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Oregon Legislature Interim Committee Meetings
Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 8:00 am
Legislative Committee hearings
Oregon Capitol

Oregon Legislature Interim Committee Meetings
Thursday, December 8, 2022 at 8:00 am
Legislative Committee hearings
Oregon Capitol

Oregon Legislature Interim Committee Meetings
Friday, December 9, 2022 at 8:00 am
Legislative Committee hearings
Oregon Capitol

82nd Session of the Oregon Legislature Begins
Monday, January 9, 2023 at 8:00 am
The 2023 Session of the Oregon Legislature begins. Legislators are sworn in and bills are introduced.
Oregon Capitol, Salem

View All Calendar Events

Democratic Party to Replace Hernandez
“It is important to promptly fill a legislative vacancy”

After the Oregon Secretary of State and the Chief Clerk of the House were informed that Rep. Diego Hernandez intends to resign from the Oregon House of Representatives effective March 15th, the Democratic Party of Oregon started work to begin the process of nominating candidates to fill the legislative vacancy in Oregon House District 47.

The Precinct Committee Persons representing the precincts in House District 47 will conduct an election and nominate between three and five nominees to be his replacement.

The DPO is proposing a Vote-By-Mail Election to determine the candidates to send forward to the County Commissioners. This timeline would see ballots mailed out to voters on March 3rd, have ballots due to the DPO on March 14th, and have ballots tabulated on March 15th. The DPO would promptly submit the list of nominees to the Multnomah County Commissioners, who would then choose a person from the list to fill the legislative vacancy for the remainder of the current legislative term.

“The Oregon Legislature is just over one month into a critical five-month-long Legislative Session, and is working hard to respond to the many crises facing our state,” said Democratic Party of Oregon Chair Carla “K.C.” Hanson. “It is important that we are ready to promptly fill a legislative vacancy, so that the people of House District 47 are represented in the Oregon House throughout this Session.”



This is the same process that the DPO has used to fill previous legislative vacancies that arose during the COVID-19 outbreak, including for House District 33 and for Senate District 24.

People who wish to be considered for State Representative must file form SEL 145 with the Democratic Party of Oregon. Prospective candidates must meet the minimum requirements to hold the office. Those include being a registered Democrat for at least 180 days before the effective date of the officeholder’s resignation, living in the House District for at least one year, and not being under the control of the Oregon Department of Corrections.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 11:02:33Last Update: 2021-02-24 11:02:29

Equitable Access to Birth Options and Midwifery Care
Midwives are looking to be covered by insurance

HB 2388 is a bill proposing to increase equitable access to birth in community-based settings by requiring that insurers negotiate fairly for reimbursement for midwife-attended births in all birth settings, because community birth honors consumer autonomy and choice, according to Nicole Bendotoff, a midwife in a small home birth practice in Portland and a supporter of the bill.

According to Bendotoff, Since midwife births tend to be less costly than hospital births, women without insurance were incentivized to to choose a midwife birth. Midwife births were on the rise until the national Affordable Care Act expanded insurance coverage and more women giving birth had insurance and opted to have the more expensive hospital births. This led to a decline in midwife births.

Bendotoff says, "My clients always appreciate the high quality and attentive care we provide. And, during COVID this has been even more apparent. With the isolation that is happening, pregnant people and new parents are needing even more support."

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-24 07:54:12Last Update: 2021-02-23 20:53:36

Slicing the Pie
You can participate in Oregon’s redistricting process

Every ten years the US Constitution requires that a census be taken, and based on the data produced by that effort, the Oregon Constitution requires that all US Congressional districts, State Senate Districts and State Representative Districts be redrawn to reflect changes in population and ensure that each district represent roughly the same amount of people.

The district lines are drawn by the legislature, unless they can't agree by July 1 and then it goes to the Secretary of State, which it has often done in the past few decades, due to partisan disagreements within the legislature. The problem this year is that the federal census was delayed due to COVID-19 and the work might not get done by July 1, but since this is not the fault of the Legislature, lawsuits are teeing up to argue this.

Early signs are that Oregon will gain a sixth Congressional district, which will require some rethinking of all the districts. Will the coast get it's own unified Congressional district? It currently is split among three. Will Central Oregon and the growing Bend region get its own district? It's currently a part of the sprawling 2nd Congressional District that covers sparsely populated Eastern Oregon.

The Senate Committee on Redistricting, chaired by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and the House Committee on Redistricting, chaired by Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) will each have public hearings in which the public is invited to testify.

These are the various virtual public hearings for different districts in the state. You can use the buttons to sign up to testify during these hearings. The map above shows the current Congressional Districts.

Some people are concerned that despite the fact that 35.5% of registered voters on Oregon are registered to vote Democrat -- about one-third of registered voters -- the decisions about what the districts will look like will be made exclusively by a Democrat-led House, a Democrat-led Senate, a Democrat Governor and a Democrat Secretary of State.

There's also concern that since the Tri-County metropolitan area is dominated by Democrats, that lines will be drawn in rural communities by politicians who have no connection to those areas.

According to some, part of the problem in Oregon is that you have politicians eating their own dog food -- i.e. they are drawing the very districts in which they will run and which they hope to continue to represent. Many other states have a redistricting process that involves decision makers who don't have a direct stake in the outcome. They've pointed out that in a democratic republic, voters should pick their politicians -- politicians shouldn't pick their voters.

Virtual Hearings for Individuals Residing in:Hearing Dates:Hearing Times
(click on the time
to sign up to testify)
District 1
(Clatsop, Columbia, part of Multnomah, Washington
and Yamhill counties)
Tuesday, March 9
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 20
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
District 2
(Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood
River, Jackson, Jefferson, part of Josephine, Klamath, Lake,
Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa,
Wasco and Wheeler counties)
Wednesday, March 10
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 20
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
District 3
(Part of Clackamas and part of Multnomah counties)
Thursday, March 11
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
District 4
(Part of Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, part of Josephine,
Lane and Linn counties)
Tuesday, March 16
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
District 5
(Part of Benton, part of Clackamas, Lincoln, Marion, part of
Multnomah, Polk and Tillamook counties)
Thursday, March 18
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 10
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-23 19:27:35Last Update: 2021-02-24 08:13:44

Oregon Ferry Toll Rates to Increase
Change at Wheatland and Buena Vista Ferries

The cost of riding the Wheatland and Buena Vista ferries is scheduled to change on March 15, 2021.

At Wheatland Ferry, which crosses the Willamette River north of Keizer, the toll for vehicles less than 22 feet in length, which includes motorcycles, passenger cars and pickups, will increase $1.

The new Wheatland Ferry rate will match the rate already in effect at the Buena Vista Ferry, which crosses the Willamette River at the town of Buena Vista.

The toll for motorcycles, cars and pickups will remain unchanged at the Buena Vista Ferry. Bicycle tolls will remain unchanged and pedestrians will continue to be allowed to ride both ferries for free.

The new rate structure includes toll changes for trucks and tractor-trailers greater than 22 feet in length, too. Once these rates go into effect, the toll schedule for the Wheatland and Buena Vista Ferries will be the same. Upcoming toll changes have been posted at both ferries to inform people that ride the ferries on a regular basis. You can view all Marion County ferry toll rates on the county's website.

The two ferries operated by Marion County provide an important transportation resource for various segments of the county. The upcoming toll increases will not make the ferry program profitable, but are designed to keep operating losses to a manageable level. This will be the first rate increase for the Wheatland ferry in 12 years.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-23 13:10:05Last Update: 2021-02-23 13:17:32

Chipping Away at Property Tax Reform
Big government dream: A self-increasing tax

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

As one of the few states without a general sales tax, Oregon depends heavily on property tax for revenue. Real property is taxed based on its value -- know as ad valorem taxes. As real estate prices spiked in the 1990s -- along with taxes -- citizens began to become resentful of the tax windfall enjoyed by their governments. In 1996 the citizens of Oregon passed property tax reform as Measure 47. There were some technical problems with Measure 47, so in 1997, the Legislature sent Measure 50 to the voters, which fixed the problems by repealing Measure 47, but keeping the tax cuts.

For 1997-98, the assessed value of a property was set at 90 percent of the property’s 1995-96 assessed value. After 1998 the growth in assessed value was limited to three percent annually. New properties are calculated by multiplying the ratio of assessed to real market value for similar property in the county by that property’s real market value. This means that if you have a home where the assessment has been rising only three percent in 1989 and you build a similarly valued home nearby, the tax rates would be similar.

Property values, especially with the policies in Oregon, tends to increase at a rate greater than three percent, so over the decades, most properties have seen a huge gap between the real market value -- what a home can sell for -- and the assessed value, which is capped to increase at no more than three percent annually.

State Representative Rob Nosse has introduced HJR 13 which proposes an amendment to Oregon Constitution providing that, for purposes of ad valorem property taxation, the ratio of maximum assessed value to real market value of property must be equal to three quarters of the market value.



It also exempts from ad valorem property taxes lesser of first $25,000 or first 25 percent of real market value of each homestead and requires the legislature to enact laws for administration of exemption, including adjusting $25,000 for inflation.

This means that property taxes would no longer be capped at three percent annually. They are only required to lag behind market value. The legislative revenue office has not done any analysis on what dollar amount this will raise, but it has to be significant, and will grow over the years.

As with all changes to the Oregon Constitution, only the people can do that, so this bill is a referral to the 2022 ballot. This resolution has not be scheduled for a hearing.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-23 13:04:07Last Update: 2021-02-23 15:48:24

Analysis: Lessons in Japan From An Oregon Perspective
Let’s get to know our neighbors

In 2008, a friend and I chose to visit Japan to see a high school buddy of mine who had expatriated and been teaching English there for 6 years. While there we took a few days to go out to the country. First we went to Nikko, a small town north of Tokyo, which has some incredible shrines. Later, I split off on my own and went to a small coastal town called Shimoda, which is a small local hotspot for surfing.

I love history, and Shimoda is the port which Admiral Perry sailed into in 1853 making a very strong case that the Japanese should be interested in what the west was selling. He did so by showing them how the American west was won. Big cannons, with lots of powder. In truly Japanese fashion they still celebrate the festival of Black Ships with sister city Newport, Rhode Island where Perry was born. They celebrate the day Japan more or less had its borders forced open by western military technology.

Before I left Tokyo, my host, who had been in Tokyo and Yokohama for most of his time in Japan could not understand my need to get out of the city. “Kropfster, you grew up in the country. Country people are all the same whether it’s here or there.” Cities are where there’s a real difference in culture he inferred. I cannot say for sure that I totally agreed with him, but his point holds merit. We had grown up together in the same one stoplight town in the central Willamette Valley.

There is a similarity in people that live in the smaller towns and in the country, isn’t there? It's a slower way of life, and a different set of priorities. In some sense, my trip to the Japanese countryside confirmed this. I think there is a common misconception that people from the countryside are more small minded, and racist.

While in the Tokyo’s tourist districts, I was certainly exposed to racism. I actually heard first hand a loudspeaker van go through a huge tourist area saying “Japan is for the Japanese, you should all go home.” I was even able to offer that interpretation to our host while knowing almost no Japanese. He confirmed it was the “nice” version of what was said. Fascism seems to sound the same no matter the costume worn. Also, the costume in this case had lots of striking well understood symbolism. Bright colors and hard lines in red white and black. Some communications do not depend on words.

In the Japanese countryside, I got to experience a different sort of racism, being denied services, as a local hospice agent placed my reservation, only to confirm that the BnB owner was ok with a “gaijin” guest. She was not. In a lot of ways, I’m far more comfortable with the second situation than the first. I would have hated staying somewhere I was not wanted.

The next proprietor was more than happy to have me and I found my way to that Bed n Breakfast, which in the Japanese countryside could be called a Futon and Fish. I was relieved to find a place to stay. I had actually considered that I might have to find a ditch to crash in, as I had done my usual amount of planning and preparation for the trip. None.

My host tried to give me breakfast in the morning, but I couldn’t stomach fish and rice with broth for breakfast. The head was still attached to the body of the fish, and I was not feeling adventurous.

To be fair, I think there was a fried egg in the broth. She expressed a rigorous concern that I would not make it through the day, and mostly in sign language she let me know that I was far too big to skip breakfast. “You sooooooo beeeeeeeeeeeg.” Her english far surpassed my Japanese. The point was made, and I politely made my exit.

I remember fondly that trip to Japan. And though my friend could not quite understand why I would want to spend time in the countryside, I am very glad I did. It was a nice slowdown from the hustle of late night drinking and socializing in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills district. I was also afforded a different set of experiences that could not have happened in the city. I got a perspective on the world wherein my understanding of the contexts of our individual lives got some definition. I started to understand my friend’s perspective.

The border of Russia and Mexico

I currently live in a bit of an odd place along the border of Russia and Mexico. Tha is a simplification. Many of my neighbors are from Guatemala, Ukraine, Nicaraugua, or actually from Russia or Mexico.

Gervais, Oregon sits 5 minutes south of Woodburn and 15 minutes north of Salem. A heavily rural and agricultural economy abounds. There are greenhouses, farms, tree and nut production. The area represents an interesting cross-section of America in the early 21st century. The perspective here is enjoyable and unpredictable.

Many of the people here are guided by faith. Other than sub-century immigrants, the families tend to be of German or French Catholic descent, creating a lot of mixed Catholic cultures. There are a fair number of “old believer” Russians, and the beautiful churches accent the skyline with Mount Hood framed in the distance on clear days. The scenery is gorgeous, and the mix of cultures is refreshing, as are the attitudes.



As a transplant to the area I have my own perspective as well. I have my hands in many arenas, and have a diverse group of friends. I was raised Mennonite until the age of 6, and culturally for my entire upbringing. Mennonites, a sect of anabaptism, (not anti-baptist) are a somewhat diverse group in and of themselves. The majority are very conservative, agrarian, and culturally separated from larger society. Most adhere to a strict way of life which prohibits involvement in organized sports, competition or politics. The very strictest and most well known are Amish.

Malcolm Gladwell, whose parents converted when he was a child, describes them as a sort of American Christianity with Jewish traditions and roots.

My dad laughed at this description with familiarity when I relayed it to him. He had never heard it put this way, and could not help but agree. “Those (traditional Jewish) are our stories and traditions,” he acknowledged.

In many ways, Mennonites live as immigrants in whatever land they choose to live, another commonality with the Jewish heritage they embody.

Over the past election cycles I’ve witnessed notable phenomena. In 2016, I recall talking to friends in Eugene that could not conceive of how Donald Trump had won election. I pointed out to them that where they live represents a specific bubble, and that they get insulated from outside perspectives.

Rural Americans don’t think like suburban or metropolitan Americans. When you live in the country or in small towns, priorities are different. Which is in no way to say that people from specific areas all think the same. In fact, that’s the point I’ll get to by the end. I consider myself a bit of an amalgamation in that I grew up country, went to college in a small town, and lived in both a small city and a larger city at different points in my life. I’ve also had the benefit of visiting some of the world’s largest metropoli.

Living in a largely immigrant cultural area affords a perspective on the differences in the way immigrants and think compared to the way established cultures think they think. I know that's a mouthful, or a mind full. Generally, I find that people from large cities think that people from rural areas ought to share their values. And, if that is not the case, they assume that minorities from rural areas will have similar values to their own.

It is not only a narrow understanding, but also a grossly negligent, and in some cases racist viewpoint on the part of my well meaning friends from the city. I often cite a conversation I had with a friend that immigrated from Nicaragua over 30 years ago.

She and I were talking about the election in 2016 when Mr. Trump was campaigning on a promise to fulfill on the proposed border wall from 2006 legislation. My assumption was that my friend would not support building a wall, and I could not have been more wrong.

“Well,” my friend related “ what I remember of Nicaragua was not positive to say the least. It was a hell we escaped, and we were lucky to get out alive. As far as I’m concerned, build that wall, there are bad people down there, and I support any measure of protection from them we can get. Americans don’t understand what that looks like. Sandinistas were truly awful.”

I’ve relayed this conversation to multiple friends over the years. Usually I’m giving this as an example of why we cannot make assumptions about people’s political beliefs. Belief comes from context, context comes from experience, or at least the story we tell around the experience. A lot of immigrants have had awful experiences that don’t have them align with party line politics on either side. It turns out that Cuban and Vietnamese immigrants tend to be very skeptical of communism and socialism for instance.

In large part, Democrats and the “left” are guilty of this to a greater degree than their R counterparts. Though in large part, the assumption is the same in both cases, and that assumption is that minorities vote left. At the end of relaying my story, I have often heard some version of the following: “so they vote against their own people?”

I usually try to point out that they do not for a second think they are “voting against their own people.” They want to be here, and they are Americans (the USA kind, no offense to our neighbors). They don’t view it as “their people”. They are us, and are acting upon their own best interests, whether we agree with them individually or not. Likely, there is a belief that they are acting in defense of the United States, their adopted country. They came for the American dream, and to flee people that would have oppressed them.

This is a context I feel many people would be well served to understand, even if it may be difficult. Perhaps immigrants understand better than any what “Us and Them” really looks like. Or doesn’t. Immigrants often come here to relate to people on a level of equal philosophy, and to have a bond in a new country that they believe is linked by common ideology instead of being falsely divided by race and culture.

We need a new diversity- not one based on biological characteristics and identity politics but a diversity of opinion and worldviews.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I personally think a new paradigm could be emerging in which political analysts finally abandon racial assumptions. I encourage all of us to do so. The last two elections have certainly challenged what many think along these lines. Progressive liberals have been hard pressed to understand why Latin and African Americans have voted in historically large numbers for Donald Trump.

Race and culture certainly color our individual perspectives. So do things like our pace of life, and access to having our assumptions challenged through exposure to new views and attitudes. I believe things like rural / city are another lens through which opinions and attitudes become contrasted and understood.

Many immigrants understand America, at least the USA and Canada, as places where they can voice their opinions freely and be judged by their character and actions instead of by the color of their skin or any other indication of where their lives may have begun. They most likely hold their beliefs and opinions with reasons all their own. Not understanding them, does not mean they are illogical.

We could assume political beliefs or biases based upon where people live and likely be more accurate than making assumptions based on race. Let’s not do that though either. Let's not assume we know what people think. Especially in Oregon where my Trump supporting friends also strongly backed legalizing mushrooms for psychiatric treatment. Oregon, where my NRA member friends with concealed carry permits have been active members in the Portland Pride community. Oregon, where socialist rednecks are a real thing.

Assumptions are not just toxic, they are profoundly lacking in nuance and understanding and likely inaccurate. Let's get to know our neighbors and see if we might actually be able to understand where they are coming from.

--Jeremy Kropf

Post Date: 2021-02-23 11:12:15Last Update: 2021-02-23 12:29:30

One False Premise Leads to Another
...And another and then to a coverup.

Each legislative session many bills are proposed to change human behavior in the hopes that the climate will change to match someone’s idea of a utopian world. Gordon Fulks, PhD. of Corbett, OR is an astrophysicist. For the last decade he has addressed concerns about global warming with a presentation of the subject in terms the layman can understand. To the extent the topic is divisive he is welcomed or shunned. A true scientist, his teaching hasn’t changed because the science behind it hasn’t changed. He does respond to how others spin the message for effect.

The research that Fulks relies on is key to scientific understanding. He relies on sturdy temperature reconstructions from the Greenland ice cores. Those reconstructions cover tens of thousands of years and show relatively recent Minoan, 1000 B.C., Roman at time of Christ, Medieval, 1000 A.D. and today’s Modern warming periods. Each is spaced about one thousand years apart and each experienced higher temperatures ranges than we do currently. They do show that our current warming period is cooler than the three previous ones.

The numbers on the left show temperatures in central Greenland at the time intervals on the base line. The U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change UN/IPCC working with many universities worldwide, created over 100 computer models beginning in the late 1970’s to predict temperature changes in the twenty some years to follow. All of those computer models used the premise that rising CO2 levels would create rising planet temperature GAST. Every model failed spectacularly as shown below. They show that there is no correlation between the rise of CO2 levels and the rise in Earth’s GAST.

. With future funding from the United Nations at stake, Penn State, East Anglia and many other universities wouldn’t acknowledge that their theory relating CO2 levels to temperature was incorrect. Choosing to follow their funding versus following the science these IPCC members proceeded to alter temperature readings from around the globe. They were caught in the coverup. That was called Climategate, it occurred in 2009 and resulted in the dismissal of the head of the IPCC. After that the UN/IPCC dropped the reference to global warming and adopted the term climate change.

During that time interval real temperatures rose slightly but well within a range of normal variation. The IPCC accidently proved their premise to be incorrect, that rising CO2 levels will produce rising Earth temperatures, but they persists in this false premise to this day. It is the bedrock argument for eliminating carbon-based energy, a key to globalists tightening controls over human activity. Measured Earth CO2 levels did rise from 280 parts per million to 420 parts per million in those 25 years of computer modeling. The rise did not produce a corresponding rise in temperatures. It did produce a 17% increase in vegetation globally and hunger worldwide was sharply reduced. For perspective, the CO2 levels experienced by crew members on a Navy submarine are near 5000 parts per million.

The temperatures on Earth are most affected by celestial conditions, things astrophysicists study. The major ones being the Earth’s elliptical orbit, exaggerated by gravitational pull from our largest neighbors, Jupiter and Saturn and by forces experienced in the movement of our solar system as it travels through The Milky Way. https://www.theplanetstoday.com/ Constantly changing conditions of activity by our sun with its active and quiet periods correspond most to temperature conditions on Earth. When you make legislation based on a false premise -- humans cause global warming -- that relies on another false premise -- rising CO2 levels cause GAST to rise -- you can only do harm.

There is a third false premise involved here as well. That is that humans can control the level of CO2 on Earth. One volcanic emissions can equal the CO2 created by all humans each year and we have hundreds of volcanic events both above and below the sea each year. Do any of those legislators or those they speak for have the requisite science background to act with authority on proposed climate legislation? Do they presume their scare tactics have worked? Do they presume skeptics are too intimidated to speak up?

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-02-23 09:27:25Last Update: 2021-02-23 14:40:13

Campaign Money Matched by Taxpayer Dollars?
Six to one match on small dollar donations

It seems there is a proposal in the Oregon legislature that would make a significant change to Oregon election law.

While the Oregon's Secretary of State and many local county elections officials have celebrated what a good and secure system Oregon has, Democrats in Oregon may be attempting to put yet another "thumb on the scale" to further influence Oregon's election processes.

Legislation has been put forth that would see taxpayer money partially funding campaigns for political office. The proposal comes from Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis), who is sponsoring the bill. Representative Rayfield has recently proposed additional changes to Oregon election law in a state where his own party rules with a super-majority.

Despite this election stronghold, the Democrat wants to fundamentally change how elections and votes work in the state of Oregon.

HB 2921 would seem to create yet another government bureaucracy in the "Small Donor Elections Program".

It would also require taxpayer funding of political campaigns of a possible 6-to-1 ratio.

The bill is currently summarized as follows:

Establishes Small Donor Elections Program to enable candidates for office of state Representative and state Senator to receive 6-to-1 match on small dollar donations. Limits matching funds. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.

The Oregon legislature is currently in session, although the public has been banned from the state's capitol building.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-23 09:17:10Last Update: 2021-02-23 19:27:35

State Worker Privilege
“A pharmacy tourism program”

“White Privilege” is something we hear a lot about these days, but it seems that Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) missed the memo when he introduced SB 12, requiring benefit plans offered by the Public Employees’ Benefit Board and Oregon Educators Benefit Board to cover certain costs related to travel to Mexico or Canada to fill and refill prescriptions.

SB 12 states:

Benefit plans offered by the Public Employees’ Benefit Board that reimburse the cost of prescription drugs must include a pharmacy tourism program that allows an eligible employee or family member, who is not enrolled in Medicare, to fill and refill in Mexico or Canada 90-day supplies of prescription drugs specified by the board. The program must pay the costs of:
(a) The specified prescription drugs;
(b) Round-trip air travel to San Diego International Airport or Vancouver International Airport;
(c) Transportation to and from a pharmacy designated by the board; and
(d) An overnight hotel stay, if necessary.

It doesn’t stop there. It requires the boards to coordinate the travel making them travel agents calling it a “pharmacy tourism program.”

The FDA reported in 2017 that imported prescription drugs are neither safe nor dependable. Foreign drug makers are notorious for producing untested counterfeit drugs, even in unsterile conditions, then cheating international trade rules to hide their country of origin before the drugs make their way into the United States.

The PERS system has an unfunded liability nearing $20 billion and sucks up taxpayer dollars with no end in sight. Adding a high cost pharmacy tourism program to the OPEBB will increase the burden upon taxpayers even more for a privilege that bypasses the protections of screening foreign drugs. A bill was introduced last session, in 2020, HB 4147 to import foreign prescription drugs that everyone would benefit from, but it died in committee when the safety risk reared its ugly head.



Good steps have been taken. In 2003, SB 875 created the Oregon Prescription Drug Program, which serves as a prescription drug purchasing pool. In 2006, Oregon and Washington established the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium. Through the combined purchasing power of the Consortium both states have realized savings on the purchases of prescription medications. In addition, the Consortium offers additional opportunities for shared efficiencies by reducing each program's administrative costs.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-22 17:00:50Last Update: 2021-02-23 08:44:32

Democrats Push Bill to Curtail Right of Self-Defense
Meanwhile, violent crime surges

SB 554 was heard today in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation, under Chair Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene). The bill would pave the way for a patchwork of local concealed handgun license regulations to restrict where Oregonians can protect themselves and others.

“Concealed carry license holders are some of the most upstanding people in our state,” said Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), who is the Vice-Chair of the Committee. “These people are the ones you would want to be your neighbors and friends because they protect their families and others around them. The last thing we should be doing is discouraging people from helping keep our communities safe by creating an inconsistent standard of laws across the state.”

According to research, less than one-hundredth of one percent (.0074%) of Oregon concealed handgun license holders commit felonies. The majority of which were unlikely to have involved a firearm. The FBI has indicated that nearly 3.2% of active shooter situations are stopped with someone with a CHL. Other researchers have put that number as high as 16.5%.

SB 554 allows local governments and municipalities to regulate when and where concealed handgun licensees would be able to protect themselves and others. Thus, someone carrying legally and safely with a concealed handgun permit could end up committing several crimes in the course of running errands on a Tuesday afternoon, instantly turning them into criminals.

“Thanks to our rigorous concealed carry licensing program in Oregon, CHL holders are the good guys with guns,” added Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons). “This bill is a “solution” in search of a problem. The sponsors have failed to bring forth any evidence that this bill would make anyone safer. It would do the opposite. With violent crime on the rise, we can’t afford to severely curtail Oregonians’ right to self-defense.”

The bill also raises fees on CHL applications and renewals.



“Increasing gun violence has had a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority communities,” Sen. Girod continued. “The only thing increased fees will do is put the right of self-defense out of reach for these people. Wealthy and middle-class families won’t be deterred from protecting themselves and their families.

“Every life lost to gun violence is a tragedy. If we want to solve the issue of gun violence, CHL holders are the wrong place to look. Let’s follow the data.”

Today’s public hearing set a session-record for the number of people who submitted testimony against a bill.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-22 16:46:55Last Update: 2021-02-22 17:00:50

National Green Energy Policy
The Spanish experiment and its aftermath

There is an excellent example of what happens to a country when it embraces a green energy economy. It’s the Spanish Strategy on Climate Change & Clean Energy.

Post Franco Spain adopted a Prime Minister leadership model beginning in 1982. Under the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, know by its Spanish acronym, PSOE, heavy industry was cautiously nationalized. Finding success with liberalization of the marketplace and in a quest for economic benchmarks needed to qualify for European Economic Union membership, that process sped up under Prime Minister José María Aznar who served from 1996 to 2004 and Spain’s economy prospered.

A terrorist bomb attack propelled the PSOE party under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to a surprise victory in 2004. His administration enjoyed four years of economic strength initiated under Anzar while simultaneously plunging Spain into a green energy economy experiment.

Aggressive renewable portfolio standards included wind, solar and biofuels were set. Foreign investors from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany jumped on the opportunities.

The plan saw 2.2 people lose their job for each new job created. Wind & solar proved less efficient so utility rates climbed 92%. The government forced utilities to pay the higher rates for renewables and guarantee lower rates to customers. Service failures became common and many lost service through non-payment. The government had to subsidize the bankrupt utilities. The national debt became unmanageable. Financing schemes couldn’t cope with economic reality. Unemployment peaked at 27% in 2012. Youth unemployment hit 50%.



Spain quickly abandoned the experiment in 2013, but the damage is still mostly with her. Aznar’s hand-picked successor, Mariano Rajoy was elected PM in 2012. He found It hard to get the deep state off the renewables gravy train. Spain is currently pursuing nuclear power with foreign investors once again lining up to provide them financing. Unemployment is stuck near 20%. Spain provides the perfect model for any country looking to destroy itself in the blind pursuit of “green ideology”.

Image courtesy European People's Party - EPP Summit 4 December 2003 Paris

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-02-22 16:17:33Last Update: 2021-02-22 16:46:55

Local Police with Military Weapons
Oregon has not received any grenades or grenade launchers

The military surplus equipment transfer program (The 1033 Program), was established as a part of the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act. Since its inception, more than $7.4 billion in surplus military equipment and goods, including armored vehicles, rifles, and aircraft, have been transferred to more than 8,000 state and local law enforcement agencies according to a written statement provided by Chloe Becker with the Oregon chapter of the AFL-CIO.

In 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order 13688 that provided necessary oversight of the program. The Executive Order has since been rescinded. Now, the Oregon Legislature is looking at prohibiting Oregon law enforcement agencies from participating in this program by introducing HB 2481.

2020 brought a year of unrest and Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) one of the Chief sponsors of HB 2481, along with Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) expressed this concern in her testimony. She testified, "In the summer of 2020, Portland law enforcement, with the assistance of federal agents, deployed rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash-bangs for more than 100 days as clashes with protestors intensified before our eyes. We witnessed mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, repeatedly exposed to military-grade crowd control devices, resulting in injuries, lawsuits, and thousands of complaints filed with the city”. It should be noted that the legislation does not prohibit the purchase of any of these items used during the protests.

Chloe Becker with the Oregon chapter of the ACLU agreed with the representative stating “In response to the national outrage, armored vehicles, assault weapons, and military gear once again filled our streets and communities, turning them into war zones. Weapons of war have absolutely no place in our communities. What’s more, evidence has shown that law enforcement agencies that obtain military equipment are more prone to violence”.



On the other side of the of the legislation was Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton representing the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. At a hearing held earlier this month he noted that there are provisions in the proposal that they could support, but he expressed how important it has been to Oregon Law Enforcement the be able to obtain light armored vehicles at little to no cost. The vehicles are used on an extremely limited number of critical incidents where active shooters and armed suspects pose a danger to the community or law enforcement officers. He shared a situation where “the vehicle was used to evacuate civilians from a dangerous situation by taking the vehicle right to their house and positioning it to safely place the civilians inside the vehicle and get them to a safety”.

One of the items included in Representative Power’s original testimony was a list to demonstrate that “many (Oregon) departments have received ordinary equipment, such as jackets, boots, googles, and other basic department needs. However, [this] is a spreadsheet illustrating the mine resistant vehicles received by departments across the state.”

The House Judiciary Committee and subcommittee on Equitable Policing is now considering an amendment, also proposed by Representative Power to narrow the scope of the legislation by allowing agencies to acquire mine-resistant vehicles, unmanned ground vehicles or militarized combat, assault or armored vehicles which addresses the concerns expressed by Sheriff Garton. However, it would continue to prohibit things like grenades and grenade launchers, unmanned armored or weaponized aircraft. According to the online report, from 1993 to 2020 the State of Oregon has not received any grenades or grenade launchers, unmanned armored or weaponized aircraft. Are Representatives Power and Fahey and the Oregon Legislature looking to solve a problem that does not exist?

The Amendment has yet to be adopted and HB 2481 remains in committee.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-22 15:55:31Last Update: 2021-02-22 16:17:33

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