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Across County Lines, July 6

Across County Lines, July 6

STATE GOVERNMENT & POLICY

Lawmakers spend holiday working on logjam of bills

Bend Bulletin

Unless the House and Senate are going to be rubber stamp machines, the queue of bills is going to be hard to clear before the weekend. On Monday, Ways & Means co-chair Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, said she couldn’t be sure if her committee was done for the year or not.

“What a long, strange trip it has been,” she said.

SUICIDE PREVENTION BILL

Suicide prevention bill heads to the House

Portland Tribune

“This Republic is about keeping people free, and I wish it was within our power to keep people safe, but the fact is when we have a conflict with the right of citizens, I have to side with them,” said Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, who voted against the bill Monday. McLane said he planned to present a minority report offering an alternative to the bill on the House floor later this week.

BUDGET

Measure 98 funds for school dropout prevention cut in half

The Associated Press

Measure 98 is among several programs and services being trimmed down this week as lawmakers rush to close the upcoming budget deficit by July 10 without millions of dollars in new tax revenue that Democrats had hoped to raise from businesses. State funding for the K-12 public school system is, conversely, going up 11 percent in the next biennium, $8.2 billion total, largely to cover rising costs in teachers’ health care, retirement and automatic salary and cost-of-living adjustments.

Education Department officials told The Associated Press that 39 charter schools and 173 of the state’s 197 public school districts have formally asked to participate in Measure 98 programs as of Monday.

Legislature’s bond list includes $74 million for Lane County projects

Register-Guard

Oregon lawmakers are set to use $100 million in state bonds to buy a portion of the Elliott State Forest and are ready to approve another $74 million in financing for projects in Lane County, including $50 million to pay for part of the University of Oregon’s new Knight science campus.

Salem ‘shock’: only $9M for OSU-Cascades

Bend Bulletin

“This morning was a shock,” said Becky Johnson, vice president of Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend. “We just opened up the campus last fall, and now, you have to wonder, what’s the level of support for the campus on the state government level?”

HEALTH CARE

Bill to reduce teen use of tobacco products springs back to life

Portland Tribune

“I really did want to establish myself as a bipartisan lawmaker,” Vial said Monday, within hours of the bill’s resurrection. “I’m just convinced that tobacco (addiction) is one of the most expensive problems, and one of the most controllable ones, we face.”

Lawmakers eye cutting ‘double’ health coverage for teachers, state workers

The Oregonian

Oregon lawmakers have found an additional way to trim government costs: eliminate double health plan coverage for public school workers and state employees. The change could save $94 million in the state general fund over the next two years, according legislative budget documents. That would be on top of about $200 million of cost-cutting, such as delaying filling vacant state jobs, lawmakers already identified.

Republican Pushes for Ballot Referendum on Oregon Health Plan Funding Deal

The Lund Report

Rep. Julie Parrish is threatening to derail the provider tax, which was negotiated behind closed doors with the healthcare industry, requiring it to come up with most of the state’s matching funds to draw down federal money to support the Oregon Health Plan — and continue a critical flow of money to hospitals.

Health services group sues OHA

Portland Tribune

NEWCO Oregon, part of Universal Health Services Inc. of Pennsylvania, hopes to build a 62,000-square-foot psychiatric hospital, which it plans to call Willamette Valley Behavioral Health, on 8.72 acres at the intersection of Boones Ferry and Day roads. The company sued the state June 23 in Marion County Circuit Court, claiming the Oregon Health Authority has violated state law by delaying a certificate of need without just cause.

State hiding communication plan in FamilyCare battle

Portland Tribune

A recent decision by OHA to overwhelmingly blank out 26 pages of emails involving its FamilyCare communications plan — not just withholding the plan itself, but removing all mention of the plan, citing pending litigation —suggests that even in a year when public records is a hot topic in Salem, Gov. Kate Brown’s directive to agencies to set a more transparent tone is not filtering down. Bryan Hockaday, a Brown spokeman, says his office played no role in blacking out large swathes out of the records, and directed OHA to release the records sooner than it had planned.

RECORDING GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS

Oregon Senate works the holiday, OKs measure requiring recording of grand jury proceedings

Register-Guard

“These measures create a different justice system for public employees, with prosecutors facing different incentives and dynamics depending on a person’s profession,” the group wrote in a Senate floor letter. But Prozanski said opponents’ stance that “the sky is falling” is “bunk.” Passing the bill on the Fourth of July was apt, he added, since the policy would “ensure liberty and justice for all and that the integrity of our criminal justice system is preserved above all.”

Senate approves audio recording grand jury proceedings

Portland Tribune

“This bill will bring our justice system into the 21st Century, but it’s about more than that,” said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who has spearheaded similar legislation for several years. “We’re working on Independence Day right now. July Fourth is a beautiful day, and it’s about freedom and liberty. We have a chance to ensure liberty, justice for all and an opportunity to ensure our criminal justice system remains above all reproach.”

Oregon Senate works on the holiday, passes 20 bills

Statesman Journal

“The only two states in the nation that don’t have actual recording of grand jury proceedings are Oregon and Louisiana,” Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, told his colleagues. “If you want fine dining, Louisiana is definitely the place to go. Beyond that, there are other states we might consider emulating in the way we do business. “Obviously, this is working fine in 48 states,” he said.

AGRICULTURE, NATURAL RESOURCES & THE OUTDOORS

Boat fee expansion for invasive species treading water in Legislature

Mail Tribune

A bill that would add smaller boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to the $5-a-year permit program to fund the fight against aquatic invasive species in Oregon could be dead in the water. “If I’d make an educated guess, I’d say it’s dead, but I’m hopeful,” said Rick Boatner, who manages the invasive species program for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

New Federal Effort Tries To ‘Save Our Dams’ Along Snake River

Oregon Public Broadcasting

A new bill in Congress would make sure Washington’s four lower Snake River dams stay standing. It’s push back against a recent court order to find “a new approach” to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. “Removing the Snake River dams would be harmful to our communities, the environment and our economy. This legislation is needed to support the critical role that Snake River dams play by providing Washington communities with clean, renewable hydropower,” Newhouse said.

HOUSING

Bill may ease affordable housing woes

“As our baby boomers retire and the need for housing continues to rise, this law will give counties and cities the tools necessary for construction of housing for our workforce,” Smith said. “Economists and data agree that to help solve our housing crisis, we need to create supply and build more housing that our workforce can afford.”

MINIMUM WAGE

What a Minimum-Wage Increase Means to Fast-Food Workers on Portland’s 82nd Avenue

Willamette Week

Last week, WW dropped by one of the places where the new wage will be immediately felt: the line of fast-food franchises clustered on 82nd near Madison High School. We asked more than a dozen minimum-wage workers what the increase will mean for them.

BALLOT MEASURES

County soda tax boosters postpone ballot measure

Portland Tribune

Christina Bodamer, of the Oregon chapter of the American Heart Association, wrote in an email that while the groups supporting the proposed tax are keeping their options open,”The coalition has officially decided to move our campaign to 2018.” Bodamer did not give a reason, but the group had faced a looming July 25 deadline to turn in more than 17,000 signatures to get on the November ballot. It also had been doing some follow-up polling in June.

Soda Tax Backers Delay Ballot Measure Until 2018

Willamette Week

Christina Bodamer, a lobbyist for the Heart Association of Oregon, says the Health Kids & Education Initiative decided to wait for next year when there will likely be less political uncertainty and greater voter turnout. “With the craziness of the legislative session and the lack of a state budget, we are looking to 2018,” Bodamer says.

OTHER STORIES

Multnomah County Republican Party Chair Says His Plan to Use Paramilitary Groups for Security Isn’t Radical—It’s a Frugal Response to Threats

Willamette Week

But Buchal claims Republicans are antifa’s real target. Since he became chairman in 2015, the county GOP has made jarring changes—embracing rhetoric that echoes the talking points of “alt-right” extremist groups emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump. Buchal spoke with WW in his Sunnyside neighborhood office, discussing why he’s leading his party to the political fringes.

OPINION

Editorial: Keep bipartisan PERS bill on track

Portland Tribune

Meaningful pension reform should be a bipartisan goal. Just because Democrats couldn’t craft a tax plan doesn’t mean they should hold back on a bill that will allow state and local governments to put more funds back in classrooms, social services and other project that benefit all Oregonians.

Editorial: A new low for Oregon election manipulation

Bend Bulletin

It doesn’t matter if the culprits are Russians, Republicans or Democrats — meddling in Oregon elections is wrong. And there is meddling afoot. The culprits are Democrats in the Oregon Legislature.

Editorial: The voter fraud rhino

Register-Guard

Critics of the commission believe that its findings, no matter what they are, will be used to justify efforts to make it harder to register to vote and to cast a ballot — restrictions that tend to suppress participation by low-income and minority voters who are likely to be Democrats. But Trump is more than a garden-variety seeker of partisan advantage. He believes there can be no explanation other than fraud for his defeat in the popular vote. The rhinoceroses, he is convinced, must be kept at bay.

Editorial: Keep free speech strong

Bend Bulletin

In Oregon, speech is speech, no matter what is said, and no matter where. Government entities should not try to find ways to curtail speech.

Editorial: A legacy for everyone

Register-Guard

So lift a glass of your favorite beverage and toast state Reps. Sidney Bazett (R-Grants Pass), W. Stan Ouderkirk (R-Newport) and Sen. Anthony Yturri (R-Ontario), the sponsors of the Beach Bill; the citizens and legislators who fought for its passage; McCall, a Republican, who signed the 1967 Beach Bill into law and his long-ago predecessor, Gov. Oswald West, a Democrat, for setting the stage by declaring Oregon’s seashore to be a public highway, under the control of the state. Thank them all for preserving access to more than 300 miles of treasured coastline for the enjoyment of this and future generations, in perpetuity. And vow never to take this gift for granted.

Guest:  Gov. Kate Brown: Federal leadership vacuum means governors must step up

Governor Kate Brown

Be assured, I have and will continue to stand up to anyone seeking to violate the sanctity of our social contract. I will continually fight to expand access to health care for all Oregonians; grow jobs for the economy of the future; invest in high-quality public education; and work to reverse and mitigate the effects of climate change. I will continue to fight federal policies that undermine Oregon values and threaten our economic vitality.

Guest: Health insurance shouldn’t be taxed

Representative Julie Parrish, R-West Linn

I fundamentally believe key human needs — housing, food, health care — which are so critical, should not be taxed. According to my Democratic colleagues, health care is a “basic human right” — yet they had no problems passing a bill to tax it. Voters deserve to vote on whether we should so dramatically change our system by allowing a sales tax on their health care. These taxes will be passed on to them, while organizations making really big money from the system enjoy the status quo. Having grown up in the Medicaid system, I support people having access to this care — just not on the backs of others who are struggling to keep their own care.

Guest: A vote for reproductive equity

Representative Pam Marsh, D-Ashland

I’ve seen the benefit of access to birth control. Now we need to take the next step to make sure that all women have the opportunity to control their reproductive lives.

Guest: Oregon’s kids will lose with GOP health plan

Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, represents Oregon in the U.S. Senate. Tonia Hunt is executive director of Children First for Oregon

More than 50 years of data prove that kids with Medicaid coverage have better health, fewer adolescent deaths, lower high school drop-out rates, higher college graduation rates, and greater wealth and income. Eviscerating Medicaid will never bring Oregon the results children deserve. Don’t be fooled by the promises of legislators who want a “win” with this plan. In the end, when Senate Republicans cap Medicaid and end essential benefits, and leave the most vulnerable Americans to pick up the tab, Oregon’s kids lose.

Guest: Lawmakers must stand up for tenants and pass House Bill 2004

Katrina Holland is executive director of the Community Alliance of Tenants

Under current law, tenants are extremely limited in their ability to stop or remedy any of these abuses. Lawmakers have less than a week to pass HB 2004. In a state where 40 percent of the population rents their home, we cannot wait another two years for action. Until the final gavel drops on this legislative session, we are going to continue to hold out hope that our lawmakers are committed to representing those that have elected them.

Washington Post Opinion: The terrorist threat of opioids

There is an ongoing terrorist attack happening in Ohio. It has nothing to do with the Islamic State or political anarchists. The weapons in this case come in the form of heroin and other opioids, and the terrorists are the pushers who spread the deadly poison.

LOCAL NEWS

Ashland tax hike will pay for more police

Mail Tribune

Ultimately the increase will raise about $208,000, less than half the amount needed to fully fund five officers, according to city Director of Administrative Services Mark Welch. The rest of the money could come from state taxes on marijuana, of which Ashland will receive a portion, or it could also come from raising utility rates or by cutting the budget elsewhere. That other funding source was not determined at Friday’s special public meeting.

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