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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



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