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Democrats Block Effort to Reintroduce ‘Ezra’s’ Law
Would provide parity in sentencing for victims

Oregon House Democrats have opposed renewed efforts from Republicans to adopt HB 2339, otherwise known as ‘Ezra’s Law,’ a bill to allow for sentencing that better reflects the impacts of permanent injuries for victims.

The bill is named after Ezra Thomas who was just 2 years old when his mother’s boyfriend, Josue Mendoza-Melo, attacked him. Today, as a result of the injuries, Ezra cannot walk, talk or see. While Ezra’s injuries have given him a life sentence of disability, Josue will serve no more than 12 years in prison.

The proposed law would secure longer sentences for people who cause permanent physical injury to their victim.

“This is a very sensitive bill that provides parity in sentencing for victims,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “Consequences for violent person-on-person crimes should reflect the permanent damages that someone suffers as a direct result of a criminal’s actions."

"This bill should have bipartisan support this session and should not be a political issue.”

"It’s a terrible result for victims that this attempt was sidelined by partisan agendas," said Representative Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), a chief sponsor of the original bill.

"We shouldn’t let politics get in the way of an issue as important as this." Earlier this session, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee refused to allow ‘Ezra’s Law’ to move to a work session. The scenario mirrors a similar situation that almost happened to ‘Bailey’s Bill,’ a proposal that protects victims of sex crimes with appropriate sentencing. This bill was also held hostage, and almost died, in favor of proposals that would reduce prison sentences for violent crimes.

“Ezra, and victims like him, should not have to wait for true justice,” said Representative Bonham.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-01 14:43:11Last Update: 2021-06-01 22:13:37



“Socially and Economically Disadvantaged”
Are they trying to hide the social justice agenda?

Recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor may impact the direction of many bills being considered by the Oregon Legislature. Judge O’Connor approved a temporary restraining order forbidding President Biden’s administration from giving out grants in a program aimed at prioritizing applicants due to their race and/or gender after he told plaintiff Philip Greer he is likely to succeed.

Greer prepared an application on behalf of his restaurant and is otherwise eligible to receive an RRF grant, but for the allegedly unconstitutional prioritization scheme.

At issue is the fact that the Biden administration directs prioritization of restaurants that are owned and controlled by women, veterans, and people deemed “socially and economically disadvantaged,” which includes those owned at least 51 percent by some Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations. The lawsuit goes forward claiming “this is illegal, it is unconstitutional, it is wrong, and it must stop.”

Oregon’s leadership has been following the Biden administration in bills covering education, land use, energy, and business. These are a few examples of bills that could result in an unconstitutional law suit: Could it be that “socially and economically disadvantaged” is being used to pull on the heart-strings to hide the social justice agenda?


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-01 11:08:11Last Update: 2021-06-01 12:30:17



State Employment Numbers Released
Jobs Don’t Equate Recovery To Business GDP

Numbers were recently released for Oregon jobs on May 18, 2021 by State Economist Gail Krumenauer on jobs, states a monthly gain in employment in the government sector and in leisure and hospitality. She states a 59% return of jobs that were lost between February and April 2020.

How do these numbers look as far as they impact the GDP -- the value of goods and services provided in one year -- in Oregon? First the section of measured economy for Leisure and Hospitality is only 4.4 percent of our GDP. Oregon statistics also cite that regular unemployment received; 100% replacement wage as unemployed, but those in the leisure and hospitality trade received 134% of their wage. Ironically those best off under unemployment now have more jobs.

Government and government enterprises has a 25.68 GDP. Krumenauer reports 2,300 more jobs in government. What are those? Are they new regulators, like OSHA inspectors? Government regulates, it legislates, it does not create anything.

An example of what that GDP translates into: Agriculture, has a 13.2% or 50 billion of all Oregon sales. 10.6% or 22.9 billion of Oregon's net product and 13.8% of part time and full time jobs. This information from Agricultural statistics State of Oregon. Now that your nearly asleep, why do all these numbers matter?

Jobs lost in Oregon; 46.9% were in the leisure or hospitality section. These were the highest paid under unemployment to the tune of 34% more. So, is a reduction in their unemployment really a win?

Industries still showing significant stress among those which are significantly affecting our GDP are manufacturing, metal machinery, wood, electric products, transportation and equipment, and other durables. These industries represent a large part of our GDP. They are all still underwater in April of 2021. Aerospace is in fact still going lower and timber or wood at levels of the 1920’s. Reality is these numbers show that private enterprise is still suffering or still declining. These sectors actually produce products. The example of agriculture above shows that production enterprises filter down through several parts and layers of our economy. Products equate to consumer spending. Consumer spending is the number one biggest component of GDP or 2/3 of GDP.


--Liz Turner

Post Date: 2021-06-01 07:05:54Last Update: 2021-06-01 08:25:15



The Cost of Free Money
The Federal government is shoveling out money

Governor Kate Brown’s state budget included a quarter billion-dollar tax increase on mostly small businesses. According to the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, Brown wants to gut the 2013 small business tax savings and raise $273 million by closing tax loopholes. If Governor Kate Brown gets her way, small family-owned businesses will be paying more taxes than big C-corporation businesses on the same level of revenue.

What should be a sign of relief to receive $1.4 billion from the federal relief bill passed in March, may be costly. There are strings attached to that windfall. If states accept the funds, they are restricted from lowering their taxes. Governor Brown’s push for new taxes is not what state governors are doing in states that are thriving. Oregon’s $1.4 billion is after Oregon received $1.1 billion for Oregon schools, and $155 million for capital projects, and $1.5 billion for county, city and other local governments. The numbers start whirling when you think that in 2020 Oregon received $1.8 billion designated for specific projects by the emergency board, and $499 million for schools from Congress’ December relief bill, and $2.45 billion from the CARES act earlier in 2020. How much did all this money prop up the rosy May forecast?

Why would we accept restricted conditions to not lower taxes when accepting additional funds? Not to speak of the begging and graveling the counties and cities need to do to get their share released. While the state is focused on relief from the impact of COVID-19, the priorities seem to go deeper.

Despite all that inflow of federal dollars, the legislature still wants our kicker refund. Some bills take advantage of the emergency to justify tax credits for undocumented without social security numbers, landlords, spouse seeking degree, teaching in rural schools, and increasing workforce. And more specifically, health bills such as HB 2337, introduced by Representatives Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) and Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), are coming out of the legislative session in lock-step with federal requirements for funds. HB 2337 appropriates $2 million General Funds for two pilot mobile health units. The bill “declares racism a public health crisis; requires a study of the collection of information with respect to race, ethnicity, preferred spoken and written languages, and disability status; establishes grants to operate two mobile health units for underserved communities as a pilot program; and requires OHA to develop recommendations to fund culturally and linguistically specific intervention programs across all relevant state agencies.”

HB 2474 is another bill that will impact low-income families the most by the costs to businesses, stop production, and delay harvesting increasing food costs during an emergency. “During a public health emergency, the amount of time an employee must work for an employer before becoming eligible to take leave is reduced from 180 to 30 days and eligibility for employees can be reestablished if they separate and are reemployed by the same employer within 180 days or because of a temporary cessation of scheduled hours.”

The Federal government is shoveling out money rewarding states that made bad policies, and now enabling them to stick with those bad policies. Federal funds may not be the relief we hope for when it’s used for new projects that demands new taxes. What were policies to help the low income is having the reverse effect.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-31 20:02:07Last Update: 2021-05-31 20:04:03



COVID Cold War
Who is going to blink first?

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been the agency which has been responsible for fining businesses for non-compliance with COVID-19 regulations. The director, Michael Wood, appeared before the House Health Care SubCommittee on COVID-19 to answer various questions.

After Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen made it clear that businesses could not use an "honor system" to allow customers into their stores, State Representative Cedric Hayden asked Woods what the fine would be for a business using the honor system. Woods explained some less-than-relevant scenarios and then said:

If an employer refused to comply or simply said, "I'm going to use the honor system. I don't care what the State says." Well, the minimum penalty for a willful violation is $8,900.

At this point in time, it appears that many -- if not most -- businesses are not checking vaccination status at the door, and OSHA isn't doing anything about it.




--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-31 17:40:03Last Update: 2021-05-31 18:24:26



Veterans Memorial Wall Defaced
Wall of Honor Memorial in Eugene park

"I refuse to glorify imperialism" was found written in graffiti on a veterans Memorial Wall at Skinner Butte Park in Eugene, Oregon on May 30th, 2021.

On Sunday, May 30, at 9:20 a.m. Eugene Police received reports that someone had defaced the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial wall, which is along the park’s bike path, and which includes the names of people who have died serving the country.

The 12-foot granite memorial wall is inscribed with the names of 451 Lane County veterans who were killed in the war from World War I through Operation Desert Storm. It was dedicated May 30, 1996 and again September 11, 2010. The base reads, “Many millions of men, women and children have perished in war. May there be an end to war.”

Included in the criminal mischief was an anarchy symbol.

When police arrived, an unknown person was cleaning most of the paint off of it.

Eugene Police has alerted staff to pay extra attention with patrol checks near the memorial this weekend. If anyone has tips in the case they are asked to report those to the Eugene Police Department.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-31 13:17:39Last Update: 2021-06-01 13:22:53



Pay Per-Mile Road Usage in Oregon
Republicans and others are opposing the bill

Recently passed out of Oregon's Joint Committee On Transportation, HB 2342 is a bill that will mandate a Road Usage Charge on Oregonians that would be paid per-mile driven.

The bill is sponsored by Representative John Lively (D-Springfield) and will be headed next to the Ways and Means Committee for further discussion. The language of the bill proposes the following: Republican legislators and others, including the company Tesla, are opposing the bill, citing several issues with it. Representative Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) has raised additional concerns about the privacy of Oregonians in the future during the Joint Committee On Transportation meeting on May 25th, 2021.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-31 11:43:03Last Update: 2021-06-05 17:46:34



Columbia County Tries to Weaken Sanctuary Ordinance
The 2nd Amendment initiative recently passed

The Columbia County Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance, recently adopted by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners is seen by many as an attempt to undermine the Sanctuary Ordinance initiative which was passed by the voters in November 2020.

Citizens of the county passed the “Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance” in 2018 and the “Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance” in 2020, and the county has now passed its own ordinance and the whole matter is in the hands of Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove for ‘Judicial Examination and Judgement of the Court as to the Regularity, Legality, Validity and Effect’ of the ordinance via a petition for validation of local government action.

Everytown For Gun Safety, a Bloomberg funded anti-gun-rights organization, has intervened in the case along with a New York law firm. While apparently Everytown knew this ordinance was going to be referred for review, and may have even requested the review, the chief petitioner for both initiatives, Chris Brumbles was never informed about this action. The county eliminated two Second Amendment ordinances passed by the people and created their own that stripped out important safeguards built into the ordinances. The Oregon Firearms Federation and Gun Owners of America have petitioned the court to intervene in the review. It may even be possible that the county commissioners actually violated the ordinance they were seeking to “review” just by demanding the review.

Under ORS 33.710, the Columbia County Circuit Court is authorized to conduct an examination of the ordinance and to provide a judgement as to the legality of the authority of a county governing body to enact the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance.

Though the County claims they have filed the petition to clear up several important legal questions about what firearm regulations can be enforced in Columbia County, it is seen by many as an attempt by the County Commissioners to weaken -- and effectively eliminate -- the Sanctuary ordinances.

“To be clear, the County is not seeking to invalidate the Ordinance, only to get answers to the many legal questions raised by it,” County Counsel Sarah Hanson said. “As an example, Oregon law generally does not permit the County to regulate within the City limits without consent. We have asked the Court to inform us whether the cites have consented."

Hanson said this and many other questions arising from the two voter-passed initiatives and the Ordinance implementing them put the County and its residents in legal “limbo,” so the Ordinance has been put before the Court for answers. The statutory process will enable the County to get binding decisions from the Court which will allow the Ordinance to move forward in a form that is legal. It will provide the Sheriff and District Attorney with certainty as to what can and cannot be prosecuted.

“This proceeding will also inform residents of the County what firearm laws do apply to them so that no one is unwittingly found to violate a federal or state firearm law that they believe doesn’t apply because of the initiative measures,” Hanson said. “We don’t think anyone would want that result.”

The County expects a briefing schedule to be approved by the Court soon and hopes to have a hearing before the end of June, 2021.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-30 17:28:01Last Update: 2021-05-31 13:30:41



Kids in Control
Is there any relevance to best practices?

Involving kids into pollical decisions has been a priority for Governor Brown. So much so that HB 3363 establishes a Racial Equity and Justice Student Collaborative, which is directed by a work group of at least 6 students and 3 adults to filter prospective members of the Collaborative for the Governor’s selection. The majority of the members of the Collaborative must be students between the ages of 11 to 18. The Collaborative duties are to set goals, success criteria and progress measures related to student leadership and engagement in the policymaking process in this state.

The Collaborative gives students ages 11 to 18 a lot of power to be heard on policy for the state. But where they are considered an asset for their critical thinking, they aren’t trusted in other areas. Some laws proposed have a basis in the science of brain development and the permanent damage caused: Then there are those bills that take no account for brain development and the effect of real life experiences: Judicial treatment indicates a pattern of forgiveness: Consent and disclosure are at odds. SB 792 protects disclosing child’s identifiable information under 16 years of age when applying to State Fish and Wildlife Commission for license and tags.

However, parents should be aware of HB 3284, which allows 14-year-olds to give consent to collect, use or disclose personal health data. “Personal health data” is protected data and not for sharing without expressed consent, which your 14-year-old can give under this bill. This includes information that is collected to track, monitor or trace exposures to infections caused by or related to COVID-19 that can be used to identify a resident individual or others.

One thing seems clear, age is being used to the advantage of the issue at hand and has no relevance to best practices.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-30 12:05:20Last Update: 2021-05-30 17:40:03



Yamhill County Strikes at Gov. Brown
“Unsupported by science”

In a show of bipartisan unity, all three Yamhill County Commissioners prevailed upon Governor Brown to rescind her order to make vaccine police of those who operate places open to the public. The Board of Commissioners' letter opposes Governor driven mandates by Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA requiring churches and businesses to verify vaccination for COVID-19, or require mask wearing before allowing entry. The mandate includes required training for employees in determining authenticity of medical records and knowing the protocols for the different vaccines available. Any mistakes by these employees could result in a fine. The other option is to require 100% wearing of masks until further notice.

In the letter, the commissioners point out that:

As a practical matter, requiring busine3sses and churches, and the employees of those businesses and churches, to verify a person's vaccine status is only going to lead to conflict between employees and customers...the last thing that any of these businesses and churches need is a yet another, unsupported by science, mandate from the State of Oregon that is only going to lead to conflict and these businesses and churches and their employees begin the long and arduous task of attempting to rebuild what they have lost.

This mandate is not supported by requirements from the White House, CDC or any federal agency. With both the federal government and Oregon’s Governor claiming the high ground in following the science on mask efficacy who’s right? A comparison to recent results in mask free Texas and Florida versus California ought to answer that one. Or is this not a matter of following the science but just a matter of exerting control over citizen’s lives? Oregon’s Governor has survived two recall efforts. Clearly there are many who question her judgement in balancing the needs of all citizens. The federal agencies stance may indicate a wish to avoid a challenge in court over violations of HIPPA laws.

According to many, Yamhill County Commissioner Kulla is a leader in Progressive Yamhill. He typically supports policies that favor Democrat control in all things regardless of Constitutionality. Fresh from his latest focus group, Kulla’s signature on this letter is significant in that it may signal even more progressive leaders and habitual critics of conservative commissioners, are becoming cautious of aligning with the Governor’s heavy-handed measures.

The deaths of six one hundredths of 1% of Oregonians have been attributed to COVID-19. The number of new cases reported nationally is at its lowest point since cases first rose in April of 2020. The curve has not only flattened, it is soon a candidate for the endangered species list. Maybe the Governor is concerned we’ve arrived at a point where Oregon’s counties may discontinue funding the salaries of hundreds of COVID-19 trackers.

Maybe she’s waiting for the teachers union to give her the green light.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-30 10:31:24Last Update: 2021-05-30 12:05:20



Another Government Employee Union
Just what Oregon needs

In a 75 to 31 vote (total eligible voters estimated at 180), Oregon Legislative staff -- the people who work for the State Senators and Representatives -- voted to unionize.

However, the union conversation is not new. SB 759 introduced by Senator Dembrow (D–Portland), Senator Gorsek (D–Portland) and Representative Wilde (D–Eugene) this session aimed to direct the Legislative Administrator to represent legislative departments in collective bargaining negotiations with legislative department employees, i.e., legislative employee unions.

However, after the bill passed the Senate on a party line vote, it was assigned to the House Rules committee where it has received just one hearing. This is possibly due to waiting for the outcome of the Legislative staff vote. During initial testimony on the bill, The Freedom Foundation testified that,

“Following recent attempts to organize a union of legislative employees, the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed multiple objections with the Employee Relations Board (ERB) on behalf of the Legislature arguing that such efforts would violate both the Oregon Constitution and the state’s collective bargaining laws.”

The pending outcome of the latest round of objections by Legislators themselves, however, did not stop a few other Legislators from continuing the conversation.

The union vote was organized by IBEW Local 89, located in Washington state. IBEW Local 89 represents workers in numerous industries including: Telecommunications Installation and Repair, Telecommunications Network Construction, Satellite installation and Repair, Warehouse and Logistics, Manufacturing, Clerical and Campaign workers. However, currently most state employees are unionized under SEIU 503. Staffers selected the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 89 to represent them, in part, because the IBEW does not actively lobby in state politics and SEIU 503 does.

In an email sent to Legislative staff from IBEW Local 89 they announced:

We are happy to announce the results of this morning’s union election. Through an overwhelming showing of bipartisan support, you and your coworkers have voted “UNION YES”!

This is a monumental win for every staffer in Oregon as well as those watching across the country. Through your solidarity, strength and determination, you all are leading the way for legislative staff everywhere to have a legitimate voice in their workplace and the power to make a difference.

What is interesting about the statement is that they said, “Through an overwhelming showing of bipartisan support”. However, the balloting process was portrayed to staff as a secret ballot. How does the IBEW know it was bipartisan?

The announcement from IBEW was quickly followed by a joint press release from House Speaker Kotek (D- Portland) and Senate President Courtney (D – Salem) saying:

“We are committed to supporting the needs of the Legislature’s dedicated staff. The people’s work could not be done without them. Today, Oregon legislative aides took the historic step of becoming the first union of legislative staff in the country. We respect their decision, hear their voices and look forward to bargaining in good faith with their new union.”

Several issues may still be unresolved even after the vote. Department of Justice lawyer Tessa Sugahara, was quoted in a February OPB article saying, “Legislative Branch employees are exempt from, and generally not subject to, the State Personnel Relations Law”. She went on to add “The collective bargaining policy objectives of the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act are irreconcilable with the policy objectives of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, and This situation raises both conflict and loyalty considerations that the PECBA policy did not anticipate.”

When the union movement gets to a point of actual negotiations, it may also be the solution to a bill that Rep. Wilde (D- Eugene) brought forth this session but that has yet to be heard in the House Rules Committee. HB 2220 removes the ability for member of Legislative Assembly to appoint or employ relatives or members of their household as their legislative staff unless relative or member of household serves as unpaid volunteer.

As most Legislators do not live in Salem year-round, they often employ their spouse or family member as a way to spend more time together and to supplement their legislative / household income. In addition, having a family member as their Chief of staff is often important to maintaining confidentiality and consistent communications with their constituents. After all, who know them better than their family. Also, many of the Legislative staff positions are limited duration positions, meaning they work only during the actual legislative session and not during the “off season”. By hiring family, the Legislator is also able to maintain some historical knowledge from session to session. This becomes even more important if they are a long serving member. Institutional knowledge of past legislation and actions can help make them more successful in the representation of their constituents.

One thing is certain, for better or worse, Oregon is once again a trailblazer in the political world as the first in the nation Legislative Staff union. However, there are still potential legal challenges surrounding the separation of powers clause in the Oregon Constitution, and unanswered questions about how the union will operate with the potential conflicts with the PECBA policy objectives. But what mostly remains is the potential problems that will arise when political leaders must bargain with the very employees who possibly share the same household with them.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-30 09:14:37Last Update: 2021-05-30 17:54:22



Oregon County Clerks Ask for a Piece of the Pie
“We believe these would be truly transformational investments”

The May 2021 revenue forecast was rosy, and with the influx of federal assistance, Oregon has an opportunity to make critical investments. Oregon Association of County Clerks is asking for $40 million to update and improve the aging election infrastructure.

They request consideration to fund targeted investments to help secure and improve our election systems that Oregonians rely upon: Bobbi A Childers, President of Oregon Association of County Clerks stated, “We believe these would be truly transformational investments and improvement to our election system across the state.”

Our county election officials are trying to do a good job. Still, No one can deny that there is a problem with election data being corrupted in our country. But Oregon still lacks an in-depth investigation into what types of voter fraud has taken place. Oregon received Election Security Funds from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to provide states with additional resources to secure and improve election systems. In 2018 Oregon received $380 million and in 2020 Oregon received $425 million, which doesn’t include funds to cover costs for the pandemic incurred by county election offices. Shouldn’t we ask them to account for these funds?

Janice Dysinger, Oregonians for Fair Election, is probably one of the most knowledgeable on Oregon’s voting systems. She says, “the weakest system in Oregon is the thumb drive transfer to the Election Night Reporting (ENR) system. Our data is obtained by querying the county election equipment tabulators and writing that information on a USB thumb drive then taking it out of the secure counting area and inserting it into another computer that is connected to the internet to send to the ENR system. A flaw in this system was recently reported in Douglas County in the May 18th, 2021, election which reported 5000 more voters than Douglas County sent.”

Until the investigation is completed over the 2020 election, new equipment from the same vendor connections with the same algorithms will solve nothing. Dysinger says, “Until we can see that there are no algorithms inserted into election tabulators and computers, that the programing is open source for all to see the computer's operations, by all parties and no interference with the data transfer routing through other countries to the Election ENR system, we need to hold off on spending more money on equipment. A more honest approach would be to fund a back-up plan to count ballots by hand in the precincts and posting the results with the signatures of witnesses at the precinct level and a second copy with real witness signatures sent with the ballots and posted in the county elections office window and on their website. Then securely faxing the results to the Secretary of State to post on their website. Until then the American people will not feel secure in the results."


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-29 21:52:46Last Update: 2021-05-29 22:11:07



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