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Republican Sex Crime Legislation Clears Senate
Human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal enterprise

The Oregon Senate approved both SB 515 and SB 535 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The measures add more reporting opportunities to help prevent sex crimes in public spaces where traffickers frequent.

SB 515 requires employees of bars and restaurants to report reasonable belief of suspected human trafficking or unlawful employment of minors.

SB 535 adds hotel workers to the list of mandatory reporters and requires the immediate reporting of suspected child pornography by computer technicians or processors.

“Republicans are committed to standing up for victims this session,” Senator Fred Girod, chief sponsor of the legislation and Senate Republican Leader, said. “That requires us to give law enforcement the tools to prevent and stop heinous crimes in real-time. SB 515 and SB 535 also empower our communities to report and stop these crimes. By all of us taking a little responsibility for the most vulnerable in our communities, we can make a difference.”

Traffickers specialize in keeping victims out of sight by constantly moving around but interact with workers in at hotels and bars. This legislation empowers those workers to be vigilant and partner with law enforcement to save lives.

The United States Department of Defense has identified human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the United States. Portland has been identified as a hotbed of trafficking, with nearly 750 victims from 2018–2019.

“Trafficking and sex crimes are happening in our own backyard, and we need more tools to fight them,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend). “It's not just Portland. Traffickers use public spaces, like bars, restaurants, and hotels, up and down I-5 and other routes to hide. These employees can play an important role in reporting.”

“Amid unbelievable rising crime rates across Oregon, advocating for public safety and victims’ rights must be among the Legislature’s top priorities,” Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) added. “Sexual exploitation crimes often go unreported and victims don’t have the resources they need to find help. The more reporting the community does, the better.”


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-05 12:28:04Last Update: 2021-04-05 12:56:57



Equity Instead of Equality
What a difference two little letters makes

Oregon law currently defines four advocacy commissions and broadly defines their missions as to work for the implementation and establishment of economic, social, legal and political equality for the group. The four advocacy commissions include Hispanic Affairs, Black Affairs, Women, and Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs.

The days of equality are over. Oregon law and policy are slowly turning away from what was articulated by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, when he looked forward to the day when his children would be judged by the "content of their character and not the color of their skin." Equality has to do with equal treatment under the law and equality of opportunity -- policies that are hard to argue against. Equity has to do with outcomes, and under examination, has less support.

Governor Brown has asked that HB 2030 be introduced, which changes the mission of each of these commissions from "equality" to "equity."

The desire to make a commitment to equity flows from the idea -- expressed in critical race theory -- that inequalities exist because of past injustices, many of them embedded into social and political structures. It's a bit hard to make this case in a country which just elected a black president and that many people of color flock to, both legally and illegally.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-05 11:00:22Last Update: 2021-04-05 12:28:04



Sanctuary on Steriods
Protection for illegal aliens reaches new heights

In 2013 the Oregon Legislature passed SB 833 which directed the Oregon DMV to issue driving credentials to illegal aliens. Activists quickly gathered signatures for a referendum to put the issue to their voters. By a vote of 66%, Oregonians overturned the act of the Legislature.

It took Democrats in the Legislature several years to get the courage to overturn the will of the voters, but in 2019, they passed HB 2015, introduced by Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) and Representatives Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) and Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro), which effectively did so, removing the requirement that a person provide proof of citizenship to obtain a drivers' license.

Now Democrats in the legislature are doubling down, with Senator Chris Gorsek (D-Portland) and Representatives Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn), Khanh Pham (D-Portland), and Wlnsvey Campos (D-Aloha) introducing HB 3265 which not only clarifies Oregon's status as a sanctuary state, it "prohibits law enforcement agency or public body from denying services, benefits, privileges or opportunities to certain individuals on basis of federal civil immigration actions, inquiring about individual's citizenship status without connection to criminal investigation or providing information about individual in custody to federal immigration authority."

The bill interferes with communications between the federal government and local law enforcement, a move that could put the public at risk. Section 4 reads:

If a public body receives a request or communication from a federal agency that relates to immigration enforcement, the public body shall decline the request and document the communication or request. The documentation described in this subsection must be provided to the director or other similar management personnel of the public body.

Section 9 of the bill also creates a private right of action for any person to use against law enforcement or a public bodyAs resources become scarce, local law enforcement may become averse to enforcing any law -- not just immigration related law against a person who appears to be be an illegal alien.

Any person may bring a civil action against a law enforcement agency or public body that violates subsection (2) or (3) of this section to enjoin the violation.
(b) A person injured by a violation of subsection (2) or (3) of this section may also bring a civil action against the law enforcement agency or public body to recover damages.

For whatever reason, the illegal-alien-protection-industry has found a home in the liberal wing of Christian Churches in Oregon, as one can see by the lopsided testimony for the bill. One wonders what the ultimate motivation is as our schools, health care system and economy continue to be overwhelmed.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-04 17:19:22Last Update: 2021-04-04 18:02:12



COVID Big Brother
OSHA as COVID cop

Since the pandemic began, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been one of the strong arms of the Governor’s COVID-19 enforcement team. They have written rules and levied hefty fines against businesses that do not follow the COVID-19 rules as a way to bring them into compliance. However, these fines are small compared to the ones levied against a multi-location athletic facility in Salem. The first fine was in November for $90,000 and the most recent one was assessed in January for an additional $126,749. The fines were for operating when the Governor’s orders were to be closed.

OSHA has been levying these penalties under a temporary rule issued in November of 2020. However, temporary rules cannot remain in effect longer than 180 days and they cannot be extended. The temporary rule expires on May 4, 2021. The only option the agency has is to issue the guidelines under a permanent rule. So, in January, OSHA issues the permanent rule for public input. The permanent rule is 126 pages long and is much more expansive than the rules currently in place. It is also unclear what the new fines will be for not following the existing rules being extended and the new ones being added.

For example, In Oregon Administrative Rule 437-001-0744 under COVID-19 vaccination for workers, it states:

(A) The employer must cooperate by making its employees and appropriate space available at no cost to the workers whenever a local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority indicate that COVID-19 vaccination within the workplace is necessary.

What triggers a local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority to deem that a COVID-19 vaccination at the workplace is necessary?

(C) Unless the local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority directs otherwise, employers need not require employees to accept the vaccination. If employees who are offered the vaccine decline to be vaccinated, the employer must document that declination.

Why would an employer be documenting an employee’s personal health choice? Is this a violation of the 1996 Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA)? Also, what about businesses that have employees that are under 18? Who signed the consent form to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Note: Oregon OSHA will provide model declination forms for use by employers in documenting such declination. It is the considered opinion of both the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA that all individuals should accept vaccination unless it is medically contra-indicated.

Contra-indicated is a specific situation in which a drug should not be used because it may be harmful to the person. What will be on the OSHA approved form? What if the employee refuses to provide the employer with information required on the form such as address, phone number, etc.? How will the employer know if the employee is medically contra-indicated; again, another possible HIPAA violation?

OSHA has stated that they do not intend these rules to be permanent in perpetuity and that the rules will end when the Governor’s state of emergency ends. The Permanent OSHA rules will take affect on or before May 4, 2021. The Oregon Health Authority Vaccine distribution chart has Phase 2 eligibility (all people who are 16 and older) being eligible May 1, 2021.

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A D V E R T I S E M E N T

With Governor Brown already on her 6th Executive Order extension for the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which lasts until April 25th, a 7th extension would seem inevitable based on the OSHA rule timeline and vaccine rollout dates. A 7th extension of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration would last into the end of June.

The public comment period on the OSHA rules has ended. So, for now, all businesses and Oregonians can do is sit and wait to see what OSHA implements and how long the Governor will keep the rules in place by ongoing Executive Order.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-04 16:22:57Last Update: 2021-04-04 16:33:49



ODE Denied Request to Skip Standardized Testing
We need comparable, reliable, and valid student learning data

The US Department of Education has denied a request from the Oregon Department of Education "to waive the requirements to administer the same statewide assessments to all public elementary and secondary school students in the State in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science for the 2020-2021 school year." These requirements have been in law since 1965.

The Department appreciates ODE’s work to develop the SEED Survey. The information that you collect through this survey will provide useful information to support you, your schools, and your educators as you plan for student needs next year. We believe there is a great deal to learn from ODE’s work in this area, and we strongly support expanded use of opportunity to learn measures nationwide.

The Oregon Department of Education had been promoting the idea of a SEED Survey, to partially replace standardized testing. According to the ODE, data from the survey will be used to support the following five purposes:
  1. Honor the importance and necessity of incorporating student voice into the continuous improvement process for Oregon’s public education systems
  2. Provide Oregon districts with actionable data regarding investments and quality pedagogy that can be used to increase student group outcomes (e.g., academic achievement, graduation rates, post-secondary success)
  3. Develop promising practices guidance regarding appropriate uses of SEED Survey data independently and in combination with comparison to summative assessment results
  4. Expand reporting beyond outcomes to include information about investments and quality pedagogy that Oregon’s education systems make in supporting students, their families, and the educators who serve them
  5. Validate summative assessment approaches by reviewing SEED Survey results in comparison to summative results, reviewing expected and unexpected patterns in relationships
The letter, from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs Ian Rosenblum, concluded, "We remain committed to supporting Oregon and all States in assessing the learning of all students, while we recognize that we are in the midst of a pandemic that requires real flexibility and creativity. We are eager to continue to work with ODE on a plan that addresses your State’s specific circumstances and maximizes the amount of comparable, reliable, and valid student learning data alongside the important data you plan to collect from the SEED Survey."

Standardized testing has been a perennial battle between teachers' unions and school accountability supporters.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 20:15:18Last Update: 2021-04-03 20:16:25



Displaying a Noose Criminalized
Democrats claim that the new law would not violate the Constitution

The Oregon Senate has passed SB 398, introduced by Senators Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) and James Manning, Jr. (D-Eugene) which categorizes the act of displaying a noose as a crime of intimidation. The bill passed out of committee on party lines and passed off the Senate Floor with a 27-1 vote. SB 398 parallels Oregon’s bias crime statute which was passed in 2019.

“Displaying a noose is a hateful act. It is meant to intimidate and harass,” said Senator Burdick, who carried SB 398 to passage. “Hate crimes are disturbingly on the rise in Oregon, including in my district. A noose is a racist symbol, it is intimidating to our neighbors of color and it needs to be banned,” she added.

Oregon case law has held that to legally restrict speech, in any form, the speech must amount to a communication that “instills in the addressee a fear of imminent and serious personal violence from the speaker, is unequivocal, and is objectively likely to be followed by unlawful acts.” Both the Oregon Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court have concluded that preventing the type of harm that results from those types of communication justify a narrowly tailored restriction on speech and do not violate the U.S. Constitution or the Oregon Constitution.

“The display of a noose should have been a crime long ago. It’s not okay. Louisiana, Virginia, California, New York, Maryland and Connecticut have criminalized the display of nooses because they all know exactly what that noose implies,” said Senator Manning. “The noose is a racist relic. Its roots lie in fear and hate. It reminds us of the 4,400 documented lynchings of African Americans between 1800 to 1950. A noose doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, it means something much more imminent, terrifying and unacceptable to BIPOC communities. It’s not okay. I am glad we passed this bill today. This should have been a law much sooner,” added Senator Manning.

Several instances of fake noose incidents have made the news in recent years. NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace reportedly had a noose placed in his garage which later turned out not to be a hate crime. In another recent incident, entertainer Jussie Smollett was caught falsely reporting a noose incident to police.

SB 398 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 18:54:40Last Update: 2021-04-03 19:39:47



A Deeper Look at an Antifa Attack
Victim was traveling to church

Editor's note: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive. Reader discretion is advised.

One of the many victims of Sunday's far left attacks was a 55 year old man who claims to have been on his way to church when he was attacked by several far left extremists in Salem, Oregon.

The victim wished to remain anonymous as he recounted his attack during an exclusive interview with “The Black Conservative Preacher”.. The man's voice broke at times as he described Sunday's terrifying attack -it was “like something you see in the movies”.

The victim was driving his late father's Ford F150. He knew there was a gathering in the area and decided to bypass his usual route to church in an attempt to avoid driving directly in front of the state capitol, he claims he could not have known that police had cleared the violent mob from in front of the capitol and they were now on the very street he was headed down.

As he made his way down the street the victim said he could see a large mob dressed in all black, and he began to feel uneasy. His truck was painted with red, white and blue stripes and was dawned with American flags and patriotic bumper stickers, though the victim states he previously removed his bumper stickers showing support to our 45th president. The victim was nervous and had no choice but to continue forward and make his way past the the mob en route to his church.

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As the driver made his way down the street, the mob began their attack and then vandalized the windshield of his truck with yellow paint. The man got out of his truck to investigate the damage, and immediately two attackers ran up and attempted to spray the victim in the face with what looked like pepper spray.

As the man shielded himself from their attack the mob hurled objects and began to move toward him with bats, sticks, batons and other weapons while screaming "Go home Nazi!”. Glass breaking can be heard as they busted out the victim's back passenger window, the victim signaled for witnesses to call for help but no one stepped up to help the man. The man stayed close to his vehicle as he attempted to make his way around the back end of his truck to assess the damage. What he didn’t know at the time was that they were also spraying bear mace into the cab of his truck.

The frenzied mob did not relent and continued to scream obscenities as far left attackers approached the victim they could be heard yelling "he has a gun”, and ”shoot me mother". The entire time the far left extremists never stopped their attack on the man and his vehicle and continued moving threateningly toward him. As the man rounded the back end of his truck and looked toward the busted out back passenger window, one of the far leftist extremist sprayed the man in the face with mace.

Fearing for his safety, the victim who is a CHL holder says he drew his firearm, “I didn’t know what to do”, I thought the gun would stop them”, my “eyes were burning so bad,” “I was scared”.

With his firearm in his right hand pointed down toward the ground, he outstretched his left hand and told the mob,” get away from me.” However, the mob continued their attack screaming threats as they charged the man. Recounting this moment during his interview with The Black Conservative Preacher, the victim stated “I was freaked out being attacked by that many people, it was like something you see in the movies.”

The police rushed in immediately after the man's weapon was drawn, and the victim placed his firearm in the bed of his truck and complied with all officer commands.

With police on the scene, the violent mob could be heard taunting the man as he lay on the wet ground surrounded by officers. The far left mob hurled insults at the man, calling him a “Proud Boy” and a “Nazi," slanderous terms they are notorious for using during their attacks. As the victim crouched on the wet ground holding his eyes from the pain he states he had a hard time laying down flat because his “eyes were on fire”. His taillights were broken out by the violent mob.

The victim states that after law enforcement officers spoke to witnesses and other motorists he was released from handcuffs and was not arrested or charged.

He states he had no association with the Freedom Rally that Sunday. The victim stated that he thought drawing his firearm would get the violent mob to stop, and was surprised that his weapon did not deter his attackers, only when the police arrived did the attack stop. The far left extremists who typically expresses vitriol for all forms of law enforcement now seemed okay to have the police subdue their victim.

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During his interview with The Black Conservative Preacher, the victim repeatedly stated how scared he was during the attack but that he was happy the police got the truth after talking to witnesses.

The victim states that he now looks in his rear-view mirror when going home to make sure no one is following him. “There is nothing you can do about this” , “I am a target, I feel like I am a target now”.

Since the attack on Sunday, the victim has supposedly taken all of the American flags off of his truck as well as at his home. He has taken off all of his red white and blue decals because he claims the incident has scared him. He had taken his Trump stickers off prior to Sundays attack due to constant harassment, as he had previously been spit at and almost ran off the road.

The victim states “it is just going to get worse, not better” and fears that “offending” someone may provoke another attack. The victim states he has heard stories of what far left extremists do once they have your information and is concerned about what has been shared by the media already. He is talking to an attorney and states he feels lucky to have a police officer living next door.

Such extremist groups work hard to change the definition of words but they cannot hide their acts of violence, cowardice, blatant racism and indeed fascism. With the rise of violent hate crimes and outright lawlessness coming from the far left, Oregonians and all Americans are right to be concerned with the onslaught of anti-second amendment legislation such as SB 554 and HB 2543 being crammed through at the state level.

Far left extremists who reassemble ISIS militants dress in tactical gear while carrying weapons and blocking our roadways, have violently attacked and even murdered individuals on the street. They have assaulted passing motorists at times pulling them out of their vehicles and beating them unconscious until forced to stop, they continue to terrorize our cities, communities, and businesses in full view of the world and with seemingly full support of the main stream media and leftist “leaders”.

Watch the videos for yourself and then go see what media is or is not saying about what happened.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 18:30:39Last Update: 2021-04-03 19:06:52



Another Strange Incident in a Portland Park
Victims threatened with axe and paintball gun

In Portland, Oregon, Parks and Recreation Rangers, as well as a community member, were threatened by a suspect with an axe and a paintball gun in Downtown Portland.

On Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 10:09a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the precinct front desk on a report that victim had walked in to report being shot by a suspect with a paintball gun. The victim told the officers he was riding his bicycle in Chapman Square Park, near the intersection of Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Main Street. The victim said a suspect fired a paintball gun at him, striking him once. The suspect then fired several more paintballs toward the victim as he fled. The victim suffered a minor injury.

Officers located the suspect, Randy A. Graves, 32, and arrested him. They located and seized a paintball gun, axe, and stun gun (photo) from Graves.

Officers spoke to the Park Rangers on scene. They told officers that they had approached a group about 9:00a.m., intending to distribute fliers informing the group that the park was going to be closed for restoration work. Graves threatened to kill them, and although they did not report being threatened with a weapon, Graves followed them yelling threats to kill them as they tried to disengage.

About 45 minutes later, another team of Park Rangers responded to a fire burning in the park, which is a violation of park rules. Park Rangers reported requesting assistance from Portland Police as they went to address the fire. Graves pulled out an axe and threatened the Rangers If they did not leave. The Park Rangers also witnessed the attack on the community member with the paintball gun.

Graves was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Menacing (7 counts), Unlawful Use of a Weapon (3 counts), Assault in the Fourth Degree, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree (7 counts), Reckless Endangering (7 counts), and City Code Possession of a Weapon in a Park (3 counts).


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-03 13:02:17Last Update: 2021-04-03 18:10:33



Analysis: How the Speaker Bungled the Session
Quest for power gets in the way of business

Even before the 2021 session started, the wars had begun. Some, like House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) found themselves with arrows in the front and back.

A well-publicized battle between the BIPOC or Black, Indigenous and People Of Color segment of the Democratic caucus attempted a power grab -- with some success -- and ended up with a few gavels, or committee chairs. The smoke and noises of that battle, as well as the inevitable scuffles with Republicans, are starting to boil over and though the source might not be apparent, these were seeds planted months ago.

1. Focusing on Extreme Legislation, not the Nuts and Bolts
From racial justice to climate action to housing issues to restricting second amendment rights, Democrats have been pushing a full-cart radical agenda. It's expected that the party in power will get their way on some ideologically divisive issues, but this session has seen more than its share of agenda-driven policy.

2. Expanding the Number of Committees
In the 2019 full session -- the last full session, there were 12 House committees that saw actual substantive policy legislation come out of them. This session has seen that number balloon to 19 plus three subcommittees, for a total of 22 House committees, and that doesn't even count an increased number of new join committees.

3. Very Tight COVID-19 Capitol Lockdowns
Though COVID-19 is no one's fault, the Capitol lockdowns have interrupted communications, made committees less smooth, and contributed to Republicans' -- and Oregonians' -- dissatisfaction with the session. As the state opens up -- and Oregon is one of the slowest states to open -- the Capitol shows no sign of return to anything like normal. It is as locked down as it was in the beginning.

4. Attempting to Go Around Republicans, Instead of Cooperating
Republicans are not yielding the constitutional requirement that each bill be read in its entirety before being voted on, and this is based at least in part on the tidal wave of radical Democratic ideological agenda bills. A lighter agenda might have found more cooperation with Republicans -- or at least a compromise at this point. Instead, Speaker Kotek has gritted her teeth and pushed on.

5. Plain Old Extra Stuff to Do
Sure, every session has its unique policy challenges, but this session seems to have a more generous share with COVID-19 and the federal money to divvy up, wildfire clean up and relief from last year, as well as redistricting. Maybe it wasn't such a great year to work on racial justice, climate justice and the rest of the radical agenda. Democrats may pay dearly for their inability to focus.

At this point, Speaker Kotek may have mangled the session beyond repair. As both parties claim to want to do "the people's work" it may be too late to salvage much out of this session. Let's hope they can at least pass budgets.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 18:44:36Last Update: 2021-03-31 19:42:32



Addressing the Educational Impact of COVID-19
Only two bills in the would address COVID-19’s impact on education

Of more than 100 bills in the House Committee on Education, legislation from Rep. Owens and Rep. Alonso León is one of only two bills related to COVID-19’s negative impact on K-12 education.

Despite the enormous disruption COVID-19 has had on Oregon’s education system, only two bills in the House Committee on Education address the negative effects of COVID-19 on students.

Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) and Representative Teresa Alonso León (D- Woodburn) are chief sponsors of HB 2962, which would direct a formal evaluation of students’ education needs resulting from COVID-19 closures, a step towards identifying how students can recover from gaps in learning.

“It is critical we identify and address the serious gap in education our students have experienced during the last 12 months because of COVID-19 and government-mandated stay-at-home orders,” said Rep. Owens, who also serves as a member of the Crane School Board. “There is much more we should be doing as lawmakers to address this critical issue for Oregon students, and it is great to see the bipartisan support for this proposal that will hopefully lead to others.”

“We should not be hiding from the truth that virtual learning has seriously harmed our kids’ educational development,” added House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “After Oregon’s education officials announced plans to abandon standardized testing that would measure learning gaps, we need proposals like this more than ever.”

Negative academic effects from distance learning still have not been adequately measured in Oregon, and plans to do so have been delayed.

Even 2020 high school graduation rates are misleading since the Oregon Department of Education drastically altered its graduation standards. As recently as 2017, Oregon had the second-worst graduation rate in the country. The full impact of virtual learning on graduation rates is still not clear.

Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education selected by President Joe Biden, affirmed the need for evaluations nationwide when saying that student data obtained from standardized tests is important to help education officials create policy and target resources where they are most needed. “We have to make sure we laser-focused on addressing inequities that have existed for years. … Every bit of data helps,” added Cardona during a legislative conference. Oregon remains the second to last state for reopened schools according to a tracker from Burbio, a website that aggregates school government, library and community event information and consists of more than 80,000 K-12 school calendars from all fifty states.

Numerous studies have been conducted which indicate a correlation between native mental health impacts for children due to closed schools:

“Beginning in April 2020 the proportion of children’s mental health-related ED visits among all pediatric ED visits increased and remained elevated through October. Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5-11 and 12-17 years increased 24 percent and 31 percent respectively.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 13, 2020.

Additionally, most states in the country have been reopening after a variety of studies point to safe conditions that would allow willing students to attend school in-person with minimal COVID-19 risks:

The CDC guidance, under President Biden, recommends that schools can reopen with successfully implemented mitigation strategies.

“Our data indicate that schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies.” – American Academy of Pediatrics, January 6, 2021.

“…we see no indication that in-person school reopenings have increased COVID-19 hospitalizations in the counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week. Neither the levels nor the trends change in any direction when schools open in [counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week], even as far as 6 weeks after schools reopened. In fact, we often see precise estimates suggesting declines in hospitalizations in these low-baseline COVID-19 counties…” – National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH), Tulane University, January 4, 2021.

HB 3350 is a second bill that addresses COVID-19’s impact on education.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 14:12:17Last Update: 2021-04-02 14:22:06



Budget Framework Released
This all hinges on the American Rescue Plan Act

The Co-Chairs of the Oregon Legislature's Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton), and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) – released their 2021-23 Budget Framework. The document serves as a starting point for the 2021-23 budget cycle.

Joint Ways and Means Co-Chairs have schedule hearing dates on the 2021-23 budget framework. What stands out for taxpayers is the increase of $780 million for new programs and services. That means an increased budget of $780 million every biennium in the future plus cost-of-living increases and growth in those programs. Very few new programs are ever terminated and give credence to the term “big government.” The Budget Framework shows that these new programs ($780 million) are funded in 2021-23 by one-time funding from the American Rescue Plan Act Funds, which is expected to be $2.6 billion. The framework reserves $520 million for the 2023-25 biennium out of those federal funds, but that doesn’t cover the cost of the new programs. And where does the funding come from in future biennium’s?

The five dates and times for Ways and Means budget hearings are by congressional districts.

District 1 - Wednesday, April 14, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 2 - Saturday, April 17, 1:00-3:00 pm
District 3 - Wednesday, April 21, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 4 - Thursday, April 22, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 5 - Saturday, April 24, 1:00-3:00 pm

What is curious about these times is that Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittees have been meeting on budgets since January. One committee will have held 26 hearings. Multiplied by seven committees, all trying to squeeze and expand their programs into current levels. Now they are told to cut one percent more to meet budgetary goals. How do all these hearings and testimonies get incorporated and resolved into the Ways and Means two-hour District meetings?

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What is even more curious about the budget is the moving numbers. The initial 2021-23 Ways and Means Co-Chair Principles shows a current service level for 2021-23 to be short $1,741,500,000 General Funds, but new numbers have brought that down to $606,700,000 in the March Budget Framework. The Co-Chair target requirement is to bring that number to zero. With the addition of $520 million American Rescue Plan Act Funds and cuts of 1% to each budget they have initially meant their goal. However, the door is still open for the BIPOC caucus for resources needed to advance racial equity initiatives in Oregon. Their needs will influence the final development of the final 2021-23 budget. Each committee is asked to review their budgets for more than the 1% cuts to fund their special needs.

This all hinges on the American Rescue Plan Act sending $2.6 billion our way. What if it doesn’t?


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:51:32Last Update: 2021-04-04 10:41:42



Family Medical Leave Act Expansion Proposed
It’s before the program even takes effect

In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2005. It created the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to provide partially or fully compensated time away from work. Starting January 1, 2022, eligible employees who worked at least 90 days for an employer can apply with the state for 12 weeks of paid leave per year for qualifying family, medical, or safe leave, and up to 14 weeks for certain pregnancy-related leave.

HB 2005 applies to employers with 25 or more employees in Oregon. Employers and employees will contribute to the leave fund through payroll deductions beginning January 1, 2022. Employers will make 40% of the required contributions to the plan and employees will pay 60%. The required contribution will be no greater than 1% of the employee wages with a cap of $132,900 per year. The State of Oregon Employment Department will determine the exact percentage of contribution. The Oregon Employment Department will also manage the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan.

However, before the program even takes effect, Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) introduced HB 2474. This bill would modify the Oregon Family Leave Act. It changes the current leave laws and lowers the employer eligibility to those with only 1 employee from the old threshold of 25 and takes employee eligibility for leave from 90 days to 30 days and covers part-time workers. Current OFLA rules apply to workers that average 25 hours a week for 180 days. OFLA is not paid time off. Rather, it is unpaid time off for up to 12 weeks with the guarantee that your job will be held by your employer. In addition HB 2474 also expands the definition of leave to include time off for caring for a child when their school or child care provider is closed by order of public official for public health emergency which is not covered under current OFLA rules. While OFLA is not paid time off, it is a guarantee that your job will be held by your employer. It could be speculated that the proposed changes to OFLA are a test to see if the soon to roll out Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan could be modified to include employers with only 1 employee. After all, when HB 2005 was introduced it was proposed as: “Employer” means any person that employs one or more employees working anywhere in this state, a political subdivision of this state or any county, city, district, authority, public corporation or entity, or any instrumentality of a county, city, district, authority, public corporation or entity, organized and existing under law or charter.

HB 2474 was scheduled for a work session on March 31, but Representative Power indicated to the committee that interested parties were still working on coming to consensus on proposed amendments. The next schedule work session for the bill is April 5.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:40:36Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:50:50



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