Keyboard warriors zoom into Capitol committee hearings
Tuesday night in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on several bills, including HB 2734 that would create a new “excise tax” of 5% on purchase of wake boats, equipment, storage and transportation. HB 2725 would in effect ban all motor sports on the “Newberg Pool” of the river which after the Oregon State Marine Board banned wake surfing on most of the rest of the river, would effectively ban it on the entire river.
In the hearing, the panel of proponents included one Senator, one Representative and as an “expert” a homeowner on the river. Each was given as much time as they needed while over 75 people were waiting to testify for or against -- most were against. One homeowner in fact took over 20 minutes to go through her slide show. When Representative Jami Cate (R-Lebanon) pointed that she doesn’t live on the portion of the river that currently allows wake surfing -- she lives on a banned portion -- she was not allowed to elaborate on why that was important.
Then, after the panel, no opponent panel was called on, it was on to public testimony. The Chair, Brad Witt, ended the hearing leaving over 35 people hanging. They decided to voice their opinions anyway as the meeting quickly spiraled out of control -- including one person from Willamette Riverkeepers who testified with his middle finger. The chair tried to get it back but instead ordered the committee staff to shut it down.
One citizen filed a complaint.
I would like to formally complain about the rude aggressive behavior of the scientific presenter from the Willamette Riverkeeper Travis Williams (see attached photos) who made threatening and disgusting gestures and mouthed profanity on screen during my statement to the Committee.
I would ask that he be sanctioned and not allowed to appear at future public gatherings on this topic, as it appears he poses an on going risk for harassment to these opposing his views.
This is indicative of how the super-majority Democrats are running committees in this “virtual” setting. There are increasing compliants of limited time for opponents, limited testimony, limited hearings and a generally chaotic environment.
“Voters should choose their politicians. Politicians shouldn’t choose their voters”
At a press conference today, House Redistricting Vice Chair Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) and House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) were joined by Former State Representative Jeff Barker, a Democrat and Independent Party of Oregon co-chair Andrew Kaza to call for an independent redistricting commission to ensure a fair and accountable process.
“It’s vital that new legislative districts accurately reflect the electorate, and without access to 2020 Census data, lawmakers should not be the ones drawing their own new boundaries,” stated Rep. Boshart Davis. “We need to pass legislation to get the responsibility out of the hands of partisan legislators and into a nonpartisan, independent commission.”
“Oregon voters should choose their politicians, politicians shouldn’t choose their voters. It’s a conflict of interest,” added Leader Drazan. “The independent commission we’re proposing would ensure the accountability and transparency that Oregonians deserve for fair representation from their lawmakers.”
“The current system is vulnerable to political gerrymandering which is detrimental to voting integrity,” said Hon. Barker. “This proposal would greatly reduce this risk by removing politicians from the process.”
“Political gerrymandering can destroy the public’s confidence in the electoral process,” stated IPO co-chair, Andrew Kaza. “We should remove all doubt that this year’s redistricting process is anything less than just and impartial by handing responsibility over to an independent commission.”
Leader Drazan’s work with House Joint Resolution 7 intends to create the pathway to establish an independent redistricting commission to carry out this process.
“Unprecedented delays” in census data are the issue
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan issued the following statement in response to the petition for writ of mandamus filed with the Oregon Supreme Court by Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek:
“Over the last several weeks, the Secretary of State’s office has been in regular communication with legislative leadership about the unprecedented delays in Census data and the questions that it raises around redistricting this year. The Senate President, the House Speaker, and I are all in agreement that the Oregon Supreme Court is the right venue to seek clarity on how redistricting is conducted this year. Though the name of this petition may suggest we are adversarial, the caption is merely a formality to provide clarity to a process in which both the Oregon Legislature and Secretary of State have a Constitutional obligation to Oregonians.
“As Oregon’s chief elections officer, I am responsible for ensuring the accessibility, predictability, and security of Oregon elections in 2022. I have significant concerns about the Legislature’s request to move redistricting deadlines into 2022. Such a move would likely have cascading effects and require the Legislature or the Court to move the 2022 primary election to an uncertain date. I have consulted with our Elections Director and the county clerks. I share their concerns that disrupting 2022 election dates would lead to a significant disruption and voter confusion over next year’s elections. We have shared these concerns with legislative leadership and will be presenting the Court with a simpler option that preserves the Constitutional duty of the legislature to do redistricting but in a manner that is timely and does not disrupt Oregon‘s 2022 elections.
“My commitment in this process is to ensure that Oregonians from all walks of life are front and center. Maps must be fair, drawn in a timely manner, and the people of Oregon must be given adequate opportunity to have their voices heard. Accountability measures should remain in place if the Legislature is unable to complete its work, and Oregonians must maintain their right to challenge the maps under the Oregon Constitution and related laws.
“In the coming months, I look forward to working collaboratively with the Legislature, helping to promote their work, and engaging Oregonians in all corners of the state, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx, other communities of color, and historically underserved communities in this process. Together, we can ensure all Oregonians have the fair, equitable representation they deserve.”
A writ of mandamus is an order issued by a judge to force a government to act. Secretary Fagan has been hoping to complete the redistricting process based on the legislature's failure to act. Those wishing to testify on the redistricting process still have an opportunity to do so.
At what point does it become “reverse discrimination?”
The introduction of HB 3363 is one in a string of so called “equity” bills intended to bring justice to an unfair republic system.
Introduced by Representatives Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), Ricki Ruiz (D-Gresham), and Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), HB 3363 establishes a Racial Equity and Justice Student Council of 15 students, two administrators and two cultural representatives appointed by the Governor. The council essentially becomes an agency that is compensated. The Governor appoints members as a way to promote her agenda in schools, indoctrinating the next generation in socialism through equity justice. The purposes of the council are to advise the Governor’s office, the Legislative Assembly, the State Board of Education, the Department of Education, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the Early Learning Division and the Youth Development Division on education police, consideration of racial equity and justice at local levels, reimagining student leadership programs, providing support for underserved students, and establish a hotline as a resource.
The Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), is sponsoring SB 732 requiring school districts to establish an educational equity advisory committee. SB 732 is no ordinary handout to the underserved. This committee would act as an unelected board member with veto power.
The Governor is also using “equity” against schools. She requested HB 2166 for the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene an advisory group to review equity in the education system for all grades from prekindergarten through post-secondary education. Wait a minute, isn’t the Governor the Superintendent? What is equity except an excuse to micromanage school districts?
So what is “equity” that it has become the current political platform for leadership? SB 582, Senator Michael Dembrow’s bill, the -1 Amendment Section 2 (8) defines ‘Equity’ as meaning
“the effort to provide different levels of support based on an individual’s or group’s needs in order to achieve fairness in outcomes and the acknowledgment that not all people and communities are starting from the same place due to historic and current systems of oppression. Equity requires the redistribution of resources, power and opportunity to communities most impacted by systemic oppression.”
You read that correctly, “redistribution” of wealth, right out of the socialist play book. SB 582 includes an equity study on the availability of opportunities and barriers in the recycling system for women and minority ‘underprivileged’ individuals. The ‘underpriveleged’ also shows up in HB 3112, which establishes the Cannabis Equity Board within the Governor’s office to provide equity oversight of cannabis industry in this state.
Governor Kate Brown has put forth a number of “equity” seeking bills. HB 2161 directs office of Governor in consultation with the Racial Justice Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee, to study laws related to economic opportunity, with a focus on policy changes that address racial equity in economic opportunity of those who experience systemic economic disadvantages in business creation, as well as access to traditional capital and wealth creation redistributing wealth to small businesses owned by members of minorities. She also requested SB 289, which directs the office of Governor, in consultation with Racial Justice Council’s Environmental Equity Committee, to study laws related to the environment with a focus on potential policy changes that address environmental equity. Of course, these studies are to give their reports by September 15, 2022, before she leaves office.
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Representative Diego Hernandez, who will be leaving the legislature soon, also jumped on the equity band wagon introducing HB 2566 and HB 2567, which directs the Secretary of State to establish a task force on Audit Equity Analysis, and to study and make recommendations regarding best practices for conducting audits related to equity issues, and to conduct a performance audit that includes objectives related to equity issues by December 31 this year.
Not to be left out Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) introduced HB 2353 that requires agencies to include in rulemaking notice a statement identifying how adoption of the rule will affect racial equity.
Let’s not leave energy out. SB 247 directs the Department of Energy to study opportunities and challenges in Oregon for renewable energy, energy equity and development of clean energy workforce. If energy doesn’t hit home, then perhaps SB 167 will. Senator Lee Beyer’s bill provides that assessed value of property that is not be greater than a formula is also not to be greater than a value determined to be necessary to effect fairness and equity in assessed values of property and property in same area in same property class.
Health wasn’t left out of this equity game. HB 2505 directs Governor's Child Foster Care Advisory Commission to establish Child Welfare Equity Advisory Committee to advise the commission and Department of Human Services regarding equitable provision of child welfare services. HB 2760 and SB 70 defines "Regional Health Equity Coalition" and "Regional Health Equity Coalition model," and requires Oregon Health Authority to work with the Regional Health Equity Coalitions and groups utilizing the Regional Health Equity Coalition model, which is to recognizes the impact of structural, institutional and interpersonal racism on the health and well-being of communities of color and other priority populations. And Medicaid gets an overhaul in HB 3353 seeking federal approval to permit coordinated care organizations to use a portion of global budgets to improve health equity, improve overall health of community or enhance payments to providers who advance health equity.
At what point does it become "reverse discrimination?" The majority of bills introduced have some overriding benefit or handout to the 'underprivileged' ‘underserved’ to such an extent that socialism has taken over. Oregon's population is 85.06% white. So, these bills represent 15% of the total population. How much does the 85% have to give through taxes, jobs, opportunities, businesses before it violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. which says: “No State make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privilege or immunities of citizens of the United States;… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Governor Brown continues to separate and divide society by racial application of laws in lieu of "equal treatment" for everyone. Top down mandates under the disguise of equity is dividing the state through unnatural, guarded relations. The more equity measures, the less equitable everyone feels.
The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board allocated $100 million to Business Oregon for a new program to provide financial assistance to small businesses and commercial landlords impacted by the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.
The program provides grants to building owners to cover outstanding lease payments from small business tenants that are behind on rent due to the government mandated lockdown. The grants can go up to $100,000 per each business tenant lease, but not more than $3 million for each landlord. The landlord must agree not to evict the tenant for six months and waive any rights to collect outstanding penalties or interest, or enforce eviction clauses related to the delinquent lease payments between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021.
The program is intended to help small business tenants that have 100 or fewer employees. The agreement will include additional stipulations for tenants, such as non-eviction clauses, and a waiver of penalties and interest.
The program will open for applications on Monday, March 8. Both the business tenant and property owner will need to participate in the application process and sign the grant agreement, but the initial application needs to be completed by the landlord.
The application period will be open for two weeks, with eligible submissions chosen by a lottery system that will also ensure geographic distribution across all regions of the state. The program is split into two rounds, the first $50 million will be allocated in the application period that is opening March 8. The remaining will be used in an additional application period that will open in late April. Unsuccessful (but eligible) applicants from the first round will automatically be considered in the second round, as will any new round two applicants.
This is the seventh COVID-specific program Business Oregon has implemented to help businesses navigate the impacts of the government mandated lockdown. One of those programs — the emergency small business grant — gave about 7,500 small businesses with $43 million in grants to help offset revenue impacts from the lockdown.
More program information and eligibility details are available on Business Oregon’s website. The application will be available on that website on March 8, 2021, and be available in multiple languages.
Minority has a shared governing role amid Democrats’ attempts to dictate process
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) made the following remarks during Tuesday’s floor session regarding the Capitol building’s public access restrictions and attempts by House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) to marginalize the participation of Republican members:
“We are not here to facilitate the ease of the passage of someone else’s agenda that harms my community and my state long-term.”
The statement was made following a decision by Republicans not to dispense with Article IV, Section 19 of the Oregon State Constitution, which requires that all bills be read aloud. Ordinarily, because of the length of the bills, the chamber is able to get a two-thirds majority and merely read the title of the bill. The operative section of the Oregon Constitution reads:
Every bill shall be read by title only on three several days, in each house, unless in case of emergency two-thirds of the house where such bill may be pending shall, by a vote of yeas and nays, deem it expedient to dispense with this rule; provided, however, on its final passage such bill shall be read section by section unless such requirement be suspended by a vote of two-thirds of the house where such bill may be pending, and the vote on the final passage of every bill or joint resolution shall be taken by yeas and nays.
View Leader Drazan’s full remarks in the video below.
The Capitol should be open to the public by April 21
On March 3rd, OHA Direction Pat Allen testified before the House Committee on COVID-19 that by April 21, Oregon should have received enough vaccines to vaccinate 70% of the adult population. This follows on the Governor and Director Allen repeatedly saying that the supply of vaccines is what is keeping us from vaccinating every eligible person who wants a shot.
According to the best available data and experts, herd immunity is reached when at least 70% of the population are vaccinated or otherwise immune to COVID-19.
Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) released a statement about what the data means for reopening the Capitol building to the public:
“If herd immunity isn’t the benchmark for giving Oregonians full access to their democracy, I don’t know what is. I am calling on the Presiding Officers to develop a plan to reopen the Capitol by April 21.
“An April 21st timeline would allow 70% of the population to receive the vaccine. When natural immunity is accounted for, we should be well over the 70% threshold for herd immunity. April 21 is a completely reasonable expectation for reopening the building.”
When girls go bad, gender roles take a beating in law
HB 3096 exposes a paradox of some of the more extreme gender constructs that permeate our culture today. We are increasingly told that gender is fluid, subjective and non-binary -- an elusive and even out-moded way of categorizing and boxing-in human beings.
Occasionally, reality hits us smack in the face and we have to affirm the existence of gender so that we can create effective policies and govern ourselves in a sane way. HB 3096, introduced by Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland), calls for the Oregon Department of Corrections to study issues specific to women in custody of department and to provide results of study to Legislative Assembly. This is probably a good thing. It's not hard to imagine that the crime/punishment experience of women is different than that of men, and that different policies might make sense.
The bill has an amendment readied for it, which looks likely to be adopted. The amendment fully recognizes the binary, non-fluid, non-subjective classification of gender -- based in science -- and intends to craft policy appropriate to those facts. For instance, the amendment says,
"Gender-responsive" means taking into account gender-specific needs that have been identified in research, including but not limited to socialization, psychological development, strengths, risk factors, pathways through systems, responses to treatment intervention and other unique gender-specific needs facing justice-involved persons.
One wonders, if this is to pass, how transgendered, lesbian and other subjective, self-described gender models fit into this legislation. One also wonders how the concept of "Disparate impact" applies. Disparate impact is the notion that if outcomes are disproportionately distributed across race or gender, that this is prima facie evidence of discrimination. How do we regard the fact that only 7.7% of inmates incarcerated in Oregon's prisons are women?
Either use intense, severe force, or back off and do nothing.
One theme that has persisted in the Oregon Legislature since the special sessions of the summer of 2020 and following on the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in March of last year is policies used by police forces, especially against minorities and in the context of large crowds and ultimately riots.
State Representative Janelle Bynum has introduced HB 2928 which has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee which she chairs, meaning that the bill will probably move -- in some form -- from her committee and to the floor by tomorrow morning. Much of the testimony on the bill was from persons who participated in the Portland riots, and had direct experience of crowd control measures.
This bill "regulates use of chemical incapacitants, kinetic impact projectiles and sound devices by law enforcement agencies," effectively neutering the police's ability to use moderate measures to control large, unruly, and rioting crowds. The end result is that police are left with two options: Either use intense, severe and possibly lethal force against individuals, or back off and do nothing.
The summary on the bill continues:
Creates private cause of action for person injured by unlawful use of chemical incapacitants, kinetic impact projectiles and sound devices by law enforcement agencies. Prohibits law enforcement agency from using proxy law enforcement agency to enact measures that court or statute has barred law enforcement agency from using. Prohibits law enforcement agency from acting in concert with another law enforcement agency to engage in misconduct barred by statute or court order. Eliminates immunity from claims under Oregon Tort Claims Act arising out of riot, civil commotion or mob action. Revives certain claims.
The assumption behind the legislation is that the police are somehow over-using or abusing crowd control measures. Each person can decide for themselves, but one only needs to take a look at Portland last summer to make that decision.
State Representative Courtney Neron has introduced HB 3186 which attempts to define "coercive control" in the context of the Family Abuse Prevention Act in ORS 107.700
The basic part of the bill is in Section 2:
A person exercises coercive control over another when the person engages in a pattern of threatening, humiliating or intimidating action that is designed to isolate and exploit the other person, including:
(1) Isolating the other person from friends and family;
(2) Controlling how much money is accessible to the other person and how it is spent;
(3) Monitoring the other person’s activities, communications and movements;
(4) Name-calling, degradation and frequently demeaning the other person;
(5) Threatening to harm or kill the other person or a child or relative of the other person;
(6) Threatening to publish information or make false reports to a law enforcement agency regarding the other person;
(7) Damaging the other person’s property or household goods; and
(8) Forcing the other person to take part in criminal activity or child abuse.
While the sentiment behind these additions may be nice, the language is significantly vague so as to be problematic. The vague definitions in the bill almost invite another sort of abuse or neglect in which care -- or appropriate oversight -- is withheld in an attempt to limit legal liability.
The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary.
Rayfield wants to dramatically change initiative process
Representative Dan Rayfield (D)Corvallis has introduced HB 2684, which would require the Oregon Secretary of State or county clerk, rather than filer, to designate argument filed for publication in voters' pamphlet as either supporting or opposing a ballot measure.
Rayfield has been trying to change how elections in Oregon work now for at least 5 years in the Oregon legislature, including a bill that would allow 17-year-olds to vote. He has again introduced additional legislative concepts that would change how these important processes work.
House Bill 2684 would put into law one of many election changes that have been proposed by the state Democrats as of late, and it would fundamentally alter one of the only independent processes that Oregon citizens are currently entitled to which the legislature is not traditionally a part of.
A look at the dark origins of First Amendment practices
Well, the cat is out of bag, so to speak. State Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) announced in a recent tweet that her colleague, Mike Nearman (R-Independence) is behind the media company, the Northwest Observer. She's even posted a screen shot of the Secretary of State's business registry record for the Northwest Observer, which is too small to read, but the media company is corroborating the information.
When asked if he was the brains behind the Northwest Observer, Representative Nearman quipped, "That would pre-suppose that I have brains, wouldn't it?"
Speculation was rampant in the newsroom today that the recent article on Representative Power's bill to ban diesel fuel in Oregon got on Representative Power's radar and created enough negative activity, that she was compelled to research who was behind the Northwest Observer.
Nearman was asked for more specifics about his involvement with the Northwest Observer. He said that he works with a large and diverse group and does some writing -- though he admitted that mostly he just copies and pastes press releases.
He said that he did much of the work on the website, which he says is still evolving. "Back when I used to do honest work for a living, I was a software engineer," Nearman said. "She's welcome to subscribe. If she puts her email in the subscribe box, she'll get daily updates."