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Kate Brown Likely to Maintain State of Emergency
Fully reopened doesn’t mean what you think

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown recently addressed the public in a press conference where she detailed what she intends for Oregon now that the Covid vaccination goal she set is about to be met. Brown has stated that when Oregon reaches 70% first dose vaccination rate for adults, most county and individual health and safety restrictions will lift. It seems that she knew that Oregonians want to hear her say that she will fully reopen Oregon's economy, so those are the exact words she used.

"What does fully reopen mean?", Brown said. "Masks will "largely" no longer be required in businesses and most other places, with the exception of public settings currently outlined by the CDC such as public transportation."

"No more physical distancing," Brown added."

In discerning what she really means by this, however, it seems that she very much intends on keeping as many restrictions in place as she can, even among school children.

As of June 3, Oregon had achieved a 66.2% vaccination rate for individuals 18 and older, with 127,308 more people needing to receive a first dose to reach 70%.

“I want to be very clear that we are able to reopen like this because of the efficacy of the vaccines. For those of you who are vaccinated, you’ve helped us reach this point — and you are protected from this virus,” said Governor Brown. “However, there are still Oregonians who need to take extra precautions to feel and stay safe. People battling cancer and immunocompromised Oregonians, to name a couple. There are also many Oregon kids who are not yet eligible for a vaccine.

“So, it will remain incredibly important for Oregonians to continue making smart choices. And, to respect the choices of others. Let’s respect one another as we prepare to make this transition.

“This has really become a tale of two pandemics. If you are vaccinated, then you’re safe, you can carry on safely without wearing a mask and social distancing.

“If you are not vaccinated, this virus still poses a very real threat.”

It seems that the OHA does not have any guidance on whether actual COVID survivors should be vaccinated, as they would likely already have natural immunity to the virus.

Details of the restrictions that will remain for school children were provided by Brown and outlined here: Skeptics of Brown's "reopening announcement" believe that she intends to keep these and other restrictions in place, as well as the continued state of emergency.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-07 09:39:58Last Update: 2021-06-07 10:28:53



Another Democrat Small Business Tax Proposal
Public hearing announced late

As if there weren't enough disincentives for business in Oregon with increasing taxation coming from the Kate Brown administration, more tax bills keep coming, with the intent of finding additional sources of revenue to cover the State's out of control spending habit.

There is yet another small business tax proposal from Oregon Democrats that is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Finance and Revenue hearing this Monday, June 7, at 1:00. It was only made public on late on Friday before the weekend so that people would not know about it until the last minute. You can find the link to that meeting by clicking here.

The bill is SB 139 and it will raise the tax rate for small businesses that are also known as pass-throughs income.

This tax only applies to small businesses.

Scott Bruun, Director of Tax and Fiscal Policy for Oregon Business and Industry gave the following testimony earlier this session:

"SB 139 would raise taxes on thousands of Oregon partnership businesses at a time when many of those businesses are still reeling from the economic effects of COVID. These businesses are not the euphemistic “large corporations,” they are small and medium-size businesses that operate in every corner of our state, and in every commercial business activity you could think of. These could be businesses with two employees, 20 employees, or even 200 employees, each with an interest in keeping those employees working and maintaining operations during perhaps the biggest economic challenge of our lifetime."

"There is no question that some Oregon businesses have done well during the current crisis. Some have even done exceptionally well. That’s actually great news! It’s something we should celebrate, not punish or lament. Those businesses, whether they employ 2 or 200, have kept Oregon moving forward. They’ve kept their people working; they have played by the rules; they’ve overcome hurdles; and they will pay the full taxes they owe under current statute - more than they would pay, of course, if they had not done as well."

"But we shouldn’t let success stories sidetrack us. The fact is most businesses have suffered and are behind where they would otherwise be if not for COVID. SB 139 would raise taxes on those businesses during this time of economic stress. These tax increases would make it harder for Oregon businesses to compete, harder for them to hire, harder for them to give raises, and maybe even harder for them to retain the people they currently employ."

"It is also important to remember, as we’ve discussed before, that every Oregon business, partnership or not, will already be experiencing a 41% increase in their overall tax burden by 2022 when tax measures approved in 2019 are fully implemented.

COVID notwithstanding, Oregon’s business tax burden has increased from 40th highest in the nation, to 19th highest in a very short period of time. Respectfully, the businesses which employ Oregonians are having a hard enough time swallowing that big pill, they are certainly not in a position to take on yet another tax increase.




--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-06 16:12:34Last Update: 2021-06-07 18:30:37



Hospitalizations Surging?
Has Governor Brown Reduced Bed Counts?

While other states continue to open and show a decrease in hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases, such as Texas, Oregon has remained locked down with excessive restrictions on severely struggling businesses.

Governor Kate Brown has now imposed a three-week lock-down, despite the minimal COVID impact Oregon has seen when measured against other state case and fatality data nationwide and worldwide.

The “two weeks to flatten the curve” lock-down measures she announced in March 2020 were meant to help our healthcare systems get through an additional surge. Yet Governor Brown has announced that 15 counties back into the “extreme high risk” category for COVID-19, and also re-instituting restrictions on other Oregon counties.

She claims that hospitals are beginning to overflow once again with COVID-19 patients. But is that really true?

According to the Oregon Health Authority, as of April 23rd, 2021, out of approximately 3.8 million residents, there are only 305 Oregonians currently hospitalized due to COVID, with 543 Adult non-ICU beds and 149 Adult ICU beds still available specifically for COVID-19 patients. This is a far cry from the winter peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations on December 14th, 2020, where 601 Oregonians were hospitalized due to COVID, while an additional 739 Adult non-ICU beds and 149 Adult ICU beds remained available for COVID-19 patients.

On December 14th, 2020, there were 1,489 total hospital beds allocated for COVID-19 patients, but that by April 23rd, 2021, it seems that number had been reduced to only 997 hospital beds.

We can all agree that, if this is still an emergency situation that hospital bed counts should be maintained at 1,489 until the crisis is over. That doesn't seem to be what has been happening, according to School Superintendent Marc Theilman, of the Alsea School District, who has been in weekly contact with hospitals to stay abreast of the situation after concluding he could not rely exclusively on Oregon Health Authority(OHA)data.

“You know, it’s been interesting because the information I’ve been getting from hospital staff hasn’t been that the situation is getting worse again, despite the concern over variants, a lack of preventative nutritional guidance issued or access to available medical treatments known to be effective that are separate from the vaccine rollout,” shared Thielman. “And, despite what Brown’s Friday meeting tried to paint a picture of, the current situation is not about those who are choosing to forgo receiving an experimental vaccine—the reality is that hospitals are removing available beds for COVID-19 patients, as it’s not economically feasible to keep so many beds empty. However, this is an easy data point to manipulate to use to tell the public that hospital capacity is getting maxed out,” he added. “In fact, I just spoke with a ranking member of the Oregon Nurses Association who gave me advanced warning about the political narrative being set forth,” said Theilman, “As one contact put it, ‘the reality is that bed use continues to dramatically decline’ and he told me, don’t believe the spin, he actually said we should be celebrating at the waning of this pandemic.”

“What hospital staff have been sharing with me is that they have been reducing their COVID bed counts due to lack of public need so they could make those beds available for people who actually are in need with other conditions,” Thielman noted. “I was told point blank that they’ve been in discussions with representatives from Governor Brown’s office and that she’s fully aware of these reductions. Personally, I think this is good news and should be openly discussed, not be a reason to consider going back into lockdowns,” he added. “Since there seems to be federal money for this very purpose, we should just increase bed counts again if necessary, without disrupting the lives of countless Oregonians, who have been great throughout this—that would make the most sense to me.”

Critics are wondering if Governor Brown may not be telling the public that she authorized the reduction in COVID bed counts.

In 2008, and quite possibly during other years as well, Oregon received Federal grants specifically to help build pandemic preparedness.

And here is a another newsletter statement, describing additional federal grant money:

With any previous federal funds and additional money in new federal aid that Oregon has received over the last year, it seems that Governor Brown could simply support hospitals financially, in the isolated counties where hospitalizations may be rising slightly, to increase their available bed counts once again.

Oregonians will definitely have to continue to pick up the pieces created not just by COVID, but by abysmal public health policies that sometimes create an illusion of responsible action, but in fact only hurt healthy residents ready to get on with their lives.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-06 11:59:50Last Update: 2021-06-06 12:01:34



What about the COVID survivors?
Do they have to wear a mask? Asking for a friend.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority have provided updated guidance on mask requirements for those with synthetic immunity -- from a vaccine -- but have failed to create guidance for those who have natural immunity from having had the disease.

The numbers are not large, but neither are they trivial. According to the OHA website, there have been 202,675 cases, which when spread among 4,300,000 means that about 4.7% of Oregonians have had a recorded case. This number needs some adjustment. Some unrecorded cases need to be added. Some 2,686 deaths need to be subtracted as do cases that were subsequently vaccinated, but a number of persons near 5% are COVID survivors.

The CDC suggests that COVID survivors get the vaccine, but candidly admits that it doesn't know.

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

The OHA does not have any guidance on whether COVID survivors should be vaccinated.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-05 21:22:53Last Update: 2021-06-06 09:12:15



COVID Exposure To Prompt Compensation
Proposal may further discourage commerce

There is a proposal in the Oregon legislature which would add the exposure to COVID-19 as a occupational hazard which may require the worker to be financially compensated by the employer.

SB 488 is sponsored by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and currently sits in the Oregon legislature's Senate Committee On Labor and Business.

The bill includes the following details: As they often do, the Supermajority Democrats in the Oregon legislature attached the emergency clause to the bill, rendering it not able to be referred to the voter's of Oregon via citizen referendum.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-05 17:46:34Last Update: 2021-06-05 21:36:29



Irony in the Capitol...again
Is $9.3 Billion (with a B) enough for schools?

Another House floor session began with an attempt by House Republicans to bring a bill out of committee to an immediate vote on the floor. Rep. Breese-Iverson (R- Prineville) called for immediate consideration of HB 3399. It requires all Public Schools to be back to 5 day a week, face-to-face learning in the fall. On a party line the vote, the House Democrats unanimously disagreed and voted the motion down. It would give school districts the certainty they need to budget and plan for bringing all student back full-time in the fall. In a previous article, “Back to school in the fall...maybe”, HB 3399 was discussed in detail.

A similar attempt was made by the Senate Republicans late last month when they requested immediate consideration of the Senate version of HB 3399. Senator Anderson (R-Lincoln City) introduced the legislation reported on earlier in “Senate Republicans Support Teachers Union Effort to Fully Reopen Schools”. However, it was also voted down on a party line vote by the Democrats. Senate Republican Leader Girod (R-Lyons) commented on the bill saying,

“Republicans have been beating this drum for months. Now with the Democrat’s union on board, there is no excuse for them to sit back and allow the Governor to dictate if our kids will get a proper education next year. We need to give kids and parents assurance that they will return to the classroom.”

Today on the floor, after the Democrats denied the motion to vote on reopening schools to full-time, face-to-face learning in the fall they, ironically, took up debate on the State School Fund budget.

The House Republicans immediately made a motion to send the school budget back to committee to increase the amount from $9.3B to $9.6B before it passed. During the debate, House Republican Leader Drazen (R-Canby) stated, “We should not be moving forward with a budget that will harm our kids’ education in the long run. Schools tell us that $9.6 Billion is needed to avoid cuts next year, and we must believe them. Our state has more money than ever, and we’re committed to giving families the choice of in-person learning next fall. This is the wrong time to move forward with a ‘cuts’ budget. Our kids deserve better.”

The $9.6B came from a request by the Oregon School Employees Association, Oregon Education Association, and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators. They testified earlier to the budget committee regarding the $9.6B and specifically to the need to invest and protect the needs of the students coming out of an unprecedented year of lost learning. They also spoke to the various funding for which they are restricted in use. Iton Udosenata, COSA President stated in written testimony that,

“Our funding is not interchangeable. The Student Investment Account is targeted toward equitable investments to better serve our students and their communities. It is meant to supplement the operational funding of school districts in the State School Fund. Federal funds (CARES ACT funding) are intended to provide schools the resources to safely reopen and address the added costs of operating our schools and supporting our students for the next three-plus years.

The State School Fund is still the primary source of funding for our school districts. A budget that does not meet our financial needs means we take a huge step backward in our ability to serve students.”

However, House Democrats again, unanimously opposed the motion.

They then moved on to debating the $9.3B budget proposal. Several Democrat House members spoke against the request for the additional $300M. They reminded the Republicans that there are other funding streams being fed into school budgets that will help schools meet the needs of “all students”.

However, most of that additional funding they mentioned is the funding that COSA spoke about in committee. The carrier of the bill, Rep. McLain (D - Hillsboro) summed up many of her Democratic colleagues’ comments in her closing remarks saying,

“This budget is a good solid investment and foundation for our schools in Oregon but it’s only one of the sources of funding that we are sending out to our schools. Please do not forget the Student Success Act, please do not forget that we are putting investments into our BIPOC diversity and inclusion programs. There will be millions more dollars going into those programs focused on development of inclusion and diversity to support all students”.

However, the reality is that the only current funding source that provides equal funding for all students is the State School Fund, and it is also the primary source of funding. The rest is volatile, limited duration, or grant based and not available to every school district.

The bill finally passed on a party line vote with the Supermajority Democrats once again voting to go against the Republicans, but this time they also voted against the wishes of the Teachers and School Administrators.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-06-04 10:44:57Last Update: 2021-06-04 11:49:47



Vaccine Passport Ban Proposed
“The Governor’s vaccine passport scheme is an extreme invasion of Oregonians’ privacy”

Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) has introduced civil rights legislation to ban vaccine passports in Oregon.

SB 872 would prohibit public and private entities from conditioning service or employment opportunities based on vaccination status or the possession of a vaccine credential. The anti-discrimination legislation would also ban the government from preventing Oregonians from exercising first amendment rights because of COVID-19 risks.

“The Governor’s vaccine passport scheme is an extreme invasion of Oregonians’ privacy,” said Senator Thatcher. “No Oregonian should have to divulge medical information to participate in everyday life. This bill is about making clear Oregonians’ rights, which have been railroaded by the Governor during the pandemic. One person cannot and should not have this much power over Oregonians’ lives and livelihoods.”

Civil rights and business and labor groups agree that the move by the Governor to implement vaccine passports, contrary to the White House and CDC, is alarming.

According to news reports, a spokesperson for UFCW Local 555, which represents grocery store workers, said, “Telling essential employees to be the mask police and asking customers for their medical information puts them in harm’s way…”

A recent survey conducted by the local Chamber of Commerce in Medford found that 93% of businesses do not want to condition maskless service on asking customers for medical information. The ACLU has said that vaccine passports, “threaten to exacerbate racial disparities and harm the civil liberties of all.”

“Our local businesses have gone through a lot this year,” continued Sen. Thatcher. “The last thing we should be doing is making them play mask and vaccine cop. They have much more important things to do, like getting back to normal so Oregonians can earn a living.”

The legislation comes as Oregon approaches a 70% vaccination rate, the threshold the Governor has set to “fully reopen the economy,” although it is still unclear what that means given the Governor’s constant shifting of the goal-posts.

According to the New York Times, Oregon is one of 3 states in the nation that have refused to set a date for reopening. Oregon’s vaccine passport scheme runs contrary to the approaches taken by California and Washington, which have both opted to trust their residents.

SB 872 is waiting to be first read, after which it will be referred to a committee by the Senate President.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-04 10:40:06Last Update: 2021-06-04 11:59:12



St. Paul Rodeo is Returning
After hiatus, the tradition continues

The fun is about to break out of the chutes at the St. Paul Rodeo in St. Paul, Oregon!

For the 85th year, the Nation’s Greatest Rodeo will take place June 30-July 4, and tickets are on sale now!

The rodeo is the biggest event in the small town of St. Paul, Oregon and one of the top twenty largest rodeos in the nation.

Fans know it best for the fun it provides. Rodeo clown JJ Harrison will be on hand to provide the laughs, and the Full Throttle trick riders will entertain in flashy sequined costumes, while they do gymnastic stunts on the backs of galloping horses!

And the food! The St. Paul Rodeo is known for its homemade strawberry shortcake, complete with locally grown berries and a big dollop of whipped cream on top! Plus, there’s barbecue chicken, cotton candy, popcorn, and more!

It’s good to be able to rodeo and invite fans to return, said Cindy Schonholtz, general manager of the St. Paul Rodeo, who has an informal “theme” for this year’s rodeo: “More fun in ’21.”

“We are proud to be a family celebration where moms and dads, kids and grandkids, grandmas and granddads can get together, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate Independence Day.”

Tickets range in price from $16 to $26, not including a convenience fee, and can be purchased online.

As Covid restrictions are lifted, more tickets will be released for sale.

“Come and celebrate with us at the St. Paul Rodeo,” Schonholtz said.

Rodeo performances are at 7:30 pm nightly, June 30-July 4, with a 1:30 pm matinee on July 4.

For more information, visit the rodeo’s website or call 800.237.5920. Covid guidelines will be in place during the rodeo. Tickets purchased earlier in the year will be honored.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-04 09:37:16Last Update: 2021-06-04 10:00:26



Bill Proposes Presumption of Discrimination
13,000 businesses closed spring of 2020

SB 483, by Senator Taylor is another attack on business owners. The bill creates a presumption that a person engaged in retaliation or discrimination against employee if person takes certain action against employee or prospective employee within 60 days after employee or prospective employee has engaged in certain protected activities -- such as filing a complaint.

Recent bills focus on jobs, not employers, not owners. The report out by State Economist Gail Krumenauer told us it must be favorable. That there was an increase in jobs. But under the surface the big producers of Gross Domestic Product in Oregon, privately owned, showed no recovery.

It seems that State Democrats want us to focus on already adequately protected employees instead of other things like the basic health of the economy? The Bureau of Labor and Industry only shows a business is closed permanently after four quarters of no reporting. The Secretary of State statistics don’t show a loss until the license is not renewed. We are sitting in a time spot where a lot of the loss of private business ownership is concealed.

The one report out was one reported by Small Business Association on Portland. They reported 19.4 percent of business district business is closed, in the first quarter of 2021. A 14.7 percent rate for the city overall. Jacob Pavlik, of Colliers Real Estate Research, reported 900,476 feet of unoccupied space for first quarter in the City of Portland.

Oregon Live.com said there were 13,000 businesses closed spring of 2020. This is the largest tally in 30 years and twice as much as any single quarter.


--Liz Turner

Post Date: 2021-06-03 22:05:56Last Update: 2021-06-03 23:24:15



Referendum Filed on Gun Restrictions
SB 554 may get a vote of the people

A referendum on SB 554 seeking to overturn the recently passed law has been filed by a handful of state legislators in Oregon.

State Representatives Mike Nearman (R-Independence), E. Werner Reschke (R-Malin) and David Brock Smith (R-Gold Beach) filed the referendum and now have about 4 months to gather 79,680 valid signatures. If they are successful in gathering these signatures, SB 554 will be presented to the voters in November 2022.

The referendum effort looks to capitalize on gathering signatures at events such as the State and county fairs that are aiming to have a big come-back after a year of Covid lock-downs. They have an online presence as well at www.ResponsibleResponse.com.

The bill as passed requires a person to secure a firearm with a trigger or cable lock, in a locked container or in a gun room, with violations punished by a maximum of $500 fine or maximum of $2,000 fine if a minor obtains an unsecured firearm as result of the violation.

It also requires a person to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 72 hours of the time the person knew or reasonably should have known of the loss or theft. Punishes violation of this requirement by maximum of $1,000 fine.

It also authorizes the boards of public universities, community colleges or school districts to adopt policies providing that affirmative defense for concealed handgun licensees possessing firearms on school grounds does not apply, effectively making these places gun-free zones.

Critics have been outspoken about SB 554 since it's inception, citing that it merely criminalizes some normal and legal behavior of responsible firearms owners, and does nothing to reduce societal violence. It makes criminals out of responsible citizens, and does not help improve public safety. It seems SB 554 also restricts one's ability to defend oneself at home.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-03 13:30:04Last Update: 2021-06-03 20:29:37



House Dems Vote Against Schools Opening
What is school going to look like in the fall?

House Democrats voted to oppose legislative action that would ensure schools are fully reopened for in-person learning in the fall.

Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) made a motion to pull her bill, HB 3399, from Rules Committee to the House floor for a vote. The proposal would require each public school to offer full-time, in-person classroom instruction during the 2021-2022 school year.

The motion failed on party lines with House Republicans voting in support and House Democrats voting in opposition to fully reopen schools.

“We have to get our kids back in the classroom for full in-person learning,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “They have suffered enough. Oregon families need certainty. They need to know that they will have the choice to return to school full-time by the fall.”


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-03 12:40:27



Annual Government Waste Hotline Report Released
Waste, inefficiency, and abuse

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and the Audits Division have now released the 2020 Government Waste Hotline Report, summarizing the activity of the Government Waste Hotline for 2020. The hotline received 273 initial reports in calendar year 2020, ranging from requests for information to reports that warranted further investigation.

The hotline is for members of the public and state employees to report alleged waste, inefficiency, or abuse of state funds or resources by state agencies, employees, or contractors. Tips and complaints to the hotline have steadily increased over time, from 149 ten years ago to 273 in 2020, an increase of nearly 85 percent. This year, reports to the hotline included:

“My mission as Oregon Secretary of State is to build trust with Oregonians so that public services can make a difference in their everyday lives,” Secretary Fagan said. “The Oregon Government Waste Hotline is one of many tools we use to build trust through transparency and accountability in state government. Anyone who has knowledge of or concerns about state government waste, inefficiency, or abuse can report this information confidentially to our hotline.”

Complaints include allegations of fraud, theft, unethical or improper workplace conduct, time theft, and misuse of state resources, such as state vehicles or other property. State law ensures confidentiality to every person making a report through the hotline.

Upon receiving a tip or complaint, the Audits Division conducts an initial investigation of the allegation to determine if the matter should be further investigated. The Audits Division is required to notify the Oregon Government Ethics Commission if potential violations of Oregon ethics laws are discovered. Law enforcement must be notified if potential criminal activity is discovered.

A 2020 study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that tips are consistently the most common fraud detection method. The study indicated organizations with a reporting hotline have a higher likelihood of fraud being reported and addressed than organizations without a hotline.

Oregonians and state employees concerned about government waste and inefficiency should contact the hotline at (800) 336-8218, or submit a report using the online form at the Secretary of State’s website.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-02 16:32:13Last Update: 2021-06-02 16:51:43



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