Portland Oregon is a city riddled with crime these days, sadly and another car theft seems to have been attempted by a suspect carrying a large amount of methamphetamine with them in an Italian sports car.
On March 17, 2021 the Portland Police East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) received information about an Alfa Romeo car, which was fraudulently purchased from a dealership near Southeast 92nd Ave and Southeast Stark Street.
NRT officers began investigating and located the car in a nearby motel parking lot. Officers developed information about the suspect and conducted surveillance on the car. When the suspect returned to the car, officers took her into custody.
Officers recovered forged documents, and approximately 164 grams (5.7 ounces) of methamphetamine. Officers returned the car to the dealership.
The suspect was identified as 38-year-old Mary P. Nguyen, who was booked into jail for Aggravated Identity Theft, 7 counts of Forgery I, Aggravated Theft I, Distribution of a Controlled Substance -- Methamphetamine, Possession of a Controlled Substance -- Methamphetamine, Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle, and Computer Crime.
The year 2019 saw an increase in Democratic numbers in the Legislature and with it, the ability to raise taxes without any support from the minority party. That brought one of the largest tax increases in the history of the State of Oregon with the Commercial Activities Tax that was created to fund the Student Success Act. Not surprisingly, a backlash has begun as targets of the tax seek to free themselves from its burdens.
HB 2259 exempts receipts from sales of prescription drugs and medical supplies or from provision of medical services from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax.
HB 2268 exempts interest received on financial institution loans made to small business concerns from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax.
An exemption that carries perhaps the highest price tag, HB 2293 exempts receipts from sales of agricultural, floricultural, horticultural, viticultural or food products from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax. It was introduced by Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane).
HB 2429 has been introduced by Representatives Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene) and E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls) Modifies provisions of corporate activity tax, expanding exemption for grocery sales to include groceries held by consignee store operator and expanding exemption for motor vehicle dealer transactions to include all new vehicle exchanges between franchised motor vehicle dealerships.
Representative Christine Drazan (R-Canby) has introduced HB 2633 exempts, from commercial activity subject to corporate activity tax, contractor receipts from repair or rebuilding of structure destroyed or damaged by wildfire.
HB 2753 prohibits pharmacy benefit manager from including in contract with network pharmacy term barring price increase to customer to offset estimated amount of corporate activity tax paid by pharmacy and attributable to sale of prescription drug. This has been introduced by Representative Ron Noble (R-McMinnville)
No longer just a regulator, the PUC may now be an agent of social change
The Oregon House voted today, mostly along party lines, to allow the Public Utility Commission to create special rates for certain classes of Oregonians, including low-income people.
“Energy is an essential part of daily life, and we know many Oregonians have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), one of the bill’s chief sponsors. “This will allow the PUC to help low-income and cost-burdened Oregonians afford their energy by creating a lower rate class or providing discounts, as many other utility districts like water and sewer already do.”
HB 2475 also allows environmental justice groups to participate in PUC processes. The bill expands access to non-state-funded resources for entities representing the broad interests of customers, including the interests of low-income ratepayers and environmental justice communities, in the same manner that other customer groups currently access these funds. The increased access for environmental justice communities will benefit low-income communities statewide. One lawmaker pointed out that the bill has no curbs on who could receive preferential rates. "They could assign electric rates based on skin color."
“Before I joined the Legislature, I was privileged to work with frontline rural communities as a community organizer working on environmental advocacy,” said Rep. Khanh Pham (D-Portland), the bill’s other chief sponsor. “We found that, despite the divisive rhetoric pitting rural and urban communities against each other, we have so much in common in terms of what our communities need.
Relief from high energy bills is a perfect example of what our communities—both in rural and urban areas—need most.”
The Public Utility Commission is responsible for rate regulation of Oregon's investor-owned electric utilities to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates. This will change if this bill becomes law, adding environmental and social justice to the list of responsibilities of the statewide regulator.
HB 2475, which passed 36-20, now moves to the Senate.
Republicans offer to counter Democrat plan to tax PPP loans
Oregon House Republicans are introducing legislation to combat a new proposal from Democrats that intends to tax Oregon businesses for paycheck protection program (PPP) loans they received that were vital to keeping people employed during the pandemic last year.
HB 2457 is just a sleepy revenue bill reconnecting Oregon's tax code to the federal tax code for simplicity, but as it is proposed to be amended would disregard a commitment made by Democrats and Republicans in Congress by taxing PPP loans Oregon businesses received in 2020. The amendment has been proposed by Representative Khanh Pham (D-Portland).
“This new proposal would completely undo the intention of the paycheck protection program,” said Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls). “The state of Oregon already received a two-fold benefit from PPP: the state receives more income taxes because people remained employed, and fewer Oregonians needed to utilize unemployment benefits. Surprising businesses with this retroactive tax is completely contrary to what Democrats and Republicans in Congress intended when they passed the CARES Act.”
Proponents of this -1 amendment to HB 2457 claim that businesses received the double benefit of a forgivable loan that could also be claimed as a business expense.
“I would instead ask why the state, flush with cash, would consider squeezing Oregon businesses for additional dollars when many are just trying to stay above water and keep people employed after a difficult year,” Rep. Reschke said in response.
Rep. Reschke’s amendment would prevent PPP loans from being treated as taxable income.
Oregon House Republicans also announced a proposal to help Oregonians who may have their taxes negatively affected by stimulus checks.
“Stimulus checks were crucial for Oregonians struggling to make it through the worst of the pandemic in 2020,” stated House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “No one should be paying higher taxes just because they received this financial help. We should not be making things more difficult for Oregonians.”
While the stimulus checks that Oregonians received aren’t considered taxable income, they can still raise the tax liability some Oregonians may be responsible for when they file taxes this year.
HB 3383 will soon be read on the floor and would undo the impact that stimulus checks can have on tax liabilities.
Among those Kate Brown has selected, one choice seems to stand out as a curious selection for the Governor's Child Foster Care Advisory Commission.
It seems that Kate Brown has nominated a highly partisan Democrat operative in Casey Dreher, who once worked with the Washington State Democrat Party as a field organizer, according to his social media profile.
Partisanship and controversial decisions like these may be heavily contributing to the fueling of frustrations and polarized political divisions which seem to have become a dominant theme these days. Strictly merit-based appointments may be a wise move for several reasons, especially in this case when the ones affected are innocent children in need of legitimate help. Proper decision making from our political leaders certainly affects all of us.
If confirmed by the Oregon State Senate, Casey Dreher would likely continue his political agenda in the same manner as his past advocacy, such as working with the Public Defender Services of Lane County.
"This shouldn’t be a remotely controversial or political position, but in the wake of almost a week of protesting after the brutal police killing of African American George Floyd, it needs to be stated and affirmed. In our office, we don’t have the same level of overrepresentation of African Americans in the criminal justice system as larger communities. But we do have a justice system that targets and punishes those of color. We know that police do not always afford the same rights or protections to our minority clients as they do to our white clients. They are quicker to assume harm, and quicker to arrest and slower to listen and to understand."
"We have followed the actions of the protesters who are showing up to protest the death of Mr. Floyd and the system racism in the criminal justice system. We have struggled with how to balance the competing desire to be safe from Covid-19 but to also make our voices heard at the same time. We stand in solidarity with the protesters. We reject the narrative of “both sides” that equates police violence as being equal to the property damage that has resulted as police have provoked protests into full blown riots. And we will continue to thoroughly document police misconduct and build a knowledge base to dismantle the credibility of police officers who lie, employ excessive force or violate the civil rights of our clients. At PDSLC, we believe in client centered representation. It is a privilege to work at an office where our focus on protecting our client."
The Governor has made several questionable decisions throughout the COVID lockdown that has dragged on for over a year and this decision regarding Oregon's foster children care is not likely to inspire confidence in observers.
The Gervais School District has announced that they will be using contact tracing devices as students return to school in order to comply with guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education. In a letter to parents accompanied by a video the district has explained what the contact tracing devices are and how they work.
Students from grades 6-12 will wear the contact tracing devices on a lanyard, suspended from the student's neck while in school and if one contact tracing device comes within 6 feet of another device, it will vibrate and blink red. When the students -- and the devices they are wearing -- separate beyond six feet, the devices will turn green and stop vibrating.
At the end of the day, students return the devices and the data is downloaded from them. If there is a positive case, a report can be run outputting the contacts of the infected student, as well as how long other students were in their vicinity.
According to the district, these devices will not be worn by students in Preschool through 5th grade because those students are much more contained and have fewer people in their groups. I also want to emphasize that the tracers are not GPS devices. The tracers do not track the location of students or staff. They only track the amount of time the device spends while within 6 feet of another device.
The school district circulated this video, which explains how they work and what measures the district is taking.
With the stated goal of bolstering the Clean Diesel Engine Fund HB 2674 would financially harm both retail businesses and consumers, once the 48-page expected amendment is adopted. The bill has been introduced by Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland). It would create administrative burdens for businesses and state government. Is the goal of this bill to raise revenue, discourage the use of diesel equipment or to increase the number of state employees? How will the bill affect industry and the consumer?
It proposes a 3% tax on tires. The tax must be recorded on a separate invoice from the sale. The tax on nonroad diesel equipment is 1.5%. The tax on rentals of nonroad equipment is 3.5% and on general diesel equipment 2%. Purchasers “are not considered to be a taxpayers”. It is a tax on those with the privilege of providing the equipment for sale or lease. However, tax on nonroad diesel equipment purchased from out-of-state sellers will be the responsibility of the purchaser. The tax will be reduced by the amount of any tax paid out-of-state sellers but not to an amount below zero. Sales to nonresidents are exempt from this tax. Excess taxes are refunded to purchasers when equipment is surrendered or traded in. The purchaser is burdened with proof for refunds claimed.
Every provider of nonroad diesel equipment must register with the Oregon Department of Revenue and keep records. Enforcement will be through the Circuit Tax Court of Oregon. They have power to subpoena individuals in prosecuting owners and officers of sellers out of compliance. Rules for appealing rulings are established as are punishment including criminal charges. Revenue Department moneys may be held by the Treasurer’s Department. Moneys to reimburse the Treasury Department shall not exceed 5% of monies held in suspense. Moneys from rentals shall be transferred to the counties where the transaction occurs. Moneys in excess of 2% shall go to the Clean Diesel Engine Fund.
The bill would put Oregon at a competitive disadvantage from our current posture, contributing yet another obstacle to attracting business to our state. Diesel power drives farming, mining, fishing, construction and forestry to name a few industries. Utilities providing water, sewer, electricity and communications run on diesel as does fire protection, emergency services, police and military. This tax would eventually be borne by the consumer and provide no discernable benefit.
Ranked Choice Voting is confusing to most voters, it is a strategic game at best as voters will have to not only choose their favorite candidate, but they will have to guess who is likely to win and factor that into 2nd and 3rd choices, to have their vote count at all.
Three Democrat Legislators have introduced ‘Ranked Choice Voting’ bills for this 2021 Legislature to consider. Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland), Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) brought this counting scheme to us. Ranked Choice Voting is only used in Alaska and Maine for selection of their state and congressional members per the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some other cities use it for their local elections.
On Tuesday The Senate Rules Committee will hear SB 343 which permits counties to adopt ranked-choice voting to conduct county elections and SB 791 which establishes ranked choice voting as voting method for selecting winner of nomination for and election to nonpartisan state offices and county and city offices except where home rule charter applies.
A traditional run off race is more definite if a clear winner is not selected on the first vote. In a second separate race, everyone is fully informed as to their choice of governing authority selection. That is why we have a primary vote in the first place. Ranked Choice Voting would require ballot counting tabulators that can do the recalculating of the results that would be necessary as late votes are accumulated. We already have enough mistrust of these machines after the last Presidential Election. Votes were proven to be defective in Michigan due to the fact that the Ranked Choice Voting algorithm of ’weighted votes” was in enabled for the calculation.
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the pros and cons for Ranked Choice Voting and one of them is that the legislature will have to supply the machines that can accommodate the software that can do the weighted tabulation. The state will also have to educate the public as to how this election will work. Among the difficulties with this system they list the following
“Arguments against RCV
Fairness is in the eye of the beholder. Who’s to say that winning with a plurality but not a majority is a problem? In addition, if a voter decides to only vote for one candidate and not rank the others (sometimes called “bullet” voting), and the counting goes to a second level, the voter’s ballot would be “exhausted” and may not count at all, thus nullifying that citizen’s vote.
A Polarized Populace. While supporters argue that ranked choice forces candidates to appeal for second- and third- place votes, doubters say that today’s polarized environment likely means voters won’t cross the aisle in significant numbers anyway.
A Complex System. Because RCV is a divergence from the traditional and historical voting method in the United States there are concerns that the voting populace will not be properly educated about the new system. This could lead to frustration by voters and
the possibility that voters will not properly complete their ballots and have their votes nullified if they only vote for one candidate and that candidate does not advance beyond the first round.”
In conclusion, Ranked Choice Voting not only has the problems listed above but is a great threat to our election security as it will require the use of ‘weighted ballot counting” option in our counting tabulators. Knowledge of these settings are off limits for the public to know. This setting is part of the Secretary of State Shemia Fagan's secret security plan and only election officials can know it. How will voters know if it is turned off or on for other races?
Voters expect to have the vote counted as one vote, not directed whole or in part to another candidate.
This week the Oregon Legislature will reach checkpoint #1 in its path to sine die -- the Constitutional end of session on June 28. March 19th marks the day when bills need to be scheduled for a work session in the Chamber of Origin. House bills need to have a hearing and work session scheduled by a committee of the House, and in the Senate, it is the same. If this fails to happen, the bill is effectively dead for the session. The only committees without this deadline are Rules, Revenue, Ways and Means and other Joint Committees. Bills assigned to those committees remain in play until the final days of the Legislative Session.
With hundreds of bills assigned to the various committees and many of them yet to be heard, it is expected that committee agendas will become a bit more packed between March 19th and April 13th. April 13th is checkpoint #2 where bills must have received a vote on the original chamber floor, or they are dead for the session.
Already this week, hearing agendas are packed with bills. Some of the bills have already had public hearing and are headed to work sessions, others are simply getting started. What is certain is that this is a week full of bills that affect every Oregonian. Here are a few examples of bills that are starting the hearing process. Other bills can be found on the legislative website.
House Committee on Early Childhood (1:00pm) - HB 2474 -Expands Oregon Family Medical Leave Act (OFLA) to include employers with 1 or more employees. Previously it was employers with 25 employees or more. OFLA allows for up to 12 weeks of leave for certain situations such as the birth or adoption of a child.
House Committee on Energy and Environment (1:00pm) – There will be information provided by several groups and state agencies around clean energy just prior to the introduction of HB 2021 with the -1 amendments which are a “gut and stuff” to the bill, but they are yet to be posted for public review.
House Committee on Housing (8:00am) - HB 2364 – requires rental property owners to notify tenants when they are going to sell the rental property and allow them first right to purchase the property. There is also HB2580 which limits rent increases if you are the purchaser of a rental property with tenants already occupying it.
Joint Committee on Transportation (1:00pm) – HB 3065 - Directs Department of Transportation to study development of uniform standards for speed bump height. However, it is simply a place holder bill for all things transportation related. The -5 amendments will add tolls and congestion pricing to the legislation.
House Committee on Business and Labor (3:15pm) – HB 2813 – is centered around outdoor workers and air quality. It is similar to HB2588 (not yet scheduled) but goes a few steps further. It requires employers with 20 or more employees to measure the air particles during the workday and take action by either providing the appropriate respirators to employees or suspending work till the air quality is acceptable.
Senate Committee on Education (3:15pm) – SB 223 – This bill states that private schools will register with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) annually, and that ODE will create an advisory committee to oversee Oregon’s private schools.
Senate Committee on Rules (1:00pm) – There will be a series of hearings regarding the Oregon Legislature and the behavior of legislators. SB 261 – says that a legislator may not use funds from a solicitation or other contributions to pay legal expenses. SB 262 says that if a legislator is absent without permission during session, they may not receive their daily per diem and shall be fined $500 per day. SJR3 says that if a member of the legislature is absent for more than 10 days they are deemed to be engaging in disorderly behavior and this disqualifies them from holding office. SJR 4 would propose a constitutional amendment to the voters to change the definition of quorum to a simple majority.
House Committee on General Government (3:15pm) – Will hear a bill relating to the processing of cannabis, restricting its location, and requiring a fire safety plan on file with the local fire department.
If you are interested in testifying for or against a bill, it is not that hard to do. However, this can only be done when a bill is scheduled for a public hearing. Also, keep in mind that this session there have been multiple occasions where bills were scheduled for a hearing but due to the volume of people wanting to speak, they only got to 20-40% of those that signed up. Just because you ask to be heard does not mean you will be. Therefore, it is important to have you talking points ready for a 1–2-minute window of time and submit written testimony as well.
Use the OLIS system to do both. Once you locate your bill and the hearing, scroll to the bottom of the agenda for instructions: you will see links where you can submit written testimony on a bill or topic scheduled for a public hearing. You can sign up to testify live.
It's been one year since the state started keeping statistics on the "flatten the curve" graph and it looks as if the trajectory of the disease is being driven by the disease and not by state-enforced behaviors such as mask mandates and restrictions on public spaces such as restaurants. This point is made even more salient if Oregon is compared to other states such as Florida which had relatively fewer mandates and rules, yet have a curve similar to this.
While the potential impact on hospital capacity was unknown a year ago, it's pretty clear now that hospital capacity is not now in jeopardy and in hindsight never was. There is no reason that government, through regulation, needs to "flatten the curve." To some, those words are an indictment of a power hungry government, insensitive to the little guy. The economic impact of COVID-19 has fallen disproportionately on small businesses and lower-wage workers.
The graph -- which has been the top of the stack since last year -- has a caption at the side which reads:
"When people say we want to "flatten the curve," this is the curve they are talking about. We want to slow the number of new cases of COVID-19 so our healthcare system isn't overwhelmed and can provide care to everyone who needs it."
Another amazing thing is that the seasonal flu seems to have been eradicated. The Oregon Health Authority report on influenza like illness shows a remarkably low incidence of flu this year. Maybe it was because everyone was wearing a mask. Or maybe it was because every flu case was diagnosed to be COVID-19, driven by hospitals and governments which were incentivized to record it as such.
Buried deep on the OHA site is this graph, which compares flu seasons. This season is the orange line at the bottom.
As a fearful legislature huddles in a boarded up, fenced up Capitol, unsure if they are more afraid of right-wing protestors or COVID-19, some are calling for an end to lockdowns. Maybe the party in power just prefers to legislate without the rabble second guessing them.
Would let motorcycles go between lanes in congested traffic.
This isn't the first time that a lane sharing bill has been put before the legislature. As in previous sessions, this bill has bipartisan support. In an era of tight transportation dollars, solutions to congestion often carry a high price tag. Except this. SB 574 is free.
The practice of "lane sharing" or "lane filtering" refers to how motorcycles can navigate slow or stopped traffic on multi-lane roads. Lane sharing generally refers to a motorcycle passing slower or stopped vehicles by proceeding between the lanes of travel, while lane filtering usually refers to cases where a motorcycle moves back and forth between lanes to pass stopped or slowed vehicles. Both practices are meant to allow motorcycles to continue moving when the general flow of traffic is slowed or stopped, and are meant to prevent overheating of motorcycle engines, rider fatigue, and protect the safety of riders by preventing them from being rear-ended in areas with high levels of traffic congestion.
The basic part of the bill says that
a motorcycle operator does not commit the offense of motorcycle or moped unlawful passing in a lane with a vehicle under the following conditions:
(a) Traffic is stopped or has slowed to a speed of 10 miles per hour or less and
(b) The motorcycle operator:
(A) Operates a motorcycle with two wheels between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction
(B) Travels at a speed of no more than 10 miles per hour greater than the speed of traffic
(C) Operates in a prudent manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic
(D) Overtakes a vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction
(E) Merges with the regular traffic flow when traffic begins traveling at a speed of more than 10 miles per hour and
(F) Is driving on a highway for which the speed limit established...is 50 miles per hour or higher.
Nicholas Harris, the Western States Representative for the American Motorcyclist Association who was very involved with the California effort, AB 51, to formalize and codify lane splitting. The bill passed and was signed into law in 2016, as well as legislation in Utah in 2019, resulting in the passing of HB 149, which also allows lane filtering in certain circumstances, testified on the bill.
"Perhaps one of the more dangerous situations for any on-highway motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators and environmental conditions pose an increased risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard. Even minor contact under such conditions can be disastrous for motorcyclists.
"The key factor identified in the most recent study on the subject by U.C. Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, was the speed delta—the difference in speed between the motorcyclist and surrounding traffic. As indicated by the lead researcher, Dr. Thomas Rice, a delta of 15 mph or less, up to a surrounding traffic speed of 50 mph, did not result in any associated changes to injury types or occurrence rates.
"The AMA believes that SB 574, which proposes significantly more conservative limits than the practices identified in the study, is an excellent opportunity for this practice to be introduced in Oregon.
In many countries, lane splitting is considered a normal practice for motorcycle and scooter riders. Particularly in the highly urbanized areas of Europe and Asia, riders are expected to pass between conventional vehicles and advance to the front of the group."
To date, over 600 testimonial letters have been posted as testimony for the committee, nearly all in support. The bill had a hearing on March 2 and is now awaiting a work session to vote it out of committee. It needs to be scheduled by one of the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation, Senator Lee Beyer (D-Eugene) or Representative Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro).
Minority reports as used in the Oregon Legislature are a tool that allows a group of members -- usually in the minority party -- to present their version of a bill as an alternative to a piece of legislation that is voted out of committee. Two committee members who voted in opposition to a bill coming out of a work session in their committee may subscribe to a minority report which would then accompany the base bill, or committee report, to the floor. Committee members must notify the Chair and the committee staff of their intent to file a minority report within two hours of the adjournment of the committee.
Minority reports may only be applied to measures coming out of policy committees. This means that a minority report may not come out of any of the joint committees, statutory committees, subcommittees, special committees, or conference committees.
Timeline for Minority Reports
1. Potential issues to be included in a minority report are submitted as proposed Legislative Counsel amendments and distributed to the committee for possible consideration. If a work session occurs within 24 hours of the first House public hearing, a minority report may be drafted containing issues that came under discussion on the measure in committee.
2. Two members who vote in opposition to a piece of legislation provide the Chair and Committee staff notice of their intention to file a minority report within two hours of the committee adjourning.
3. For the 2021 session, members giving notice of a minority report have until 5 p.m. on the second business day to deliver the Legislative Counsel draft of the minority report to the committee staff. Minority reports must be filed with committee staff no later than the next business day if the Speaker has declared Sine Die to be imminent.
4. Minority Reports will be filed at the Desk on the same day as the committee report.
If the committee report has an accompanying minority report, it will be taken up under Propositions and Motions before the reading of other bills. The carrier of the bill will have 10 minutes to speak to the committee report and then upon a motion to substitute the committee report with the minority report, the carrier of the minority report will also have 10 minutes to speak. Members will each have 5 minutes to speak on whether the minority report should be adopted. The discussion should be limited to why the minority report should replace the committee report and not to the merits of the overall concept.
Because the motion to replace a committee report with a minority report is a parliamentary procedure, the threshold for adoption is only a majority of the members present not a majority of the full body.
Should a motion to adopt the minority report be adopted, it will replace the committee report and immediately move into third readings. Should the motion to replace the committee report with the minority vote fail, the committee report will immediately move into third readings. The House will then take up the measure for a vote.
Unless there is a split in the majority caucus, a minority report is unlikely to prevail. It may be regarded as a messaging tool, by some and therefore may have some value even if it does not prevail.