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OSHA proposes temporary rule for workplaces
The rule contains multiple provisions that would apply to all workplaces.

Oregon OSHA is proposing a temporary rule that would combat the spread of COVID-19 in all workplaces by requiring employers to implement risk-reducing measures. Those measures include social distancing, barriers, face coverings, cleanings, and information sharing.

In addition to requirements that would apply to all workplaces, the rule encompasses further requirements for certain job duties involving close-in work activities, as well as health care activities involving direct patient care.

“This rule proposal reflects the need to provide both clearer and more stable guidance in the workplace than has been possible during the height of the COVID-19 emergency,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “We look forward to more review and feedback as we seek to further bolster on-the-job protections for workers against this disease.”

Oregon OSHA is accepting public comments on the proposal through Monday, Aug. 31. Send comments to tech.web@oregon.gov The division is scheduling virtual public forums to discuss the rule. The full text of the draft standard – as well as background documents and other up-to-date information – is now available.

The temporary rule, which could take effect no later than Monday, Sept. 14, would remain in effect for 180 days. The rule contains multiple provisions that would apply to all workplaces.

For example, employers would have to ensure six-foot distancing between all people in the workplace. That would include designing work activities and the workplace to eliminate the need for any worker to be within six feet of another person.

If such separation is not practical, the employer would have to ensure that face coverings are worn and that as much distance as practical is maintained.

The distancing requirement could be met with an impermeable barrier that creates a “droplet buffer” of at least six feet in distance as measured between the mouths of the affected people.

Another example pertains to all high-contact surfaces used by multiple employees, such as door handles and cash registers. Employers would have to ensure that such surfaces are thoroughly cleaned at the beginning of each shift.

Meanwhile, the draft rule includes additional measures for jobs requiring an employee to be within six feet of another person for 15 minutes or longer if it includes direct contact. Examples of such activities include tattooing, massage, and hair dressing.

In those situations, employers would need to conduct a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment. Such an assessment would account for a variety of risk elements, including the anticipated or actual working distance between all employees and the frequency, duration, and variety of close-in work activities.

The draft rule contains an additional requirement for employers engaged in such health care activities as direct patient care, aerosol-generating procedures, and emergency first-responder work: developing and implementing an infection control plan.

The plan would need to include such steps as outlining worker tasks requiring the use of personal protective equipment, spelling out hazard control measures, and describing face-covering requirements.

Oregon OSHA announced on June 26 that it had begun work on a draft temporary rule addressing COVID-19. The division conducted the work in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority, technical advisors, and affected stakeholders. At the same time, the division continues to pursue permanent rulemaking that would provide a structure for addressing potential future disease outbreaks.

For more information about Oregon OSHA workplace guidance and resources related to the coronavirus outbreak, visit https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/re/covid-19.aspx


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-08-18 08:13:09



Are We Still Doing That Science Thing?
When people say we want to “flatten the curve,” this is the curve we are talking about

The scheduled opening date for the school year is September 8. It looks like public schools won't make it. Private schools may be able to convince the authorities to open on a one-off basis.

With the economy staggering, the state looking at a $4 billion budget deficit for the next biennium, it may be time to do some more science. As more people get the virus, more herd immunity develops and some weighing of other factors like "overwhelming hospitals" and the need to have a robust economy -- as well as a robust society in general -- needs to be done.

Not only do we need to do the science. We need to do the math. Remember, in a state with a population of 4.2 million, there have been only 23,451 cases, which is a little over 1/2 of one percent. There have been only 388 deaths. Tragic, but don't even bother to do the math.

We've been doing this for several months now -- long enough to learn from the experiences of other states and other countries, long enough to learn about therapeutics and the effectiveness of public health measures.




--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-08-17 20:25:41Last Update: 2020-08-17 22:13:09



Opinion: Oregon’s Ongoing Problem with Slavery
The mission remains incomplete.

I consider Craig Berkman – a former Oregon Republican Party Chair and convicted felon – a friend.

As a career military defense lawyer who got sucked into Oregon politics while serving as Oregon’s Veterans Advocate, it always puzzled me why politicians on both sides weren’t more sympathetic to people in jail, at least as a professional courtesy. I suppose Craig’s journey from politics to prison happened because he stole from someone important. One way or the other, he did his time and was paroled to Tampa.

For most of Craig’s erstwhile “friends” in Oregon, his conviction was the end of the story. But for me, it was just the beginning. By the time he was paroled, Craig had seen the inside of “American justice,” and it shocked him to his core. Like Chuck Colson before him, Craig decided to devote the rest of his life to fighting prison slavery via his Free at Last Coalition.

You see, most of us think that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawed slavery. But a huge loophole remained. Slavery in America is still perfectly legal “as a punishment for crime.”

We are not talking about a court-martial sentence “to hard labor without confinement.” (Soldiers breaking rocks still get paid.) America’s multi-billion-dollar for-profit prison industry is rooted in paying prisoners nothing. It’s a racket which generates billions of dollars of profits per year for the private companies that run the businesses…and for the States that rent out their prisoners and keep the wages.

Given that Oregon incarcerates black people at drastically higher rates than whites, use of prison slave labor is more than a little bit awkward to a Ruling Party in Oregon that won’t shut up about “social justice.”

In using State power to exploit the helpless for profit, for-profit prison industries are simply using the same playbook that giant corporations like Apple and Nike do in collaboration with dictatorships like China. The only difference is that our prison slavery is happening in places like Sheridan, Oregon.

In Tom McCall’s Oregon, the Republican Party stood for moderation, consensus, and live-and-let-live. As a farm boy from Mount Angel, I grew up in that tradition and ran on it when I was the Republican nominee for Oregon Attorney General in 2016.

No one ever told me that my passionate advocacy for fundamental reform of Oregon Justice, the elimination of non-unanimous juries, the fair treatment of all Oregonians under the law, and better stewardship of our environment wasn’t “Republican enough.” To me, Justice has never been a question of Left and Right. It’s a matter of right and wrong.

And that’s how Craig and I were introduced.

The Republican Party was formed in 1854 to complete the destruction of slavery which had begun in New England before the Constitution was even ratified. (When Vermont was founded in July of 1777, slavery was banned outright.)

But the mission remains incomplete.

Craig invited me to work with him in the Free at Last Coalition, and I was proud to join. I brought to the effort the idea that justice reform and public defense are core Republican issues. We are not the Party of rampant, unregulated Capitalism-at-all-costs. Tom McCall’s Republican Party – and therefore my Republican Party – is the party of conservationism, which is rooted in the same soil as conservatism.

Oregon Republicanism must seek to conserve the best traditions of the past, while steadfastly supporting the expansion of the best of society (and government) to all Oregonians. Standing up for the least amongst us is one of those best practices. It’s what Republicanism was created for.

Section 34 of Oregon’s Bill of Rights mirrors the ‘exception clause’ of the 13th Amendment. Section 34 is the basis for legalized slavery in Oregon.

It needs to be fixed.

Oregon doesn’t have the power to singlehandedly change the U.S. Constitution. But we can change our own. Rather than incessant, hopeless recall efforts against a hapless Governor, Oregon’s Republican Party should lead the charge in ripping the last remnants of legalized slavery from Oregon’s Constitution.

Somewhere in Heaven, Abraham Lincoln and Tom McCall are nodding.

Dan Crowe is from Mount Angel. He was the Republican candidate for Oregon Attorney General in 2016. He is against slavery.


--Dan Crowe

Post Date: 2020-08-17 09:47:24Last Update: 2020-08-17 18:27:58



Feds Approve Lethal Removal of Sea Lions
It’s a measure meant to save endangered salmon

In a document released by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration entitled “Reducing Predation Impacts on At-Risk Fish by California and Steller Sea Lions In the Columbia River Basin” the federal government has authorized lethal removal of sea lions in the Columbia river by the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife, as well as several listed tribes.

The document outlines three alternatives: do nothing, Lethal and Non-Lethal Removal of Sea Lions, and Lethal and Non-Lethal Removal of Sea Lions and Modified Task Force Recommendations. They chose option three.

The document goes on to say

National Marine Fisheries Service would partially grant the eligible entities’ request, with modifications, for lethal removal authority of California Sea Lions and Stellar Sea Lions. The eligible entities’ would kill sea lions captured in a trap via lethal injection or captive bolt, and would involve the transfer of healthy sea lions to zoos or aquaria, if available. Where trapping of sea lions is not feasible due to environmental or behavioral constraints, sea lions may be darted to facilitate capture and removal. The methods and protocols for darting and removal of free-ranging sea lions shall be developed and approved by National Marine Fisheries Service and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee prior to implementation. Annually, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee shall evaluate the darting, capture, and removal of free-ranging sea lions, the methods and protocols, and determine if they need to be modified or discontinued.








--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-08-17 09:06:50Last Update: 2020-08-17 09:47:24



Oregon Hospital Connected to Portland Riots
OHSU President affirms support for far left extremism

Oregon Health and Sciences University, located in Portland, Oregon has came under fire for being invested in the controversial Marxist organization, ‘Black Lives Matter”. Several employees of the hospital were found to be distributing supplies to the rioters who have been plaguing Portland for nearly three months with what the main stream media has referred to as “mostly peaceful protests”.

OHSU President, Danny Jacobs has gone as far as releasing this statement which is in support of the organization BLM. He includes some “anti-racism” resources for “white people”.

“George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor...are the names of three recent victims of violence against people of color; a violence that remains rampant in our country. We have seen and listened in horror and utter disbelief at the tragic events surrounding their deaths in the media. These losses have impacted communities of color in deep and excruciatingly painful ways, as they represent so many others before them who also suffered untimely deaths from similarly tragic events. Their names will soon be replaced with others if we continue to allow systemic racism in thoughts, words and deeds to plague our nation.

“While we process the anger and despair these events have evoked among so many of us, it’s important to remember who we are as a university. Our mission is to enhance the health and well-being of Oregonians. We are a community of healers who have dedicated our lives to improving the human condition of others. This includes the physical and mental anguish people of color are suffering from as a result of bias and discrimination. These senseless attacks are antithetical to OHSU’s values and contrary to the work we do.

“This crisis demands the attention of us all—we cannot permit the loss of any more lives by sitting idly by and simply hoping for change. We must shatter the structural racism that perpetuates these cruel acts against people of color. The time to end racist-fueled discrimination and brutality is now.

“Acknowledging the fact that racism exists is the first imperative step in committing to change. Let’s educate ourselves about the historical cultural norms that are embedded into our everyday lives that contribute to bias and prejudice that leads to the injury, trauma and untimely death of Black men and women. Institutional racism is also inherent to disparities in health, education, wealth and the criminal justice system. You can act by joining conversations about race, listening to new ideas, declaring an anti-racist stance with your friends, families and coworkers, and inviting others to join you. Silence and inaction have led our society to where we are today and can no longer be tolerated going forward.

“OHSU firmly stands with the communities supporting George, Ahmaud and Breonna in calling for justice to be served and with our own members who are grieving and heartbroken. It is important to acknowledge the disproportionate psychological toll these events have on Black members of our community. If you are experiencing trauma, please practice self-care by seeking support from your friends, family and other community members, and utilizing the Employee Assistance Program, Confidential Advocacy Program and Resident and Faculty Wellness Program.

“Other emotional wellness resources are available at OHSU for employees and students to help in dealing with these tragedies, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion is also here to support you. Thank you for your commitment to creating a safe, inclusive and equitable society for all.”

Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., OHSU President


The organization “Black Lives Matter” clearly has a radical agenda. Critics would note that the philosophies promoted by BLM -- such as the desire to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family” -- will only continue to propagate the same frustrations that have plagued these communities.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-08-16 17:34:48Last Update: 2020-08-16 18:39:52



Tone Deaf: Gross Receipts Tax
Defeated by the voters, it comes back to life in the legislature.

Editor's note: this is the third of a multi-part series recounting how the party in power is thwarting the will of the people. There is also a downloadable companion brochure

Gross Receipts Tax, also called the Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) is a tax on gross receipts regardless if a profit was made. It’s a tax to do business in Oregon. Oregon voters rejected the gross receipts tax ‘Measure 97’ in 2016, 60% to 40% and rightfully so: gross receipts taxes are regressive in that they raise costs to consumers and affect those at the lowest income levels the most.

Four states - Indiana, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Michigan, tried gross receipts taxes and found them harmful to the state’s economy and repealed them. Regardless, the 2019 Oregon legislature passed HB 3427, a $2.5 Billion gross receipts tax, the largest tax increase in the state’s history. At the same time, Senate Bill 116-B passed, which preemptively torpedoed the ability of voters to refer HB 3427 to the ballot by setting the election date for January 2020, which is notorious for depressing voter turnout, and allowing the legislature (in other words, Democrats) to write the ballot title rather than the customary Secretary of State’s office. It was a deliberate step to stop a challenge of the legislation.

The gross receipts tax was advertised as a way to increase education spending. Yet critics of the proposal contend that revenue from the new tax will likely be used to supplant existing education spending and raise overall spending. What got lost in the debate is the fact that Oregon’s rate of growth in education spending is topping the rest of the nation. Forbes reports that “during the last half decade (2012-2017 data), state spending on K-12 in all 50 states increased by 16.5%. Yet in Oregon, K-12 spending rose much more rapidly, by 26.3% -- now putting Oregon near the top in spending per student. This means that HB 3427 proponents are imposing a new tax, one of the most economically harmful, in order to put more money into an area of the budget that is already growing much more rapidly in Oregon than in other states.”

What does Governor Brown plan to do to keep Oregon from the same downward spiral of increasing taxes as other states experienced, and how will she discourage people from fleeing? Are we headed for a state that looks like Detroit - no public services and bankrupt?


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-08-16 13:54:14Last Update: 2020-08-08 14:52:54



Meme of the Week
Obama didn’t shut the economy down.




--Northwest Observer Meme Team

Post Date: 2020-08-16 13:00:32



Kate Brown Disappointed Prisons Won’t Be Closing.
Warner and Shutter Creek facilities to remain open after budget cuts.

During a press conference briefing of the Special Session on August 11th, 2020 Kate Brown expressed she was “disappointed that the Warner and Shutter Creek prisons would remain open.”

As if to wag her finger at the lawmakers who didn’t help her pass this legislation, she went on to say, “I think – and evidence shows, we can be much smarter in our approach to tackling crime”. This can be taken as an odd statement when just this last Spring she had proposed prisoner releases due to COVID-19 fears.

Oregonians are unsure of her claim that “we can safely close our prisons and keep our communities safe” since there have recently been a large amount of protesters who have been charged with crimes against business owners and patrons of downtown Portland, and now those charges have been dropped or ignored by Multnomah County Courts.

She went on to respond stating “we should be focusing on preventing crime and investing in drug and alcohol treatments and other strategies” and “for the first time in years Oregon prison projections are down”. Critics are wondering if it be that those projections are down because her administration demands the courts look the other way on the lawlessness and rioting going on Downtown? Or is it because she truly plans on tackling crime in an efficient and just manner.


--Sabrina-Marie Fisher

Post Date: 2020-08-16 06:41:25Last Update: 2020-08-16 18:02:21



How to Use OLIS to Find Legislative Information
Featuring State Rep. Bill Post




--Editor

Post Date: 2020-08-15 14:57:39Last Update: 2020-09-13 15:02:58



How to Look Up Campaign Finance Info
Featuring State Rep. Bill Post




--Editor

Post Date: 2020-08-15 14:53:28Last Update: 2020-09-13 15:03:10



How to Use “My Vote”
Featuring State Rep. Bill Post




--Editor

Post Date: 2020-08-15 14:46:30Last Update: 2020-09-13 15:03:26



Tone Deaf: Keeping the Kicker
Its not your money until you cash the check. Even then...

Editor's note: this is the second of a multi-part series recounting how the party in power is thwarting the will of the people. There is also a downloadable companion brochure

Based on a booming economy in 2017-2019 biennium, the Oregon kicker was scheduled to pay back taxpayers the third largest kickback in the state’s history. The Oregon Constitution requires that, when there is at least a two percent difference between the final revenue forecast for the biennium and the actual end-of-biennium revenue, the surplus is returned to individual taxpayers.

In a complicated budget maneuver, Democrats voted to pass HB 2975 reducing the 2020 kicker by $108 million. For individual taxpayers, that translated to a 14.5 percent reduction to their kicker rebate when they filed their taxes in 2020 for 2019. By moving budget items around the Democrats said they could utilize more funds for critical services such as community colleges and higher education. It’s a back-handed violation of the Oregon Constitution.

Oregon is unique being the only state with a constitutionally mandated accountability law that ensures state government doesn’t grow too fast. The kicker ensures in years where revenue exceeds the state’s estimate that legislators don’t go on a spending spree. In essence it’s considered an over payment and returned to taxpayers. For corporations, their additional revenue is redirected to K-12 public education. Rep. E. Werner Reschke expresses it as “the best way to keep our economy growing is to return this money to the people who earned it. It’s one of the best and most effective economic development plans ever created. I believe that working families -- not politicians and government bureaucrats -- are the ones who are better equipped to wisely spend, invest and save this excess revenue.”

The Oregon Constitution requires the governor to provide an estimate of biennial General Fund revenues. In 1979, the Democrat majority legislature placed a condition on those revenue estimates that required excess funds to be “kicked back” to taxpayers. It was passed as a constitutional amendment in 1980. Since voters engraved the kicker in the constitution, the legislature majority has tried several tricks to delay or withhold funds from taxpayers. In 1991, the personal kicker was triggered, but legislators suspended it citing a budget turmoil. In 1995 they changed the year of calculation for personal rebates to the prior year to reduce the amount of returns. Voters retaliated in 2000 by enshrining the kicker in the constitution so only a vote of the people can abolish it, and any change or suspension requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature. In 2007 legislature, the corporate rebates were redirected to a rainy-day fund, and in 2012 voters permanently divert it to schools. Since 2011 the kicker has been a tax rebate, saving about $1 million in administrative costs allowing a larger rebate.

In 2019, Speaker Kotek introduced a bill to cut in half the rebates for public safety, air quality and job creation. It directed $260 million toward seismic upgrades to the I205 bridge, which was already in the transportation package passed in 2017. Then there was $245 million for a Zero Emission Fund to help the state transition to zero-emission vehicles, like electric cars. Kotek said she made the proposal “after hearing the magnitude of the expected kicker refund.”

Covid-19 has taken a toll on Oregon’s economy with very little possibility for a kicker this biennium. But it is ripe for proposals to end the kicker. Governor Brown has voiced support for diverting kicker refunds to cover the PERS shortfall. Riding the current wave of fear, it will be interesting to see what will be proposed for the 2021 session to shore up the economy.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-08-15 13:30:20Last Update: 2020-08-06 18:54:14



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