm or kill the other person or a child or relative of the other person;
(6) Threatening to publish information or make false reports to a law enforcement agency regarding the other person;
(7) Damaging the other person’s property or household goods; and
(8) Forcing the other person to take part in criminal activity or child abuse.

While the sentiment behind these additions may be nice, the language is significantly vague so as to be problematic. The vague definitions in the bill almost invite another sort of abuse or neglect in which care -- or appropriate oversight -- is withheld in an attempt to limit legal liability.

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-09 09:57:14Last Update: 2021-03-09 22:39:03

Law Would Eliminate Filer’s Ability to Write Own Argument
Rayfield wants to dramatically change initiative process

Representative Dan Rayfield (D)Corvallis has introduced HB 2684, which would require the Oregon Secretary of State or county clerk, rather than filer, to designate argument filed for publication in voters' pamphlet as either supporting or opposing a ballot measure.

Rayfield has been trying to change how elections in Oregon work now for at least 5 years in the Oregon legislature, including a bill that would allow 17-year-olds to vote. He has again introduced additional legislative concepts that would change how these important processes work.

House Bill 2684 would put into law one of many election changes that have been proposed by the state Democrats as of late, and it would fundamentally alter one of the only independent processes that Oregon citizens are currently entitled to which the legislature is not traditionally a part of.

The initiative and referendum processes allow people to propose laws or amendments to the state Constitution, or adopt or reject a bill passed by the Oregon Legislature.

If chief petitioners gather and submit the required number of signatures, the initiative or referendum is placed on the ballot for voters to adopt or reject.

If Rayfield's idea passes through the supermajority Democrat Oregon legislature, the freedom to write ones own argument in the voter's pamphlet may soon be gone.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-09 02:58:12Last Update: 2021-03-09 23:04:32

Northwest Observer Outed
A look at the dark origins of First Amendment practices

Well, the cat is out of bag, so to speak. State Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) announced in a recent tweet that her colleague, Mike Nearman (R-Independence) is behind the media company, the Northwest Observer. She's even posted a screen shot of the Secretary of State's business registry record for the Northwest Observer, which is too small to read, but the media company is corroborating the information.

When asked if he was the brains behind the Northwest Observer, Representative Nearman quipped, "That would pre-suppose that I have brains, wouldn't it?"

Speculation was rampant in the newsroom today that the recent article on Representative Power's bill to ban diesel fuel in Oregon got on Representative Power's radar and created enough negative activity, that she was compelled to research who was behind the Northwest Observer.

Nearman was asked for more specifics about his involvement with the Northwest Observer. He said that he works with a large and diverse group and does some writing -- though he admitted that mostly he just copies and pastes press releases.

He said that he did much of the work on the website, which he says is still evolving. "Back when I used to do honest work for a living, I was a software engineer," Nearman said. "She's welcome to subscribe. If she puts her email in the subscribe box, she'll get daily updates."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-08 17:36:20Last Update: 2021-03-08 20:34:33

Letting 16-Year-Olds Vote
This is a Constitutional question

Regarding eligibility for voting, Article II of the Oregon Constitution, is pretty clear:

(1) Every citizen of the United States is entitled to vote in all elections not otherwise provided for by this Constitution if such citizen:
(a) Is 18 years of age or older;
(b) Has resided in this state during the six months immediately preceding the election, except that provision may be made by law to permit a person who has resided in this state less than 30 days immediately preceding the election, but who is otherwise qualified under this subsection, to vote in the election for candidates for nomination or election for President or Vice President of the United States or elector of President and Vice President of the United States; and
(c) Is registered not less than 20 calendar days immediately preceding any election in the manner provided by law.

SB 776, introduced by Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) looks to undermine the constitution and shift who can vote in school board of director elections. The bill would change a section of law, not the constitution, and permit individuals who are 16 or 17 years of age to cast ballots specifically in school district elections. Within the bill Section 2 reads:

(1) Notwithstanding ORS 247.016(2) or 255.005(6), an individual may vote in all school district elections, including the nomination and election of school directors, if the individual:
(a) Is 16 or 17 years of age;
(b) Has registered to vote in the manner described in ORS 247.012;
(c) Resides at an address that is within the geographic boundaries of the area eligible to cast ballots in the school district election.

What this means is, to vote in a school board election an individual only needs to be over 16 years of age, register to vote more than 20 days prior to the election, typically prior to the May Special Districts Elections, and reside within the school district boundaries.

The constitutional undermining portion of SB 776 is where it references ORS 255.005(6). This statute contains the definitions used in laws governing school board elections. Section 6 defines elector as:

(6) an individual qualified to vote under section 2, Article II, Oregon Constitution

The age in the constitution is 18. This bill is making an exception to the Oregon Constitution and changes the voting age for a specific public office.

There are also other potential consequences in the bill. In the laws that govern who is eligible to seek office as a school board member (director), it states in ORS 332.018:

(2) No person shall be eligible to serve as director unless the person is an elector of the district and has resided therein for the period of one year immediately preceding the election or appointment.

The question needs to be asked, does changing the meaning of elector in SB 776 also change the definition of elector for who is now eligible to serve as a school board member? Maybe that question will be asked and answered when the bill receives a hearing March 11th in the Senate Committee on Rules.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-08 16:04:32Last Update: 2021-03-08 16:25:29

Historic Sites in Oregon to Remain Closed for Another Year
More than two years of lockdown

The interior areas of three historic sites in northern Curry County will remained closed through April 2022 in response to the government mandated lockdown, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) announces.

At Cape Blanco State Park, the Hughes House and Cape Blanco Lighthouse will be closed to tours during this timeframe. The Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum at Port Orford Heads State Park will also be closed. Visitors will only be allowed outside due to the mandated lockdowns.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and due to the current uncertainty, we and our partners decided to keep these facilities closed,” said Casey Nielsen, who manages both parks. “All the staff, volunteers and partners are looking forward to a time when we can safely reopen these interpretative locations and share the rich history in Curry County."

The facilities have remained closed since March 23, 2020, when the virus first hit Oregon. OPRD has kept museums, meeting halls and other indoor facilities closed in response to statewide lockdowns oredered by Governor Kate Brown.

Visitors are being told by ORPD to continue to follow health protocols while visiting state parks: limit the size of gatherings, wear face coverings, give space to others and wash hands often. For more information on what to expect while visiting state parks during the lockdown, visit the ORPD COVID-19 FAQ page.

The Hughes House and Lifeboat Station Museum are operated in partnership between OPRD and the Cape Blanco Heritage Society. OPRD operates the Cape Blanco Lighthouse in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Cape Blanco Heritage Society, Coquille Indian Tribe, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Curry County.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-08 14:19:25Last Update: 2021-03-08 14:46:11

Community College Boundary Expansion Bills Advance
Klamath and Lane County Community Colleges will grow.

Reprsentative E. Werner Reschke (R-Malin) is hoping that residents of North Lake county will soon be served by Klamath Community College instead of the distant Central Oregon Community College. HB 2089 and HB 2091 passed in the House chamber today, carried by Representatives Reschke and Boomer Wright (R-Coos Bay), respectively. HB 2091 expands the district boundaries of Lane Community College.

“I am in favor of expanding the northern boundary that Klamath Community College serves in Lake County, for the simple reason that I know how capable and effective Klamath Community College has been in its efforts to reach out to communities that are not necessarily located just around the corner from its local campus. This is a win for the students and for everyone involved,” said Rep. Reschke. Next, both bills are headed to the State Senate where they are expected to pass, and if so, then to the Governor’s office for her signature.

E. Werner Reschke is State Representative for House District 56, which encompasses southern Klamath and Lake counties.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-08 13:54:56Last Update: 2021-03-08 14:54:09

The Collapse of Small Business, Part III
Businesses will see their unemployment insurance tax rates go up

Editor's note: This is the third and last of a three-part series on the collapse of small business in Oregon and is reprinted with permission from the blog of Echo Alexzander She and her husband owned FIRST Corvallis, a massage therapy clinic

The National Cost

In part 1 of the series, we reviewed the financial costs and the joke that was failed federal, state, and county-level emergency funding and support for businesses that were deemed by their government non-essential, or worse, made illegal to operate like ours. Part 2 gave a glimpse into the mental health impacts and prices paid by devastated business owners trying to survive and save their life long dream and passion.

As you drive down your main street, through downtown or the historic districts, you likely can't help but see boarded-up businesses, commercial for rent or for lease signs, or just dark vacant windows where a bustling business once operated.

By May of 2020, an estimated 2% of small businesses had closed forever. The impact? Over 100,000 small businesses closed in America in just a few short months. By August of that year, the headlines escalated to state 'Small Businesses Are Dying by the Thousands — And No One Is Tracking the Carnage.' That seems concerning. Shouldn't we want to find out the impact and find ways to stop this trend as quickly as possible? One study by December estimated as many as 800 small businesses a day were permanently closing in the US.

Another study estimated that the impact was that our country stands to lose $3 trillion to $4 trillion in GDP over the next two years (2021 and 2022) due to COVID-19 "pandemic" closures and business shutdowns.

What do those businesses and numbers mean to local communities?

The Climate of Small Business Attack

That isn't how I would like to title my segment on rebuilding small businesses in America, but it feels like the current culture we as small business owners are fighting to survive in. Surely there must be hope on the horizon, right?

Beyond the obvious issue of Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco being essential and small businesses not, what has the US political and financial climate become for businesses to rebuild themselves in?

Here the headline from Bloomberg:

IRS Plans a 50% Ramp-Up in Audits of Small Businesses Next Year

Why are these being targeted by the IRS? Is this really where there are the most impactful corruption or fraud concerns or are these the ones not involving any important wealthy people, politicians, etc.?

When this article was discussed on a Facebook page I follow at the end of 2020, I expressed my outrage at this insanity and was reminded by another discussion participant that this is how communism starts, the loss of private sector business ownership. What do you think?

How did Oregon close out 2020 for small businesses? An increase in taxes targeted on small businesses. They shared "According to the Oregon Employment Department, about 124,000 businesses will see their unemployment insurance tax rates go up for 2021, about 85% of all businesses in the state."

How can this strategy be beneficial to rebuilding? I'll help answer that one, it isn't.

Community Understanding

I think if more Americans understand these impacts, how these closures affect all of us, and how we can make changes in the future, we will be collectively better off. Why do I know we aren't yet there? Because of how one of our own long-standing customers responded to our situation.

By and large, the customer responses to the closure announcement of our business were of their overwhelming love, support, understanding, and empathy.

However, there were others that pointed to where we had clearly been responsible for this business failure based on our personal choices and not working hard enough, or long enough. Sadly she felt the need to reach out to us and place blame in this way: “Running a small business is a challenge. It is 24/7 - hardly a day off - especially for the first years. From your postings, I know you two like to take trips and being away from your business like that is fatal to any kind of growth.”

No. No business should run your life. Of course, there are likely to be seasons of hustle and long hours as an entrepreneur, but life is too short and precious to live this way 24/7 after eight years. This isn’t healthy or sustainable. There are ways to succeed in business and as an entrepreneur and I promise this isn’t it.

No friends, this was not the issue. In fact, it’s sad this email made no mention that there could be a health challenge or government-imposed crisis impacting our economy. That they believed their assumption about our personal lives would be our business demise is sad.

--Echo Alexzander

Post Date: 2021-03-08 09:49:01Last Update: 2021-03-05 18:37:25

School Equity Advisory Committees
Effectively serves as an unelected member with veto power

Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) chairs the Senate Committee on Education, which is sponsoring SB 732 that requires school districts to establish an educational equity advisory committee.

The legislative session has been jam-packed with “equity” bills, but SB 732 is no ordinary handout to the underserved. The bill starts with a disclaimer, “Nothing in this section shall interfere with the duties, responsibilities and rights of duly elected school district boards.” But, then it goes on to establish at each school district an educational equity advisory committee that effectively serves as an unelected school board member with veto power.

The Equity Advisory Committee would advise the school district board and superintendent: Schools that have experienced equity teams report that they have caused students and families to leave public schools because they do not agree with their agenda. Equity teams have also caused some strife among staff members. With the addition of this type of political speech, it could further cause declines in enrollment causing families to homeschool or move to private schools.

The committee creates a shadow board that isn’t accountable to parents or the school district. It reports to the legislature taking jurisdiction from the district school boards.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-08 07:21:00Last Update: 2021-03-09 20:32:03

Substitute Teachers as Union Members
Is this an expansion of government?

Annually the Oregon Department of Education is responsible for calculating the minimum pay rates for substitute teachers in Oregon Public Schools. The daily salary is defined as “the prior year average annual salary of beginning teachers who hold a bachelor's degree divided by 190 days”.

An ODE Executive Memorandum for the 2020-2021 school year stated the following rates for substitutes: In situations where a substitute is needed to teach for more than 8 consecutive days (4 day a week schools) or 10 consecutive days (5 day a week schools) there is an additional law guiding the calculation for long term sub rates.

Substitute teachers are paid either directly by the district or through the Educational Service District where the school in need is located. They are paid wages only and are currently not eligible for other benefits. Benefits that are collectively bargained by year-round employees of a school district. These benefits may include reimbursement for continuing education, additional pay for extra duty activities, PERS contribution rates and health insurance.

HB 3130 introduced by Representative Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville) looks to expand some collectively bargained benefits to substitute teachers by considering them employees of school district.

A teacher employed as a substitute teacher for one or more days at a time by the same school district shall be considered an employee of the school district and eligible for retirement benefits as an employee (PERS) and eligible for health benefit plans as an eligible employee.

Substitute teachers often work for multiple districts and each of those districts typically have different collective bargaining contracts with regards to benefits. School districts and local teachers’ unions negotiate many contractual provisions, but one negotiated item is health insurance contribution rates. For example, a district may pay 100% of the benefit cost for fulltime employees and 50% for part-time employees. Those benefits are collectively bargained by the union representatives for the benefit of their members who are employees of the district. Substitute teachers are not a part of the collective bargaining units in any of the districts that they may choose to work in. This bill falls short of addressing critical questions. First, which district pays the benefit for the substitute teacher that works one or more days in school district A and one or more days in school district B? If a substitute works in multiple districts during the year, which collective bargaining agreement applies to the substitute teacher? The bill also states that the substitute teacher, after teaching for one or more days, shall be considered an employee of the district. Are they considered a full-time employee or a part-time employee and of which district and which collective bargaining agreement?

In addition, the bill has a retroactive portion which could cause financial obligations for school districts that have not budgeted for the additional cost. The bill states:

To the extent allowed by public employees’ retirement law and health benefit plans under ORS 243.105 to 243.285, a teacher shall be eligible for any benefits that would have accrued to the teacher under ORS 342.610 (5), as amended by section 1 of this 2021 Act, between the 2017-2018 school year and the effective date of this 2021 Act.

Not only could this be costly for school districts, but it could also be extremely hard to track. For the 2017-18 school year until today, districts could have re-negotiated collective bargaining agreements. So, if there is a benefit claim for 2017-18, does the school district where the substitute worked apply the formula from the collective bargaining agreement in place during the time of the claim, or apply the agreement that is in place currently? Does the substitute teacher make claims against multiple districts if they worked in more than one school district? Healthcare benefits would be impossible to do retroactively so the assumption is that the retroactive clause in Section 2 of the bill will only be applicable to PERS contributions, but again the bill is unclear.

The bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Business and Labor, so maybe these questions will be answered at that point in time.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-07 21:03:45Last Update: 2021-03-07 21:18:46

The Minimum Wage Saga Continues
Minimum wage increase back up for discussion

After a failure to move legislation through the 2015 Legislative Session. Oregon minimum wage proponents brought SB 1532 to the legislature during the short session of 2016. It was one of the most contentious bills of the session. The hard-fought bill was introduced as a tiered approach, but the dollar amount for the tiers was left blank. Over the next month, the bill moved though the Senate on a party line vote and then to the House where it moved out of committee to the floor of the House on another party line vote.

On February 18, 2016, demonstrators in favor of the bill chanted outside Governor Brown's office and pounded on the outer walls of the House chamber. It forced deliberations to be stopped and the State Police to barricade lawmakers inside the chamber. After nearly six hours of debate, SB 1532
The tiered approach passed into law carved the state into three zones with different glide paths to reaching close to $15 in at least one of the zones by June 30, 2023

However, a group of first term legislators believe that this glidepath is no longer good enough and instead it needs to be a steep ramp to $17.00 in all three zones. HB 3351 was introduced by Representative Wlnsvey Campos (D-Aloha).

The bill dismantles the zones and jumps everyone in all three zones to $17.00 per hour July 1, 2023. For rural parts of Oregon, this would be a 27% increase.

The bill has not been assigned to a committee but will most likely be sent to the House Business and labor Committee which is the same committee it went to in 2016. The difference between 2016 and 2021, however, is that there are only two committee members that were on that committee in 2016, Committee Chair Representative Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) and Representative Evans (D-Monmouth). In addition, of the other nine members of the committee, only three of them were in the Legislature in 2016; Representatives Post (R-Keizer), Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), and Brian Clem (D-Salem). With the majority of the committee being new to the minimum wage conversation, it could make for a replay of the battle of 2016.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-07 20:55:25Last Update: 2021-03-08 17:07:26

The Collapse of Small Business, Part II
We must be honest about the full impact here,

Editor's note: This is the second of a three-part series on the collapse of small business in Oregon and is reprinted with permission from the blog of Echo Alexzander She and her husband owned FIRST Corvallis, a massage therapy clinic

The Mental Health Impact

We left off in the part 1 blog with the reality of the financial impacts that 'non-essential' small businesses like ours were facing in 2020, the actual figures. Think of how you might feel if you lost your business that had been your passion for 8-10 years. What emotions might you experience as you watched your finances slip away?

As a bodyworker, how would you feel getting desperate texts and emails from your clients asking when they can see you, and knowing that it was illegal in your state for you to practice your licensed profession to be able to help them?

Confusion. Depression. A feeling of an absolute and complete loss; many of the phases of grief including denial and anger. Mental health is a cause that we speak out on often. This is also something that has been a large focus of James' business and he has put countless hours into advocating for himself and others. From personal interviews with OSU graduate students studying PTSD, to forming community support groups under The Archangel Programs (T.A.Ps) where James built a rucking crew with over 90 members to support fitness and build community while battling mental health stigmas and supporting people, James and I will never stop speaking out to bring awareness and healing. (If you don't know about rucking I've blogged about Rucking Fitness Adventures before).

How did we as a society come to this place of inflicting this abuse onto select business owners in our free nation?

How can we define who is essential?

Don't Jump.

I was so taken by how Mike Rowe described his December 17th interview on Hannity, I had to just point to him and that post on his Facebook page. Jump over there to read it and then hurry back, we have more to talk through! I can only echo Mike's message of encouragement to all of the others in our same position:

"To those millions of Americans who have lost your livelihoods, now teetering on the edge your own metaphorical bridge, wondering if perhaps you’re worth more dead than alive, I say this: You still matter. You are still essential to someone, even if only to yourself. Why? Because you are still a part of a great tapestry - a single tile in a mighty mosaic that connects us all. And, because you are still loved. Which is a long way of saying, don’t jump."

What if it is too late for them?

Deaths of Despair

I believe how businesses and other non-essential citizens have been treated is a significant contributor to the ‘deaths of despair’ that I wrote about in the Not My New Normal blog.

Did you know that throughout most of 2020, there were as many suicides in Oregon as COVID deaths? But I guess those lives didn’t matter since they don’t flood our local news headlines. And I guess our concern wasn't actually the health of Oregonians or Americans, only those dying of this popular new headline cause.

The final point I will make on mental health here is to please do not cast your beliefs on those who are struggling. I say that speaking from an experience of one of our long term clients. She emailed us in response to our notice of our business closure to blame us that our 'taking too much time off' and 'not working our business '24/7/365' as the cause of our downfall. Not COVID, not government shutdowns and tyranny against small businesses (remember, big businesses were always essential), but her impression of our business management. How sad, how naive, and how hurtful.

But weren't the lockdowns in states like Oregon justified by their data?

So much for following 'the science'

I will let the headlines and data speak for themselves in late January 2021: OREGON HAS 4TH FEWEST VIRUS CASES, YET AMONG STRICTEST LOCKDOWNS

Don't be misled that the low case numbers there are thanks to the lockdowns. States that never implemented lockdowns have lower cases than Oregon. Looking at actual numbers is always eye-opening. We must be honest about the full impact here, on our children, our businesses and economies, and beyond.

Re-injuring Oregon

As I write this blog, we have already fled our home state of Oregon where we are still making good on our long-term lease paying rent to a landlord in a state we no longer live or do business in until that space can be rented to another tenant. #BeAPersonOfYourWord

Surely now that many businesses on the EO 20-12 have been allowed to re-opened to 100% capacity, these are all things of the past right?!? No. They continue to be threatened, locked down, heavily restricted, and wholly unsupported by their state leaders.

Our business never got above 20% capacity after the initial shut down. From March until December each time there was a new shut down in any sector (even if we weren’t impacted) our clients still reacted and our volumes fell further and further to 15% and 12% of what we started. So no, just “re-opening” all business 100% won’t immediately resolve all issues, though it will be a good starting point and must be done ASAP.

How many citizens like me lost ‘disposable’ income to take advantage of services like haircuts or self-care in the form of things like acupuncture or massage?

I did. I've shared our business impact for my husband James, but my personal example has come from work as a contracted consultant in the healthcare IT industry for six and a half years. In that time, I have not been without a contract for longer than two weeks on average. In 2020, I ended a contract as anticipated on 7/31/20 and was without work for almost 27 weeks. So as the primary breadwinner, the reality became for us that I was forced to apply for unemployment for the first time in my life (and I have worked since I was 14 years old).

--Echo Alexzander

Post Date: 2021-03-07 09:56:16Last Update: 2021-03-05 18:37:15

School Choice is White Privilege
Choice for me, but not for thee

Last September, the Senate Committee on Education met in an informational meeting to discus Equity in Education Policy Proposals and have a panel discussion that included Kali Thorne Ladd, Executive Director of KairosPDX which describes itself as "a non-profit organization focused on delivering excellent, equitable education to underserved children, their families and their communities." It's a public charter school located in inner Northeast Portland.

During the discussion, Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) asks the panel a broad and simple question, "Are you supportive -- and the groups you're associated with -- of more school choice for parents to be able to dictate where they want their child to be educated?"

After a pause, Thorne Ladd takes up the answer.

"...Choice definitely disproportionately favors privileged children -- mostly white -- and definitely middle class. And as such, becasue the public education system is to educate all children and all children don't exercise choice, I don't think the answer is having lots of choice." Thorne Ladd continues, clearly recognizing her own hypocrisy, and calls herself out.

"Now, I say that, recognizing that I do run a public charter. I think we found that the black children were failing at such high rates that we wanted to find an option that could yield different results."

In other words, the local public schools were failing at such high rates, so we created an alternative charter school -- school choice -- but we don't think this is the answer.

It causes one to wonder, why the negative cast on the value of choice, which most people think is generally a good thing, and specifically could be a great tool to help resolve the problem of failing inner-city schools, coupled with the defense of dollars being poured into failing inner-city schools? Could it be that the political operations of the educational-industrial complex are more important than actually helping kids? Watch this three minute video to see

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-06 12:16:59Last Update: 2021-03-06 14:06:42

The Collapse of Small Business, Part I
Wait, what?!? A Class C Misdemeanor?

Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series on the collapse of small business in Oregon and is reprinted with permission from the blog of Echo Alexzander. She and her husband owned FIRST Corvallis, a massage therapy clinic

Most people are likely aware that so many small businesses have struggled in 2020. But have you talked with them (if you aren't one of them)? Do you understand how they were (or continue to be) impacted? What about those who lost all? I would like to share our journey not because it is easy to talk about, but in hopes that it might educate and inspire change in 2021 and beyond.

This series wasn't easy to write or share, but it feels so necessary. We must all understand the reality of this situation to immediately put a stop to it. And more importantly, to never allow it to happen again in our great nation.

Disclaimer: This is a real-life example of one family-owned small-business in the service sector in Oregon, USA. The details shared here are to help educate the public and provide an inside look to those who may be far removed from these realities. How did our business start out in 2020?

How did our business start out in 2020?

We had long ago survived the initial hurdles in the start-up years. "Only 78.5% of small businesses survive their first year" and we were well past that point with eight years in full-time practice.

Our hard work and success had resulted in over 1,300 clients for one practitioner. To give perspective on this volume in terms of day to day customers, before 2020 an average return customer appointment waitlist was about a month for their next appointment. New patients usually had to wait closer to two months to get their first appointment. So there was high and consistent demand for services.

Knowing we had become well established, we had weathered the ups and downs, and we had learned how to strategize between high and low seasons, what could there be to fear?

Unforeseen Circumstances

As 2020 was unfolding we had frequent conversations with people about the situation we were up against as small business owners. A comment we heard was how 'annoying' or 'inconvenient' it must have been during the shutdowns, as though they had been some loosely defined recommendations. I found myself correcting them to clarify that our business was made illegal by the Governor of our State as a non-essential business by the end of March.

This could hardly be viewed as a slowdown in business, or a seasonal occurrence we could prepare ourselves for. So how did it get to that point?

Executive Order No. 20-12 effective March 24th, 2020 our business was among a list that the Oregon Governor prohibited under penalty of Class C misdemeanor if found in violation and convicted. How could we now be at risk to face jail time if found in violation of what was, as of yesterday, operating our business to provide for our family?

Wait, what?!? A Class C Misdemeanor? “Under Oregon law, a Class C misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250, or both.” Crimes defined as Class C Misdemeanors include: So surely there must be a plan for all of those impacted by this government action, right?

How can an Emergency be Indefinite?

At the time this was issued the Oregon EO 20-12 was indefinite until terminated. There was no cutsie ‘two-weeks to hold on tight’ catch-phrase offered by the Governor to businesses to help them know how to react (not that it apparently helped any Oregonians since the two-weeks is looking to stretch a year).

This was with no end in sight. You have lost your ability to legally earn a living while still being financially liable for all your prior expenses. How does a business prepare themselves financially or psychologically to be made illegal to operate a mere 20 days after the declaration of a State-level emergency? And for a potentially indefinite period of time.

Where is this in business risk planning scenarios or modeling exercises in school? I have a business degree and can assure you that this wasn't on the menu. When did a service sector business think, 'someday, it might be a crime in my state to have close personal contact with other humans', and if it does, how will I "pivot" to online in order to succeed like other sectors? This EO 20-12 impacted 42 total sub-industries by name in our state, think how many businesses those entire industries represented?

It ended up lasting just under 68 days in total. For 68 days, due to no fault of our own, our business was simply not allowed by our state government to legally operate. Two months and one week we waited. We paid all of our bills, so those we owed didn't feel any impact, at least not from our business. And we received no outside support, we simply watched our savings drain away.

But there were government bailouts coming, weren't there?

Surely There Was State Funding!

There was a period where independent contractors were able to apply for unemployment (which my husband qualified as) under the PUA, but due to the brokenness of the Oregon Employment Department system, it was badly delayed (it began in August after the impact in March), and very little paid out in comparison to what my husband both qualified and applied for. It lasted four weeks and paid him $1,352 in total when all was said and done.

Our example business overhead in a four-week period run closer to $3,200 not including payroll or retirement contributions. Don’t forget any, examples of these expenses for a business include things like: office supplies, medical insurance premiums, power, internet, software, email, credit card processing, and website fees, business insurance, rent, sewer, city water, natural gas, bottled water service, payroll tax (yes, even when you have $0 payroll period there is still tax and filing fees due, not including the bookkeeping and CPA expenses) and legal services.

What about all those other alphabet acronym funding sources the news was always talking about?

What About All of Those Other Support Programs?
--Echo Alexzander

Post Date: 2021-03-06 09:02:55Last Update: 2021-03-05 18:37:02

Private Schools in the Crosshairs
A threat to the future of private schools, religious freedom, parental rights and school choice.

The Senate Interim Committee on Education Chaired by Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) introduced SB 223, which requires private school registration with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) if they want their students to participate in interscholastic sports or activities with public schools. This is the latest attack on schools outside the public system, an attack against school choice.

This bill came out of the blue with no mention at the fall committee meeting. The take-away from that meeting was the anti-choice sediment expressed by one Senator eluding to choice as a white-privilege. Not all members agreed, but perhaps “choice” was translated to “private schools,” That still doesn’t explain requiring private schools to report and submit for approval on the following: Currently, ODE policy states: “non-public education is recognized as a vital part of Oregon’s educational system. Private schools do not have to register with the State of Oregon, unless they are contracting with public school district for services.” SB 223 would change this and would require private schools to register with ODE annually. Over 50,000 Oregon students choose private schools, primarily for the added religious curriculum. Should the state have approval over religious curriculum?

The Supreme Court has upheld parents’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights as they relate to education. The First Amendment grants parents the right to choose education for their children that doesn’t interfere with their religious beliefs. The Fourteenth Amendment protects parents’ rights to direct the education of their children and ensures that differences between public and private school cannot be eradicated. State regulation of private education must be reasonable and not without limits. If private schools need ODE approval for all plans and procedures, they would become de facto public schools.

The bill states, “The unique qualities of private education while seeking to further the educational opportunities of students enrolled in private schools.” By limiting the participation in interscholastic activities to private schools that are registered, it creates a problem that they propose to solve by requiring registration. SB 223 is a threat to the future of private schools, religious freedom, parental rights and school choice. It undermines the broad educational goals of private education as well as essentially eliminate private schools’ jurisdiction over their own schools.

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee On Education on March 17 at 3:15 PM.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-05 20:05:52Last Update: 2021-03-05 20:23:58

The Real History of Slavery
What are we doing to teach self-sufficiency?

With SB 683 our schools would teach a curriculum of history based on racism. The plan is to make it part of the 1619 project which celebrates the arrival of the first slaves in North America. SB 683 was introduced by Senators Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego).

Why don’t they teach a true history of racism? Begin with the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabic lands, India, isolated empirical China and Japan then follow it to its expansion into the America’s with some historical context.

Why would the curriculum begin near the historical end of slavery in 1619 and not include 5500 years of earlier activity? Perhaps the reason is political. Some think it is nothing more than revised history by omission.

Slavery didn’t start in the U.S. It all but ended here. In Oregon the native tribes held rendezvous at Celilo Falls and Willamette Falls into the time of the white man’s arrival. The Modoc tribe would sell Paiute prisoners into slavery at those annual gatherings. One slave for a horse or three blankets. Mexican cartels sell young girls into slavery currently and that sex trade has accelerated with more border crossings facilitated under our new administration. In many Muslim countries today, women are second class citizens living lives tantamount to slavery. China has slave labor camps to reprogram nonconforming religious and dissident citizens. We are told those are OK because it is a cultural thing. The industrial Revolution did more to end slavery than any other single event. When machines were invented that did more work of a reliable quality than humans could do the economic necessity for slavery was gone. Why don’t schools teach our kids that it was President Thomas Jefferson that banned the importation of slaves in 1809? Maybe the course should examine the slavery that controls the actions of people once they are made to be economically and psychologically dependent on government.

The greatest deterrent to slavery is a population that believes in the pursuit of self-sufficiency. What are we doing to teach self-sufficiency?

Photo by Dean Franklin

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-03-05 17:53:41Last Update: 2021-03-05 18:17:56

Gov. Brown Announces School Opening
Despite the pushback from teachers’ unions

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced plans for an executive order that would bring some certainty to parents and kids who are suffering under school closures, including a planned return to in-person instruction. Governor Brown has been under pressure from students, parents and Republican lawmakers to open schools to increased in-person instruction, in the face of opposition from teachers' unions.

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) issued the following statement:

“For weeks, Senate Republicans have been standing up for students and families who have been left behind by school closures. Thousands have spoken out, marched, and demonstrated for their education. We elevated their pain and stories that have been ignored for too long.

“The Governor’s planned executive order is a step in the right direction to give our students the education they deserve. It is our responsibility as legislators to ensure the Governor delivers on her promises. We know hybrid instruction still is not the best option for students. We look forward to holding the Governor accountable for returning all of our students to in-person classroom instruction.”

In response to this pressure, and despite the pushback from teachers' unions, Governor Kate Brown announced today she will be issuing an executive order to return Oregon public school students to the classroom. In a letter to the Oregon Health Authority and the… , she directed all Oregon public schools to offer universal access to in-person instruction on or before the weeks of March 29 for K-5 students and April 19 for students in grades 6-12. "Thanks to the smart choices Oregonians have made, our COVID-19 numbers have declined. All but six counties now meet or exceed Oregon’s advisory metrics for a return to in-person, hybrid learning for all K-12 grade levels,” said Governor Brown. "And, five of those counties meet the advisory metrics for a return to elementary school."

“The science is very, very clear: with proper safety measures in place, there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission in school. Oregon parents can be confident about sending their children back to a classroom learning environment.”

After the weeks of March 29 and April 19, all public schools in Oregon will operate under either a fully on-site or a hybrid instructional model when counties meet or exceed Oregon’s advisory COVID-19 metrics. Individual students or parents who want to remain in comprehensive distance learning, or who have health needs, may do so. Comprehensive distance learning for all will be an option for school districts when community transmission rates of COVID-19 warrant a transition, as determined by state or local public health directives. No later than March 19, the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education will issue updated guidance to match the directives set out by the Governor.

Continued Governor Brown: “Closing schools in Oregon is a decision I will never forget. Parents, educators, school staff, but especially students have come so far while navigating the challenges of this pandemic. Welcoming students back to every school across Oregon will be a milestone worth celebrating."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-05 17:31:58Last Update: 2021-03-05 17:53:41

Portland Deploys Additional Officers to Address Public Safety Concerns
Community calls for a stop to vandalism and senseless destruction

In response to community concerns about the rise in violence in Portland, and the calls to increase public safety and respond to calls in a timely manner, the Portland Police Bureau will take steps over the next two days to provide additional officers to respond to incidents of violence and public disorder.

Eight officers from the Enhanced Community Safety Team (ECST) will work Friday and Saturday evening with the express purpose of following up on shootings that have occurred and responding as quickly as possible to calls. ECST officers will enhance the work already being done by patrol officers.

Police response to shooting calls, especially when there are gunshot victims, takes multiple officers to locate fleeing suspects, render aid until medical help arrives, secure the scene, preserve evidence, and contact witnesses.

"The Enhanced Community Safety Team officers will focus on high visibility and an enhanced police response to incidents of gun violence in progress," said Assistant Chief of Investigations Jami Resch. "Their priority will be apprehending those engaged in this violence which threatens the safety of our community."

The Portland Police Bureau now claims it has listened to community members' calls for a stop to vandalism and senseless destruction that has occurred periodically over the last several months.

Portland Police will deploy additional uniform presence from its three precincts to keep watch in areas commonly targeted by vandals and respond quickly to any calls of public disorder. The community has expressed its desire for peace and safety in neighborhoods and shopping districts city-wide, and these additional officers are intended to be responsive to those concerns.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-05 17:03:03Last Update: 2021-03-05 17:17:47

Republicans Demand Schools Open
"Students are facing mental health issues, peer suicides, and social isolation”

Several House and Senate Republicans have sent a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown, requesting that she "take decisive action and reopen Oregon schools for full in-person instruction immediately."

The letter begins, "As House and Senate Republicans, we are deeply concerned about the detrimental impacts ongoing school closures are having on Oregon students. We respectfully request that you utilize the full authority of the Office of the Governor and intervene immediately to reopen schools to full in-person instruction."

As the governor has tried to steer between the demands of teachers' unions, upset parents and students, increasingly damaged by the disruption of school closures, pressure has been mounting for schools to re-open. In a move that many saw as a policy punt, the governor issued guidelines that allowed schools to partially self-determine their own opening schedule.

The letter references the nearly half-billion dollar federal grant, directed at opening schools, "The state was recently allocated $499 million from the federal government, much of which was intended to get children back into the classroom. We find no reason that this funding windfall is not sufficient to reopen schools, especially when an ever-increasing body of evidence supports that it is safe -- even without the vaccination of teachers."

In a sad note, the letter says that "Students are facing challenges associated with mental health, peer suicides, and social isolation while not at school. Our kids need to be back in the classroom to have the necessary support. Last year, we saw nearly a 40% increase in calls to suicide hotlines among youth. A recent survey shows that over half of 11-17-year-olds reported having suicidal thoughts regularly.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-04 19:58:44Last Update: 2021-03-04 20:20:52

Racism Trumps Education
The bill characterizes the history of Oregon and U.S. History as racist

The first “Whereas” in SB 683 states: “Whereas the first slaves from Africa were brought to North America in 1619, beginning a 400-year history of racism toward Black Americans.”

The Smithsonian writes that “the misguided focus on 1619 as the beginning of slavery in the U.S. damages our understanding of American history.”

Senators Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) would like you to believe that SB 683 presents a truth in racial history and it influenced the foundation of law in the U.S. Constitution. Reading thirteen “Whereas” relating to instruction on racist history, there are a number of questions a student should ask. Is this a fair and balanced view of history? Why does the U.S. Constitution mimic the Bible, which rebukes slavery by force? Northwest Observer’s article on “Democrats and the Scar of Racism,” debunks a number of the “Whereas” that leads into SB 683.

Oregonians for Liberty in Education points out that the language in the bill seems to blindly copy the premises of the widely debunked New York Times 1619 Project. If enacted, this bill would mandate the statewide adoption of a 1619 Project-type curriculum for all K-12 Oregon public school students. The bill characterizes the overarching theme of Oregon and U.S. History as racist. It would require all history to be taught through an oppressed/oppressor racial lens. It requires a radical overhaul of the 5th Grade Oregon Trail Unit to characterize all pioneers as motivated chiefly by racism. It describes racism and slavery as foundational to the state and country’s law, economy, justice system, and government. The Majority Party agenda this session is all about equality of their own definition. It appears in bills from recycling to taxation to land use, and of course education. This bill states: “Prepare students to confront the immorality of this country’s racist history and to reflect on the causes and manifestations of that racist history.” But, it doesn’t stop with what we learn from history, the curriculum would explore the various mechanisms of transitional and restorative justice that would help Black Americans move forward in the aftermath of racist history.

A mandatory curriculum with no balanced agenda for objective discussion is indoctrination, not equity. It degrades white students to appease adults looking for revenge.

Public hearing on SB 683 on Wednesday, March 10 at 3:15pm.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-04 18:48:19Last Update: 2021-03-04 19:02:55

Sen. Linthicum Decries “Never-Ending” Emergency Declarations
“If Brown ‘followed the science’, Oregonians would not be subjected to these”

Today, Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) issued a statement about Governor Kate Brown extending her emergency orders under the guise of COVID-19 safety measures, even as COVID-19 is undergoing a dramatic decline in Oregon.

Senator Linthicum said:

“The COVID-19 ‘emergency’ is over. However, Governor Kate Brown’s unconstitutional government overreach and unscientific emergency orders that undermine Oregonians at every turn will be continuing. The never-ending emergency declarations create a perpetual excuse for bureaucratic expansion that robs Oregonians of their livelihoods and forces every person to adapt to a lower quality of life.

“If Gov. Brown truly ‘followed the science’, Oregonians would not be subjected to these bogus emergency orders which grant the governor the power to decree the closures of industries, schools and daily life on a whim and under the guise of ‘safety’.

“The statistics show that seasonal influenza has all but disappeared in Oregon as every sniffle, cold and headache has been lumped into the COVID-19 money-pot. They say the flu has disappeared due to masking and social distancing, yet in the same breath we are told we need to be doing more including wearing two or three masks. It doesn’t make sense, but that is the point. Gov. Brown and her cronies continue to instill chaos and concern to maintain unchecked power. This is not an idle accusation. Right now, our national COVID-19 effort has cost more than our entire experience in World War II, while COVID-19 antibody testing data suggests the case fatality rate is far lower than reported. These data suggest there are far better ways to keep people from dying than full-scale draconian lockdowns.

“It is time for Oregonians to stand against Gov. Brown’s power-hungry emergency orders that needlessly infringe on our communities, shutter our businesses and lead to the destruction of livelihoods and our society.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-04 17:48:43Last Update: 2021-03-04 18:08:01

Oregon House Speaker Pro Tempore Needs More Training
Did he just hit on her?

Note: This is a Northwest Observer Editorial

While observing committee hearings in the virtual Oregon 2021 Legislative session, the staff here at the Northwest Observer came across the House Business and Labor hearing on March 1, 2021. The public is still not allowed to attend hearings in person, and video is the only way that a member of the public may witness.

The start of the video on OLIS was clunky and apparently the “blue light” that indicates to the committee, staff and others the hearing is now “live” to the public, came on before the chair of the committee, Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) knew he was live.

We don’t know what was said before the blue light came on but, noticed that the members were apparently discussing something that led to the opening exchange between Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Tangent) and the chair.

State legislators are required to take several hours of mandatory training on sexual harassment, workplace behavior and more.

In this video, an older, white male Democrat leader seems to be what we would call “aggressive” toward a younger female member. Watch the body language of Boshart Davis after the chair’s comment. Women will immediately notice the noticeably discomfort she is experiencing.

It appears that Democrat men in the Legislature (Diego Hernandez, David Gomberg and Paul Holvey) have a problem that the mandatory training is not addressing. They are aggressive toward younger women.

The reporting staff here at the Northwest Observer believe that House Speaker Tina Kotek should open an investigation from the Legislative Equity Office and its Director Jackie Sandmeyer into this video. And believe that Rep. Holvey should be brought before the Rule 27 Conduct Committee.

If this had been a Republican male making such remarks and aggressive behavior toward a younger female member of the House Democrat caucus, this would be “front page news” in all of the Portland media. We understand that Rep. Holvey most likely did not mean anything by his remarks, but in this day and age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, we must hold people accountable for actions such as these. We hope that at the very least a public apology will come from the chair of the Business and Labor committee, preferably on the floor of the Oregon House.

For context, here is the entire hearing from that committee: (The video clip above is at the :24 mark of this longer video)

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-04 11:27:08Last Update: 2021-03-04 18:48:19

Wakesports In Danger for Oregon Summer
Some watercraft may be banned

Newberg Pool Congested Zone of the Willamette River has long been a contentious issue between property owners and boaters. The 20 river miles has some of the most unique boating regulations in the state due to it popularity in the summer and shoreline development.

From 2010 to 2019 the Marine Board held unlimited number of hearing and discussions with stakeholders on both sides to come to an agreed plan and adopt administrative rules. The rules restrict wakesports to approximately 3 miles with various distances from docks for wake surfing and waterskiing.

In 2019, legislation passed requiring wakesports to complete an education course and maintain a Towed Watersports Education Endorsement and a Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate decal. Additionally, rules set a maximum loading weight of motorboats at 10,000 pounds for applicants seeking the certification decal.

Boats over that weight cannot be used for wakesports in the Newberg Pool. The Board has issued 631 Towed Watersports Education Endorsement and 406 are issued a Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate. The average loading weight of these boats is 5,079 lbs.

Just when boaters thought they had an agreement to enjoy their sport, Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) introduces HB 2725 and Represnetative Mark Meek (D-Clackamas) introduces HB 2555 that reduces the maximum loading weight of motorboat to 4,000 pounds to obtain a Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate. The bills authorizes the State Marine Board to conduct a study related to increasing prescribed maximum loading weight.

Representatives Witt and Meek didn’t do their research before proposing these bills.

Manufactures are not required to specify the weight of boats they build. Boats specifically designed for wakesports typically provide the weight, but other watercraft that is often used for wakesports don't have a factory loading weight. It will make it a guessing game to register.

Shouldn’t the study come first to justify reducing the weight?

Out of the 406 certificates issued about 188 are 4,000 pounds or less. Wakesports is limited to a three mile stretch with strict distant limitations from residential docks. There is no justification for banning 218 legally permitted craft from wakesports.

If the State Marine Board conducts a study on increasing the maximum loading weight, the 218 boat owners would have an opportunity to be a part of the discussion and not be blindsided by these bills.

As it stands now, both bills have amendments that virtually ban all water craft from the 26-55 mile markers on the river.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-04 10:53:28Last Update: 2021-03-04 15:55:27

Marion County Opposes Cuts to Homeless Funds
Governor’s bill leaves funding in jeopardy

The Marion County Commissioners have sent a letter to the members of the Oregon House Committee on Housing, expressing their opposition to HB 2100. The base bill itself just calls for a study on housing, but the real purpose of the bill is to be a placeholder for the -1 Amendments which replace the contents of the base bill, in a "gut and stuff" maneuver with 13 pages of directives for Oregon's Housing and Community Services agency.

The bill has no official legislative sponsor, but the text indicates that it was introduced at the request of Governor Kate Brown for Housing and Community Services Department.

The letter, signed by all three Commissioners and focusing on funding, says that "Marion County opposes HB 2100, which would disinvest in our local solutions for existing emergency housing needs and homeless services. The Commissioners are Kevin Cameron (R-Salem), Colm Willis (R-Stayton) and Danielle Bethell (R-Keizer).

The letter continues:

"HB 2100 is Oregon Housing and Community Services' effort to modernize Oregon's homeless response system. This modernization includes moving funding for homeless services towards an outcomes-based system, allows for intentional initiatives to address homelessness, and changes the way funding is allocated for homeless services.

"Oregon's current delivery system utilizes a needs-based formula to allocate resources directly to Community Action Agencies around the state. The Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA) receives $2,391,915 to provide critical services and coordination of services to persons experiencing poverty, housing instability, and homelessness in Marion County. MWVCAA's ability to build a network and coordinate services across organizations has been an integral strategy to our region's approach to addressing homelessness and housing instability. The proposed modernization would continue the needs-based approach and maintain regional allocations but restrict MWVCAA 's guaranteed allotment to 80%; the remaining 20% of funds would be made available on a competitive basis to all providers statewide with no guarantee of funds being directed to needs in our county."

HB 2100 has had one public hearing, but the amendment has not yet been adopted. It has not currently been scheduled for further action.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-03 17:33:30Last Update: 2021-03-03 17:48:43

Oregon Republicans Urge Democrats Abandon Untimely Tax
Oregon Democrats seek 2800 percent liquor tax increase

Oregon House Republicans today urged Legislative Democrats to abandon a massive proposed tax increase on beer and wine in favor of policies that would support the recovery of the restaurant and adult beverage industry amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican lawmakers contrasted a recently introduced proposal that would exponentially increase taxes on beer and wine producers in Oregon with Washington State’s recent decision to adopt a one-time waiver for liquor licenses in the state.

“No industry has been hit harder by the pandemic than the restaurant and hospitality industry, and by extension the producers of adult beverages,” said Rep. David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford).

“In Washington, a bipartisan group of lawmakers had the common sense to provide some measure of relief to this industry. Unfortunately, here in Oregon, House Democrats have embraced the opposite approach to an extreme degree by proposing to increase taxes on beer by 2800% and wine by 1700%. At a time when so many of these businesses are struggling to keep their doors open or have closed permanently and hurt hardworking employees and their families, moving forward with a proposal like this makes no sense.”

According to reports, Washington’s bill could save restaurants as much as $2,500.

HB 3296 introduced by Representatives Tawnya Sanchez (D-Portland) and Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn), would increase the tax per barrel on beer from $2.60 to $72.60.

The bill would increase the price per barrel of wine from $0.65 to $10.65.

“It’s really striking to see the difference between how our two states are treating this vital industry right now,” said Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer).

“Instead of pursuing outrageous tax hikes, I urge my Democratic colleagues to look for opportunities to support restaurants and producers and to help these businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic and government shutdown orders.”

HB 3296 was formally introduced in the Oregon House on February 23, 2021. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-03 16:10:16Last Update: 2021-03-03 16:47:54

Ban on Diesel Fuel Proposed
“There is simply no alternative to transporting these goods”

HB 3305 was introduced this week and caught many in the legislature off guard. Introduced by Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), the bill looks to remove access to Diesel in Oregon by 2028, virtually turning all vehicles today that run on diesel into scrap metal.

Just two years ago, Representative Powers worked across the aisle with Representative Shelly Boshart-Davis (R-Albany) to find a solution for reducing the amount of Heavy use vehicles in the state that rely on Diesel. Now, Representative Powers seems to want to take the most extreme measure and eliminate all diesel powered vehicles in the state by eliminating their access to fuel.

In a press release from the House Republican officer. Representative Boshart-Davis voiced her concerns.

“I’m not sure where to begin with this bill,” said Representative Boshart Davis (R-Albany). “Our entire economy depends on the free flow of freight by both truck and rail, nearly all of which is powered by diesel engines. There is simply no commercially available, cost-effective alternative to transporting these goods. Of course, the impacts of this bill go well beyond just trucking and freight and would destroy any and every industry that relies on heavy equipment, render tens-of-thousands of personal vehicles inoperable, and put countless Oregonians out of work. Not only was this bill blindsiding, I am also disturbed to see such a blatant attack on working Oregonians.” Under HB 3305, retail dealers, nonretail dealers or wholesale dealers of diesel fuel would be prohibited from selling the fuel in accordance with the following schedule: Representative Boshart-Davis was joined in her concerns by Representative Vicki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville). “There is absolutely no way we can implement this legislation in accordance to these timelines without extreme disruption to Oregonians’ daily lives and the obliteration of our economy as we know it. The supermajority has put agenda over people and our economy. If enacted, Oregonians could no longer rely on everyday goods like food, groceries and medicine being readily available”.

The bill has not been referred to a committee, but will most likely end up in House Environment and Energy.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-03 14:46:22Last Update: 2021-03-07 08:15:01

Curriculum from 1619 Project
Seeks to fill a hole in our curriculum that frankly does not exist

Editor's note: This article first appeared as a blog post on the Oregonians for Liberty in Education website.

Oregon Sen. Wagner and Sen. Frederick are sponsoring SB 683, which “requires school districts to provide instruction on racist history of this country and state.” The language in the bill seems to blindly copy the premises of the widely debunked New York Times 1619 Project. If enacted, this bill would mandate the statewide adoption of a 1619 Project-type curriculum for all K-12 Oregon public school students.

This bill characterizes the overarching theme of Oregon and U.S. History as racist. It would require all history to be taught through an oppressed/oppressor racial lens. It would require a radical overhaul of the 5th Grade Oregon Trail Unit to characterize all pioneers as motivated chiefly by racism. This bill describes racism and slavery as foundational to the state and country’s law, economy, justice system, and government.

Proponents of the bill argue that “by knowing and understanding our past can we learn from our mistakes and build a better future.” But learning from our past is impossible without context, perspective, and factual accuracy, all of which are missing from this bill and the curriculum that it copies from. James McPherson, past president of the American Historical Association, had this to say about the 1619 Project: “I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective.”

What Does This Solve? This bill seeks to fill a hole in our curriculum that frankly does not exist. We do not need additional legislation to ensure that slavery and racist history are taught in Oregon public schools. Current state standards adopted in 2018 include multiple learning targets on slavery, oppression, marginalized people, and civil rights.

The Oregon Department of Education’s most recent Social Science Newsletter highlights the plethora of resources available to teachers on these topics, including radical materials from the Southern Poverty Law Center. In Oregon’s K-5 classrooms, social studies curriculum is primarily Native American history and Black history/civil rights. Slavery, oppression and activism are covered extensively in 8th grade and in high school U.S. History/American Studies classes.

According to the 1776 Commission report, educating citizens requires that students be taught “the principles that unite, inspire, and ennoble all Americans” which can “coexist with the elements of disappointment, criticism, dissent, opposition, and even shame.” “By studying America's true heritage, students learn to embrace and preserve the triumphs of their forefathers while identifying and avoiding their mistakes.” SB 683 runs counter to these goals, and in fact many of the goals found in Oregon’s state standards for civics instruction. This bill is divisive and rooted in critical theory. Its intent isn’t the teaching of history, but rather the teaching of grievance-mindedness and activism.

So what is the real goal of this legislation? 1619 Project author Nicole Hannah-Jones has said, “my ultimate goal is that there’ll be a reparations bill passed.” The co-sponsor of SB 683, Sen. Fredrick, has also sponsored an Oregon reparations bill this legislative session, SB 619.

Do we need more curriculum mandates from Salem legislators? Social studies curriculum decisions should be made by historians and teachers. And school districts should have local authority to select appropriate materials for their communities.

--Mary Miller

Post Date: 2021-03-03 09:33:26Last Update: 2021-03-03 09:42:56

Glamour Salon Closing, Lindsey Graham Moving out of Oregon
Lindsey Graham expresses gratitude to Governor Kate Brown

On Wednesday, March 3, Oregon salon owner Lindsey Graham speaks out, following national media attention that began when Graham defied Oregon Governor Kate Brown, in order to avoid total economic devastation for the families, including her own, that her salon supports through the professional services provided. The Nation watched as Graham was wrongfully, financially and politically targeted by the full force of the State--

"I'm grateful for this trial by fire, as all doubts have now been removed and a veil lifted. While pursuing me as a political adversary, Kate Brown has inadvertently provided a platform for my beliefs, a larger voice, and a new perspective. With the realization that there are thousands of other small business owners in Oregon and across the nation that share these beliefs, I thank God for Brown, and all of her blue blooded cronies and connoisseurs of cancel-culture. This culture is cultivating a new wave of collaboration between those who are speaking out despite clear efforts to silence us. These challenges are only making us stronger and secure in our understanding of good governance versus governance through tyrannical control."

The closure of Glamour leaves a multi-million dollar hole in annual tax revenue for the State, while adding twenty-five new recipients to unemployment benefits, EBT and Medicaid. That's twenty-five less women in the workforce and gainfully employed. While disgusted with the unchecked, unregulated and state sanctioned harassment, threats, bullying and gang stalking by leftist cancel culture, Graham feels a sense of personal gratitude for the experience, additionally releasing the following statement;

"The feminist in me is outraged, but the spirit of Christ within me is overjoyed. What was meant for my destruction has been turned into the greatest blessing, overcoming adversity, new opportunities have been created for myself and my family. I'm grateful that Oregon's supermajority has made it next to impossible for businesses to operate, I'm grateful that Kate Brown sent DHS/CPS after my children, I'm grateful to Oregon's blatant cancel-culture and the seemingly hate-filled social justice warriors.

My eyes are now fully opened to the crystal clear line in the sand, and there's no going back. Hatred is the tool of oppressors and a type of mental servitude. While I was shocked at the obvious targeting and unprofessional use of tyrannical force employed by Kate Brown's apparent dictatorship, I have nothing but love and gratitude in my heart, as I absolutely refuse to be bound by hatred or struggle. Glamour Salon is closing, our family has moved out of Oregon to a deep red land of economic opportunity, and I have nothing left to lose.

Kate Brown gave me a voice and a platform, and I intend to use it, as are the countless other small business owners who’ve stepped into the cold reality Brown created by allowing large businesses to operate while keeping family-owned and main street businesses shuttered, beyond a timeline that was feasible for survival. I pray that those still trying to run small businesses in Oregon can survive and those placing burdens upon these businesses stop turning a blind eye to the politics they are playing with these people’s lives and livelihoods. You can certainly expect to see big things coming from me soon, as this fire has forged new strength in me that I didn’t know existed.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-03 08:24:00Last Update: 2021-03-03 08:39:30

Oregon COVID Vaccine Prioritization Schedule
Inmates considered Phase 1A eligible

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown has announced the prioritization for the next groups of Oregonians to be included in Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution schedule.

"By summer, provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned, any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it," said Governor Brown.

"Infection rates continue to plummet here in Oregon and across the country."

"Keep wearing your masks, physical distancing and limiting social gatherings."

Phase 1b, Phase 2 Vaccine Prioritization

Oregon’s Phase 1b prioritization schedule was based on the recommendations of the members of the Vaccine Advisory Committee, with the goal of ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines to those communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, and Tribal communities.

The VAC recommended prioritizing Oregonians with underlying conditions and frontline workers for vaccination.

Until March 29, Oregon will continue to vaccinate individuals only Oregon seniors, educators, inmates, and any individuals eligible in Phase 1a still remaining.

The vaccination of Oregonians for the continuation of Phase 1b will proceed in two waves.

Beginning March 29, the following groups of Oregonians will be eligible for vaccination: No later than May 1, the following groups of Oregonians will be eligible: No later than June 1, Phase 2 of vaccination will begin with all adults aged 45 to 64. And, no later than July 1, all Oregonians 16 and over will be eligible to receive a vaccine.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-02 20:40:47Last Update: 2021-03-02 21:19:04

Producer Responsibility Organizations
Sounds similar to emission reduction goals.

When a half page bill is turned into a 93-page amendment an alert should go up. An amendment doesn’t get the public notice and opportunity to testify as a bill does. The -1 amendment to SB 582 is an attack on free markets. Taxes and fees on foods have typically been a taboo. Legislators have still found ways to get around it by taxing the production and transportation systems. Northwest Observer wrote on Extended Producer Liability warning it would show up in bills, but this is an all-encompassing step to control everything we purchase by making the producer responsible for recycling.

Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) introduced SB 582 and serves on the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment that authored -1 amendments. It requires producers or co-producers to register with and be a member of a Producer Responsibility Organization that administers a producer responsibility program and provide records of tracking. Producers include sellers of products, packaging, manufacturing, importers, shippers, and persons distributing printed material, which may require membership in several organizations. If a Producer is in violation of labeling a recycling symbol, they cannot register with a Producer Responsibility Organization and therefore cannot do business in Oregon.

The Department of Environmental Quality approves or may revise the producer responsibility program plan, and reimburses expenses of local government service providers for eligible costs for transporting recycling. If no recycling transportation available, they must establish recycling events or drop centers.

Buried in local government responsibilities is state controls requiring that when providing a recycle program it must include all materials on the statewide collection list along with requirements for collection space and service standards. It also requires that a service processor ensures the health, safety and wellness of workers at the facility regardless of whether the workers are employees, independent contractors or employees of another business, which insulted the recyclers in the hearing.

Failing to consult with manufactures using recycled materials, they missed an opportunity to utilize recyclable materials. Pak Tech is an Oregon Corporation focused on manufacturing market that demands products are made from 100% recycled materials (rHDPE) and ending up with a product that itself is 100% recyclable. However, they claim that Oregon lacks proper recycling of milk containers they use so they import from California and Canada to make their products. In 2020 alone, they utilized over 22 million pounds of rHDPE (equivalent of over 165 million milk containers) in creating recycled products shipped around the world. However, the proposed program isn’t interested in waste reuse by for-profit businesses and focuses on public bodies, and nonprofits. Senator Art Robinson mentioned three paths for recycling, first it goes directly to a landfill that works its way into heat and carbon dioxide over time, the second way is to make a product out of recycling materials that eventually ends up in the landfill and into heat and carbon dioxide. The third way is to produce energy and you end up with electricity out of the bargain, which the state could sell for profits. Oregon only has one, so investment in more garbage burning plants could answer more than recycling questions.

SB 582 -1 amendment also creates a litter and marine debris cleanup and prevention program requiring producer responsibility organization to issue grants to the tone of $10 million per year. There are of course fees for everything including certification and permits, and it allows for legislative appropriations to two funds: Producer Responsibility Fund and Waste Prevention and Reuse Fund.

The bill establishes within the Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Recycling System Advisory Council compensated to administer and enforce the program. The DEQ is required to establish recycling contamination reduction goals. Sounds similar to emission reduction goals.

Senator Michael Dembrow suggested that industry is forcing this action, but he was pushed back by several industries testifying with robust programs that were not invited to the discussions until very late in the process or not at all. The food industry said they weren’t consulted at all and it would cost them millions that would have to be past to consumers. This seems to be the norm for leadership to not invite stakeholders until the path is laid. Recycling and taking care of our surroundings is a good thing, but is it the job of government to micromanage our lives and not give the free market the responsibility?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-02 19:10:04Last Update: 2021-03-02 19:24:00

Commmittee Appointments Shored Up
The absence of Rep. Hernandez leaves the process temporarily in peril

In a move designed to keep things moving in the Legislature, House Speaker has removed embattled, lame-duck State Representative Diego from his legislative committees and replaced him with the House Majority Leader, Representative Barbara Smith Warner -- or in the case of the House Energy and Environment Committee, she has appointed herself to the committee.

In the case of the Energy and Environment Committee, without Hernandez, the committee would have an even 3-3 partisan representation, so the Democrats could not be sure of passing their legislation out of committee.

The other committees are the House Committees on General Government and Revenue. Each of these committees would have an even partisan representation without Representative Hernandez. He was also replaced on the Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures. All of these committee appointments have been marked as "temporary" and once Hernandez's successor is appointed, that person will either take his place or possibly further shuffling of committee assignments will occur.

The Democratic Party of Oregon is working on nominees for his replacement. The have said that they will have a list of nominees by March 15. From that list, the Multnomah County Commissioners will pick the next State Representative for House District 47.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-02 16:27:30Last Update: 2021-03-02 16:28:36

Racial Equity in State Rulemaking
Racial equity in the Portland area may not be the same in Harney County

During the past year, state agencies have taken extraordinary steps in the name of public health and safety. They have done this through implementation of Oregon Administrative Rules rather than by changing laws or Oregon Revised Statutes. Laws are only enacted by the Oregon legislature.

An Administrative Rule is defined as "any agency directive, standard, regulation or statement of general applicability that implements, interprets or prescribes law or policy, or describes the procedure or practice requirements of any agency". There are a couple types of rules, Statutory Minor Corrections, Temporary Rules, and Permanent Rules. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission in one of the state agencies that wrote temporary rules over the last year in the name of COVID-19 and in response to some of the Governors Executive Orders trying to soften the blow to the bar and restaurant industry. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Governor issued Executive Order 20-07 closing all bars and restaurants effective March 17, 2020. It remained in effect till May 14th when she announced a “phased in approach” with Executive Order 20-27. As restaurants throughout the state struggled and made individual choices to remain closed, offer take out, or attempt to re-open, little did they know the next wave was about to hit them. With Executive Order 20-65 the Governor once again closed bars and restaurants on November 18th.

However, by Administrative Rule, OLCC delivered a Christmas Eve gift to them. They passed a temporary rule allowing the sale of Mixed Drinks and Single Servings of Wine by Full On-Premises Sales Licensees for Off-Premises Consumption and Delivery. Otherwise know and “booze to go”. The OAR is in effect until June 22, 2021. OLCC saw this as a lifeline to bars and restaurants. In ac2352tuality it did little to bolster sales compared to actually being reopened which for most businesses would not happen until February 2021 or later with the Governor’s next Executive Order, 20-66 which set out to design a framed reopening approach with a sector risk level guideline administered county by county.

Now the Oregon Legislature is looking to add another layer to the Administrative rule making process. A proposal that could have stopped the OLCC “alcohol to go” lifeline dead in its tracks. HB 2353, introduced by Representative Salinas (HD38-Lake Oswego) would require State Agencies to include in their rulemaking notice a statement identifying how adoption of rule will affect racial equity. What if HB 2353 had been in place for the OLCC rule was proposed? What could the possible affects have been on racial equity by implementing the rule? Could minority owned restaurants and bars have been adversely affected because of the additional cost of implementing the alcohol to-go options? Would they then have been negatively affected by other non-minority owned businesses in the area that could afford added costs? Then again, maybe the opposite statement could be said. Minority owed bars and restaurants could potentially have a lower overhead on their food items and therefore they could absorb the additional cost for the to go beverages. Where non-minority owned businesses might have a slimmer profit margin on their menu items and could not afford to offer the to-go cost of the alcohol items. Therefore, they would be at a racial disadvantage. Introducing racial equity questions without solid data to back up claims is a poor approach when setting Administrative rules. In addition, Administrative rules are primarily statewide and what is perceived as racial equity in the Portland Metro area may not be seen the same in Harney County.

This bill is scheduled for its first hearing on March 2nd.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-02 15:52:24Last Update: 2021-03-02 16:05:41

YamCo Commissioners to Gov. Brown: Let My People Go
Call on the Governor to limit citations and enforcement actions

In a 2-1 vote, the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners voted to approve Resolution 21-02-25-1 to remind Governor Kate Brown that she took an oath to “support, protect and defend” the U.S. and Oregon Constitutions and to request that she lift orders restricting local businesses.

As more small businesses face permanent closure, the Resolution cites Article 1, Section 18 of the Oregon Constitution which says “Private property shall not be taken for public use…without just compensation…” Governor Brown’s orders that certain businesses be closed or limited in their capacity clearly violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment declaring that no citizen shall be deprived of his property “ without due process of law”.

The Governor’s restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and other businesses single out some businesses as “non-essential” but allow other similar businesses to remain open pointing to the confusing and arbitrary sanctions imposed on legitimate businesses.

The Resolution calls on the Governor to order State agencies, OR-OSHA, OLCC and OHA to limit their citations and enforcement actions to pre-COVID directives. Yamhill County Board Chair Mary Starrett and Vice Chair Lindsay Berschauer voted to pass the strongly-worded Resolution, Commissioner Casey Kulla voted “ No”.

The Board has passed a number of resolutions and approved letters to the Governor and Legislators 2-1 in support of easing restrictions on schools, youth sports churches and businesses. The Yamhill County Board will consider a Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance Thursday. The Board is expected to pass the Ordinance by a 2-1 vote.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-02 10:45:27Last Update: 2021-03-02 16:07:05

Kate Brown Appoints Director of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training
Will oversee agency that certifies and licenses police officers

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has announced that she has appointed Jerry Granderson as director of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), effective March 22.

As director of DPSST, Granderson will oversee the agency that certifies and licenses police officers, corrections officers, parole and probation officers, regulatory specialists (OLCC), telecommunicators (9-1-1), emergency medical dispatchers, criminal justice instructors, private security providers, private investigators, and polygraph examiners in the state. DPSST also works in consultation with public and private safety agencies around the state by providing basic, leadership, and specialized training at the 237-acre Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem and regionally throughout the state.

“I look forward to... answer the resounding calls from Oregonians for much-needed racial justice and police accountability reforms..."said Governor Brown.

Granderson served for nearly 23 years with the FBI in various roles including as a field agent in Illinois working on narcotics, domestic terrorism, and organized crime investigations; program manager for the FBI's international law enforcement academies in Botswana, Hungary, El Salvador, and United Arab Emirates, was academy instructor specializing in leadership, ethics, and contemporary policing, and special agent with experience in civil rights, human trafficking, counterterrorism, and public corruption cases.

Since retiring from the FBI in April 2020, Granderson has served as a senior police advisor for SAIC Corporation, where he is responsible for fielding counterterrorism watch list initiatives throughout the world, as well as training international partners, with a specific focus on those in Africa.

Granderson holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts and a master's degree in international relations from Western Illinois University. He is a veteran of the United States Army, having served in the 82nd Airborne Division and 12th Special Forces Group (Army Reserves).

“It is with a humbled and gracious heart that I thank Governor Brown for providing me this opportunity to serve the people of Oregon," said Granderson. "I look forward to applying my skills in leading the training and professional development of our current and next generation of public safety professionals."

Granderson takes over for interim director Les Hallman, who will return to his position with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-01 23:14:02Last Update: 2021-03-01 23:33:42

Legislative and Congressional Districts to be Redrawn
Have your voice heard on redistricting

Once Every 10 years voter representation in both the State Legislature and in Washington DC is revisited. Lines are redrawn for the Oregon House of Representatives as well as for Oregon Congressional Districts based on population changes.

The 2020 census appears to point to significant growth in Oregon’s population. Growth large enough to warrant adding an additional Congressional seat to Oregon’s representation in Washington DC. The last time Oregon gained a congressional seat, its fifth, was in 1982. Redistricting takes place after the census is completed.

The process, however, has been in limbo from the very beginning. Last year The Oregon League of Women Voters began an initiative petition aimed at ending political gerrymandering in Oregon. They sought to ask the voters to approve the creation of an independent citizens' redistricting commission for reapportioning Oregon's state legislative districts. Commissioners would have been selected by county officials.

However, they lost their legal battle to get the question in front of the voters due to a legal decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in September of 2020. Therefore, the task is back in the hands of the Legislature and the Governor. With Democrats having a supermajority in the House, a majority in the Senate, along with control of the Governor’s office and the Secretary of State’s office, they have full control over the redistricting process and opponents of that had hoped to level the playing field.

With the 9th Circuit ruling, the process is now back in the hands of the Oregon Legislature. When the legislative session began, the Legislature formed the Joint Committee on Redistricting. Unfortunately, the census, the key data necessary for them to do their work, was delayed last year, in large part by the coronavirus pandemic. The initial counts will arrive at least four months behind schedule leaving lawmakers little to no time to do their work.

According to an article that appeared in The Oregonian on February 6, 2021,

“This unprecedented delay will prevent the Legislative Assembly from fully complying with its duties under our Constitution,” the chairs and vice chairs of the House and Senate redistricting committees wrote in a letter to legislative leaders this week.

Under the Oregon Constitution, the Legislature has until July 1 to complete redistricting. However, the legislature is not 100% caught off guard. There had been warning signs last year that this could happen, when the bureau asked Congress to extend its deadline to deliver the redistricting data to July 30 due to delays from COVID-19 and lawsuits. “I do not think you should be expecting to see your results prior to that date,” Kathleen M. Styles, chief of decennial communications and stakeholder relations for the US Census Bureau, told the Senate Committee on Redistricting. Oregon is one of six states that has constitutional redistricting deadlines.

If the legislature is unable to complete the redistricting by July 1, the job then goes to the Secretary of State who only has until August 15th to complete it. On the campaign trail last year, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan pledged to put some type of independent commission in charge of redistricting. However, constitutionally she is only required to hold one hearing on the redistricting. Therefore, the upcoming listening sessions scheduled by the Legislative Redistricting Committees, Chaired by Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) and Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) may be the only chance that the vast majority of Oregonians have to get their voices heard.

Some points that people have brought up, regarding redistricting are: The House Committee on Redistricting has announced that they will hold an additional hearing for organizations to sign up to testify on the impacts of redistricting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2 from 5:30-7:15pm. “This hearing will be an opportunity for organizations who did not get to testify during committee last week,” said State Representative Andrea Salinas (D – Lake Oswego). “Hearing from a wide range of voices will help the Committee to create a more equitable plan for redistricting Oregon.”

All meetings are virtual. Testimony will be accepted via written or by oral live remote testimony. The state Capitol remains closed to the public.

Virtual Hearings for Individuals Residing in:Hearing Dates:Hearing Times
(click on the time
to sign up to testify)
District 1
(Clatsop, Columbia, part of Multnomah, Washington
and Yamhill counties)
Tuesday, March 9
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 20
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
District 2
(Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood
River, Jackson, Jefferson, part of Josephine, Klamath, Lake,
Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa,
Wasco and Wheeler counties)
Wednesday, March 10
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 20
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
District 3
(Part of Clackamas and part of Multnomah counties)
Thursday, March 11
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
District 4
(Part of Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, part of Josephine,
Lane and Linn counties)
Tuesday, March 16
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
District 5
(Part of Benton, part of Clackamas, Lincoln, Marion, part of
Multnomah, Polk and Tillamook counties)
Thursday, March 18
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-01 15:03:58Last Update: 2021-03-01 15:46:46

Changing the School Governance Model
School boards with zones compared to those without

Oregon has over 190 public school districts. Some of them are very large with thousands of kids and multiple schools, and some of them have less than 100 kids total for K-12 education. However, they all have one thing in common. They are all governed by locally elected officials that serve on the school board of directors. School board members are responsible for setting and approving school district policy, managing the superintendent, and most importantly they approve the district operating budget and manage grants, bond, and other special funds received by the district.

Currently under ORS 332.122, Nominations of directors is conducted as follows:

(1) in common school districts and union high school districts the directors may be nominated in one of the following methods or a combination thereof:
(a) At large by position number by the electors of the district.
(b)By zone by electors of zones, if zoning is approved by the electors under ORS 332.128 (Establishing zones for purpose of nominating directors).

What this means it that school board members may be selected for a seat by the collective voters of the district or the district may decide to create zones and each position on the board is represented by a zone within the district. The decision to have zones or members elected by the entire voting district is a determination made by the voters in the district, not the school board or the state.

Today, in Oregon, over 80% of the school district boards of directors are elected by the entire voting population of the district, they are NOT zone based. This list includes some of the largest schools in the state like Hillsboro School District with over 20,000 students and some of the smallest like Condon School District with less than 150 students. These school districts have decided that they prefer that the Board be elected from the voters at large, not from zones.

However, Representative Sarah Gelser (D-Corvallis) wants to change that model. This week the Senate will introduce SB 793 sponsored by Senator Gelser. It would require that all school district boards be made up of members from zones. It removes local control no matter how large or small the district. Only one of the three school districts in Senate District 8 is represented by a zone, Greater Albany Public School District 8j. So why is she trying to force 80-% of the school boards in the state to change how they elect the Board of Directors?

School Board seats are non-partisan positions voted on during a Special District election so the strategy of creating political supermajorities on school boards is not in play. However, in a legislative session where equity is one of the major focuses, it begs the question is Senator Gelser introducing SB793 as a tool to drive diversity on School Boards? Forcing all districts to become zone based, instead a representative of the district as a whole, may have unintended consequences. Filling school board seats is no easy task. School board elections are often uncontested or even filled with write in candidates. Zones have the potential to make this even more challenging.

For example, Central School district in Polk County with around 3,500 kids, serves students from Independence, Monmouth and the surrounding areas. The board is made up of seven members from seven zones. In May of 2019, the last Special District Election for Central School District, there were four vacancies on the board. Three of the seats were won by write in candidates. In each of those three zones, the winning candidates received 14%, 8% and 4% of the eligible votes for their respective zones. The fourth zone was won by an unopposed candidate. In other words, no one really wanted to serve on the school board. Central School District is not the exception to the rule. Would there have been more candidates if there were not zones?

So what problem is Senator Gelser trying to solve by changing the rules now, this legislative session? Over half of the total school board seats in the state are up for grabs at the May 18, 2021 Special Districts election. Those election winners will then be on their respective boards for 4 years. The next major statewide school board election will not take place until 2023, so what is the purpose behind SB793? Maybe she will share that information with everyone once the bill is scheduled for a hearing.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-01 10:38:39Last Update: 2021-03-01 10:48:07

Children’s Service Districts
Adding more taxing districts could lead to compression

Senators Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro) and Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) are chief sponsors of SB 299 that authorizes the creation of children’s service districts. The bill provides authority to levy permanent property taxes and other taxes, and allows anyone to challenge a levy claiming it exceeds the education property tax limit. You might think that it will bring in more funds for children services, but that would be wrong.

Special Districts Association of Oregon says, “new children’s districts are unnecessary, duplicative and costly… has the effect of limiting the capacity of existing taxing jurisdictions in meeting their responsibilities.” It pits districts and services against each other with no guarantee of the ability to meet educational needs.

Mark Gharst’s testimony on behalf of local governments, explains:

“Adding more taxing districts could lead to compression and those already in compression would see compression increases if children’s districts are created and added to the tax rolls. (Compression is a reduction in taxes that would otherwise be levied but must be reduced due to the 1990 Measure 5 caps of $5 for education and $10 for local government.) According to the Department of Revenue, tax year 2019-20 compression losses totaled about $129 million. Twenty districts, mostly cities and schools, lost more than 10 percent of the taxes that would have otherwise been owed. Seven districts had more than 20 percent of their taxes compressed.”

In order to meet Measure 5 requirement as determined in Urhausen v. City of Eugene, Senator Riley proposed -1 amendment. The court concluded that aggregate levies that exceeded the education cap had to be returned. The amendment tries to avoid the return by using it for non-education services.

“If an action is filed asserting a valid claim that any revenue of the children’s service district is subject to the $5 limitation per $1,000 of real market value under Article XI, section 11b, of the Oregon Constitution, because the revenue funds a project constituting educational services, including support services, the children’s service district shall discontinue the project and shall instead use the revenue for a project that does not constitute educational services, including support services, within the meaning of Article XI, section 11b, of the Oregon Constitution.”

In the court case, Eugene was ordered to return the funds, but under the amendment it would be used for other purposes that voters didn’t authorize. Instead of compressing educational services, it would compress local government services. The services authorized under SB 299 are already or can be provided by existing school districts, cities, counties and special districts. It takes the greater of ten percent or 100 electors to file a petition for formation of a children’s service district. The consequence of a maximum property tax is that the more services added as a levy, the less each service receives.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-01 10:32:51Last Update: 2021-03-01 10:38:39

A Fed Up Oregonian on Guns
“This patchwork will impact Oregonians where they live, work, recreate, do business, seek healthcare and volunteer”

Editor's note: this is the fourth and last in a multi-part series which is a reprint of a letter from a desperate gun owner and her thoughts on the current proposals in the legislature.

Public buildings belong to all Oregonians, the fact that we have to get permits to exercise our first and second amendment rights are already against our constitutional and God given rights. Reducing citizens rights due to fear mongering is irresponsible. Politicians and "activists" talk about how they want to "feel safe" and state that "Everyone deserves to feel safe" but what it really sounds like, is that you are the only ones allowed that sense of safety.

Individuals are only afforded the right to feel safe if you fall in line with a particular ideology. It does not appear that they care about the rights of Law abiding Oregonians who want to actually be safe by exercising their second amendment right. What does this mean for those of us who do not feel safe because our police are being told to stand down against criminals while our cities and neighborhoods are under siege? What does this mean for those of use who are attacked on the streets by "Antifa" and BLM thugs? What does this mean for the woman told she must go put her firearm away in her car where it is a risk of being stolen if she wants to walk into her Childs school or State Capitol? What does this mean for those of us who are having criminals released back into our communities while the local government is calling to defund our police? What about our right to defend ourselves in any place at any time? What about our right to "feel safe"?

Politicians, like SB 554 Chief Sponsor Representative Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn) have all of the protection they need using tax payer funds to buy security, houses behind gates or large fences and in some situations even body armor. Politicians have the protection they need but don't seem to feel that citizens deserve those same rights. It is our choice to protect ourselves and our families how we see fit at any place and at any time. Politicians and special interest groups are advocating to create a patchwork of laws that vary from place to place, and that give local government the right over a citizens free will, would it not be better to just allow part of Oregon to join Idaho? If so I encourage Oregonians to take a look at the Greater Idaho Movement at greateridaho.org either that or Oregonians join the State of Jefferson movement. Portland politics are impacting all of Oregon and if you actually listened to the true voice of the people that you are in office to represent you would not allow these bills to move forward.

Politicians take away our police, legalize drugs, decriminalize actions that are a detriment to society, allow endless riots and attacks in our streets and neighborhoods, catch and release violent criminals, advocate for felons to vote, spew divisive rhetoric and slander against any opposition and now want to restrict our right to defend ourselves with firearms. All through 2020 individuals could shop at places like Costco and Home Depot, go to work in crowded facilities such as Amazon, riot in Portland streets while screaming it the face of first responders and citizens but somehow we were not allowed to testify at hearings, sing in church or have holidays with our loved ones. I hope you can all see past the hypocrisy and into the reality of what's going on in our country.

I ask again, where does this end? This patchwork law will impact Oregonians where they live, work, recreate, do business, seek healthcare, go to school and volunteer. This Bill and others like it open the door for even more restrictive legislation until our second amendment rights have been eroded away until you simply cannot carry your firearm anywhere in the state of Oregon. Your firearm cannot protect you from your vehicle, this tool can only be utilized when it is on your person, that is the entire purpose of carrying a firearm. To have protection on your person at all times, in all situations. You need to separate gun violence from responsible gun ownership, those who are apt to commit gun violence will not be those who are going to follow these radical laws if enacted. It is worth repeating that the false narrative that the only individuals that care about their second amendment rights are somehow just a bunch of right wing, conservative, racist, neo-fascist, red neck white males is absolutely absurd and embarrassing to those who push such ridiculousness. These agencies do not have the right to take away our first amendment rights in "special zones" and they should not have the ability to do so to our second amendment rights. Why is this Bill really being considered and why is there an emergency clause? This is more than just creating a "Safe Zone" -- we cannot "Safe Zone" ourselves out of reality and into further ignorance of what actually constitutes dangerous behavior. The real danger is in the passing of ill thought bills like SB 554.

I urge you to keep Oregon beautiful and free for all Oregonians as I am ready to leave my beautiful home state of Oregon, as are many others. I sincerely hope that each one of you understand how bad it has to become for anyone to want to leave their home state, especially one as magnificent as Oregon.

In closing I would like to tell you a little about myself and why this is important to me. I was born at OHSU and raised in the Portland metro area. My grandfather, affectionately called “Bud” lived in Woodburn prior to World War II before he left to serve our country in the Philippines as a private in the Army Air Corps. My grandfather served our country, my country, your country and he suffered for it. My grandfather survived the Bataan death March, the Clyde Maru Hell Ship and multiple prison camps including, Fukuoka POW Camp #1 -- Kashii (Pine Tree Camp) Kyushu Island 33-130.

My grandfather suffered greatly from 1942 to 1945 until he was liberated from the POW camp. Once home his battle continued, he lost one of his legs in 1963 due to a service connected illness and most of the use of his hands due to atypical bacteria TB, Kansas bacillus. My grandfather, "Bud" is said to be in medical journals due to being one of the first men at the time to contract Systemic Lupus Erythmetosis. We lost him in 1993 due to respiratory failure, likely related to his time of service protecting our freedoms. He loved Oregon and only moved once for warmer weather prior to coming home. He passed away at the Portland VA Medical center at the age of 76.

I’m at a loss and I am ready to leave my beautiful home state of Oregon, the same state my Grandfather left when he went to serve our country in the SW Pacific Theater. My Grandfather left the safety of the PNW for the Philippines to defend our country and our freedoms and yet I feel I must leave because my Freedoms are being taken away. I no longer feel safe in Oregon because the flag my Grandfather fought for and under is being burned in our streets while violent mobs attack citizens, businesses and entire communities.

I no longer feel safe because local politicians continue to insight division, as they call to defund the police and allow criminals to run free destroying our cities. I no longer feel safe because free speech is clearly under attack, and local leaders are practically mandating conformity through mob rule. Local Politicians are either ignorant to what is going on in our state or they don’t care, perhaps it’s a little of both.

While politicians have been hiding behind high fences, body guards and the national guard- spending tax payer dollars on body armor and an unconstitutional “impeachment” attempt, Oregonians and Americans all over the country have been paying the price. The local government has done nothing to protect Oregonians in any truth but is still collecting tax payer dollars and now wants to take away the rights of Oregonians to defend themselves through unconstitutional gun legislation behind closed doors.

I want to remind you that Oregonians trusted each one of YOU to be voice of the people, you are not in office to merely fulfill biased political agendas or placate mass hysteria and violent mobs. You are not in office to find creative ways to manipulate and fear monger the people into giving up their God given and hard earned constitutional rights. You are not protecting law abiding citizens by passing any legislation that further restricts Americans second amendment. You can not claim safety or nobility in cause while allowing and advocating for mob violence and the defunding and disrespecting of our police departments and service members.

I’ve been to the Community Peace Collaborative meetings in Portland, I’ve worked on grant funded projects by DOJ and PPB, I’ve hosted and attended Coffee with a Cop talks and worked with former gang members and men’s groups to help bridge the Gap between community and police. I’ve been active in my community and I know who is committing the crimes in our streets and so do you, it’s not law abiding gun owners. Hiding behind hypocrisy and safe speak does not remove or negate the facts we chose to pretend don’t exist. Who do you personally call when someone is making you feel unsafe? What happens when it’s just the criminals left, well armed and emboldened by harmful bias legislation?

Our beautiful state is represented by seemingly disconnected politicians in NW Oregon who do not appear to represent the majority. Instead they seem to bow to domestic terrorists and violent mobs while ignoring hard working, tax paying citizens.

Our calls for justice are ignored and unfortunately we have no reason to believe that will change due to the current state of things. It really seems like a lot of legislation is being pushed through while citizens are focused on Covid-19 and distracted by violence in our streets and a strange impeachment attempt of a former president.

I left the Portland Metro area for Southern Oregon 8 months ago but I can’t seem to escape the Portland political agendas that are destroying our state. My Grandfather left this state to defend our Freedoms, How much farther do I have to go to get mine back?

We are Americans first and Oregonians second. Political biases and agendas have no place in decision making when it comes to our basic constitutional rights. We are only here today because we valued the right of our citizens to protect themselves in all places, at all times and without restriction from politicians. This is not your choice it is ours.

Please do not allow HB 2543, SB 585, SB 554 and SB 571 to go any further than the bad ideas they are.

Oregon has become a nationwide mockery alongside, New York, California and Washington state. Citizens are afraid of sharing testimony out of fear of being “doxed”, slandered or attacked and are leaving their home states in droves, but I have to take the risk and reach out. Please hear me.

Thank you to those of you continuing to stand up for our freedoms in the face of unprecedented political bullying, slander and cancel culture.

Respectfully and bravely,

--A Fed Up Oregonian

Post Date: 2021-03-01 09:14:22Last Update: 2021-03-01 09:51:57

Kate Brown Wants Her Racial Justice Council Made Law
Implies content of character not as important as skin color

In a move that seems rather Orwellian, Governor Kate Brown has now detailed her support for House Bill 2167 , which will codify into state law the Racial Justice Council (RJC).

Kate Brown convened the controversial Racial Justice Council last summer. Members of Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Native American, Tribal, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and communities of color from across the state were used to create the Council.

HB 2167 is meant to continue this council beyond the Governor's tenure.

HB 2167 claims to end racism in Oregon for good through:

"Government intervention is critical to disrupting and dismantling systemic bias and structural racism. Only then will we be able to redistribute the power, influence, opportunities, and distribution of resources in order to achieve a racially just Oregon. " said Governor Kate Brown.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-28 14:59:12Last Update: 2021-02-28 15:28:49

Disqualifying a Judge
Is the process more important than justice?

As a former Assistant District Attorney, you would think that Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) would have more respect for the Oregon Constitution and the 14th Amendment or for the 17 rural districts affected by his introduction of HB 2998. This bill provides that a party or prosecuting attorney may not move to disqualify a judge in a judicial district with three or fewer circuit court judges.

The bill sets up an inequitable justice system for 17 rural Circuit Courts by prohibiting a “fair and impartial trial or hearing” by not allowing disqualifying a judge in the 17 rural Circuit Courts. For those circuits with more than three judges, when a judge is compromised in conducting a “fair and impartial trial,” it may “apply to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to send a judge to try the cause, matter or proceeding.” Why shouldn’t the rural Circuit Courts have the same rights and option?

The Oregon Constitution, Article I, Section 20. “Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.” Article IV, Section 23, “The Legislative Assembly, shall not pass special or local laws, in any of the following enumerated cases, that is to say: — Regulating the jurisdiction, and duties of justices of the peace, and of constables; For the punishment of Crimes, and Misdemeanors; Regulating the practice in Courts of Justice; Providing for changing the venue in civil, and Criminal cases.” Then there's the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, “No State shall make or enforce any Law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Is the process more important than justice? Courts denied this right: Baker, Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Crook, Curry, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Polk, Tillamook, Union, and Wasco.

Hearing is scheduled for March 2 in the House Committee on Judiciary at 1:00pm.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-28 09:39:19Last Update: 2021-02-27 17:41:01

A Fed Up Oregonian on Guns
“Politicians seem to want to release the real criminals from jail”

Editor's note: this is the third in a multi-part series which is a reprint of a letter from a desperate gun owner and her thoughts on the current proposals in the legislature.

I listened as an individual claimed that getting a CHL was about as easy as getting a library card. Registering to vote may be easier than getting a library card but this is not the case when it comes to getting a firearm and then your CHL, especially in today's climate. Proponents of SB 554 are not speaking from experience they are speaking from ignorance. Every time you purchase a firearm you have to go through a background check, that means paperwork and finger prints every time, even if you happened to purchase a firearm the week prior. You then wait for that background check to come back, sometimes weeks. To get your CHL you must prove that you have taken a safety course, most gun owners will pay over $100 dollars or more for a full day at the range which includes a firearms safety course.

Don't forget you also have to pay for your firearm and ammunition as well as your CHL (unlike a library card). To get your CHL, which you may need in order to carry your firearm in some cities (this is also an assault on our liberties) you need to make an appointment with the Sheriffs office which can also take a few months. Once you are called in for your appointment at the sheriff's office you again are fingerprinted, have to fill out paper work, answer questions, and get photographed. I have never went through anything similar to this to get a library card which I will admit is harder to do than registering to vote. Raising the fee for a CHL is only going to impact those who are experiencing financial hardship and who may live in high crime areas where the police are often already overwhelmed, those are the citizens who need your advocacy not objection to be allowed to exercise their second amendment right freely.

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese even mentioned that the response time of officers can be up to 30 minutes in some situations, when seconds matter and the police are minutes away, ask yourself if it were you and your family would you want to be armed? With the unchecked and almost politically encouraged lawless violence, attacks and even murders that have taken place in the streets and neighborhoods of Portland by members of "Antifa" and BLM, with the calls to defund our police while releasing criminals from jail and politicians advocating for additional rights for felons, politicians now have the audacity to try and limit where we can carry our firearms.

Politicians seem to want to release the real criminals from jail or just ignore their criminal behavior, while instead focusing on law abiding citizens and removing our rights to carry our firearms so that special interest groups can "feel safe". What about the rights of Oregonians who want to actually BE safe and protect themselves and their families by exercising their second amendment? Citizens are at risk for attacks while out in public spaces, demanding that they give up their right to defend themselves and put their firearms in the car where they can then be stolen by a criminal is absolute ignorance. These laws will not protect our communities from criminals who are already intent on committing an illegal act, and from the looks of it that is not the true intent of the proposed SB 554 and others like it.

It makes no sense to talk about school violence and the dangers that lurk in these places while removing a teachers, a parents or a school resource officers ability to defend themselves against those coming into these spaces intent on committing criminal acts. By removing or limiting School Resource Officers and the ability of citizens to arm themselves in any setting is opening them up for violent criminal attacks. You are expecting individuals to wait around for police while the only people who have a firearm are criminals. Since police are responding to crimes as they are in progress it is up to citizens to protect themselves, add into that equation the fact that police have no obligation to protect citizens -- I would say that is even more of a reason to not restrict our second amendment rights -- more than has already been done. The senior council at an anti-gun group gave testimony on Monday in support of this bill. While listening to her speak I interpreted her testimony to insinuate that we as a society are less safe because of citizens who have a CHL, though FBI reports, such as the one released in 2018 titled "Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016-2017", have shown that CHL holders have helped to end active shooter events and "likely saved many lives," a claim that she called "laughable". She also made a statement to the effect that individuals with a CHL will not be turned into felons if they simply "turned around" and go put their firearm in the car if they encounter a sign indicating firearms are not allowed in a certain area.

These type of statements show just how out of touch with the reality the proponents of this bill really are, they would rather a law abiding citizen be forced to leave their firearms in a vehicle that could then be targeted by thieves and subsequently turn into an actual crime. During her testimony she made another comment to the effect that there is a dangerous gap between the people and those passing the laws, I would have to agree with her on this point and this is exactly why I believe this bill and others like it should not pass.

I along with many other Oregonians you heard from on Monday believe that public safety decisions should be made by the citizens it impacts and not by the special interest groups who hide behind anti-gun lobbyists, politics and legislation. Your promise is to the people, not just special interest groups who use political influence, and bullying to obtain the outcome they desire. The belittling, gaslighting and divisive rhetoric needs to stop just as the consideration for Senator Ginny Burdick's SB 554 needs to be stopped in its tracks.

To be continued...

--A Fed Up Oregonian

Post Date: 2021-02-28 07:40:16Last Update: 2021-03-01 09:50:48

Yet Another Destructive Protest in Portland
Trump tried to address the lawlessness

Arrests were made during a destructive protest in the Pearl District Neighborhood Saturday evening.

On Saturday, February 27, 2021 at about 9:00p.m., a group began marching from The Fields Park at 1099 Northwest Overton Street. During the march, which lasted over two hours, some individuals spray painted buildings and broke windows.

When destructive acts began, officers responded. The Portland Police Bureau began giving advisements to the group over loudspeaker, "To those marching in the Pearl District: Officers have observed and community members have reported members of this group have damaged buildings in the Pearl District. Immediately stop participating in criminal behavior including damaging property. Failure to adhere to this order may subject perpetrators to detention, citation, arrest, or use of crowd control agents, including, but not limited to, tear gas and/or impact weapons. Immediately stop participating in criminal activity."

While tear gas use is currently restricted, state law requires that warning be given.

Police response was constrained by multiple shooting incidents happening across the city, limiting the officers available to address the criminal behavior in the protest.

Still, officers responded to the criminal behavior and made two arrests. Items that could be used as weapons were seized, including a large bat.

Windows were broken at a grocery store, restaurant, bank, shipping business, and multiple coffee shops.

Arrested were: The adult was issued a criminal citation and released (due to current COVID-19 restrictions for booking at the Multnomah County Detention Center).

The investigation continues and future arrests are possible. If anyone has any information about those vandalizing property, please report it to the police.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-28 04:56:16Last Update: 2021-02-28 05:08:26

PPB Criminalist Arrested for DUII
McIntyre was on duty

On Friday, February 26, 2021, at about 12:22 a.m., Portland Police arrested Portland Police Criminalist Bradley McIntyre for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII).

McIntyre was on duty when he responded to a shooting call near Northeast 66th Avenue and Northeast Thompson Street. Criminalists respond to such calls to document and collect evidence.

While McIntyre was at the scene, a supervisor became concerned by McIntyre's behavior and asked him to sit down in the passenger seat of his assigned vehicle. Moments later, McIntyre was seen driving away in that vehicle. A patrol officer pulled behind McIntyre's vehicle shortly after, near Northeast 61st Avenue and Northeast Thompson Street. McIntyre pulled over and he was subsequently taken into custody and processed for DUII.

McIntyre, at 23-year veteran, was cited to appear in court. McIntyre will be on paid administrative leave.

Separate from criminal proceedings, an internal administrative investigation will be conducted by the Police Bureau's internal review process and ultimately will be presented to the Police Review Board, which is comprised of community members and Police Bureau members. Their findings will then be given to the Chief of Police.

"Driving under the influence is a serious offense," said Chief Chuck Lovell. "The public holds police to a higher standard, which we must always strive to meet and hold ourselves accountable. This matter will be subject to thorough administrative and criminal investigations."

The Portland Police Bureau say they will not comment further on this personnel matter to ensure an objective internal investigation is conducted, and to protect public employees' privacy interests.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-27 18:04:26Last Update: 2021-02-27 18:09:58

A Long History of Climate Change
Choose your sources wisely.

How long has the Climate been Changing? For over 450,000 years of measurements at least.

Gordon Fulks PhD. is an astrophysicist who has assembled some data that is useful in today’s discussions of climate change. Sometimes the best place to start is at the beginning. Best studies determine that the Universe is 11 billion years old and that Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Earth was covered with ice until volcanic activity began to melt the ice over 4.5 million years ago. Temperatures at Vostok, Antarctica over 450,000 years determined from ice core samples, Russian Zone.

By 450,000 B.C. melting ice gave Earth an atmosphere, the source of a changing climate. Ice core samples obtained by Russian scientists in Eastern Antarctica from holes drilled 13,000 feet deep give insights into past climate conditions. The Ice Ages repeat in patterns spaced roughly 100,000 years apart. The interim warm periods let the sun help volcanoes to melt more ice which resulted in more atmosphere and more land area. A study of topography and geology shows those cycles have caused ice to retreat from land and for ocean levels to rise since time immemorial.

The graph above is a look at the most recent Ice Age followed by the Holocene Climate Optimum with its six warming periods that have characterized temperature ranges experienced for the past 10,000 years. Right now is a great time to be a human as evidenced by steady increases in world population.

The last 13,000 years of Earth’s temperatures derived from the Greenland ice core samples Human life began during the ice age. The graph above highlights the time when conditions favoring human activity began near 8000 B.C. and continue to this day. The graph shows us we are not in danger of a warming planet. We are in the range of cooler Holocene temperatures. The rise that initiated the Modern warming period, nicknamed the “Hockey Stick”, is barely discernable at the furthest right end of the graph. A projection from the first graph which is based on ice core samples from the thickest ice in Antarctica indicates we are trending into a time of cooling that is less favorable to human activity.

The “Hockey Stick” was misrepresented by alarmist Michael Mann. For political effect Mann deliberately did not put the Hockey Stick into historical context. The historical context is best understood in the previous graph. All of this data has been provided by International Scientific Teams whose work preceded the disgraced but unfortunately prominent United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, UN/IPCC. We only know what our sources teach us. Choose your sources wisely.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-02-27 09:55:12Last Update: 2021-02-26 18:53:50

Do More Requirements Mean Smarter Kids?
Or an attack on homeschooling

Cloaked in HB 2868 on accelerated college credit program, Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth) buried a hit on virtual schools and homeschooling.

High schools offer accelerated courses to give students the opportunity to earn college credit in an “accelerated learning” program. Accelerated learning courses are typically taught on a high school campus by a high school teacher. These programs are categorized as either: HB 2868 exempts the dual credit programs and career and technical education courses, so it is focused on Assessment Based Learning Credit. Completing the course doesn’t automatically give a student college credits. The student must pass a college level exam. Oregon College Board offers testing both in-school and at-home.

HB 2868 requires teachers of accelerated college credit program to complete or have equivalent of a minimum of 27 quarter hours of graduate level course work relevant to the course. It applies to teachers of courses that are provided to:
(A) Students of the school district, including students of public charter schools; and
(B) Students who otherwise are taught by a parent, legal guardian or private teacher as provided in ORS 339.030.

Besides prohibiting homeschooled students from receiving Accelerated Credits, it is unclear whether it prohibits students from challenging Advanced Placement tests for college credits. If it doesn’t affect AP testing, the bill has no purpose.

The 2017-19 Oregon Accelerated College Credit Program Grant provides funding to Oregon public school districts, Oregon Education Service Districts, regional consortiums, and Oregon public postsecondary institutions to encourage, support, and facilitate accelerated learning options in regions of Oregon with the highest need. Preference is given to those regions with high poverty rates and large underrepresented student populations, and schools that received less than a $350,000 allocation for the High School College and Career Readiness Act of 2016.

This bill takes a big step backward, discouraging students with initiative and natural aptitude to advance themselves, especially through homeschooling or virtual schools.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-27 09:23:06Last Update: 2021-02-25 18:34:00

Is the House Speaker Protecting Her Staff?
What problem is being fixed?

It's not quite as bad as tobacco industry lobbyists pushing legislation to get their product to be declared a vegetable for the purposes of school lunches, but it's certainly smacks of using power to get things fixed.

The story starts this summer when Kristina Narayan, the Legislative Director for the Office of House Speaker Tina Kotek was arrested for interfering with a peace officer during the Portland riots. Like many other leftist rioters this summer, she was booked, released and never charged by Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who has a reputation for "catch-and-release" for leftist protestors.

Few details are known about the arrest of Narayan, other than it is known that she was arrested for "interfering with a peace officer" that night.

Now comes HB 3164 which is a redefinition of of the crime of interfering with a peace officer, which begs the question, "What problem is being fixed?" Is there a problem with the law, or is there a problem with the behavior of the Legislative Director for the House Speaker?

HB 3164 purports to be at the request of American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon -- it's a common practice to identify the party requesting the bill, if it's not the sponsor -- but one can't help but wonder why they would request it from the Speaker, herself.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-27 09:02:16Last Update: 2021-02-25 17:38:24

A Fed Up Oregonian on Guns
“This is a God given right that should never be up for debate.”

Editor's note: this is the second in a multi-part series which is a reprint of a letter from a desperate gun owner and her thoughts on the current proposals in the legislature.

I heard during the testimony on Monday that tax payers are paying approximately 81 Billion dollars to local government, that's incredible. Is it not more prudent that tax payers, and NOT public officials and special interests groups, be the ones making the decisions for the people? We the people should be making the decisions and you should be there to uphold them. Laws are only followed by those who choose to follow them, you are attempting to restrict and subsequently disarm responsible gun owners who chose to protect themselves and those around them. Throughout the testimony you could hear the "Us vs. Them" typical rhetoric coming from proponents of SB 554 while those in opposition clearly wanted to be heard, understood, and allowed their freedoms and constitutional rights.

The disconnect and divide in our country is becoming a weapon itself. One woman in support of the bill stated that "our laws communicate our values", but this bill does not communicate the values of Oregonians, this bill and others like it impede our rights and disregard our values of family, freedom, liberty, safety and bodily sovereignty. Another woman in favor of SB 554 made a statement that "Our Democracy does not work at gun point", and she is right -- but not in the way I believe she intended. This country was founded on the basic God given rights of our citizens, and that includes the ability to bear arms and protect ourselves and our families from violence and tyranny- at any time and in any place. No one knows when or where they may need to utilize this right but thank God we have it. Unfortunately, we are watching as one political party is holding the other at political gun point in an attempt to prove their moral superiority over the other and slowly erode our constitutional rights in the name of "safety". It seems as though proponents of SB 554 think they deserve their own definition of safety. If the Capitol buildings and schools mentioned so frequently in the proponents arguments, are as dangerous places as they would have us believe, isn't that even more reason to allow citizens their second amendment right in these places? Criminals do not abide by, they are not deterred by, and they do not care about laws, recidivism rates explain that very clearly. This bill will not do anything but cause undue burden and subsequent harm on law abiding owners of firearms.

While listening to the testimony on Monday I was upset to hear more of the biased rhetoric used as an excuse to systematically legislate away our second amendment rights. I am a small statured woman and I do NOT feel safe knowing that anyone or any agency believes they have the authority to tell me when or where I can defend myself. I am also extremely insulted when I hear proponents of this bill insinuate that CHL holders are inexperienced or part of some extremist group, where does this false claim come from? I won't even glorify it by calling it "information". We are law abiding Oregonians who are not fooled by what this bill really is, another attempt to slowly erode away our second amendment rights. The proponents of this bill did nothing more than slander millions of American citizens in an attempt to intimidate, bully and restrict our second amendment rights.

This is not any politicians or special interest groups right to take away. My right to defend myself in any space at any time is not someone else's to make. I heard one proponent mention there are "non-lethal" ways of self defense, and though that may be true, at 5ft tall and 100lbs -- my use of force when it comes to an attacker larger than me is going to be much higher than someone of a larger stature. I do not want to get close to an attacker or go hands on in any way, that puts me at risk for being grabbed, attacked or worse. I believe this bill also restricts the use of pepper spray and tasers, why do you want a defenseless population and yet advocate to grant more rights to criminals? As one of the other brave opponents of this outrageous bill mentioned, her daughters ability to draw her firearm when faced with a stalker possibly saved her life and could have also prevented a separate attack the mother experienced if she would have had her firearm. Others gave testimony and mentioned how simply drawing their firearm deterred an attacker. If more individuals were armed in more places, violent crimes would go down and not up, most crimes are crimes of opportunity, and I DO believe criminals would have less opportunity and think twice before committing crimes in areas -or against individuals who are visibly carrying or may be carrying a firearm. Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran gave testimony and stated that she feels vulnerable because of "Anti-democratic extremism" and stated that public officials are the ones who should be making decisions about controlling what happens in public buildings, implying that they should have the right to deny citizens the option of expressing their second amendment rights in those places. To me this is another nod to just how out of touch and self serving Oregon politicians have become. Another gentleman named "Wessinger" I believe, stated that "armed protesters attacked a "journalist" and "counter protesters", he and other proponents of SB 554 would have you believe that conservative CHL carriers are the aggressors. "Wessinger" made no mention of the actual attacks being committed by members of Antifa and BLM that were carried out on anyone who did not comply with their fascist dictates, dared to film them or opposed their violence and destruction, including attacking police. Just ask Ted Wheeler. Portland and other cities have been under siege by far left extremist groups who are emboldened by individuals like this and yet they claim SB 554 is needed to ensure our safety. Wake up Oregon.

A self described member of "Antifa" lay in wait this summer and murdered a man in the streets of Portland because he was recognized as a conservative while other members of "Antifa" celebrated the death of the murdered man in the streets (yes this disgusting act is on video). "Antifa", members of BLM and the mainstream media push the false narrative that the murdered man was a "white supremacist", a "Racist" and "white nationalist" due to his conservative values, somehow I suppose it allowed them to look at this loss of life as justifiable, or somehow less tragic. I have watched endless live streams of the unspeakable violence taking place in our streets, I listen as members "Antifa" and members of BLM tell officers and citizens to go "Kill Yourself", they make awful threats against them and their families and follow through on unspeakable mob violence. If the tables were turned I can't help but think of how Oregon politicians would address these actions. I should remind you that we have not seen near the level of violence from conservatives as we have from these far left extremist groups, and the racist rhetoric coming from the far left is far more damaging to our democracy than allowing law abiding citizens into "safe zones" with firearms.

The outright terrorism that took place and is taking place in the streets of Portland and across our country in 2020 and into this year has been largely ignored, while law abiding citizens have fallen victim to the violence in our streets and the slanderous violent rhetoric spewing from the mouths of politicians. The bias is becoming clear and appears to be the motive for this anti-second amendment legislation. It seems as though politicians are asking for protection from the citizens, not protection for the citizens. Giving local governments the discretion to restrict our rights clearly opens them up to the pressure and bullying from radical groups seeking to dissolve our second amendment rights all together. We have already started to see the dissolution of our first amendment under the rise of cancel culture, this is a very slippery slope and it must not be allowed to go any further.

Randy Tucker, the Legislative affairs manager for METRO, where my uncle worked under Tri-Met's authority for many years and I volunteered as a park naturalist, made a statement during his testimony regarding how METRO would like to increase their authority when it comes to enforcing anti-gun legislation, and that METRO is opposed to any laws that takes away their rights to enforce those laws against tax paying Oregonians. I believe that if someone would have been on the MAX on May 26th, 2017 with a CHL the fatal stabbing that took the lives of two men and severely impacted another could have been prevented. Portland has become a dangerous place, and with legislation like this politicians are attempting to make it more dangerous for law abiding citizens. Guns and knives do not kill people, criminals with the intent to to do great harm kill people and we deserve the means to protect ourselves from such unspeakable violence.

Politicians and special interests groups want to make laws that give them more control over Oregonians constitutional rights, and they clearly do not want to leave these decisions up to the people whom the laws actually impact. We are not being heard and instead are forced out of the peoples Capitol and into virtual meetings that are ran through as quickly as possibly and handled without care. As I listened on Monday I heard brave citizens get "accidentally" muted by those hosting the meeting, interrupted by others, and heard many that seemed confused as to when it was their turn to speak, names were rattled though quickly, and many who signed up were not heard all all. Yet the second hearing for testimony was canceled and hundreds who waited to speak were told to send in written testimony that may not even be read. Are you reading this? Have you even made it this far?

This is not a system set up for the people and by the people, this is a system set up to pursue political agendas. While HUNDREDS of brave Oregonians spoke out against this bill on a Monday morning I only heard a handful of special interest groups and local agencies support this bill, all spewing the same bias and illogical rhetoric. I made the statement before, people fear what they don't know and it's clear that the majority of those involved in supporting this unconstitutional legislation do not have experience with firearms. It's also clear they have a political bias against the very large community of Oregonians and Americans who value their second amendment right. This is not a partisan issue, no matter how desperately some may try to turn it into one. This is a God given right that should never be up for debate.

To be continued...

--A Fed Up Oregonian

Post Date: 2021-02-27 07:39:09Last Update: 2021-02-28 11:13:35

Eloisa Miller Named Corporation Division Director
Her career emphasis has been on equity related issues

Oregon’s Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has named Eloisa Miller the Corporation Division director.

Miller joins the Secretary of State’s office after four years as Governor Kate Brown’s economic and business equity manager, advising on and implementing statewide contracting policies and practices to expand access and opportunities for small businesses.

“It is an honor to join the Secretary of State’s office and lead the talented group of individuals within the Corporation Division who are helping support Oregon businesses and build economic prosperity in every corner of our state,” Miller said. “I look forward to continue building a division that is providing business owners equitable access to critical resources to start, sustain, and thrive.”

Miller’s professional background includes policy making, leading statewide initiatives, local and rural community engagement, economic development, and advocacy for Oregon businesses. She has served on the Governor’s Racial Justice Council, as co-chair of the council’s Economic Opportunity Committee, and Governor’s Minority Contractors Taskforce.

“We are so pleased to have Eloisa joining the team within the Secretary of State’s office,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. “She brings years of incredible experience and I know will be able to hit the ground running.”

Miller takes over the division from Ruth Miles, who left the agency in early February.

The Corporation Division within the Secretary of State’s office oversees business registration, UCC filings, notaries, as well as the Office of Small Business Assistance.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-26 16:35:38Last Update: 2021-02-26 20:14:21

Senator Thomsen Introduces Education Equity Act
Bill will help struggling and low-income students catch up from school closures

Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), vice-chair of the Senate Education Committee, is introducing legislation that would assist families and students who have been suffering under school closures. “The science is clear that school reopenings are safe,” Senator Thomsen said. “Unfortunately, politics have kept too many of our students locked out of the classroom, forcing them into a second-rate education.”

Under the legislation, the Restorative Equity Education Fund would be created and dedicate $3 million to give low-income students access to financial assistance to pay for summer tutoring. To make up for lost learning, families could qualify for up to $2,000 to pay for tutoring. Hours spent in tutoring would count towards graduation for high school students. Others may qualify for a tax credit to put the cost of tutoring within reach for middle-class families.

“Oregon students have sacrificed a lot in the last year, but no student, regardless of zip code, race, income, or background should be denied access to quality education,” Senator Thomsen continued. “This bill will help families take back their education and make up for lost learning. Just because someone happens to live in a school district that, contrary to the science, refuses to reopen, does not mean they should have to bear the long-term consequences of a failed distance learning experiment.” A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania concluded that the consequences of school closures have devastating effects on the futures of students. It estimates that kids grades 1 through 12 lose $12,000 to $15,000 of lifetime wages for every month schools are closed. Other reports have documented the devastating consequences on math and language learning. These stats don’t include the intangible consequences of suicide, deteriorating mental health, and stunted social skills.

“The pandemic has taught us a very difficult, but important lesson,” Thomsen added. “Parents and kids deserve control over their education. This session, the Legislature has an opportunity to commit ourselves to Oregonians' recovery. That is going to require creativity and real longer-term reforms to get our kids caught up and back on track, but this bill is a good start.”

The legislation is currently being drafted with Legislative Counsel and has not yet been assigned a bill number.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-26 16:16:33Last Update: 2021-02-26 16:24:16

Political Bullying
If this were child’s play, we’d outlaw it as bullying.

Representatives Marty Wilde (D-Eugene), Paul Evans (D-Monmouth), and Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) want to remove your free speech by introducing HB 2225. There is a lot of talk about the “underserved” in the legislature, but when it comes to rural Oregonians, they change their tune. HB 2225 will prohibit rural areas from supporting their causes and deny them from their representation, their only means to be heard in dire situations when livelihood and their economy is at stake. It attempts to silence the “underserved.”

HB 2225 prohibits legislators who are absent and unexcused when Legislative Assembly is in session from receiving salary, per diem or expense reimbursement, and imposes a fine of $500 per day for unexcused absence. It also prohibits political contributions from being used to pay fines or legal fees, replace salary or defray expenses.

When government establishes controls over the functions of how the citizens are represented, it no longer is a representation of the people. It becomes a controlled voice for the government’s agenda. The Majority leadership in their forecast statements voiced disparaging facts of the “underserved” among the minorities calling for more equality. But when it comes to rural Oregon and minority representation in the legislature, they change their tune.

If this were child’s play, we’d outlaw it as bullying. Bullying at the political level is no less egregious. To compound their bullying efforts SB 261 and SB 262 have been introduced, which also prohibits contributions to pay fines for unexcused absence, and SJR 3 prohibits re-election if not attending at least 10 floor sessions. SJR 4 would clinch the bullying control by changing the two-thirds needed for a quorum to a simple majority. Democrats have super-majorities in both chambers. Apparently, this isn't enough for them to get their work done. The majority party and news media try and portray a walk-out as not showing up for work. Do we teach our students to put up their dukes and fight with bullies, or walk away? Do you walk into a burning building or save people that are being trapped?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-26 09:53:00Last Update: 2021-02-25 17:02:37

Criminalization of Firearm Possession Bill Moves Forward
Creates a plethora of “gun-free” zones

The Senate Committee on Judiciary voted to send SB 554, which allows local jurisdictions to decide whether to ban otherwise legally carried guns in public buildings, to the floor of the Oregon Senate for a vote.

“In light of increasing violence and threats of harm by extremists, we cannot wait any longer to pass Senate Bill 554. The growing number of firearm purchases and applications for Concealed Handgun Licenses is concerning,” said Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) who introduced Senate Bill 554. “This bill will allow local entities to determine if they should allow or disallow loaded firearms in their buildings or on their property. That way, the decision is made at the local level, and local leaders can choose what’s best for their own community.”

As was pointed out in an earlier article on HB 3268 which would ban guns in the Capitol the claim of "extremists" is starting to become a little threadbare as an excuse for banning guns and boarding up the Capitol building while the Legislature is in session. This is especially true in light of the fact that there are few incidents and even fewer arrests. This is no small deal either. The legislation proposes five years in prison and $125,000 in fines.

Under current Oregon law, concealed handgun license holders have an affirmative defense for the crime of possessing a firearm in airports and public buildings – including schools. SB 554 allows school districts and local governments to criminalize the possession of firearms on their premises.

Many have noted that those who are citing safety as a reason to take away citizens' right to bear arms, were the same lawmakers who looked the other way -- or even supported -- at Portland riots. Many have also voted for legislation in special session last summer which put restrictions on police and their ability to enforce safety. SB 554 would create a spate of "gun-free" zones, which are the very places that shooters seem to prefer, knowing that they will have prolonged access to unarmed targets.

The measure passed out of committee on a party line vote, and now moves to the Senate Floor for consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-26 09:25:48Last Update: 2021-02-25 17:50:14

Alcohol, Taxes and Addictions
Would generate $746 million in new revenue per biennium

During the past year of Governor Brown’s endless Executive Orders and constant rule changes by State Agencies, unintended consequences may have occurred. As the Governor shut down bars and restaurants, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission began allowing liquor stores to do curbside pickup, and distillers to take remote orders and deliver. The agency also expedited the regulatory process for takeout and delivery of wine, beer and cider. Delivery was already legal, but many restaurants and bars weren't licensed to do it. In a June 17, 2020 article in the Portland Business Journal, OLCC said “835 businesses added the off-premises license to their operations”. Oregon’s public alcohol consumption went behind closed doors.

The Governor’s stay at home orders placed citizens under a significant amount of stress, added to that a rapid increase in adults telecommuting with little to no oversight, many more adults unemployed altogether, and it was a cocktail for disaster. However, Representatives Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) and Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn) think they have a solution and in true Oregon fashion, the solution is to tax our way out of alcohol use and addiction. They have introduced the “Addiction Crisis Recovery Act”, HB 3296.

HB 3296 increases the tax imposed on manufacturer or importer of malt beverages, wine or cider. The tax is not a new tax. What it is, however, is a major hike in the rate. The tax on beer and cider would rise from $2.60 to $72.60 per 31-gallon container (Keg) and for wine it would go from $0.65 to $10.65 per gallon. The tax would trickle down to the customer with an estimated increase of $2 per bottle of wine, and $0.28 per pint of beer and cider.

Almost immediately, representatives from the beer and wine industry spoke out against the pending legislation. The Oregon Beverage Alliance told Fox News that “Oregon's large beer and wine industry, is an essential part of the state's economy and is already struggling due to the pandemic. If this legislation passes, Oregon would have the highest beer, wine and spirits taxes in the nation”. In an interview with KVAL13, Deschutes Brewery President & CEO, Michael LaLonde echoed those concerns saying, "It's pretty shocking that somebody would propose, particularly at this time, an increase of that amount of money when we're already struggling to pay our bills”.

The sponsors of the bill, however, are hoping that the additional revenue generated by the tax increase will generate revenues for the Oregon Health Authority for the purpose of funding behavioral health and substance use programs. The bill would require revenue from the increased taxes to be set aside in a fund used at the direction of the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission for prevention and substance use treatment. All told, the bill would generate $746 million in new revenue per biennium. It would fund 1,010 more resident treatment beds and 1,240 detox beds, in addition to thousands of outpatient openings and new jobs.

Jana McKamey, Executive Director of the Wine Growers Association told KVAL13, "Only three-and-a-half percent of exiting beer, wine and spirits revenues are dedicated to addiction recovery. So, before raising taxes on Oregon's wineries, breweries, and cideries, lawmakers really need to examine the current system and why existing dollars are not being spent on these programs."

HB3296 is at the House Speakers desk awaiting assignment to committee as of press time.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-02-26 09:08:26Last Update: 2021-02-25 21:16:33

Restaurants Fined, But Are There Any Cases?
Are we still following science, or are we just winging it?

As restaurants struggling to stay open and make ends meet, they have been met with fines in the tens of thousands of dollars from the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Governor Brown has been using both Oregon OSHA and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission as enforcement agents for establishments that step out of line with her COVID-19 restrictions, though they are referred to as guidelines.

One would think that if there were several cases of COVID-19 arising from the operation of these restaurants -- either in the worker population or in the public -- that the executive branch would have made this public, so as to justify their heavy-handed actions, to discourage other restaurants and bars from also trying to open, as well as to keep the public away. However they have not, which seems to indicate that there have not been cases arising from restaurants and bars. The Oregon Health Authority has a wealth of data on age, gender, ethnicity and race statistics for COVID-19 cases, but very little data shown for how cases are contracted, such as from a restaurant.

When asked by the Northwest Observer if any illnesses were traced back to the Firehouse Restaurant, Aaron Corvin, public information officer for the Department of Consumer and Business Services, which is the home of the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration said, "Our penalties are not based on the actual outcomes but on the risks represented by the underlying violation. In that way, for example, a machine guarding violation would carry the same penalty after all the appropriate factors were considered – whether or not it resulted in an employee injury in that particular situation.”

Oregon OSHA's motto is "Improving workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers" which means that they do not have explicit jurisdiction over general public safety.

As an additional point, it would not be ethical to, say, have some restaurants and bars open up in order to test whether or not COVID-19 would spread due to their activity. Yet, because some establishments have skirted the guidelines, we have just such data available. It would seem that the lack of cases is strong evidence that they are not spreaders.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-26 07:52:40Last Update: 2021-02-25 15:21:37

A Fed Up Oregonian on Guns
“Why is this Bill being considered and why is there an emergency clause?”

Editor's note: this is the first in a multi-part series which is a reprint of a letter from a desperate gun owner and her thoughts on the current proposals in the legislature.

I’m terrified to write this. I know this is long but I hope you take the time to read this, as I took the time to write it after a long day at work.

I never thought I would be afraid of being doxed or singled out by my own local government "officials" or neighbors, but I am afraid, and I know that I am not alone in this. The slander and violent retaliation against individuals, their families, and their livelihoods is what keeps many other Oregonians and American citizens from reaching out or sharing their concerns with local politicians. Even through that fear over 300 Oregonians came together today to testify against SB 554 and hundreds more have expressed their opposition to this irresponsible and unconstitutional bill. I am confident many more would have come forward if they would have known about this hearing, I myself learned about it last minute.

It is not lost on me that just two days after the hearing for SB 554 where Democrat's and special interest groups spent the day attempting to further restrict the rights of tax paying Oregonians through SB 554 -- just two days later they are attempting to pass SB 571 which grants additional rights to convicted felons and incarcerated individuals by allowing them the right to vote. This is clearly not about public safety, and has nothing to do with what's in the best interest of Oregonians. This is not the will of the people and appears to be nothing more than a desperate attempt by Democrats to further restrict the free will of the people while operating under the guise of "pubic safety", in an attempt to obtain as many votes as they can.

If this were about the people, why are politicians making it so hard for the people to be heard? Why was an emergency clause put on this bill? The same supporters of this bill are the same ones supporting reduced sentences for criminals and additional rights. We the people do not need or require permission to protect ourselves, but are humbly asking that you hear our pleas and put an end to the slow creep of anti second amendment legislation that is slowly eroding away at our liberties. Rushing Oregonians through testimony in an attempt to further restrict our rights, hardly seems legitimate or in the best interest of tax paying Oregonians. Many Oregonians are now contemplating moving away from our beautiful state and taking their tax funds with them.

More citizens are in opposition to this bill than proponents of it as you can tell from the testimony on Monday. It is clear to me that we would have heard even more opposition had the original hearing times been kept or extended. It is my belief and clearly the belief of a large majority of fellow Oregonians that politicians, local governments and special interest groups do not have the authority to dictate when and where we exercise our chosen self protective measures. Those who are the most unfamiliar with firearms seem to be those most opposed to them. You fear what you don't understand or know. I would encourage those individuals advocating for this bill to get familiar with a firearm so that they understand the true nature of this self defense tool. I also urge you to get to know just a few of the millions of Americans who carry this tool with them daily, you will understand just how out of line the anti second amendment bias truly is. The Purpose of adding the emergency clause to this bill seems like another intentional attempt to silence the voice of the people. The entire testimony process was confusing and made it difficult for individuals to effectively testify. Calling out multiple names at once was clearly confusing for those providing testimony, some of whom were testifying for the very first time.

Where does this end? This patchwork law will impact Oregonians where they live, work, recreate, do business, seek healthcare, go to school and volunteer. This Bill and others like it open the door for even more restrictive legislation until our second amendment rights have been eroded away- so much so that you simply will not be able to carry your firearms anywhere in the state of Oregon. Your firearm cannot protect you from your vehicle, this tool can only be utilized when it is on your person, that is the entire purpose of carrying a firearm. To have protection on your person at all times, in all situations.

You need to separate gun violence from responsible gun ownership, those who are apt to commit gun violence will not be those who are going to follow these radical laws if enacted. The false narrative that the only individuals that care about their second amendment rights are somehow just a bunch of right wing, conservative, racist, neo-fascist, red neck white males is absolutely absurd and embarrassing to those who push such ridiculousness. These agencies do not have the right to take away our first amendment rights in "special zones" and they should not have the ability to do so to our second amendment rights. Why is this Bill really being considered and why is there an emergency clause? This is more than just creating a "Safe Zone" -- we cannot "Safe Zone" ourselves out of reality and into further ignorance of what actually constitutes dangerous behavior. The real danger is in the passing of ill thought bills like SB 554.

To be continued...

--A Fed Up Oregonian

Post Date: 2021-02-26 07:49:31Last Update: 2021-02-25 19:10:15

Kicker Might Kick
If projected revenues are up, why do we need new taxes?

Editor's note: This is the second in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

As the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis presented their revenue forecast they said that the "Oregon March forecast puts kicker credit back in play," which is interesting because we're supposed to be in a recession and like planes lining up to land as a major airport, the revenue bills have been queuing up in the Oregon House Revenue Committee, chaired by Representative Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene), where all bills for raising revenue must originate.

They did hedge. Saying, "kicker credit is far from a sure thing since the tax season has yet to get under way," but they are cautiously projecting a personal kicker of $571 million and a corporate kicker of $420 million, though this money doesn't kick back to corporations. It goes to K-12 education, which frees up general fund money for the Legislature to spend as they wish.

Bills for raising revenue also require a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber to pass. Because of this, as Democrats barely have the numbers in both chambers to win a tax vote, it's easier for them if they can find a way to pass a revenue increase that doesn't require the super-majority. They can do this in many ways, including changing the eligibility requirements for qualifying for a tax.

Oregon's kicker law is a part of the Oregon Constitution and can be found in Article IX, Section 14:

Section 14.
(1) As soon as is practicable after adjournment sine die of an odd-numbered year regular session of the Legislative Assembly, the Governor shall cause an estimate to be prepared of revenues that will be received by the General Fund for the biennium beginning July 1. The estimated revenues from corporate income and excise taxes shall be separately stated from the estimated revenues from other General Fund sources.

(2) As soon as is practicable after the end of the biennium, the Governor shall cause actual collections of revenues received by the General Fund for that biennium to be determined. The revenues received from corporate income and excise taxes shall be determined separately from the revenues received from other General Fund sources.

(3) If the revenues received by the General Fund from corporate income and excise taxes during the biennium exceed the amount estimated to be received from corporate income and excise taxes for the biennium, by two percent or more, the total amount of the excess shall be retained in the General Fund and used to provide additional funding for public education, kindergarten through twelfth grade.

(4) If the revenues received from General Fund revenue sources, exclusive of those described in subsection (3) of this section, during the biennium exceed the amount estimated to be received from such sources for the biennium, by two percent or more, the total amount of the excess shall be returned to personal income taxpayers.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-25 16:04:28Last Update: 2021-02-25 16:02:16

Oregon Senate Republicans Walk and Demand Solutions
“This session ought to be helping Oregonians”

In a press release, the Senate Republican Caucus has demanded that Democrat leaders bring an increased sense of urgency and focus to the biggest issues facing Oregonians. They appear to have denied quorum to hold floor sessions for the time being.

“Throughout the pandemic, the Legislature has abdicated too much responsibility to the Governor. We cannot sit by and watch the Governor fail to deliver on the biggest issues facing Oregonians today. It's time to take some of the responsibility and get to work on the issues that matter most to Oregonians. We are demanding legislation aimed at school re-openings, vaccine distribution, economic recovery, and government accountability be moved to the top of the priority list,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons).

According to Senate Leadership, students are suffering from school closures. Seniors, as well as rural Oregonians, are being failed by an abysmal vaccine rollout. Working families are struggling to make ends meet.

For these reasons, Senate Republicans say they are standing in solidarity with them by staging a protest and invoking First Amendment rights. This is their statement:


EIGHTY PERCENT of Oregon’s students last week remained out of the classroom. This flies in the face of increasing evidence. The CDC has recognized that school reopenings are safe, even if teachers aren’t vaccinated. According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, the Governor received hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government for resources schools need to reopen. President Biden’s COVID bill would give K-12 schools another $1.2 billion, yet classrooms remain empty.

“The Governor has completely failed Oregon families and students,” Sen. Girod said. “She first promised that schools would reopen on February 15. She failed to put our kids first. Now she is moving the goalposts to the spring. Parents and kids no longer have any trust in her empty promises. We need tuly bold action. Gov. Brown is the Superintendent of Public Instruction. She needs to start acting like it and demand teachers unions immediately send their members back into the classroom.”

Senate Republicans have an education package to give parents and kids control over their education and use budget authority to reopen schools.


Oregon is the 3rd worst in the country in vaccinating seniors, who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. To make matters worse, vaccines have been siphoned from rural counties and redirected to Portland, despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.

This vaccine is a matter of life and death,” Girod continued. “The Governor doubled down deprioritizing seniors in the vaccine line, even when evidence suggested teachers didn’t need to be vaccinated to reopen schools. That decision almost certainly cost lives, and she tried to get away with covering up those deaths, when OHA decided they didn’t want to release the data. Its time for the Legislature to step in and hold the Governor accountable for these failures. We must use vaccines to save the most number of lives. That means seniors need to be prioritized and rural Oregon needs their fair share.”


Oregon’s economic recovery lags behind the rest of the country. While the United States has recovered 56% of jobs lost during the pandemic, Oregon has only recovered 37%. Our unemployment rate is well above the national median. Thousand struggle to pay rent, tens of thousands are without jobs, and women are dropping out of the workforce at an alarming rate.

Despite these facts, Governor Brown extended her emergency declaration, further tightening her grip on small businesses and working Oregonians.

“Our main concern this session ought to be helping Oregonians recovery from the pandemic and its economic devastation,” Senate Republican Leader, Fred Girod said. “Yet Democrats are intent on taxing COVID relief money and increasing the cost of living for Oregonians. I urge Legislative leaders to pass Senate Republican bills aimed at giving working Oregonians relief and getting them back to work.

“Yesterday’s Revenue Forecast indicated that the state has brought $800 million is extra tax dollars. President Biden’s bailout plan will add billions of more dollars. There is no need for new taxes!”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-25 13:50:46Last Update: 2021-02-25 13:52:40

Civil Penalties Proposed for Businesses
Defend or settle. It

A bill that will have a huge impact on business, HB 2205, introduced by State Representatives Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) and Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland). Born out of the California Private Attorney General Act, PAGA, it establishes procedures for persons to bring legal action in the name of the state to recover civil penalties for violations of state laws. It provides for the distribution of civil penalties recovered. Fear of a lawsuit has always been a concern of many small-business owners, even more so during this pandemic. But the PAGA bill, HB 2205, which had its first public hearing yesterday, would further raise the stakes for Oregon small businesses by allowing plaintiff’s attorneys to sue private businesses on behalf of the state, resulting in a no-win situation -- either settle out of court to minimize out-of-pocket costs, or even worse, try to defend the case and end up paying sizable attorney fees. It’s a simple money grab at the expense of the taxpayers.

The business community has a bill to respond to that threat, HB 2638. It has been introduced by Representatives Christine Drazan (R-Canby) and David Gomberg (D-Lincoln City). HB 2638 Limits liability for certain claims for damage arising out of acts or omissions taken during the COVID-19 emergency period in reasonable compliance with government guidance related to COVID-19. By contrast, HB 2638 would provide businesses with liability protection against frivolous lawsuits so long as they can demonstrate that the business was reasonably in compliance with state and federal COVID-19 rules and regulations. The concept is simple -- if business owners are following the rules, they shouldn’t have to worry about being sued.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-02-25 13:08:15Last Update: 2021-02-26 17:55:12

Senate Republicans Request Schools Re-open
“Despite declining case counts, today you extended your emergency declaration,”

Senate Republicans have sent a letter to Governor Brown regarding their hope that schools can be re-opened.

February 25, 2021

Governor Kate Brown
900 Court Street NE
Salem, OR 97301
Governor Brown,

We have previously called for you to immediately reopen schools because the science says it's safe. In 2011, the Legislature gave you the powers of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. You have failed to use that authority to bring forward a meaningful plan and pressure school districts to reopen. According to the Legislative Revenue Office, you have received over $600 million in unexpected money for schools from the federal government.

We request that you immediately reopen schools for full in-person instruction with proper public health measures.

Oregon is the 3rd worst in vaccinating seniors in the country. We find this unacceptable. This population is at a disproportionate risk of dying from COVID-19. This is a matter of life and death. We have previously called for you to direct vaccinations in the most equitable way possible.

That means deploying all the resources of the state government to vaccinate seniors and also ensure that rural Oregonians get their fair share of the vaccine.

As policymakers, one of the most important goals of this session is helping Oregonians recover from your strict economic lockdown orders. Your own state economists have shown that Oregon’s economic recovery lags behind the rest of the county. Our unemployment rate is well above the national median.

Despite declining case counts, today you extended your emergency declaration, squeezing Oregonians even more. The Legislature cannot do its work to help Oregonians recover when people cannot go back to work because of orders requiring small businesses to stay closed. We ask that you immediately speed up economic reopening to give Oregonians a fighting chance of recovery. You have shown interest in helping low-income communities, communities of color, and underserved Oregonians. These populations have been disproportionately impacted by economic lockdowns. The best way to help them is to give them their jobs back and reopen small businesses.

Our previous efforts to bring these issues to your attention have gone unacknowledged. Thus, we are protesting today’s floor session. In this show of solidarity with Oregonians who are being failed by the current direction of your policies, we hope this action conveys the importance of these issues. Oregonians are counting on you.


Fred Girod, Senate Republican Leader
Chuck Thomsen, Deputy Republican Leader
Lynn Findley, Assistant Republican Leader
Dennis Linthicum
Dick Anderson
Bill Hansell
Dallas Heard
Bill Kennemer
Tim Knopp
Art Robinson
Kim Thatcher

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-25 11:09:59Last Update: 2021-02-25 13:50:20

Standing Up for Business During COVID-19
Businesses have a Right to the Equal Application of the Law

Blending is a new trend for Republicans trying to survive the tide of wokeness sweeping the political landscape, which is what Representative David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) attempts with the COVID-19 Business Equity Act.

Equity is a trigger term the leftists have imposed on the people to direct the narrative away from the equal application of the law and steer it to the practice of social justice, which is subjective and eventually devolves into authoritarianism.

However, Smith uses the word equity in HB 3177 as an equalizer for the small businesses that the governor has been unfairly targeting with a relentless barrage of executive orders. This new proposal would impose restrictions on the governor during a state of emergency relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. It would force the governor to treat all businesses equally under the law.

HB 3177 would require that the governor treat restaurants, fitness clubs, and bars the same as the large retail outlets, and grocery stores. Any new mandate on one business would be a mandate on all of them equally.

The law would not stop the governor from forcing social distancing, mask-wearing, or requiring barriers or partitions, but it is a way to make sure the government spreads the regulations more evenly. It might also deter the overuse of executive orders because those mandates would affect a larger swath of businesses.

--Rob Taylor

Post Date: 2021-02-25 10:59:13Last Update: 2021-02-25 11:09:59

The Long Road Toward Public Health
The ghost of Mitch Greenlick haunts the Legislature

In 2005, the Late Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) along with a community coalition, filed a petition for the “Hope for Oregon Families” ballot initiative. Although it failed to make the ballot it did spark a movement to provide healthcare for all in Oregon which is still being considered today.

Before coming to the Legislature in 2003 as the Representative for HD 33 – NW Portland and parts of Multnomah and Washington Counties, he enjoyed a career in the healthcare field. He earned his B.S. in Pharmacy from Wayne State University in 1957, his M.S. in Pharmacy Administration at Wayne State University in 1960 and his Ph.D. in Medical Care Organization from the University of Michigan in 1967. His professional experience included being a Professor Emeritus at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, a VP of Research at Kaiser Foundation Hospital, and the Director/Founder of the Kaiser Permanent Center for Health Research Foundation Hospitals.

While in office Representative Greenlick used his background in healthcare to educate his colleagues and champion the movement of providing affordable healthcare to all Oregonians. He was determined to not let the failed ballot attempt stop him from his dream. He sponsored many resolutions in attempts to get the issue in front of Oregon voters. Despite his party having control of the Senate, the House and the Governor’s office, during most of his time in office, he was still unable to move the resolutions to the voters. Now the 2021 Legislature is looking to move Representative Greenlick’s concept across the finish line with the introduction of SJR 12 by Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward (D–Portland) and Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland). Again, 2020 HJR 12 proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution establishing an obligation of The State to ensure every resident of state access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate, and affordable health care. Requires The State to balance its obligations against the public interest in funding public schools and other essential public services. However, as has been each time the concept has been brought forward, there is an inability to assess what the cost of providing “affordable healthcare” would be to the state budget. The Legislative Fiscal Offices (LFO) which reviews the cost to the state budget to implement bills as well as estimates any revenue that may be generated by legislation. For each one of the resolutions, LFO has issued the same statement. With respect to revenue, they have reported “it has NO impact on state or local revenues”. On the state budget impact side, however, they have stated “Costs related to the measure are indeterminate at this time”. This has long been the concern of opponents to this legislation. Healthcare is not free and if it is to be provided to everyone in Oregon by the state, how will the state pay for it and how will it impact the ability to fund other portions of the state budget. 2020 HJR 12 received a hearing on February 24th in the Senate Committee on Healthcare. A work session has not been scheduled as of press time.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-02-25 10:19:05Last Update: 2021-02-25 10:44:19

Kate Brown Extends Coronavirus Emergency Again
The May extension means Oregon stays locked down

Governor Kate Brown has once again extended her declaration of a state of emergency for Coronavirus for an additional 60 days, until May 2nd.

The declaration is the legal underpinning for the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders and the Oregon Health Authority’s actions.

Extending the state of emergency helps her to fully utilize available federal COVID-19 relief and assistance, including assistance with vaccine distribution, which may the reason behind Kate Brown's doing so.

“When I issued my first state of emergency declaration last March, there were 14 known cases of COVID-19 in Oregon,” said Governor Brown.

“Throughout the pandemic, Oregonians have made smart choices that have protected our families and loved ones. Our infection and mortality rates have consistently remained some of the lowest in the country. And, for the first time, COVID-19 critical care units are seeing fewer and fewer patients.

“As we vaccinate thousands of Oregonians each day and reopen more school buildings and businesses.”

The Governor reviews and reevaluates each of her emergency orders every 60 days, to determine whether those orders should be continued, modified, or rescinded. The findings of this review process are listed in her executive order.

The extension comes as many counties are finally seeing their "risk level" lowered. This system used by Oregon counties was initially announced by Brown's administration in late 2020 , alongside the implementation of a "two week freeze" of businesses not deemed "essential" by the government.

Observers in Oregon are noting the Governors unwillingness to let Oregon businesses reopen, following yet another actual emergency in the recent historic ice-storm and consistently low COVID case metrics. During the recent historic ice storm, it was illegal for Oregon patrons to eat inside a restaurant, and many Oregonians sat and ate cold meals at home in the dark.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-25 10:12:32Last Update: 2021-02-25 10:43:21

Ballot Harvest Season May Be Over
Spotlight on election integrity

Oregon's vote-by-mail system has been criticized for having the ballots out of the hands of the voter and the County elections officials -- therefore subject to manipulation or being discarded. Now, one Southern Oregon lawmaker wants to address at least part of the problem.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has identified at least three states in which legislation has passed in the last few years, tightening the laws on who is allowed to return a ballot -- some in the name of election integrity. Here in Oregon, State Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Malin) is proposing to make ballot harvesting, or turning in anyone else's ballot, except for family, against the law. HB 3196, introduced by Reschke, would ban the practice and make almost everyone turn in their own ballot.

Representative Reschke said, "Oregonians deeply care about ensuring our elections are indeed the express will of the people by ending the shady practice of ballot harvesting."

In November 2018, a liberal political group called Defend Oregon, associated with Our Oregon, an political arm of the public employee unions was fined over $95,000 for harvesting ballots which they never turned in.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-25 07:16:46Last Update: 2021-02-24 10:22:30

Forecast Means More for Underserved
The BIPOC unemployed percentage was somewhat less

Taking every opportunity to promote their agenda for the “disadvantages,” Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) seems to agree with House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) on the March economic and revenue forecast. “We are living through the most imbalanced recession of our lifetimes, where the wealthy, the stock market and the housing market thrive while front-line, low-wage workers and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities suffer.

“The data shows that we have lost 150,000 jobs in Oregon. We know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-wage workers and BIPOC communities across the state. Our recovery efforts must prioritize those who have been most directly impacted by this crisis. As we plan Oregon’s recovery, these communities must be kept top-of-mind.”

The disparaging fact is the Economic Policy Institute reports Oregon’s 2020 first quart unemployment overall was at 3.3%, White people experiencing 3.6%, and Hispanics were at 3.0%, which means the BIPOC unemployed percentage was somewhat less. The second quarter, at the peak of the pandemic unemployment raised to 13.5% overall with White people experiencing 13.3%. Hispanics were at 14.2% meaning the BIPOC group had a less percentage unemployed than Whites.

The Majority leadership’s agenda to cater to what they identify as the “underserved” has at every turn exaggerated the situation to make their point.

A small light for equality came with Senate President Peter Courtney statement of the March 2021 quarterly economic and revenue forecast. “I’m very surprised… The forecast is way up. This allows us to start really dealing with the pain and suffering of Oregonians.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-24 16:12:39Last Update: 2021-02-24 18:20:24

Economic Forecast is Strong
Though some are beaten down and will take years to recover

When the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis issued its February Economic and Revenue Forecast, one needs to keep in mind that they are talking about the state's economy and the state's revenue. You and I are on our own. Especially if you own a small business. Nowhere does the document talk about the many bars, taverns, restaurants and other small businesses which were effectively shut down during the government sponsored recession.

For some, while you weren't going out to your favorite Mexican or Italian restaurant, and working from home and not buying gas to go to work, you were pocketing the money. The OEA announced that "Households have built up considerable savings in the past year." Not if you're a waitress. They note that "Lower income households continue to struggle," that "Job prospects remain dim," and that "Federal aid has lapsed at different points."

If you're a service industry worker or a small business just hanging on by your fingernails, the OEA points out that "Pent up demand will be unleashed as pandemic wanes and economy reopens" and that a "mix of consumer spending will shift back to labor intensive, in person services, driving strong employment gains."

the OEA is a part of the Department of Administrative Services, which reports to the Governor. Do you suppose they know anything about her plans to open the state?

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 15:34:04Last Update: 2021-03-09 20:34:35

Rosy Revenue Report Hides Struggles
“The Governor is lucky to have gotten such a windfall from the federal government”

Because of never-before-seen bailouts from the federal government last year, Oregon is on pace to exceed revenue expectations, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (Lyons) released the following statement:

“I prefer to focus on the revenue coming into Oregonians' bank accounts. The reality is that 150,000 Oregonians have been put out of work because of the pandemic and the economic lockdowns. Tens of thousands are struggling to make rent, afford child care, and put food on the table.”

The Revenue Forecast indicated that the state has taken in over $800 million in excess revenue.

“The state has been bailed out by the federal government. We are looking at billions more coming our way in the coming weeks from Congress and the Biden Administration.

“The Legislature should not be considering new taxes or rolling back COVID relief. That will simply hinder economic recovery and the chances of Oregonians getting back to work. If the Democrats aren’t careful, they might even trigger the kicker and give taxpayers their money back.

“The Governor is lucky to have gotten such a windfall from the federal government. Too many working people aren’t so lucky. They have been asked to sacrifice by tightening their budgets. It's time for their government to do the same for them.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 15:33:20Last Update: 2021-02-24 15:34:04

The End of Citizens with Guns at the Capitol
The narrative is starting to get paranoid

Oregonians routinely carry firearms in the Capitol, sometimes openly, sometimes concealed, but a cursory search indicates that there has never been an incident involving the discharge of a firearm in the Oregon Capitol. Studies have shown that the known presence of armed people deters gun violence -- as is seen in tragic shootings too often, where so-called "gun free" zones are targeted.

Each year there seems to be at least one "open carry" event -- though it may be that this year it won't happen -- and the Legislative Administrative staff make sure that those who aren't comfortable with it, are prepared. In fact, on that day, many workers stay home.

Increasingly, as violence and rioting from the left -- Black Lives Matter and Antifa -- continues with little criticism from the party in power, criticism of right-leaning groups runs rampant. Government seems to be cheerleading groups who do the most damage and yet spending taxpayer money to defend against those who've done relatively little damage. It smacks of scapegoating.

Zach Hudson (D-Troutdale) is proposing to change a longstanding state law that allows guns in the Capitol via HB 3268, which would make it a felony for a civilian to have a loaded weapon in the Capitol.

The current law says that anyone who has a concealed handgun license is allowed to carry a loaded weapon in the Capitol. If this law passes, you'll be a felon.

Most people haven't had a reason to visit the Capitol this session, as it has been closed to the public, but until recently, the first floor windows were boarded up, much of it was surrounded by fences and large concrete block defenses were placed in front. As one former State Senator said, "It looks like Beirut."

Another legislator, who asked not to be named, said "What's to be feared is not guys with black, scary guns in the Capitol. What's to be feared is a Capitol that identifies lawfully gathered citizens as the enemy."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 13:55:26Last Update: 2021-02-24 14:33:32

Florence Restaurant Fined $18,150 for COVID-19 Violations
OSHA says it was a willful violation

Oregon OSHA has fined a Florence restaurant $18,150 for three violations of standards designed to protect employees from the coronavirus disease. In one of the infractions, The Firehouse Restaurant willfully continued to potentially expose workers to the virus, despite a public health order limiting the capacity of indoor dining to zero in an “extreme risk” county.

The citation resulted from an inspection initiated in response to multiple complaints about The Firehouse Restaurant. The division conducted the inspection by phone. That decision was made after an investigation of social media posts and websites discovered the potential for armed people to block access to the business.

Moreover, the investigation showed that some extremist groups were encouraging people to engage in violence against Oregon OSHA compliance officers if they visited the site.

Using his discretionary authority under state law, Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood imposed a $17,800 penalty for the willful violation. That is twice the minimum penalty for such a violation. The decision reflects the need to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect where employers insist on disregarding public health measures.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently helped employers understand and follow health and safety rules. Most employers are choosing to do the right thing in the face of immense challenges,” Wood said. “We thank them for their ongoing efforts as we work to defeat this disease. As for the vocal few that continue to defy standards and to put their workers at risk, we will continue to carry out our enforcement work.” Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited three violations of the division’s temporary rule: The inspection of The Firehouse Restaurant found the business committing the violations on or about Dec. 26 and continuing to do so afterward. The inspection included an interview with Kylie McKenzie, manager of the restaurant. McKenzie said she originally closed the business to the public, but later decided to re-open it, even though she was aware the decision went against measures to prevent the spread of the disease in an extreme-risk county.

Ongoing refusals to correct violations and come into compliance with workplace health and safety standards can lead to additional higher penalties. Meanwhile, if an Oregon OSHA inspection documents violations while a county is at extreme risk, but the county’s risk level drops before the citation is issued, the citation will still be issued. The change in risk levels may affect how the violation needs to be corrected, but not whether it is cited.

Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 11:32:33Last Update: 2021-02-24 11:40:53

Democratic Party to Replace Hernandez
“It is important to promptly fill a legislative vacancy”

After the Oregon Secretary of State and the Chief Clerk of the House were informed that Rep. Diego Hernandez intends to resign from the Oregon House of Representatives effective March 15th, the Democratic Party of Oregon started work to begin the process of nominating candidates to fill the legislative vacancy in Oregon House District 47.

The Precinct Committee Persons representing the precincts in House District 47 will conduct an election and nominate between three and five nominees to be his replacement.

The DPO is proposing a Vote-By-Mail Election to determine the candidates to send forward to the County Commissioners. This timeline would see ballots mailed out to voters on March 3rd, have ballots due to the DPO on March 14th, and have ballots tabulated on March 15th. The DPO would promptly submit the list of nominees to the Multnomah County Commissioners, who would then choose a person from the list to fill the legislative vacancy for the remainder of the current legislative term.

“The Oregon Legislature is just over one month into a critical five-month-long Legislative Session, and is working hard to respond to the many crises facing our state,” said Democratic Party of Oregon Chair Carla “K.C.” Hanson. “It is important that we are ready to promptly fill a legislative vacancy, so that the people of House District 47 are represented in the Oregon House throughout this Session.” This is the same process that the DPO has used to fill previous legislative vacancies that arose during the COVID-19 outbreak, including for House District 33 and for Senate District 24.

People who wish to be considered for State Representative must file form SEL 145 with the Democratic Party of Oregon. Prospective candidates must meet the minimum requirements to hold the office. Those include being a registered Democrat for at least 180 days before the effective date of the officeholder’s resignation, living in the House District for at least one year, and not being under the control of the Oregon Department of Corrections.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 11:02:33Last Update: 2021-02-24 11:02:29

Equitable Access to Birth Options and Midwifery Care
Midwives are looking to be covered by insurance

HB 2388 is a bill proposing to increase equitable access to birth in community-based settings by requiring that insurers negotiate fairly for reimbursement for midwife-attended births in all birth settings, because community birth honors consumer autonomy and choice, according to Nicole Bendotoff, a midwife in a small home birth practice in Portland and a supporter of the bill.

According to Bendotoff, Since midwife births tend to be less costly than hospital births, women without insurance were incentivized to to choose a midwife birth. Midwife births were on the rise until the national Affordable Care Act expanded insurance coverage and more women giving birth had insurance and opted to have the more expensive hospital births. This led to a decline in midwife births.

Bendotoff says, "My clients always appreciate the high quality and attentive care we provide. And, during COVID this has been even more apparent. With the isolation that is happening, pregnant people and new parents are needing even more support."

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 07:54:12Last Update: 2021-02-23 20:53:36

Slicing the Pie
You can participate in Oregon’s redistricting process

Every ten years the US Constitution requires that a census be taken, and based on the data produced by that effort, the Oregon Constitution requires that all US Congressional districts, State Senate Districts and State Representative Districts be redrawn to reflect changes in population and ensure that each district represent roughly the same amount of people.

The district lines are drawn by the legislature, unless they can't agree by July 1 and then it goes to the Secretary of State, which it has often done in the past few decades, due to partisan disagreements within the legislature. The problem this year is that the federal census was delayed due to COVID-19 and the work might not get done by July 1, but since this is not the fault of the Legislature, lawsuits are teeing up to argue this.

Early signs are that Oregon will gain a sixth Congressional district, which will require some rethinking of all the districts. Will the coast get it's own unified Congressional district? It currently is split among three. Will Central Oregon and the growing Bend region get its own district? It's currently a part of the sprawling 2nd Congressional District that covers sparsely populated Eastern Oregon.

The Senate Committee on Redistricting, chaired by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and the House Committee on Redistricting, chaired by Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) will each have public hearings in which the public is invited to testify.

These are the various virtual public hearings for different districts in the state. You can use the buttons to sign up to testify during these hearings. The map above shows the current Congressional Districts.

Some people are concerned that despite the fact that 35.5% of registered voters on Oregon are registered to vote Democrat -- about one-third of registered voters -- the decisions about what the districts will look like will be made exclusively by a Democrat-led House, a Democrat-led Senate, a Democrat Governor and a Democrat Secretary of State.

There's also concern that since the Tri-County metropolitan area is dominated by Democrats, that lines will be drawn in rural communities by politicians who have no connection to those areas.

According to some, part of the problem in Oregon is that you have politicians eating their own dog food -- i.e. they are drawing the very districts in which they will run and which they hope to continue to represent. Many other states have a redistricting process that involves decision makers who don't have a direct stake in the outcome. They've pointed out that in a democratic republic, voters should pick their politicians -- politicians shouldn't pick their voters.

Virtual Hearings for Individuals Residing in:Hearing Dates:Hearing Times
(click on the time
to sign up to testify)
District 1
(Clatsop, Columbia, part of Multnomah, Washington
and Yamhill counties)
Tuesday, March 9
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 20
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
District 2
(Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood
River, Jackson, Jefferson, part of Josephine, Klamath, Lake,
Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa,
Wasco and Wheeler counties)
Wednesday, March 10
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 20
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
District 3
(Part of Clackamas and part of Multnomah counties)
Thursday, March 11
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
District 4
(Part of Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, part of Josephine,
Lane and Linn counties)
Tuesday, March 16
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
District 5
(Part of Benton, part of Clackamas, Lincoln, Marion, part of
Multnomah, Polk and Tillamook counties)
Thursday, March 18
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-23 19:27:35Last Update: 2021-02-24 08:13:44

Oregon Ferry Toll Rates to Increase
Change at Wheatland and Buena Vista Ferries

The cost of riding the Wheatland and Buena Vista ferries is scheduled to change on March 15, 2021.

At Wheatland Ferry, which crosses the Willamette River north of Keizer, the toll for vehicles less than 22 feet in length, which includes motorcycles, passenger cars and pickups, will increase $1.

The new Wheatland Ferry rate will match the rate already in effect at the Buena Vista Ferry, which crosses the Willamette River at the town of Buena Vista.

The toll for motorcycles, cars and pickups will remain unchanged at the Buena Vista Ferry. Bicycle tolls will remain unchanged and pedestrians will continue to be allowed to ride both ferries for free.

The new rate structure includes toll changes for trucks and tractor-trailers greater than 22 feet in length, too. Once these rates go into effect, the toll schedule for the Wheatland and Buena Vista Ferries will be the same. Upcoming toll changes have been posted at both ferries to inform people that ride the ferries on a regular basis. You can view all Marion County ferry toll rates on the county's website.

The two ferries operated by Marion County provide an important transportation resource for various segments of the county. The upcoming toll increases will not make the ferry program profitable, but are designed to keep operating losses to a manageable level. This will be the first rate increase for the Wheatland ferry in 12 years.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-23 13:10:05Last Update: 2021-02-23 13:17:32

Chipping Away at Property Tax Reform
Big government dream: A self-increasing tax

Editor's note: This is the first in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

As one of the few states without a general sales tax, Oregon depends heavily on property tax for revenue. Real property is taxed based on its value -- know as ad valorem taxes. As real estate prices spiked in the 1990s -- along with taxes -- citizens began to become resentful of the tax windfall enjoyed by their governments. In 1996 the citizens of Oregon passed property tax reform as Measure 47. There were some technical problems with Measure 47, so in 1997, the Legislature sent Measure 50 to the voters, which fixed the problems by repealing Measure 47, but keeping the tax cuts.

For 1997-98, the assessed value of a property was set at 90 percent of the property’s 1995-96 assessed value. After 1998 the growth in assessed value was limited to three percent annually. New properties are calculated by multiplying the ratio of assessed to real market value for similar property in the county by that property’s real market value. This means that if you have a home where the assessment has been rising only three percent in 1989 and you build a similarly valued home nearby, the tax rates would be similar.

Property values, especially with the policies in Oregon, tends to increase at a rate greater than three percent, so over the decades, most properties have seen a huge gap between the real market value -- what a home can sell for -- and the assessed value, which is capped to increase at no more than three percent annually.

State Representative Rob Nosse has introduced HJR 13 which proposes an amendment to Oregon Constitution providing that, for purposes of ad valorem property taxation, the ratio of maximum assessed value to real market value of property must be equal to three quarters of the market value. It also exempts from ad valorem property taxes lesser of first $25,000 or first 25 percent of real market value of each homestead and requires the legislature to enact laws for administration of exemption, including adjusting $25,000 for inflation.

This means that property taxes would no longer be capped at three percent annually. They are only required to lag behind market value. The legislative revenue office has not done any analysis on what dollar amount this will raise, but it has to be significant, and will grow over the years.

As with all changes to the Oregon Constitution, only the people can do that, so this bill is a referral to the 2022 ballot. This resolution has not be scheduled for a hearing.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-23 13:04:07Last Update: 2021-02-23 15:48:24

Analysis: Lessons in Japan From An Oregon Perspective
Let’s get to know our neighbors

In 2008, a friend and I chose to visit Japan to see a high school buddy of mine who had expatriated and been teaching English there for 6 years. While there we took a few days to go out to the country. First we went to Nikko, a small town north of Tokyo, which has some incredible shrines. Later, I split off on my own and went to a small coastal town called Shimoda, which is a small local hotspot for surfing.

I love history, and Shimoda is the port which Admiral Perry sailed into in 1853 making a very strong case that the Japanese should be interested in what the west was selling. He did so by showing them how the American west was won. Big cannons, with lots of powder. In truly Japanese fashion they still celebrate the festival of Black Ships with sister city Newport, Rhode Island where Perry was born. They celebrate the day Japan more or less had its borders forced open by western military technology.

Before I left Tokyo, my host, who had been in Tokyo and Yokohama for most of his time in Japan could not understand my need to get out of the city. “Kropfster, you grew up in the country. Country people are all the same whether it’s here or there.” Cities are where there’s a real difference in culture he inferred. I cannot say for sure that I totally agreed with him, but his point holds merit. We had grown up together in the same one stoplight town in the central Willamette Valley.

There is a similarity in people that live in the smaller towns and in the country, isn’t there? It's a slower way of life, and a different set of priorities. In some sense, my trip to the Japanese countryside confirmed this. I think there is a common misconception that people from the countryside are more small minded, and racist.

While in the Tokyo’s tourist districts, I was certainly exposed to racism. I actually heard first hand a loudspeaker van go through a huge tourist area saying “Japan is for the Japanese, you should all go home.” I was even able to offer that interpretation to our host while knowing almost no Japanese. He confirmed it was the “nice” version of what was said. Fascism seems to sound the same no matter the costume worn. Also, the costume in this case had lots of striking well understood symbolism. Bright colors and hard lines in red white and black. Some communications do not depend on words.

In the Japanese countryside, I got to experience a different sort of racism, being denied services, as a local hospice agent placed my reservation, only to confirm that the BnB owner was ok with a “gaijin” guest. She was not. In a lot of ways, I’m far more comfortable with the second situation than the first. I would have hated staying somewhere I was not wanted.

The next proprietor was more than happy to have me and I found my way to that Bed n Breakfast, which in the Japanese countryside could be called a Futon and Fish. I was relieved to find a place to stay. I had actually considered that I might have to find a ditch to crash in, as I had done my usual amount of planning and preparation for the trip. None.

My host tried to give me breakfast in the morning, but I couldn’t stomach fish and rice with broth for breakfast. The head was still attached to the body of the fish, and I was not feeling adventurous.

To be fair, I think there was a fried egg in the broth. She expressed a rigorous concern that I would not make it through the day, and mostly in sign language she let me know that I was far too big to skip breakfast. “You sooooooo beeeeeeeeeeeg.” Her english far surpassed my Japanese. The point was made, and I politely made my exit.

I remember fondly that trip to Japan. And though my friend could not quite understand why I would want to spend time in the countryside, I am very glad I did. It was a nice slowdown from the hustle of late night drinking and socializing in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills district. I was also afforded a different set of experiences that could not have happened in the city. I got a perspective on the world wherein my understanding of the contexts of our individual lives got some definition. I started to understand my friend’s perspective.

The border of Russia and Mexico

I currently live in a bit of an odd place along the border of Russia and Mexico. Tha is a simplification. Many of my neighbors are from Guatemala, Ukraine, Nicaraugua, or actually from Russia or Mexico.

Gervais, Oregon sits 5 minutes south of Woodburn and 15 minutes north of Salem. A heavily rural and agricultural economy abounds. There are greenhouses, farms, tree and nut production. The area represents an interesting cross-section of America in the early 21st century. The perspective here is enjoyable and unpredictable.

Many of the people here are guided by faith. Other than sub-century immigrants, the families tend to be of German or French Catholic descent, creating a lot of mixed Catholic cultures. There are a fair number of “old believer” Russians, and the beautiful churches accent the skyline with Mount Hood framed in the distance on clear days. The scenery is gorgeous, and the mix of cultures is refreshing, as are the attitudes. As a transplant to the area I have my own perspective as well. I have my hands in many arenas, and have a diverse group of friends. I was raised Mennonite until the age of 6, and culturally for my entire upbringing. Mennonites, a sect of anabaptism, (not anti-baptist) are a somewhat diverse group in and of themselves. The majority are very conservative, agrarian, and culturally separated from larger society. Most adhere to a strict way of life which prohibits involvement in organized sports, competition or politics. The very strictest and most well known are Amish.

Malcolm Gladwell, whose parents converted when he was a child, describes them as a sort of American Christianity with Jewish traditions and roots.

My dad laughed at this description with familiarity when I relayed it to him. He had never heard it put this way, and could not help but agree. “Those (traditional Jewish) are our stories and traditions,” he acknowledged.

In many ways, Mennonites live as immigrants in whatever land they choose to live, another commonality with the Jewish heritage they embody.

Over the past election cycles I’ve witnessed notable phenomena. In 2016, I recall talking to friends in Eugene that could not conceive of how Donald Trump had won election. I pointed out to them that where they live represents a specific bubble, and that they get insulated from outside perspectives.

Rural Americans don’t think like suburban or metropolitan Americans. When you live in the country or in small towns, priorities are different. Which is in no way to say that people from specific areas all think the same. In fact, that’s the point I’ll get to by the end. I consider myself a bit of an amalgamation in that I grew up country, went to college in a small town, and lived in both a small city and a larger city at different points in my life. I’ve also had the benefit of visiting some of the world’s largest metropoli.

Living in a largely immigrant cultural area affords a perspective on the differences in the way immigrants and think compared to the way established cultures think they think. I know that's a mouthful, or a mind full. Generally, I find that people from large cities think that people from rural areas ought to share their values. And, if that is not the case, they assume that minorities from rural areas will have similar values to their own.

It is not only a narrow understanding, but also a grossly negligent, and in some cases racist viewpoint on the part of my well meaning friends from the city. I often cite a conversation I had with a friend that immigrated from Nicaragua over 30 years ago.

She and I were talking about the election in 2016 when Mr. Trump was campaigning on a promise to fulfill on the proposed border wall from 2006 legislation. My assumption was that my friend would not support building a wall, and I could not have been more wrong.

“Well,” my friend related “ what I remember of Nicaragua was not positive to say the least. It was a hell we escaped, and we were lucky to get out alive. As far as I’m concerned, build that wall, there are bad people down there, and I support any measure of protection from them we can get. Americans don’t understand what that looks like. Sandinistas were truly awful.”

I’ve relayed this conversation to multiple friends over the years. Usually I’m giving this as an example of why we cannot make assumptions about people’s political beliefs. Belief comes from context, context comes from experience, or at least the story we tell around the experience. A lot of immigrants have had awful experiences that don’t have them align with party line politics on either side. It turns out that Cuban and Vietnamese immigrants tend to be very skeptical of communism and socialism for instance.

In large part, Democrats and the “left” are guilty of this to a greater degree than their R counterparts. Though in large part, the assumption is the same in both cases, and that assumption is that minorities vote left. At the end of relaying my story, I have often heard some version of the following: “so they vote against their own people?”

I usually try to point out that they do not for a second think they are “voting against their own people.” They want to be here, and they are Americans (the USA kind, no offense to our neighbors). They don’t view it as “their people”. They are us, and are acting upon their own best interests, whether we agree with them individually or not. Likely, there is a belief that they are acting in defense of the United States, their adopted country. They came for the American dream, and to flee people that would have oppressed them.

This is a context I feel many people would be well served to understand, even if it may be difficult. Perhaps immigrants understand better than any what “Us and Them” really looks like. Or doesn’t. Immigrants often come here to relate to people on a level of equal philosophy, and to have a bond in a new country that they believe is linked by common ideology instead of being falsely divided by race and culture.

We need a new diversity- not one based on biological characteristics and identity politics but a diversity of opinion and worldviews.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I personally think a new paradigm could be emerging in which political analysts finally abandon racial assumptions. I encourage all of us to do so. The last two elections have certainly challenged what many think along these lines. Progressive liberals have been hard pressed to understand why Latin and African Americans have voted in historically large numbers for Donald Trump.

Race and culture certainly color our individual perspectives. So do things like our pace of life, and access to having our assumptions challenged through exposure to new views and attitudes. I believe things like rural / city are another lens through which opinions and attitudes become contrasted and understood.

Many immigrants understand America, at least the USA and Canada, as places where they can voice their opinions freely and be judged by their character and actions instead of by the color of their skin or any other indication of where their lives may have begun. They most likely hold their beliefs and opinions with reasons all their own. Not understanding them, does not mean they are illogical.

We could assume political beliefs or biases based upon where people live and likely be more accurate than making assumptions based on race. Let’s not do that though either. Let's not assume we know what people think. Especially in Oregon where my Trump supporting friends also strongly backed legalizing mushrooms for psychiatric treatment. Oregon, where my NRA member friends with concealed carry permits have been active members in the Portland Pride community. Oregon, where socialist rednecks are a real thing.

Assumptions are not just toxic, they are profoundly lacking in nuance and understanding and likely inaccurate. Let's get to know our neighbors and see if we might actually be able to understand where they are coming from.

--Jeremy Kropf

Post Date: 2021-02-23 11:12:15Last Update: 2021-02-23 12:29:30

One False Premise Leads to Another
...And another and then to a coverup.

Each legislative session many bills are proposed to change human behavior in the hopes that the climate will change to match someone’s idea of a utopian world. Gordon Fulks, PhD. of Corbett, OR is an astrophysicist. For the last decade he has addressed concerns about global warming with a presentation of the subject in terms the layman can understand. To the extent the topic is divisive he is welcomed or shunned. A true scientist, his teaching hasn’t changed because the science behind it hasn’t changed. He does respond to how others spin the message for effect.

The research that Fulks relies on is key to scientific understanding. He relies on sturdy temperature reconstructions from the Greenland ice cores. Those reconstructions cover tens of thousands of years and show relatively recent Minoan, 1000 B.C., Roman at time of Christ, Medieval, 1000 A.D. and today’s Modern warming periods. Each is spaced about one thousand years apart and each experienced higher temperatures ranges than we do currently. They do show that our current warming period is cooler than the three previous ones.

The numbers on the left show temperatures in central Greenland at the time intervals on the base line. The U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change UN/IPCC working with many universities worldwide, created over 100 computer models beginning in the late 1970’s to predict temperature changes in the twenty some years to follow. All of those computer models used the premise that rising CO2 levels would create rising planet temperature GAST. Every model failed spectacularly as shown below. They show that there is no correlation between the rise of CO2 levels and the rise in Earth’s GAST.

. With future funding from the United Nations at stake, Penn State, East Anglia and many other universities wouldn’t acknowledge that their theory relating CO2 levels to temperature was incorrect. Choosing to follow their funding versus following the science these IPCC members proceeded to alter temperature readings from around the globe. They were caught in the coverup. That was called Climategate, it occurred in 2009 and resulted in the dismissal of the head of the IPCC. After that the UN/IPCC dropped the reference to global warming and adopted the term climate change.

During that time interval real temperatures rose slightly but well within a range of normal variation. The IPCC accidently proved their premise to be incorrect, that rising CO2 levels will produce rising Earth temperatures, but they persists in this false premise to this day. It is the bedrock argument for eliminating carbon-based energy, a key to globalists tightening controls over human activity. Measured Earth CO2 levels did rise from 280 parts per million to 420 parts per million in those 25 years of computer modeling. The rise did not produce a corresponding rise in temperatures. It did produce a 17% increase in vegetation globally and hunger worldwide was sharply reduced. For perspective, the CO2 levels experienced by crew members on a Navy submarine are near 5000 parts per million.

The temperatures on Earth are most affected by celestial conditions, things astrophysicists study. The major ones being the Earth’s elliptical orbit, exaggerated by gravitational pull from our largest neighbors, Jupiter and Saturn and by forces experienced in the movement of our solar system as it travels through The Milky Way. https://www.theplanetstoday.com/ Constantly changing conditions of activity by our sun with its active and quiet periods correspond most to temperature conditions on Earth. When you make legislation based on a false premise -- humans cause global warming -- that relies on another false premise -- rising CO2 levels cause GAST to rise -- you can only do harm.

There is a third false premise involved here as well. That is that humans can control the level of CO2 on Earth. One volcanic emissions can equal the CO2 created by all humans each year and we have hundreds of volcanic events both above and below the sea each year. Do any of those legislators or those they speak for have the requisite science background to act with authority on proposed climate legislation? Do they presume their scare tactics have worked? Do they presume skeptics are too intimidated to speak up?

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-02-23 09:27:25Last Update: 2021-02-23 14:40:13

Campaign Money Matched by Taxpayer Dollars?
Six to one match on small dollar donations

It seems there is a proposal in the Oregon legislature that would make a significant change to Oregon election law.

While the Oregon's Secretary of State and many local county elections officials have celebrated what a good and secure system Oregon has, Democrats in Oregon may be attempting to put yet another "thumb on the scale" to further influence Oregon's election processes.

Legislation has been put forth that would see taxpayer money partially funding campaigns for political office. The proposal comes from Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis), who is sponsoring the bill. Representative Rayfield has recently proposed additional changes to Oregon election law in a state where his own party rules with a super-majority.

Despite this election stronghold, the Democrat wants to fundamentally change how elections and votes work in the state of Oregon.

HB 2921 would seem to create yet another government bureaucracy in the "Small Donor Elections Program".

It would also require taxpayer funding of political campaigns of a possible 6-to-1 ratio.

The bill is currently summarized as follows:

Establishes Small Donor Elections Program to enable candidates for office of state Representative and state Senator to receive 6-to-1 match on small dollar donations. Limits matching funds. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.

The Oregon legislature is currently in session, although the public has been banned from the state's capitol building.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-23 09:17:10Last Update: 2021-02-23 19:27:35

State Worker Privilege
“A pharmacy tourism program”

“White Privilege” is something we hear a lot about these days, but it seems that Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) missed the memo when he introduced SB 12, requiring benefit plans offered by the Public Employees’ Benefit Board and Oregon Educators Benefit Board to cover certain costs related to travel to Mexico or Canada to fill and refill prescriptions.

SB 12 states:

Benefit plans offered by the Public Employees’ Benefit Board that reimburse the cost of prescription drugs must include a pharmacy tourism program that allows an eligible employee or family member, who is not enrolled in Medicare, to fill and refill in Mexico or Canada 90-day supplies of prescription drugs specified by the board. The program must pay the costs of:
(a) The specified prescription drugs;
(b) Round-trip air travel to San Diego International Airport or Vancouver International Airport;
(c) Transportation to and from a pharmacy designated by the board; and
(d) An overnight hotel stay, if necessary.

It doesn’t stop there. It requires the boards to coordinate the travel making them travel agents calling it a “pharmacy tourism program.”

The FDA reported in 2017 that imported prescription drugs are neither safe nor dependable. Foreign drug makers are notorious for producing untested counterfeit drugs, even in unsterile conditions, then cheating international trade rules to hide their country of origin before the drugs make their way into the United States.

The PERS system has an unfunded liability nearing $20 billion and sucks up taxpayer dollars with no end in sight. Adding a high cost pharmacy tourism program to the OPEBB will increase the burden upon taxpayers even more for a privilege that bypasses the protections of screening foreign drugs. A bill was introduced last session, in 2020, HB 4147 to import foreign prescription drugs that everyone would benefit from, but it died in committee when the safety risk reared its ugly head. Good steps have been taken. In 2003, SB 875 created the Oregon Prescription Drug Program, which serves as a prescription drug purchasing pool. In 2006, Oregon and Washington established the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium. Through the combined purchasing power of the Consortium both states have realized savings on the purchases of prescription medications. In addition, the Consortium offers additional opportunities for shared efficiencies by reducing each program's administrative costs.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-22 17:00:50Last Update: 2021-02-23 08:44:32

Democrats Push Bill to Curtail Right of Self-Defense
Meanwhile, violent crime surges

SB 554 was heard today in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation, under Chair Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene). The bill would pave the way for a patchwork of local concealed handgun license regulations to restrict where Oregonians can protect themselves and others.

“Concealed carry license holders are some of the most upstanding people in our state,” said Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), who is the Vice-Chair of the Committee. “These people are the ones you would want to be your neighbors and friends because they protect their families and others around them. The last thing we should be doing is discouraging people from helping keep our communities safe by creating an inconsistent standard of laws across the state.”

According to research, less than one-hundredth of one percent (.0074%) of Oregon concealed handgun license holders commit felonies. The majority of which were unlikely to have involved a firearm. The FBI has indicated that nearly 3.2% of active shooter situations are stopped with someone with a CHL. Other researchers have put that number as high as 16.5%.

SB 554 allows local governments and municipalities to regulate when and where concealed handgun licensees would be able to protect themselves and others. Thus, someone carrying legally and safely with a concealed handgun permit could end up committing several crimes in the course of running errands on a Tuesday afternoon, instantly turning them into criminals.

“Thanks to our rigorous concealed carry licensing program in Oregon, CHL holders are the good guys with guns,” added Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons). “This bill is a “solution” in search of a problem. The sponsors have failed to bring forth any evidence that this bill would make anyone safer. It would do the opposite. With violent crime on the rise, we can’t afford to severely curtail Oregonians’ right to self-defense.”

The bill also raises fees on CHL applications and renewals. “Increasing gun violence has had a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority communities,” Sen. Girod continued. “The only thing increased fees will do is put the right of self-defense out of reach for these people. Wealthy and middle-class families won’t be deterred from protecting themselves and their families.

“Every life lost to gun violence is a tragedy. If we want to solve the issue of gun violence, CHL holders are the wrong place to look. Let’s follow the data.”

Today’s public hearing set a session-record for the number of people who submitted testimony against a bill.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-22 16:46:55Last Update: 2021-02-22 17:00:50

National Green Energy Policy
The Spanish experiment and its aftermath

There is an excellent example of what happens to a country when it embraces a green energy economy. It’s the Spanish Strategy on Climate Change & Clean Energy.

Post Franco Spain adopted a Prime Minister leadership model beginning in 1982. Under the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, know by its Spanish acronym, PSOE, heavy industry was cautiously nationalized. Finding success with liberalization of the marketplace and in a quest for economic benchmarks needed to qualify for European Economic Union membership, that process sped up under Prime Minister José María Aznar who served from 1996 to 2004 and Spain’s economy prospered.

A terrorist bomb attack propelled the PSOE party under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to a surprise victory in 2004. His administration enjoyed four years of economic strength initiated under Anzar while simultaneously plunging Spain into a green energy economy experiment.

Aggressive renewable portfolio standards included wind, solar and biofuels were set. Foreign investors from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany jumped on the opportunities.

The plan saw 2.2 people lose their job for each new job created. Wind & solar proved less efficient so utility rates climbed 92%. The government forced utilities to pay the higher rates for renewables and guarantee lower rates to customers. Service failures became common and many lost service through non-payment. The government had to subsidize the bankrupt utilities. The national debt became unmanageable. Financing schemes couldn’t cope with economic reality. Unemployment peaked at 27% in 2012. Youth unemployment hit 50%. Spain quickly abandoned the experiment in 2013, but the damage is still mostly with her. Aznar’s hand-picked successor, Mariano Rajoy was elected PM in 2012. He found It hard to get the deep state off the renewables gravy train. Spain is currently pursuing nuclear power with foreign investors once again lining up to provide them financing. Unemployment is stuck near 20%. Spain provides the perfect model for any country looking to destroy itself in the blind pursuit of “green ideology”.

Image courtesy European People's Party - EPP Summit 4 December 2003 Paris

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-02-22 16:17:33Last Update: 2021-02-22 16:46:55

Local Police with Military Weapons
Oregon has not received any grenades or grenade launchers

The military surplus equipment transfer program (The 1033 Program), was established as a part of the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act. Since its inception, more than $7.4 billion in surplus military equipment and goods, including armored vehicles, rifles, and aircraft, have been transferred to more than 8,000 state and local law enforcement agencies according to a written statement provided by Chloe Becker with the Oregon chapter of the AFL-CIO.

In 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order 13688 that provided necessary oversight of the program. The Executive Order has since been rescinded. Now, the Oregon Legislature is looking at prohibiting Oregon law enforcement agencies from participating in this program by introducing HB 2481.

2020 brought a year of unrest and Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) one of the Chief sponsors of HB 2481, along with Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) expressed this concern in her testimony. She testified, "In the summer of 2020, Portland law enforcement, with the assistance of federal agents, deployed rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash-bangs for more than 100 days as clashes with protestors intensified before our eyes. We witnessed mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, repeatedly exposed to military-grade crowd control devices, resulting in injuries, lawsuits, and thousands of complaints filed with the city”. It should be noted that the legislation does not prohibit the purchase of any of these items used during the protests.

Chloe Becker with the Oregon chapter of the ACLU agreed with the representative stating “In response to the national outrage, armored vehicles, assault weapons, and military gear once again filled our streets and communities, turning them into war zones. Weapons of war have absolutely no place in our communities. What’s more, evidence has shown that law enforcement agencies that obtain military equipment are more prone to violence”. On the other side of the of the legislation was Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton representing the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. At a hearing held earlier this month he noted that there are provisions in the proposal that they could support, but he expressed how important it has been to Oregon Law Enforcement the be able to obtain light armored vehicles at little to no cost. The vehicles are used on an extremely limited number of critical incidents where active shooters and armed suspects pose a danger to the community or law enforcement officers. He shared a situation where “the vehicle was used to evacuate civilians from a dangerous situation by taking the vehicle right to their house and positioning it to safely place the civilians inside the vehicle and get them to a safety”.

One of the items included in Representative Power’s original testimony was a list to demonstrate that “many (Oregon) departments have received ordinary equipment, such as jackets, boots, googles, and other basic department needs. However, [this] is a spreadsheet illustrating the mine resistant vehicles received by departments across the state.”

The House Judiciary Committee and subcommittee on Equitable Policing is now considering an amendment, also proposed by Representative Power to narrow the scope of the legislation by allowing agencies to acquire mine-resistant vehicles, unmanned ground vehicles or militarized combat, assault or armored vehicles which addresses the concerns expressed by Sheriff Garton. However, it would continue to prohibit things like grenades and grenade launchers, unmanned armored or weaponized aircraft. According to the online report, from 1993 to 2020 the State of Oregon has not received any grenades or grenade launchers, unmanned armored or weaponized aircraft. Are Representatives Power and Fahey and the Oregon Legislature looking to solve a problem that does not exist?

The Amendment has yet to be adopted and HB 2481 remains in committee.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-22 15:55:31Last Update: 2021-02-22 16:17:33

Foster Care Qualifications Considered
Sen. Gelser is not done tinkering

Senator Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) thinks she has some . The question first came to light in the 2018 session when she attempted to make an amendment to SB 1540 to allow 13-year-olds legal consensual sex.

Now Senator Gelser has introduced SB 562 allowing foster kids to be placed in unstable questionable homes under the care of individuals of any age or orientation.

The Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division currently has age requirements for certification to become a foster parent. For certification an individual is required to be 21 years of age, unless there is a tribal or relative relationship where an exception can be granted for those between the ages of 18-21.

SB 562 prohibits disqualifying individuals from providing child welfare services based on certain characteristics: (a) For the sole reason that the individual received child welfare services as a child or youth; (b) For the sole reason that the individual is a person with a disability; or (c) On the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression or disability.

When children can’t remain in their home safely, they are already traumatized. SB 562 shifts the focus from the best interest of the child to unrelated anti-discriminatory rights of unrelated adults that have no vested interest in the child. Foster children need stable homes that don’t complicate their lives with adult issues. That should be the focus. The bill also codifies state policy on preventing retaliation when individuals report adverse experiences within the child welfare system: "It is the policy of this state that a child, ward or youth may not be prohibited from, disciplined for or retaliated against for publicly or privately speaking about the child, ward or youth’s experience receiving child welfare services."

Senator Gelser testified that there is no current policy that a child can’t talk, so this appears to be a preventive measure -- creating a problem to be fixed.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-22 10:06:44Last Update: 2021-02-22 11:34:33

Concealed Carry in Jeopardy
Every year, individuals using firearms prevent 400,000 violent crimes

Over the past two decades, it has become obvious there is an increasing attempt by many in the state legislature to use the passage of more restrictions on firearms and firearm accessories to undermine the right of self-defense and erode the Second Amendment, which is what the sponsors of SB 554 are proposing. The chief sponsors, all Democrats, are Senators Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), James Manning, Jr. (D-Eugene), Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), and Representatives Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn), and Lisa Reynolds (D-Portland).

These new proposals on conceal carry will not have any effect on crime or violence because criminals tend to ignore the law. Contrast that to the fact that SB 554 will hinder law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to self-defense because they tend to obey the law, which could put them in jeopardy of being an unarmed victim to the armed criminal.

Owning a firearm and having the ability to conceal it makes for a safer society. Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day. Most often, the gun owner never fires the gun, and nobody sheds blood, including the criminal.

Every year, individuals using firearms in their defense prevent 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes. That is more lives saved than by police in a year. In a report released by the Center for Disease Control ordered by President Obama in 2012 following the Sandy Hook Massacre, the agency estimated that the number of crimes prevented by guns could be even higher—as many as 3 million annually, or some 8,200 every day.

Sixty percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they knew the victim was armed. Forty percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they thought the victim might be armed, which makes conceal carry even more vital for protection.

Moreover, felons report that they avoid entering houses where people are at home because they fear the owner shooting them. Then consider less than 1 percent of firearms are used in the commission of a crime and CHL holders are statistically six times less likely to commit a violent crime than the average citizen who does not have a CHL.

--Rob Taylor

Post Date: 2021-02-22 10:04:52Last Update: 2021-02-22 10:06:44

Rep. Hernandez to Resign
Creates a vacancy in the East Portland house district.

Oregon Public Broadcasting is reporting that State Representative Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) will be resigning his seat in the Oregon Legislature.

Representative Hernandez faced many calls for his resignation -- many within his own party -- and an expulsion vote on the House Floor this week. Insiders were questioning whether there were enough votes for his expulsion. The Oregon Constitution requires 2/3 or 40 votes to expel a member.

His resignation creates a vacancy which will be filled by appointment by the Multnomah County Commissioners, from a list of three to five nominees sent to them by the local Democratic Party Precinct Committee Persons.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-21 19:42:03Last Update: 2021-02-21 19:59:29

Tougher Rules for Recycling Loom
More regulation on already-stressed businesses

Opposition is beginning to mount against a pair of bills impacting commercial packaging and the recycling process as a hearing nears in the Senate Committee On Energy and Environment. Extended Producer Liability and tougher packaging requirements are the subjects to be discussed.

Alison Keane is the President and CEO of Flexible Packaging Association, which represents flexible packaging manufacturers and suppliers to the industry, representing $33.6 billion in annual sales.

According to Keane, SB 581, introduced by Senator Michael Dembrow, (D-Portland) "would institute new Oregon labeling requirements for recyclability of packaging and ban the use of ASTM labeling for resin codes. This would result in Oregon specific requirements, which is unworkable given the fact that products are not manufactured and sold into Oregon only, and in most cases are sold nationally and internationally."

SB 582 would set up an Extended Producer Responsibility program -- similar to existing ones for automobile batteries, tires and other difficult to dispose items. The proposed program is, according to Keane, "not only for consumer products, but for commercial and industrial products as well, if far too broad and complex and because of this, difficult to even determine implementation requirements, responsibilities and timelines."

What appears to be a "gut-and-stuff" amendment -- intended to replace the whole bill -- to SB 582 has been proposed. Among other things, it says, “‘Equity’ means the effort to provide different levels of support based on an individual’s or group’s needs in order to achieve fairness in outcomes and the acknowledgment that not all people and communities are starting from the same place due to historic and current systems of oppression. Equity requires the redistribution of resources, power and opportunity to communities most impacted by systemic oppression.” It's not clear if there is enough support for this amendment to be adopted.

Both bills are scheduled for public testimony at 1:00 on Tuesday in the Senate Committee On Energy and Environment.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-21 18:39:37Last Update: 2021-02-21 20:45:08

Prevailing Wage to Increase
Bills make it more expensive for local governments

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries oversees prevailing wage laws in the state of Oregon. According to their website, "prevailing wage rates are the amounts that must be paid to construction workers on all public works projects in Oregon." Cynics have described prevailing wage laws as "the government overcharging itself for services."

Currently, prevailing wage is set by what is called an independent wage survey that is done across 14 regions in Oregon. HB 2419 would tie prevailing wage to collective bargaining contracts. HB 2597 would reduce the number of regions to five. Both bills are sponsored by Representative Paul Holvey (D-Eugene). Both bills had a hearing on February 10 in the House Business and Labor Committee, which is chair by Representative Holvey. Neither has been scheduled for further action.

HB 2419 is being opposed by Lori Sattenspiel who represents the Oregon School Boards Association. She said, "if this bill passes and becomes effective, we expect wages to increase. These eight districts going out for a bond now may find themselves short of funds to complete projects. Again, these schools have done their due diligence up front, including some escalation factors to account for trends in materials and wage rates. If there is a wage spike caused due to these bills, referenced as results of similar legislation in Washington state, these projects are going to have problems."

According to Tracy Rutten Rainey who represents the League of Oregon Cities, "this bill significantly alters the process by which prevailing wage rates are determined by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The proposed revisions in these bills represent a significant policy change that could result in unexpected cost increases for some projects." Rutten prefers HB 2252, introduced by Representative Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) which calls for the Bureau of Labor and Industries to study how they determine the wages.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-21 17:12:12Last Update: 2021-02-21 18:05:54

Gender Crime Training for Police
How does the officer know what gender you are?

Oregon law requires that police trainees be trained to deal with a whole list of crimes that deal with protected classes. The list is long. State Representative David Gomberg is proposing adding gender to the list in HB 2986 The current law reads:

The Board on Public Safety Standards and Training shall ensure that all police officers and certified reserve officers are trained to investigate, identify and report crimes motivated by prejudice based on the perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation or beliefs, membership or activity in or on behalf of a labor organization or against a labor organization, physical or mental disability, age, economic or social status or citizenship of the victim.

Interestingly, as society increasingly loses it's understanding of what gender means, it remains to be seen how this law will be able to be enforced. For instance, if gender is regarded as a subjective characteristic that an individual identifies as, how would the police know that a gender-based crime was being committed?

The bill has been assigned to the House Committee On Judiciary House Subcommittee On Equitable Policing.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-21 09:48:05Last Update: 2021-02-21 17:12:12

Hernandez Denied Restraining Order against Legislature
Sought to block expulsion vote

State Representative Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) was denied a temporary restraining order against the Oregon Legislature by US District Court Judge Ann Aiken. He was hoping to get a reprieve from a vote to expel him. That vote is scheduled for Tuesday, February 23 at 11:00.

Hernandez is being disciplined for allegations that he engaged in harassing conduct involving women who had business before the legislature. The suit filed by Hernandez presents new evidence that Hernandez claims he was unable to present to the House Committee on Conduct.

The suit names House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), as well as Representatives Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) and Ron Noble (R-McMinnville) who are Chair and Vice-Chair respectively of the House Committee on Conduct, which is considering the actions against Representative Hernandez. The suit also names Jackie Sandmeyer who is the head of the Legislative Equity Office which oversees the work of the Conduct Committee.

In her opinion on the restraining order, Judge Aiken says,

[Hernandez] makes numerous arguments that defendants did not properly follow the requirements of Rule 27. For example, [Hernandez] alleges he was only given seven days to respond to the draft report instead of ten. He also complains that he was not allowed to cross-examine his accusers. However, these technicalities do not in themselves mean that [Hernandez] has failed received (sic) adequate due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The "very nature of due process negates any concept of inflexible procedures universally applicable to every imaginable situation."

Though members of the same party, Speaker Kotek and Representative Hernandez have been at odds over Hernandez's no vote on SB 1049 in 2019. The bill, which was introduced by Speaker Kotek, required that public employees contribute to their retirement fund.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-20 20:05:29Last Update: 2021-02-20 20:55:43

Critical Race Theory in Mathematics
The assumption of racist values and beliefs is destructive to students

The Oregon Department of Education received national attention from major media outlets this week after releasing their monthly Math Educator Update. The news sources focused on a specific teacher training course that claims “white supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,” and, “[c]oupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics.”

The ODE Update also included a document called The Mo(ve)ment to Prioritize Antiracist Mathematics. The board states they have been thinking about using some of the principles outlined in this document to promote anti-racism in teaching mathematics throughout Oregon public schools. The anti-racist and equity principles put forth in these resources are more widely known as Critical Race Theory, which is built on the premise that racism is ingrained in our society and a fact of American life. “CRT questions liberalism and the ability of a system of law built on it to create a just society.” CRT teachings are divisive and harmful to students because they utilize immutable external characteristics rather than individual behavior and actions to determine culpability in perpetuating racism.

Here is a quick look at some of the CRT material promoted by ODE:

“A Pathway to Math Equity Micro-Course”

Within this course, math educators are guided through monthly practical exercises to reflect on their own biases and teaching practices to better recognize and subsequently deconstruct White supremacy culture in their classrooms. One example given, for instance, is the common request teachers make for students to “show their work.” The authors theorize that this is evidence of White supremacy culture, stating that it is “a crutch for teachers seeking to understand what students are thinking,” instead of an attempt to gain insight into student comprehension of new concepts. Teachers trying to understand students' thinking, they claim, is racist.

They go on to state that White supremacy is reinforced by the belief that “teachers are teachers and students are learners,” ingraining cultural ideals of “paternalism and power-holding” in teachers. Furthermore, “valuing independent work” is White supremacy culture because “[independent work] reinforces individualism and…, does not give value to collectivism and community understanding, and fosters conditions for competition and individual success.” There is no question that educator’s techniques should be evaluated and discussed with the goal of improving student’s experiences and learning. However, contextualizing common practices such as “showing work” and obtaining “right” answers in a framework of racism is simply inappropriate. The assumption that teacher actions are undergirded by racist values and beliefs is destructive to students and relationships within the classroom.

This material put forth by the Oregon Department of Education is an attempt to strip liberties from students and teachers by reducing them to nothing more than the color of their skin and lowering the bar for academic achievement. “A hundred years ago civil rights leaders would unhesitatingly have sought to get black people the skills they needed to break in, not indignantly demand that the powers that be change what they think of standards,” as stated by John McWhorter, linguist and associate professor at Columbia University.

Editor's note: The author of this article, Natalee Maxfield, is with Liberty in Education

--Natalee Maxfield

Post Date: 2021-02-20 18:12:50Last Update: 2021-02-20 18:37:27

Democrats Propose Changes to Oregon Justice System
HB 2002 prohibits firearms for parole and probation officers

Alongside far left policies already in play in Oregon, the super-majority Democrats of the Oregon legislature have proposed sweeping changes to the institutions of the Oregon Justice and Corrections departments. In 2020, observers in Oregon witnessed the Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt proclaim a commitment to not prosecute certain crimes in Oregon's most populous and troubled county. If some Democrats in Oregon have their way, this trend will certainly continue.

Now with HB 2002, parole and probation officers would not be allowed to carry firearms while performing their official duties. The bill has been introduced by Representatives Janelle Bynum(D-Portland), Senator James Manning, Jr. (D-Eugene), Kayse Jama (D-Portland).

There are numerous other changes proposed in the bill, and is summarized as follows: As the Oregon legislature too often does, if this bill is passed, it will be declared an emergency, and it will instantly be effective on passage.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-20 16:02:29Last Update: 2021-02-20 18:59:44

Sen. Heard Elected State GOP Chair
He takes over a party focused on winning

State Senator Dallas Heard (R-Winston) was elected chair of the Oregon Republican Party by a vote of 74 to 52 at a biennial convention of the ORP in which elections of officers is held.

In his acceptance speech, Heard said, “Now the real work begins for me. And for you. Hold me accountable.” Heard, age 36, will be the face of a party that is seeking to attract younger voters.

Outgoing Chair Bill Currier graciously stepped down. "I wouldn't do anything differently."

Former State Senator Herman Baertschigger was elected vice-chair.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-20 12:21:07Last Update: 2021-02-20 14:42:47

Concealed Carry Faces Changes
You might be a felon if you carry where you used to

Oregon's concealed handgun law contains a pre-emption against local jurisdictions from establishing their own rules for concealed carry by persons licensed to do so, but that pre-emption is on the block, and some places where you can now carry will be off limits.

A proposal put forth by Senators Ginny Burdick(D-Portland), James Manning Jr (D-Eugene), Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), Representatives Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn), Lisa Reynolds (D-Portland) have introduced SB 554 authorizes city, county, metropolitan service district, port operating commercial airport, school district, college or university to adopt ordinance or policy limiting or precluding affirmative defense for possession of firearms in public buildings by concealed handgun licensees. Additionally, Senator Burdick has introduced introduced SB 585, which would explicitly allow local jurisdictions to create their own rules regarding the right of license holders to carry, potentially creating a patchwork of laws across the state.

ORS 166.170 describes the pre-emption

"Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate in any matter whatsoever the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.

Except as expressly authorized by state statute, no county, city or other municipal corporation or district may enact civil or criminal ordinances, including but not limited to zoning ordinances, to regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition. Ordinances that are contrary to this subsection are void."

Oregon's Concealed Carry law had its origins over 30 years ago. In 1989 a shooter in Stockton, California killed five children and wounded 29 others at a school, then killed himself with a pistol. In the wake of that shooting, Oregon House Speaker, Vera Katz, worked a compromise bill, HB 3470, which established some restrictions on gun ownership in exchange for a concealed carry law, and was signed into law by Governor Neil Goldschmidt.

SB 554 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 585 was scheduled, but has been pulled from the agenda.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-20 09:50:10Last Update: 2021-02-20 19:02:31

Free Check Cashing
Don’t let the bill collectors and your past financial history get you down

Need to cash a check? One State Representative, Zach Hudson (D-Troutdale) wants to make sure you don't have to pay a fee, even if you don't have an account or any business relationship with the bank or credit union. HB 2356 is seen by many as one of many that is sympathetic to persons with legal or criminal history in Oregon.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation -- better know by its acronym FDIC -- says that 4.2% of Oregonians were unbanked in 2017.

Why are people unbanked? Analysts note several reasons, among which are:
  1. Your past financial mistakes put you on a no-account list
  2. You don’t trust banks
  3. You’re worried about minimum balance requirements
  4. You’re aiming to avoid fees
  5. You’re trying to avoid debt collectors
  6. You’re young
This list, which doesn't include an inability to have a relationship with a bank due to being an illegal alien, seems to make a pretty clear case that it's not really the bank's fault that you're not in a position or don't desire to have a relationship with a bank. Incredibly, Representative Hudson doesn't have a problem with making the bank provide the service for free. Of course, nothing is free and the service will be paid for by existing customers.

Another side effect of the bill is that since state law can only govern state chartered banks and credit unions -- not federally chartered ones -- the law only applies to smaller, local banks and credit unions. They'll have to face the additional burden of servicing the unbanked, while their larger, federally chartered competition can still charge fees.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-20 07:52:32Last Update: 2021-02-21 19:10:00

DeFazio Supports Anderson’s Stimulus Check Protection Act
Tax season is quickly approaching

As state Democrats look for ways to prop up government growth during the government imposed COVID recession, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR 4) has stepped up to support State Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City) in his quest to keep relief money from being taxed.

DeFazio is urging that Governor Kate Brown, Oregon State Senate President Peter Courtney, and Oregon House of Representatives Speaker Tina Kotek to ensure that COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments do not contribute to working-class Oregonians’ tax liabilities for 2020.

“It is unconscionable to ask the very families who have struggled the most during the COVID-19 crisis to include these payments in their tax liability,” said Rep. DeFazio. “These payments are a lifeline for Oregon’s working families, and while the ongoing pandemic has caused a budget shortfall for the state, the state should not ask these Oregonians to bear the brunt of that shortfall on their backs.”

Although Congress intended for EIPs to be tax-free, current Oregon state statute will result in hundreds of thousands of Oregonians being indirectly taxed at the state level. Data from the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office shows that EIPs included in the CARES Act that passed in March of 2020 will result in approximately 870,000 Oregonians seeing an increase in their state tax liability to the tune of more than $100 million.

Senator Anderson sent the following letter to Congressman DeFazio:

Congressman DeFazio,

Thank you for your recent support of my efforts to ensure federal Economic Impact Payments are shielded from state taxes. I currently have legislation being drafted that would keep this relief money in the pockets of working Oregonians.

As you have identified, this is an important step to fulfilling the intent of the federal legislation that helped millions of Oregon families during the pandemic.

While our parties differ, we serve many of the same constituents. It is my hope that we can work together to get this legislation passed this session for the good of our constituents, and Oregonians more broadly. For a family of four, $300 can make a big difference for working families who are struggling to make ends meet. Yet under the current law, these families will be sending that much of their stimulus check to the state government.

Tax season is quickly approaching and given procedural roadblocks that will keep this legislation from going to effect before taxpayers must pay last year's taxes, I am including provisions in the law that would allow affected Oregonians to either amend this year's taxes or file for a credit next year. Of course, any future payments should also be exempt.

To that end, I would respectfully request that once the bill is assigned to a committee, that you would testify in support of its passage. You were involved in the bipartisan crafting of the federal legislation that sent the much needed relief to Oregon families, and I believe your insights and support would be important to this effort. Again, thank you for your support on this issue and for your service to our state.

I look forward to working together in bi-partisan ways to help Oregonians begin their long road to recovery from this pandemic.

The bi-partisan agreement on this indicates the value of this proposal. It remains to be seen if Oregon's legislative leaders will share this view.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-19 18:20:50Last Update: 2021-02-19 18:46:06

Oregon Restaurant Has License Suspended for Indoor Dining
Old Town Bar & Grill in Newberg

On February 10, 2021, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission issued an Order of Immediate License Suspension to the licensee of Old Town Bar & Grill in Newberg, Oregon for not following social distancing and face covering requirement mandates.

Old Town Bar & Grill, which holds a Full On-Premises sales license,is now not allowed to sell any alcoholic beverages.

During the month of January 2021, the OLCC received a wide range of complaints that Old Town Bar & Grill were allowing for the indoor consumption of food.

Further, it was alleged that the licensee was hosting live music events inside the premises, and not outside in the cold, as is so mandated.

OLCC enforcement staff contacted the operators of Old Town & Bar Grill about the complaints that it had received. During those conversations, it became apparent that the licensee had no intention of modifying the operation.

In response to this situation, OLCC compliance staff went to the location to monitor the activity and observed patrons consuming food and beverages inside, and not outside in the cold. There was little social distancing and many individuals not wearing face coverings.

These observations led to the Commission issue a Notice of Proposed License Suspension on January 27, 2021, for allowing indoor consumption of food and beverages, as Yamhill County was and continues to remain in the extreme risk category for Coronavirus.

Over the course of the next week, OLCC staff received additional complaints and were made aware of more live music events.

On February 3, 2021, OLCC compliance staff once again went to the location to find a live performance taking place and patrons consuming food and beverages with no social distancing or face coverings. These continued violations resulted in the Commission issuing an Order of Immediate Suspension on February 10, 2021.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-19 18:07:03Last Update: 2021-02-19 18:46:45

Health Insurance Expansion
Part time college faculty requests full time health care benefits

During the 2020 legislative session part-time higher education faculty members distributed flyers daily to legislators describing the hardships they faced as part-time faculty. Specifically, they focused on not having health insurance coverage enjoyed by full time faculty. This was not a new push as the discussion had been around the legislature since 2007, but they hoped 2020 would be the year to get the policy passed.

During the 2020 short session, HB 4146 was introduced and would have created a health insurance option administered by the Oregon Educators Benefit Board. During testimony on the bill it was estimated that there were 1,500 to 1,700 workers in this situation. One of those affected who submitted testimony was Betsy Dasenko, an Adjunct Instructor at Oregon State University, Western Oregon, and Linn Benton Community College. She testified that “When I work for 2 or more institutions, I do not receive health-insurance benefits or retirement benefits like other full-time faculty even when my FTE often is equivalent to or more than full time. I rotate between two different departments at OSU, one which refuses to give me more than .49 FTE so they can cut costs”.

The bill ultimately ended up in the Joint Ways and Means committee. There, several issues and concerns were raised. Senator Steiner-Hayward (D-Portland) shared that the Community Colleges and universities don’t disagree with the concept. They just do not want to pay for it out of their current funding allocations. They want the general fund to partially or wholly pay for the cost of the benefit. She noted “we offered to add the money to the Community College and University support funds, and they would be required to pay their fair share with the system already in place. They dismissed the suggestion”.

Senator Johnson (D-Scappoose) raised the question of fiduciary responsibility by stating “To make this open-ended responsibility of the general fund is fiscally irresponsible”. The estimated cost of the program was $13.0M for 2019-21 and $35.2M for 2021-23. Sen. Steiner-Hayward agreed stating “I believe that this is an open-ended mandate, the rollup in the future biennial is very large, and we are already facing a deficit”. The bill was voted down in committee.

The story is not over yet, however. Once again the House Education Committee is taking up the issue with HB 3007. The 2021 version is identical to the 2020 version and similar to when the discussion was held in 2020, the list of supporters is long, and opposition is quiet. Just like Sen. Steiner-Hayward stated in 2020, “there is no argument, this is the right thing to do”.

Representative Susan McClain (D-Forest Grove) is once again the Chief Sponsor of the bill. As she introduced the bill to the committee, she let them know that she had worked with many stakeholders before bringing the bill back to the legislature and had determined that this was the best solution to this problem.

In written testimony, Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth) shared that “The dirty little secret within higher education is that adjuncts are not only cheaper than permanent faculty but often more willing to stretch beyond the contractual minimums.” Louis DeSitter with the Oregon Education Association agreed and added that the use of part-time faculty has expanded greatly and today 69% of the higher education faculty are part-time. However, as the bill is currently written, it still does not address the concerns expressed in 2020. Specifically, it is an open-ended mandate. The bill clearly states that the money is continuously appropriated. Meaning that the general fund must fill the fund with the money necessary to cover the expenses whether there are 1,500 people in the newly created benefit pool or 5,000. In addition, there is nothing to keep higher education institutions from moving more positions to part time to help them cut costs. This would then shift the healthcare costs over to the new OEBB system. Universities are always under pressure to cut costs and maintain current service levels even when the money is not distributed to them through traditional funding. This would possibly be one way for them to cut costs.

The bill does contain a bit of a safety net intended to prevent a mass movement to the new OEBB state funded option. It states that if, by policy of the institution or by collective bargaining agreement, the institution already offers health insurance benefits then it must use that agreement and not the OEBB program. However, most collective bargaining agreements are only in place for 3-5 years before they are renegotiated. The University of Oregon, for example, has a collective bargaining agreement in place through June 30, 2021 that states:

Bargaining unit faculty members employed at 0.50 FTE or greater are eligible, at their option, for medical, dental, and vision insurance. The University will continue employer premium contributions at the present 95% levels for medical, dental, and vision benefits chosen by bargaining unit faculty members.

As they begin negotiating the new collective bargaining agreement, cutting out the offering of healthcare coverage for those in the 0.50 FTE category and moving to a higher percentage of employment to qualify could be a bargaining option. It could also be acceptable to both negotiating teams as benefit costs would then shifts away from the university leaving greater funding for other negotiated areas such as pay, training, curriculum, etc. It would be an easy sell because those “left behind” would be covered under the OEBB plan.

Finally, in a session where one of the predominant themes is equity, it should be noted that in 2020 Senator Johnson raised the question that is still not unanswered in the new legislation. “Why should faculty get this benefit but other low pair part-time workers at multiple institutions not be included”. A question that may again be raised as the bill moves forward.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-02-19 15:01:12Last Update: 2021-02-19 15:18:52

Tow Truck Driver in Custody After Multiple Hit-and-Runs
Officers used their patrol vehicles to box in the truck

A driver of a tow truck is under arrest after committing multiple hit and runs and attempted assaults with a vehicle, including one where someone fired a gun at him.

On Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 11:47a.m., East Precinct officers responded to a report of a disturbance in the 6200 block of Southeast 97th Avenue. As officers were enroute, they learned someone fired a gun at a suspect vehicle related to a crash incident nearby and that other reports of hit-and-runs to other vehicles were coming in. Officers made contact with the person who fired the shots and he was detained. No one was injured.

Officers were able to locate the hit-and-run suspect vehicle, a yellow tow truck, and attempt to stop it. However, the driver did not yield and drove off in a reckless manner. Officers did not pursue the suspect. Officers were later able to locate the tow truck at Southeast 92nd Avenue and Southeast Woodstock Boulevard. Officers used their patrol vehicles to box in the truck and prevent it from eluding again (photos). The driver initially refused to comply with officers asking him to get out of the driver's seat. He held a knife to his throat while taunting officers. Officers with the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team were responding to assist, but on scene officers were able to convince him to put the knife down and surrender.

Officers connected the suspect to previous calls from yesterday and today where he violated a restraining order protecting a family member.

Dolphus M. Creer Jr, 30, of Portland, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Attempted Assault in the First Degree (3 counts), Attempted Assault in the Second Degree (2 counts), and three counts of Violation of a Restraining Order.

Officers are now compiling multiple reports to determine what additional charges are appropriate, including the hit-and-run incidents. The shooting is also under investigation, but at this time the person who fired the shots has not been charged with a crime.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2021-02-19 12:49:29Last Update: 2021-02-19 13:02:10

“Disciplinary Mediator” Sought for Schools
More regulation directed at social injustice

As part of the Oregon Legislature's emphasis on social justice issues for the 2021 session, Senator Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) and Representative Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville) have teamed up to introduce HB 2504 which "directs school districts to identify several disciplinary mediators and to train and compensate mediators, providing mediation when out-of-school suspension or expulsion is proposed or upon request for other disciplinary incidents." The bill, which does not describe what the "Disciplinary Mediators" are supposed to do, says that each public school district:

Must identify at least one employee for every 250 students to act as a disciplinary mediator. The disciplinary mediator must be appropriately trained and provided additional compensation for being a mediator. Mediation must be provided when:
(A) The school district proposes to impose an out-of-school suspension or expulsion; or
(B) Requested by a student, parent or other employee of the school district for a disciplinary incident.

The bill doesn't stop there. It requires an annual evaluation, which will only put more expense and effort on the district.

Each school district shall conduct an annual evaluation on the use of discipline in each of the schools of the school district. The evaluation must include:
(a) A review of disciplinary incidents during the school year to determine if there is a racial disparity in the use of discipline. The determination shall be based on data, including the local characteristics of the school.
(b) The establishment of data-driven, locally-based goals to reduce any racial disparity in the use of discipline.

Certainly no one would disagree that school districts -- at least the administration -- is filled with persons woke enough to fairly administer discipline. Apparently, despite the wokeness -- the same wokeness that says that showing math work is a sign of white supremacy -- school administrators are not able to fairly administer justice and need these regulations. This is just the latest attempt on the part of the party in power to regulate and legislate their way to social justice and fair racial policies.

The bill currently sits in the House Education Committee. It has not been scheduled for a hearing.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-19 07:27:37Last Update: 2021-02-18 21:30:50

The Lord of the Flies
Kids have to agree to their own parenting plan.

In 1954, William Golding penned a novel called Lord of the Flies about a group of school boys stranded on a desert island and their failure to govern themselves. Now 67 years later, State Representative Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville) has introduced HB 2959 that indicates that maybe she didn't read the novel in her literature classes in high school. Her bill would require children age 14 and up to sign off on their own parenting plan.

There's a reason why we don't let 14-year-olds enter into contracts, marry, drive, and vote -- at least for now. And one wonders what problem is being solved by this legislation. What happens if the kid refuses to sign on to any plan that doesn't include a monthly trip to Disneyland?

Current statute says that "It is the policy of this state to:

(1) Assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interests of the child;
(2) Encourage such parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage;
(3) Encourage parents to develop their own parenting plan with the assistance of legal and mediation professionals, if necessary;
(4) Grant parents and courts the widest discretion in developing a parenting plan;
(5) Consider the best interests of the child and the safety of the parties in developing a parenting plan.

To these, Neron proposes adding one more. "Ensure that parenting plans involving children who are 14 years of age or older reflect the child’s wishes;" and, more significantly, "If the child is 14 years of age or older, a parenting plan under this section may not be entered into or ordered without the consent of the child."

It's certainly understandable that a parenting plan should try to get some buy-in from the impacted child, but giving the child veto power seems like a bridge too far. Some might think that HB 2959 is an unnecessary wedge between a parent and a child, enforced by a state with a less-than-perfect track record caring for kids.

The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Law. It has not been scheduled for a hearing.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-19 07:18:05Last Update: 2021-02-18 20:27:37

Keeping the Kicker
This is a pretty straightforward income redistribution plan

As a government created COVID-19 recession wears on, the state has begun to feel the loss of revenue and the party in power is looking for ways to make up lost income. No matter what law the state passes, they won't get any revenue from shuttered small businesses.

Oregon's unique kicker law is a has been a part of Oregon's Constitution since the year 2000. Article IX, Section 14, SubSection (4) of the Oregon Constitution currently reads:

If the revenues received from General Fund revenue sources, exclusive of those described in subsection (3) of this section, during the biennium exceed the amount estimated to be received from such sources for the biennium, by two percent or more, the total amount of the excess shall be returned to personal income taxpayers.

State Representative Khanh Pham (D-Portland) is proposing HJR 10, a resolution proposing to change "...returned to personal income tax payers" to:

"...distributed to low income taxpayers through an equivalent increase in the total earned income tax credit allowed to all eligible taxpayers in this state. A greater amount of the increase shall be distributed to eligible taxpayers with dependents in the household, especially dependents under the age of 18 years."

This is a pretty straightforward income redistribution plan and creates an incentive for socialist-minded legislators to over-tax tax-paying Oregonians in order to have a part of their income redistributed to low-income persons. Curiously, the language of the resolution calls for redistribution to "taxpayers" and one wonders if it's intended that none of the redistributed monies go to non-taxpayers.

The House Committee on Revenue currently has possession of the resolution. It is not currently scheduled for a hearing. The Oregon Constitution can only be changed by a vote of the people, so if this passes both legislative chambers, it will appear on the November 2022 ballot for the approval of the people.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-18 15:23:19Last Update: 2021-02-18 16:00:30

Tenants Continue Dominance
The cost ultimately shows up in increased rent

Not so many years ago, the Oregon Legislature had a landlord/tenant workgroup, which would negotiate new laws impacting residential rental property. In addition to making life easier for legislators by having pre-negotiated legislation, it had the effect of creating reasonable, sensible legislation that was fair to both sides. Now, it's good enough that the party in power is just an extension of the tenants' lobby, while housing providers look on helplessly. Some say that history shows that government controlled, one-sided markets don't function well.

Just another example of this is HB 2364, a proposal being floated by Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene). The bill is summarized as, "Before its sale to third party, requires owner of residential dwelling facility to give tenants 20 days to form tenants committee and to give any tenants committee right of first refusal."

The "right of first refusal" in the bill is detailed in the bill:

If an owner has received timely notice from a tenants committee, the owner may not make or accept a purchase offer for the facility unless the owner first makes a binding offer in writing to sell the facility to the tenants committee at an equal or lower price and on substantially similar terms and:
a. The tenants committee rejects the offer; or
b. Sixty days have passed and the tenants committee has not accepted the offer.

At its worst, it gives tenants a way to squeeze another 60 days out of the housing provider. It's not hard to see that opportunistic non-profits or government entities will prop up tenant organizations in order to get first in line to execute these transactions. It will have the effect of keeping properties out of the free market, which will be bad for tenants in the long run.

This proposal, like many of the recent changes in landlord/tenant law takes control, liquidity, and flexibility away from housing providers. There is always a cost to these sorts of actions, and the cost ultimately shows up in increased rent, in a state that is ranked 15th among states in median rental apartment rates.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-18 14:51:33Last Update: 2021-02-18 15:23:19

Eugene Riot Suspect Photos Released
May 2020 Riot still under investigation

Multiple suspect photos have been released from the left-wing violent riot which occurred in Eugene, Oregon May 2020.

On the night of Friday, May 29, and into the morning of Saturday, May 30, a leftist protest in downtown Eugene devolved into a riot as they often do.

Several hundred individuals participated in widespread damage to property, burglary, robbery, assault, arson and other violent crimes. This was predominately centered around the intersection of 7th Avenue and Washington Street where the businesses sustained extensive damage and loss.

Since that time, members of the Special Investigations Unit have been conducting an investigation into these incidents with the goal to identify those who engaged in the crimes and arrest those individuals for the crimes committed. This continues to be a lengthy investigation, which requires reviewing hundreds of hours of surveillance video along with available social media posts. Ultimately, detectives have been able to identify and arrests suspects.

To date, 25 people have been arrested. This investigation is ongoing and Eugene Police Department(EPD) Special Investigations Unit has been able to identify a significant number of other suspects and is actively working to locate them for contact. SIU also is continuing to review large amounts of evidence and is investigating the suspects whose identities are not yet known.

Suspect images can be found here.

Additional arrests are anticipated. Investigators are asking for the public’s help to identify suspects, provide any information regarding other rioters involved in this incident as well as photos or videos of the incident that attendees may have taken and are willing to provide. The TIP line is 541-262-5388.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-18 13:55:02Last Update: 2021-02-18 15:36:19

School Funding Distribution Formula Change Proposed
The task force would review history and trends

Oregon public schools provide education to a variety of students, and some classifications of students bring additional funding to those districts. Newly elected Representative Zach Hudson (D-Troutdale) who enjoyed a career in teaching at Gresham, Corbett and Reynolds high schools has sponsored legislation which proposes a review of the current classifications and suggestions for improvements to them if necessary.

HB 3142 establishes a task force to examine the State School Fund ADMw. ADMw is one of the funding calculations for K-12 schools. Average daily membership (ADM) is weighted to compensate for specific student needs and uncontrollable cost factors, including special education students (IEP and Sped), English as a second language (ESL), students in