The Polk County Board of Commissioners has released the following statement:
The Polk County Board of Commissioners would like to encourage city, county and state officials, as well as local chambers, councils and business leaders, to join us in supporting the business reopening plan recently submitted to Oregon’s Governor and state lawmakers by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC). The clear and concise plan details the basis for this timely and profound recommendation that aims to help our businesses hardest hit by COVID-19, to pull through this economic recession and overcome their financial hardships.
“The last nine months have been challenging. As County Commissioners we share the frustration that our local businesses, families and residents are dealing with. Now more than ever our local businesses need all of our support. Today, I am asking you to join us in supporting the plan presented by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce. It is a statewide effort that is focused on positive results for our local business communities.” Commented Commissioner Lyle Mordhorst.
Many of our small business communities have been the unfortunate victims of this pandemic, and they need your attention and support right now! While there have been some City, County, State and Federal COVID-Relief loans, grants and programs offered, there has simply not been enough funding to go around, or really help these businesses survive this storm. Click here for the link to read the entire statement and plan. Below is an excerpt of the conclusion and proposed plan from the OSCC statement.
“The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) is stating as clearly and plainly as possible: Local businesses need to be made whole, and they need to be able to re-open for business now.
The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce comes to this conclusion by way of the following:
Our businesses have been extremely responsible to our community and to the Covid-19 guidance coming from the state. The recent adoption of the Oregon OSHA Covid-19 Standard further means that Oregon workplaces are some of the safest and most sanitary places for customers and employees to be. Public health officials have been clear that Covid-19 is spreading in Oregon for reasons unrelated to our businesses being open.
Our local businesses deserve the same consideration as the large corporations that have prospered due to elimination of small business competition and our government employees that have been kept whole. The shutdown of our local businesses has paved the way for corporate giants to profit in the absence of thriving local business communities. Similarly, the Governor has made every effort to keep public employees drawing full paychecks. The “forgotten” people in this state have been our local businesses and their employees who have been crushed by their state government and left to fend for themselves.
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The remedies to small businesses currently being offered by the State are completely inadequate. Last week’s distribution of $20 million of small business grants by Business Oregon closed after 15 minutes due to over-subscription. Similarly, the $55 million offered this past week by Governor Brown is wholly inadequate to match the current devastation in our local business communities. The economic damage to our local businesses and families is in the billions of dollars, not millions.
Shutdowns are sending our employees into a failed state unemployment system that has a history of failing to deliver timely benefits. This is disastrous for our valued employees and completely avoidable if they were simply allowed to work and earn their paychecks.
To help give our local businesses equal consideration, the OSCC and our Chamber members across Oregon are calling for:
Immediate re-opening of all Oregon businesses.
Substantial remedies to our local businesses that have been forced to shut down through no fault of their own as the state has deprived these businesses and employees of their livelihoods.
A $75 million Hospitality Relief fund dedicated to helping our state’s restaurants and hospitality businesses recover.
A Moratorium on new or increased taxes and fees at the state and local level. Whether direct or indirect, these increase the cost of business and further deprive our businesses of cash flow.
Stabilization of the commercial rental market through a short term tax credit for property owners that are willing to waive debt for commercial tenants that are behind on rent.
“OSCC is calling on Governor Brown and lawmakers to give local businesses and their employees the same consideration given to others during the Covid-19 pandemic. Local businesses and their employees have shouldered the largest costs imposed by state government and now is the time to help them recover.”
Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) has released
the following statement on the unprecedented silencing of ideas during the third special
“The destruction of property and violence during protests under the banner of any cause
is unacceptable and must end. But, while state troopers defended the Capitol building
from violence at our door, Democrats were attacking our legislative process from within.
In an unprecedented, surprise move, Democrat leadership refused to allow any motions
to adopt amendments to the eviction moratorium bill. To be clear, other legislation was
amended in committee, but this legislation stood alone—there would be no motions
made or accepted to amend. The votes were theirs—democrat leaders control it all. But
in this special session, it was not enough to control outcomes. They chose to silence
As Oregonians who were locked out of the building, protested and demanded their
rightful place in the halls of government, democrat leaders locked the minority party out
of the lawmaking process inside the building.
We came to the Capitol to pass meaningful and productive legislation for hardworking
and hurting Oregonians. Communities ravaged by wildfires, small businesses, schools,
renters and housing providers needed help and we responded with bipartisan support.
We continued funding for Oregon’s COVID response and provided critical COVID
liability protections for our schools—a key step to safely reopening to in-person learning.
But the people of Oregon cannot continue to pay the price, with a closed Capitol, closed
meetings and backroom deals. This must end.
The legislature must be responsive, transparent and accessible. We have more work to
do for Oregonians and they must be at the table. It is their right to fully participate. It is
their right to come to the Capitol to stand on their principles and through testimony or
protest, challenge the status quo and change the course of our state. The secrecy, the
backroom deals and the suppression of public participation and minority party input
must not and cannot continue in the 2021 Legislative Session.
I hope Speaker Kotek and President Courtney will renew their commitment to a
transparent and accessible Legislature as we work to support Oregonians next year. The
Legislature is the people’s branch, and it’s time it started operating that way.”
Governor Kate Brown acknowledges they aren’t working
"Not even our most strict policies of infection control and visitation protocols have been able to fully protect our elderly Oregonians." Thus declared Oregon Governor Kate Brown in a press conference Tuesday December 22nd, the day after Oregon's legislature met for the third special session, passing a massive $800 Million spending package.
Brown announced that not even our strictest policies of infection control have helped to stop the spread of COVID-19 within congregate care facilities. Brown went on to state "it feels really good that we can now start these vaccinations with the hope that these folks can reunite with their families once again, and feel safe from the virus soon". While feeling safe is surely important, feelings are far from facts. Governor Brown, and the Oregon Health Authority have yet to address the lack of testing of the COVID-19 vaccine upon the frail elderly population. Similarly there is no back up plan, or alternate care protocols put into place, should the vaccine not be as effective as hoped, within the frail elderly. Questions still remain regarding changes to policy, and restrictions being lifted, once the vaccine is administered. Leaving many to wonder what the timeline is for visitation of their loved ones, who are locked inside these care facilities.
On the other hand, according to Brown, the two week "freeze" has paid off, resulting in the stemming of cases previously projected to spike, as seen around other holidays. Brown also acknowledged that case counts are still up, and the death toll has still increased, yet claimed "this is proof that we determine, we determine, how the next few months will play out while we work to swiftly distribute the vaccines far and wide across the state." With this in mind, Brown urged Oregonians to rethink Christmas and of course, no New Year's Eve Party this year.
Brown applauded Congress for the $900 billion "stimulus package", claiming it will soon go to struggling Oregonian's who need it most, as well as $800 million passed by Oregon Legislature, which focused mainly on landlord/rental assistance. Brown claimed the new relief aid, essentially a $600 stimulus check, will be a "lifeline in the coming months". Brown also claimed funding will go to those who have made the most sacrifices, apparently homeowners do not fall into this category, as no financial help has been appropriated for homeowner relief.
Nearly 4,500 frontline healthcare workers have been given the vaccines. The next batch is slated for school teachers and staff according to the federal Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices guidelines, in an effort to get kids back to school. Brown stated that nothing is more important than our children's "social and emotional learning." Unenrollment has taken a toll on the education budget, which is allocated per student attending public school. Earlier this year it was reported the Governor's office held concerns about a "mass exodus" from public school.
What is not being spoken of or addressed are those being left behind. The small business owner who followed every executive order and spent extra money for compliance and mitigation, and now their business will stay closed permanently. The homeowners who lost their job, or closed their business doors, and will now be foreclosed upon. The elderly dying alone, and their family members who never got to say goodbye. The fate of those who thrive, survive, or barely get by, rests solely in the hands of the party in power.
Allege preventing plaintiffs from receiving amounts due under their rental agreements
Almost at the exact same moment that the gavel swung down on the third special session, a lawsuit was filed against Kate Brown, the City of Portland and Multnomah County over the eviction moratoria laws enacted by all three jurisdictions which essentially require a single sector of the economy -- residential housing providers -- to fund an estimated $400 million and growing statewide welfare program. The complaint, which would ordinarily merely describe the plaintiff's standing, or right to sue, added descriptions of the plaintiffs, their work, as well as their losses.
One of the plaintiffs is Moe Farhoud, the owner of Stark Firs Property Management. Far from being the unfeeling, unkind landlord scapegoated by some in the legislature and the media, he had a dream to provide those who encountered challenges in life with a second chance at success. Mr. Farhoud therefore seeks to rent many units at his properties to tenants who have had prior criminal records, bankruptcies, credit problems, and who have otherwise encountered circumstances which would limit their ability to rent dwelling units. He is currently owed more than $1 million in back rent.
Plaintiffs Tyler and Crystal Sherman own 22 housing units throughout Oregon. Tyler Sherman was 20 years old and working as a maintenance man for a property management company when he decided that he wanted to build his own rental business. He purchased his first duplex as a home and an investment. He went on to buy multiple other properties before meeting Crystal a few years later. The Shermans often purchased properties that were vacant and in need of major repairs. They have worked evenings, weekends, holidays, and late nights on roofing, cleaning, painting, gutting, and remodeling poorly maintained properties into clean, safe, affordable homes.
Several of the Shermans’ tenants have refused to pay rent since March of 2020. On information and belief, none of these tenants have lost employment due to the COVID-19 crisis. To date, these tenants owe them in excess of $8,000 in back rent.
2020 HB 4213 passed in the first special session, 2020 HB 4401 passed in the third special session. The suit also references several ordinances passed by the City of Portland and Multnomah county having to do with eviction moratoria.
According to the suit, "the Eviction Moratoria have the effect of:
a. Preventing Plaintiffs from terminating any tenancy for non-payment of rent, late charges, utility charges, and certain other service charges or fees, otherwise owing under their rental agreements with tenants;
b. Preventing Plaintiffs from exercising their contractual rights to exclude individuals from their properties and take possession of Plaintiffs’ units pursuant to Plaintiffs’ rental agreements;
c. Preventing Plaintiffs from charging late fees, penalties, or any other amount reflecting the time value of rent that was not paid in a timely fashion;
d. Preventing Plaintiffs from pursuing judgments for past-due rent absent any effect on tenants’ possession;
e. Preventing Plaintiffs, once tenants do eventually begin to pay rent, from applying those rent payments to the unpaid rental balance;
f. Preventing Plaintiffs from collecting unpaid rent until six months after the end of the declared emergency, whenever that time may be;
g. Preventing Plaintiffs from availing themselves of debt collection services by preventing Plaintiffs from reporting past due accounts to collection agencies;
h. In many cases, preventing Plaintiffs from ever receiving amounts due under their rental agreements.
The complaint goes on to say, that "The Eviction Moratoria are unconstitutional in several respects. First, the Eviction Moratoria impair the obligations of Plaintiffs’ rental agreements by removing the most important methods of enforcement of which Plaintiffs may avail themselves under their rental agreements: penalties for late payments and termination of the tenancy." It continues, "plaintiffs will likely bear the cost of this state-run public benefit program entirely on their own" and because of this "the Eviction Moratoria violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures."
Critics of the recent eviction moratorium legislation -- widely known to be the work of State Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) -- have pointed out that as the moratoria continue, an exit strategy becomes increasingly more difficult to craft and more painful to execute. Continuing the moratoria can only have the effect of creating broken tenants, broken housing providers and/or broken markets in which housing is less available, of less quality, and more expensive -- in the long run worse for tenants.
The lead attorney on the lawsuit, John DiLorenzo is no stranger to suing the State of Oregon. He's no stranger to winning, either. He was the architect of the successful $1.3 billion lawsuit against the State of Oregon brought by Linn and 12 other counties in Oregon, as well as 151 local taxing districts alleging breach of contract for the state's failure to maximize timber revenue on land managed by the state on behalf of the counties and districts. The state is awaiting appeal while interest accrues at a sickening rate.
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Indeed, as if the state knew that litigation was inevitable, the bill just passed, contains a kernel of a legal defense against such a suit. The newly-passed, but not-yet-signed-into-law HB 4401 offers a pre-emptive strike against such a suit.
Sec. 1. The Legislative Assembly finds and declares that:
(1) The provisions of [the moratoria laws] might affect the terms and conditions of certain contracts entered into in this state.
(2) The effects of the provisions of [the moratoria laws] are not substantial because the provisions have a limited scope and duration and are necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare. For these reasons the provisions do not undermine a contractual bargain, interfere with a party’s reasonable expectations or prevent a party from safeguarding or reinstating the party’s rights.
(3) Even if a provision of [the moratoria laws] has the effect of undermining a contractual bargain, interfering with a party’s reasonable expectations or preventing a party from safeguarding or reinstating the party’s rights, the provision is appropriate and reasonable to carry out the significant and legitimate public purpose of responding to the declaration of a state of emergency issued by the Governor on March 8, 2020, for the COVID-19 pandemic or the state of emergency issued by the Governor on September 8, 2020, for the wildfires.
One cannot help but wonder how the state, which has used the "impediment of contracts" argument as a successful defense against every attempt at PERS reform can now sustain this line of reasoning and re-write rental contracts throughout the state.
After three special sessions some House Republicans had some reflections on how the session went. It says something about the session that the focus was not on what was done, but what was not done, and how the session proceedings impacted and were impacted by the Oregon Constitution.
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby said, “The destruction of property and violence during protests under the banner of any cause is unacceptable and must end. But, while state troopers defended the Capitol building from violence at our door, Democrats were attacking our legislative process from within. In an unprecedented, surprise move, Democrat leadership refused to allow any motions to adopt amendments to the eviction moratorium bill. To be clear, other legislation was amended in committee, but this legislation stood alone—there would be no motions made or accepted to amend. The votes were theirs—democrat leaders control it all. But in this special session, it was not enough to control outcomes. They chose to silence ideas.
As Oregonians who were locked out of the building, protested and demanded their rightful place in the halls of government, democrat leaders locked the minority party out of the lawmaking process inside the building.
We came to the Capitol to pass meaningful and productive legislation for hardworking and hurting Oregonians. Communities ravaged by wildfires, small businesses, schools, renters and housing providers needed help and we responded with bipartisan support. We continued funding for Oregon’s COVID response and provided critical COVID liability protections for our schools—a key step to safely reopening to in-person learning.
But the people of Oregon cannot continue to pay the price, with a closed Capitol, closed meetings and backroom deals. This must end.
The legislature must be responsive, transparent and accessible. We have more work to do for Oregonians and they must be at the table. It is their right to fully participate. It is their right to come to the Capitol to stand on their principles and through testimony or protest, challenge the status quo and change the course of our state. The secrecy, the backroom deals and the suppression of public participation and minority party input must not and cannot continue in the 2021 Legislative Session.
I hope Speaker Kotek and President Courtney will renew their commitment to a transparent and accessible Legislature as we work to support Oregonians next year. The Legislature is the people’s branch, and it’s time it started operating that way.”
Additionally, State Representative E. Werner Reschke, R-Malin said, “The 3rd Legislative Special Session of 2020 was another disappointment for those who wish to be free and live free. Even the fact there was a 3rd special session is a glaring example of the wrong direction this state is headed. Oregon’s state government continues to think the answer to failing businesses, and the inability to pay rent is to paper over the real problem with more government regulations and more spending. The solution to the disaster of 2020 lies in letting people be free to earn a living, giving people a real choice how to educate their children and allowing families to decide how best to navigate the virus outbreak from China themselves. Top down government rarely benefits the people, but instead consolidates more power to those in charge.”
Representative Bill Post, R-Keizer is featured in the video below, which he summarizes, “I was once again, very upset that the public and lobby were locked out of the building during the Third Special Session. This is beginning to look like a pattern and it’s a pattern that is not good for Oregon. None of the bills we passed will really make the kind of impact that just plain opening Oregon back up would do. Let Oregon businesses follow the guidelines that have been set, using their best practices and care for the public and let’s get this economy back under way.
The Legislative branch has been passed by the wayside by the Executive branch. That is not how good government works and I am embarrassed for the Legislature that we apparently don’t have the back bone to demand the Governor work with us as equal partners. My SB 1801 floor speech on Monday, sums up my feelings overall.”
In what world is it okay for a sitting legislator to leverage his position to alter the people’s vote and voice? State Representative Paul Evans is attempting to do just that.
The Northwest Observer has received a copy of a letter sent to the Board of Directors of the Salem-Keizer Schools by Democrat lawmaker, Paul Evans that includes a thinly veiled threat and promise of future legislation that changes the rules of democracy. Don’t like the outcomes of an election? If you are a Democrat in a Super Majority, just change the rules to suit your agenda.
Salem-Keizer school board recently voted in a new Chairman, Satya Chandragiri MD this past July. He was first elected to the board in 2019. Prior to this vote, there had been and remains, significant pushback in personal attacks and character assassinations against conservative board members who have been elected through a full and fair election. Most recently the board voted to adjust public comments to remain inclusive while keeping the discussion civil and polite. Salem-Keizer has one of the most open and transparent school board websites and meetings allow for robust public input. Salem-Keizer has two different times allotted for public comment related to both the agenda and other non-agenda items with ample time to participate via video and written testimony. School board member, Marty Heyen voted in support of the change of the tone to public comments, “There’s nothing wrong with asking them to be polite.”
This is the decorum in the State Capitol, where the testifying public is asked not to impugn legislators and remain on topic. Legal counsel, Paul Dakopolos said the amendment wasn’t legally needed on limiting vitriol. In light of the sensitive environment of equitable advocacy, issue of SROS’s and the new ODE and Governor Brown directives to remove all hate symbols, Chair Chandragiri said the amendment is not meant to silence anyone but will help them be a trauma informed community. You can view public comments in both English and Spanish on the video stream from the December 9 work session where the public is still falsely accusing board members of being with supremacists as they have since March. The driving force behind these attacks appear to be led by bitter Democrat groups such as LUS or Latinos Unidos Siempre and PCUN or Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste. The controversy continues because the Democrats cannot stand the fact they lost the school board election last year. Ironically, LUS has been on the workforce group tasked with reviewing the issue of exclusionary discipline.
In spite of the open policies at Salem-Keizer School Board, Representative Paul Evans is calling for a subversion of the entire democratic process.
Mr. Chairman: This letter is a formal notice of my intention to increase the formal nature of the relationship between the State of Oregon and Salem-Keizer School District 24j. Your recent actions underscore the unintended consequences of benign neglect. Your board has drifted because of a lack of support. Therefore, I have drafted – and shall seek to advance for passage – legislation that adds appointed positions (Governor appointed, Senate-confirmed) in equal number to elected positions and legislation that transforms the zone-based elections model to an at-large, position-based model.
This new governance model should provide our state and community a blended “best practices” approach for resolving our short-term and long-term challenges. It will provide for a more effective and efficient model for expanding dialogue, increasing equity, and policies that are the result of thoughtful, transparent decision-making. Your actions limiting the input for the men and women you represent have served to ring the bell for all of us: there is an exigent need for real, transformative change at 24j. We shall answer the call.
To be clear, this is a board-packing maneuver in which because he doesn't like the makeup of the board, he wants to create new board positions -- unelected -- that are more likely to share his political vision.
Undemocratic moves like this are the reason we have a state beholden to Democrats in control of every facet of our lives whether it’s the packed courts or other government agencies. Don’t Oregon Democrats have enough power? Pat Allen of OHA was appointed by Kate Brown and he has been in charge of creating all the sector guidance for the duration of the Covid-19 lockdowns. Oregon Director of Education, Colt Gill was appointed by Governor Brown and the list goes on.
This new model insisted on by Representative Evans will have far reaching consequences. It will not expand equity or improve transparency and a state representative who thinks his solution is “best practices’ for Oregonians, does not serve his constituency well.
Monday morning December 21rst kicked off the third special session called in a year. Like the last four sessions, the Capitol was closed to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions. Closing the Capitol to public oversight or involvement violates the law, and is very clearly defined in Section 26 of the Oregon state constitution. "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 [sic]". Meetings of the legislative assembly have always been open to the public, as is the law, until now. Oregon Governor Kate Brown has decided to close the building to public oversight and lobbyists.
There clearly was gas deployment for crowd disbursement, along with other non-lethal rounds. The event was never declared a riot, and no warning was ever issued prior to the deployment of non lethal rounds. Many were injured in the incident. Breanna Jarmer is an Albany resident who said she was just trying to watch the session, but instead was picked up and tossed by an Oregon State Police SWAT member. "I was standing behind the main door, holding it after it had been opened. The next thing I knew I was being picked up and thrown several feet in the air by an officer". Jarmer says she was lucky compared to others. Jarmer tells Northwest Observer that she strongly supports law enforcement officers, and would never do anything to break the law, Jarmer states "if anything, I was really hoping our officers were going to uphold the law. Today was a very sad day for equity, and legal equality".
As Constitutional limitations, and newly passed statutes alike, go ignored by Salem's super majority, many wonder where the ACLU is at? The American Civil Liberties Union never missed an event, in over a 100 nights of Portland rioting. It would appear biases exist with regard to whom laws apply to, similar to current COVID-19 restrictions.
It's unclear, at this point, if Oregon Governor Kate Brown will use today's event as justification to close the 2021 regular session to the public. Reporters are being selectively allowed to participate. Independent and conservative sources are being excluded from press conferences and access inside the building. The people of Oregon rose up to defeat Cap and Trade, mandatory vaccination, and gun regulations last year. Rallies often hosted tens of thousands, peacefully advocating for public input. Each bill had an emergency clause attached which would have bypassed voters ability for the referendum process, had they passed. Meanwhile, Oregon Health Authority, and the office of the Governor have refused to answer questions, have denied public records requests, and transparency, relating to COVID-19, appears to be all emergency and no fire.
The economic hurt is deep and will become permanent
The lockdown allows many businesses to remain open while the closure of others seems to be mandated. The stated reason for lockdowns is to save lives. Two businesses forced to close are tenants of the small mall at the end of Edgewater St. in West Salem. One is a karate studio and the other a brew pub. The karate studio is owned and operated by a young couple who have proven for the last several years they can operate their business successfully. Their bread-and-butter customers are kids. In addition to physical fitness, the karate lessons teach these kids self-esteem. Parents see this and that’s why the karate school stays at full enrollment. Since COVID, no one in the age group of these kids has died of COVID. They had in-person classes for most of the summer with no adverse consequences for the kids or instructors.
That doesn’t mean they can’t become infected. In previous times when the kids get sick they stay away from classes. Teachers can get sick too. That’s why we have substitute teachers. The young couple are in an age group that has also experienced no deaths from COVID. Statistically this business is less than 2% risky. Right now the couple is doing some lessons on Zoom to avoid financial doom. They need understanding on their rent obligations and fortunately their landlords are not highly leveraged and can accommodate postponements for now. Owning this building is the landlord's retirement plan. The lockdown threatens both the young couple’s financial security and his.
Another business at the same location is a brew pub. Again, it has been operated successfully providing a neighborhood gathering place that reminds me of the sitcom Cheers. The owners had no incidences of infections with customers or staff during the summer reopening. Now that they are locked down again they can provide very minimal customer service with outside seating and growler pickups. All staff is back on unemployment again trying to meet their living expenses for an undetermined amount of time. The couple that own the business had several years of successful operation but are burning through savings that would go toward retirement. Statistically this type of business is also below 2% in contributing to the spread of infection.
These people and their employees aren’t operating the places where the infection is being spread. They have been very successful for many years because they provide a service that is good for the spirit of their customers. That spirit is being punished as are the entrepreneurial spirits of these small business people. 99.97% of Oregonians have survived COVID. The survival rate for small business is...to be determined.
New prospective initiative petitions have been filed by Andrea Kennedy-Smith of McMinnville, a registered member of the Independent Party of Oregon. and employee of the Department of Human Services and Reed Scott-Schwalbach of Portland, a registered Democrat and Teacher in the Portland Public Schools regarding attendance conduct of Legislators during session. This is apparently in response to the Republican walkout during the 2019 regular session over Cap and Tax legislation.
Initiative Petition 14 amends the constitution and punishes a legislator with expulsion for missing ten floor sessions. It reads:
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Oregon, Article IV, section 15 of the Oregon Constitution is amended to read:
Section 15. Punishment and expulsion of members. Either house may punish its members for disorderly behavior, and may with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member; but not a second time for the same cause. Failure to attend, without permission or excuse, ten or more legislative floor sessions called to transact business during a regular or special legislative session shall be deemed disorderly behavior and shall disqualify the member from holding office as a Senator or Representative for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.
Initiative Petition 15 punishes absent lawmakers by fining them $500 per day for each unexcused absence. It reads, in part:
A member of the Legislative Assembly who is absent without permission when the Legislative Assembly is in session shall pay a fine of $500 per day of unexcused absence and, for the period of the unexcused absence, shall not receive any salary, per diem payment or expense reimbursement otherwise authorized...
Each petition needs 1,000 signatures to be issued a title by the Attorney General. Initiative 14, which amends the Oregon Constitution needs 149,360 signatures to be on the 2022 ballot. Initiative 15 -- a statutory measure -- needs 112,020 signatures to be on the 2022 ballot.
Many realize that more help is needed for struggling restaurants
The Oregon Legislature approved Senate Bill 1801 to assist Oregon’s local restaurant industry by expanding the items they are permitted to sell to-go. Senate Bill 1801 allows restaurants to sell cocktails, mixed drinks and a single serving of wine in a sealed container to be consumed off premises, if a “substantial food item” is also purchased. In addition, the bill puts limitations on the fees that third-party platforms can charge a customer to fulfill food pick-up and delivery orders.
It pays to have the support of diners to move legislation. The restaurant community has seen alcohol sales decrease by 30-50% since COVID hit. Owners are hopeful that this bill will bring sales back to normal. Legislators speaking on the bill from the respective floors of their chambers were more realistic, saying much more needed to be done. As news reveals the despair of unemployed workers resorting to alcohol to numb the circumstances, are we simply enabling an increase in addiction costs and more suicides?
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a tragic wildfire season has created substantial challenges for our restaurant industry,” said Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) who carried the bill on the Senate floor. “Oregon’s vibrant restaurants, bars and pubs have adapted and flexed at every turn as our state has taken necessary steps to protect the health and safety of Oregonians.”
“Many of our favorite restaurants rely on the sale of our state’s renowned craft beer, wine, and spirits in order to earn a living and provide crucial jobs for our communities,” added Senator Steiner Hayward. “I’m grateful we were able to approve this assistance today.”
The bill passed both chambers with overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle. When the legislation becomes effective, it will remain law until 60 days after the state of emergency is lifted by Governor Kate Brown.
Hood River, Oregon and White Salmon, Washington are across the Columbia River from each other. But that isn’t the only thing they have in common. Sunday night about 5,000 of their residence lost power to heat with natural gas. Those residence are serviced by the Williams NW Pipeline Company.
At 11:50pm Sunday evening, a vehicle crashed into a district regulator station causing the company to shutdown their pipelines. NW Natural is working with emergency officials to determine the impact to customers and on a plan to reactivate gas service.
Customers are being cautioned to not relight their equipment, but wait to be contacted by NW Natural. Technicians will go door-to-door to affected customers to restore service.
Outages aren't foreign to Hood River residence having frequent power and technology disruptions. But they usually come with a weather warning. A sudden disruption in natural gas isn’t typically what they expect. NW Natural will continue to provide updates on Twitter and www.nwnatural.com.
Police use tear gas, violence to quell the mostly peaceful protest
As the Oregon Legislature convened a one-day special session, crowds of citizens entered the Capitol building as the morning organizational session concluded. Oregon State Police responded with pepper spray, riot gear and SWAT vehicles, barking instructions at protestors through bull horns. Two arrests were made.
There were no injuries reported and a report of a small amount of damage to an internal door on the first floor. One woman was detained by the State Police when she attempted to enter the Capitol through an open window.
The Oregon State Police issued the following statement:
On December 21, 2020 around 8:30 A.M. during the third special session protesters where able to gain access to the Oregon State Capitol. The Oregon State Capitol is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Oregon State Police and Salem Police were able to get everyone out of the building. Two individuals refused to leave the building and where taken into custody.
The Oregon State Police encourage people to exercise their first amendment rights, but it must be lawfully. Please, discontinue the acts of vandalism or destruction of property. If you commit a crime you will be subject to arrest.
Legislative deliberations are required to be open to the public, according to Article IV, Section 14 of the Oregon Constitution:
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.
Early in the afternoon, the State Police put out another statement:
While dealing with individuals that had gained entry into the Oregon State Capitol, OSP Troopers where sprayed with some kind of chemical agent on two different occasions.
At 8:30am, when protesters entered that capitol building, at least one of the protesters used chemical agents on the police. That person is still outstanding. OSP used inert pepper ball, while dealing with these protestors.
At 10:30am, when there were enough resources available between OSP and Salem Police Department, they started to push the crowd out of the building, when another individual used bear spray against police officers. That person, who has been identified as Ryan Lyles, has been taken into custody. He is being lodged at Marion County Jail on multiple charges including trespassing and assaulting a police officer.
OSP has not deployed any CS gas.
Many noted that the police response was disproportionately harsh in light of the police response to protestors in Portland during the summer in which public property was targeted and police officers' lives were purposely threatened.