Oregon State Capitol (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)
Legislators from Marion and Polk counties are seeking changes in state law concerning mask-wearing rioters, a plant from southeast Asia, helping laid-off agricultural workers and uncompensated college athletes, as well as technical fixes to laws sought by constituents.
During the legislative session that starts next week, state representatives are allowed to introduce two pieces of legislation while senators get one each.
Most proposals won’t survive the session, limited to 35 days.
“The entire political structure is designed to make it easy to have things die,” said Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, in November. “So you don’t have to explain why ideas that may have sounded great are quite ready for prime time.”
Here are the bills introduced by area legislators.
Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem: Senate Bill 1501
What it does: Allows college athletes to be paid and retain agents.
Why: Despite the profitability of college sports, student-athletes are barred from being compensated. Courtney said his bill will allow college athletes to be paid in a “fair way.”
Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton: Senate Bill 1571
What it does: Extends unemployment benefits and job training to employees of NORPAC, a large agricultural cooperative in Marion County that went bankrupt.
Why: In a Facebook post in November, Girod wrote that the unemployment benefits for NORPAC workers would expire while lawmakers are in session.
Sen. Denyc Boles, R-Salem: Senate Bill 1558
What it does: Directs $200,000 to Marion and Polk counties to extend the CourtCare pilot program, which provides childcare for parents and other caregivers who have to go to court. Her bill has bipartisan backing from other legislators from the counties.
Why: Boles said the program has been effective and helps keep children from having to go through potentially traumatic experiences.
Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer: Senate Joint Resolution 202
What it does: Puts a constitutional amendment before voters to bring Oregon back to having legislative sessions only in even-numbered years.
Why: Voters created annual legislative sessions in 2010. Critics say the 35-day sessions held in odd-numbered years were supposed to be used for narrow, technical bills but instead have been misused to pass significant policies.
Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas: Senate Bill 1505
What it does: Allows former employees from the Senate president’s office who experienced harassment or mistreatment to file complaints with the commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries.
Why: Boquist has had an ongoing feud with Courtney since last year’s rancorous session. Last year, the Legislature and Bureau of Labor and Industries entered into a settlement over sexual harassment at the Capitol. The bill’s preamble states that the settlement left out former employees with the Senate president’s office.
Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer: House Bill 4013
What it does: Creates regulations for kratom and makes it illegal to sell it to people under 21.
Why: Kratom, a plant native to southeast Asia, is increasingly being used as a pain reliever and opioid replacement. But Post said it’s the “wild west” when it comes to how it’s sold.
Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer: House Bill 4014
What it does: Exempts dog-training facilities from some state codes and makes other technical land-use changes.
Why: the bill would allow dog-training facilities on some agricultural land and makes changes to how lot lines are drawn.
Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence: House Bill 4059
What it does: would require licensing boards to consider a diploma from homeschooled students equivalent to a high school diploma.
Why: Nearman said that students who are homeschooled shouldn’t have to get a GED before pursuing technical education.
Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence: HB 4058
What it does: Changes the bonding requirements for car dealers or mechanics.
Why: He said the bill is a technical fix that will remove an impediment for car dealers and mechanics.
Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn: House Bill 4160
What it does: establishes a task force on helping students from underrepresented communities succeed in higher education.
Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn: House Bill 4161
What it does: creates a new $244,000 grant program to address health inequities among communities of color.
Why: Rep. Alonso Leon didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem: House Bill 4012
What it does: Clem said it’s a “placeholder” bill that will be used for legislation to allow developers to build in other areas after a previous bill prevented them from building near the Metolius River.
Why: Clem said that his first bill is “consolation prize” for developers and will advance affordable housing goals. Its details are still being worked out.
Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem: House Bill 4094
What it does: Makes class size a mandatory subject of bargaining between school districts and unions.
Why: He said that teachers unions want to bring up class sizes during bargaining despite concerns it will adversely affect their pay. He said school boards are reluctant despite the infusion of cash lawmakers secured last year.
Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth: House Bill 4137
What it does: would authorize all public universities in Oregon to offer doctoral degrees. The bill would also block public money from going to online universities that have engaged in fraudulent practices.
Why: Evans said that a quirk in state law prevents some schools from offering doctoral degrees even if they have strong departments, such as the sign language program at Western Oregon University. The bill also gives the state another tool to crack down on online schools that rip-off students.
Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth: HB 4111
What it does: creates a fund to support search and rescue services.
Why: He said Oregon has limited means of fund costly search-and-rescue services and the program his other bill creates would help pay for it.
Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem: House Bill 4138
What it does: exempts sales of prescription drugs by licensed pharmacies from the Corporate Activity Tax that was passed last year.
Why: Moore-Green, who was appointed to her seat last year, said her bill is intended to prevent the new tax from putting pharmacies out of business.
Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem: House Concurrent Resolution 204
What it does: commemorates Oregon’s ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote.
Why: She said her resolution is to recognize an important time in history.
Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton: House Bill 4083
What it does: allows families to apply to the Oregon Department of Transportation for a roadside sign honoring a family member deemed a prisoner of war or missing in action.
Why: he noted in a newsletter that seven military personnel deemed “missing in action” have been identified and returned home for burial.
Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton: House Bill 4084
What it does: creates a state program that pays the system development charges for affordable housing in rural areas.
Why: Lewis didn’t respond to an interview request.
Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio: House Bill 4126
What it does: would increase criminal penalties for people wearing masks while rioting.
Why: Sprenger introduced the billin response to the “alarming increase of violent riots in Oregon,” many of which have included people wearing masks to conceal their identities.
Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio: House Bill 4125
What it does: House Bill 4125 requires car insurance companies to mail or deliver a notice that a customer’s policy is being canceled 30 days before the effective date of cancellation.
Why: was introduced on behalf of a constituent who is an insurance agent.
Correction: A previous version misstated the position of teachers unions on HB 4094.
Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.