OPP at 2015 Oregon Legislature

The Oregon Progressive Party is taking stands at the Oregon Legislature.

As bills are scheduled for committee hearing, we take our positions.  The Oregon Legislature's committees will not accept the submittal of testimony, until a bill is scheduled for committee hearing.  That requires any interested person to keep track of the schedules for dozens of committees.  This is not a good way to encourage public participation.

You can learn about these bills at the website of the Legislature. Go to https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1 and click on Bills in the upper right area.  You can add your comments about these bills below.  You can click on OPP's Legislative Group to join it.

You can read our testimonies at Progressive Party Testimonies.

The table below shows bills we supported or opposed.  Bold means that the Legislature passed the bill, and the Governor signed it.

On the whole, the 2015 Legislature did nothing of signficance that we supported.  The 15 enacted bills we supported were not very consequential.

We Supported We Opposed
HB 2020
HB 2074
HB 2077
HB 2134
HB 2178B
HB 2272
HB 2237
HB 2315
HB 2336
HB 2447
HB 2448
HB 2489
HB 2559
HB 2600
HB 2627
HB 2638
HB 2704
HB 2790
HB 2791
HB 2850
HB 2940
HB 3043
HB 3193
HB 3194
HB 3225
HB 3250
HB 3252
HB 3262
HB 3287
HB 3297
HB 3331
HB 3349
HB 3415
HB 3470
HB 3478
HB 3505
HB 3551
SB 14
SB 118
SB 130
SB 190
SB 286
SB 294
SB 313
SB 314
SB 317
SB 330
SB 332
SB 375
SB 409
SB 415
SB 477
SB 575
SB 610
SB 631
SB 668
SB 673
SB 691
SB 710
SB 713
SB 732
SB 852
SB 853
SB 878
SB 911
SB 928
SB 940
HB 2058
HB 2158
HB 2178
HB 2892A
HB 3090
HB 3096
HB 3212
HB 3269
HB 3273
HB 3445
HB 3500
HJR 29
SB 75
SB 189
SB 292
SB 294
SB 521
SB 580
SB 611
SB 675
SB 814

We are very different from the establishment parties.

  Dem Rep PROG
Real campaign finance reform, particularly in Oregon NO NO YES
"Medicare for All" comprehensive health care NO NO YES
Oppose cuts in Social Security & Medicare benefits NO NO YES
Increase minimum wage to $15 or more NO NO YES
Employment for All (public works projects, WPA style) NO NO YES
Increase income taxes on big corporations and the wealthy NO NO YES
Oppose Wall Street bailouts NO NO YES
Repair, improve infrastructure (transportation, water systems, etc.) NO NO YES
Oppose NAFTA, WTO, Trans-Pacific Partnership "free trade" deals; support local products & services NO NO YES
Oppose war in Iraq, Afghanistan; bring troops home now and stop sending in more NO NO YES
Slash military spending and foreign bases NO NO YES
End occupation of Palestine NO NO YES
Oppose spying on Americans, including drones NO NO YES
Equal rights for all; same-sex marriage NUVR NO YES
Clean energy; no nuclear subsidies NO NO YES
Oppose shipping coal or oil for export from Pacific Northwest ports NO NO YES
Oppose offshore oil & gas drilling NO NO YES
Legalize marijuana possession and use ??? NO YES
End “corporate personhood” and constitutional rights for corporations NO NO YES
Require labeling of genetically engineered food NO NO YES
End the U.S. Senate filibuster; restore majority rule NO NO YES
NUVR = not until very recently

1.     We have worked for real campaign finance reform. Oregon Democrats and Republicans have never enacted limits on political campaign contributions but have repealed voter-enacted limits 3 times. Democrats in state office are refusing to enforce the campaign finance reform Measure 47 enacted by Oregon voters in 2006. Campaign spending for Oregon state offices has skyrocketed from $4 million in 1996 to $57 million in 2010. Spending by candidates for Oregon Legislature increased another 13% in 2012. Winning a contested race for the Legislature now typically costs over $600,000, sometimes over $1 million.  

2.     The initiative and referendum should be available to grass-roots efforts. The Democrat Secretary of State is now discarding over 30% of all voter signatures on initiative petitions due to arbitrary, hyper-technical, and unnecessary rules, raising the cost of petition drives so high that only corporations, unions and the very wealthy can afford to use it.  

3.     The State Treasurer should direct part of Oregon's $87 billion of investment funds to invest in local public works and jobs for Oregonians instead of vulture capitalists, corporate raiders, leveraged buyout artists, and fossil fuel corporations and vendors.  

4.     We want fair taxation. Oregon has the 4th highest income taxes of any state on lower-income working families and is still at the bottom in taxes on corporations.  

5.     We want to stop government promotion of gambling, including video poker, video slots, and approval of private casinos.  

6.     We oppose installation of police "spy cameras" and use of drones to spy on Oregon citizens.  

7.     We oppose using public money to subsidize rail transport of oil or coal through Oregon communities.

In spite of supporting nuclear power industry, Wyden should vote Yes on Iran Nuclear Agreement

After much deliberation, the Progressive Party has voted to support the Iran Nuclear Agreement (INA) because it lifts sanctions and is the result of international stakeholder diplomacy. This path to peace outweighs our reservation of supporting actions that promote the nuclear power industry.

We support the peaceful diplomatic resolution of international conflict. We are against any future wars and we are against the current sanctions which are punishing the people of Iran.

We urge Senator Wyden to join Senator Merkley and vote in support of the Iranian nuclear agreement.

OPP Letter to Bernie

Dear Senator Sanders,

The Oregon Progressive Party has been asked by members and non-members alike to endorse your presidential campaign or to even nominate you in the Oregon primary election next year.

We are quite enthusiastic about many of your positions. You clearly understand the American people need and want fundamental systemic reform: Single payer health care to remove the corporate yoke imposed on our health; a $15 minimum wage; opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership and other corporate trade agreements waiting in the wings; Black Lives Matter; Free Tuition; break-up of the Too-Big-To-Fail Banks; imposing a transaction tax on Wall Street; ridding us of the tax havens; and more.

But we seek to know your positions on other issues you have not prominently addressed, at least up to this point in your speeches.

  • Israel/Palestine - Your past support for Israel in their military aggression again the Palestinians troubles us. Last year you appear to have supported Israel's slaughter in Gaza along with 99 other US Senators. Can we expect that represents your future stance on Israel/Palestine?
  • Military Industrial Complex - President Eisenhower's farewell speech warned Americans of the power of the Military Industrial Complex (we now need to add Congressional to the name). That complex's power has only grown since then, and the expense of maintaining that power undermines America's ability to finance many of the other reforms you advocate. Should military spending be drastically reduced?
  • Election Integrity - Voting in America is conducted on privately owned, privately managed voting machines by companies which are owned by major funders of the Republican Party. Prior to the election of Barark Obama, this was an issue, but it has since disappeared from the national conversation. Nonetheless, the issue remains. Do you recognize this as a problem and have solutions in mind?
  • Amending the US Constitution - Your support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision is well known. However, many critics of that decision have noted that it fails to address the problem of corporate domination created by other court decisions. They have called for an amendment to the US Constitution which says that money is not speech (in order to address court decisions prior to Citizens United) and that corporations are not people (to address court decisions going back to 1886 - Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad - and even before the Civil War -Dartmouth College v Woodward). Will you support an expansion of your stated position to include advocating for an amendment to the US Constitution to establish that money is not speech and that corporations do not have constitutional rights?

We look forward to hearing your responses. Thank you.


David e. Delk, Co-Chair
Oregon Progressive Party

Sunlight Foundation Too Generous in Giving Oregon a D on Lobbyist Disclosure

Update (August 13): The Sunlight Foundation, having been notified by us about HB 2058,  has now downgraded Oregon to an F, joining Florida, Nevada, and West Virginia in the F category.

The Sunlight Foundation issued a report on August 12 , 2015, rating each state's lobbying disclosure requirements. They assigned Oregon a grade of D, but that grade was based on their error in failing to account for the new bill passed by the 2015 Oregon Legislature (and not vetoed by Gov. Kate Brown), HB 2058.

That law allows lobbyists to avoid reporting for the next 2 years what amounts to over 99% of their expenditures.  So Oregon now clearly deserves a -1 on the Expenditure Transparency criterion, which would give Oregon a correct overall score of -3 and place it firmly in the "F" category in the Sunlight Foundation analysis, along with only 3 other states (Florida, Nevada, West Virginia).

I testified to the Oregon Legislature (on behalf of Oregon Progressive Party) that I was "in the rare position of agreeing with an editorial in the Bend Bulletin, which pointed out that this bill would relieve lobbyists of the obligation to report all but $92,000 of the over $26 million actually spent on lobbying in Oregon in 2014."

"This 99.6% reduction in reporting of such spending seems particularly inappropriate in light of the recent events that caused the resignation of Governor Kitzhaber. Oregon needs more disclosure of money in politics, not less, and lobbying spending is definitely part of money in politics."

It was the only written testimony against HB 2058, which passed the Oregon House by a vote of 42-16, with Democrats providing 24 of the yes votes. It passed the Oregon Senate by a vote of 18-11, with Democrats providing all of the yes votes.

Here is the Oregonian article on the Sunlight Foundation report.

Dan Meek and David Delk Discuss Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

Dan Meek and Davlid Delk discussed recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and actions (and inactions) of the 2015 Oregon Legislature. Must See TV!

Thanks to Reps. DeFazio and Blumenauer for Sponsoring Constitutional Amendment to Nullify Citizens United and More

July 31, 2015
Contact:  David Delk
delk@progparty.org   503.232.5495

The Oregon Progressive Party commends Oregon U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio for recently signing on as co-sponsors of the “We the People” proposed U.S. 28th Constitutional Amendment (HJR 48).

Since the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision much interest has been expressed in Congress and by citizens working at the local and state level in amending the Constitution to address the granting to corporations of the right to freely spend corporate funds on elections campaigns.  The Court did so by concluding that corporations have constitutional rights--that they are in effect human beings with constitutional rights.  

Oregon and 15 other states have now called for a constitutional amendment to at least overturn Citizens United.  The “We the People” proposed amendment would go further by amending the U.S. Constitution to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech. Such an amendment would overturn court decisions going back to Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886), which gave 14th Amendment human rights to corporations, and would include more recent decisions like Buckley v Valeo, First National Bank of Boston v Bellotti, and others.

Oregon Democrats Reject 3 More Reasonable Ethics Reforms

On June 17, these 3 bills were "withdrawn" directly to the floor of the Oregon Senate by their Republican sponsors.  All were then rejected on straight party-line 18-12 votes, with all Democrats voting against them.

  • SB 940 makes “vote trading” illegal for legislators, ensuring they put their constituents first and not vote based on future promises of campaign contributions.
  • SB 853 places high-ranking agency and elected officials under oath when testifying before the Legislature.  This is the ordinary procedure in the U.S. Congress.
  • SB 852 makes submitting false information in a candidate voters’ pamphlet statement illegal.

Oregon Democrats Reject 5 Reasonable Ethics Reform Bills

Welcome to "ethics reform," Oregon style.

Yesterday the Oregon House of Representatives rejected 5 reasonable ethics reform bills proposed by Julie Parrish (R). All 5 bills were supported by the Oregon Progressive Party, and 4 were supported by the Independent Party of Oregon. On the floor of the House, all Republicans voted in favor of all 5 bills. All but a couple of Democrats voted against all 5 bills.

The Democrats, in control of both houses, refused to allow any of the bills to go to the floors for votes.  So Republicans used the "withdrawal" procedure to withdraw the bills from committee and put them on the floor for immediate vote, without debate.  This is similar to the "discharge petition" process in the U.S. Congress.

Here are the rejected bills:

  • HB 3331 authorizes the Legislative Assembly to appoint an independent counsel by joint resolutions (Failed 27-33)
  • HB 2790 requires that statements made by certain witnesses to a committee of the Legislative Assembly be made under oath and therefore subject to crime of false swearing (Failed 26-34)
  • HB 2791 includes false statements made to legislative committees by certain persons in crime of unsworn falsification (Failed 27-33)
  • HB 3505 requires public bodies to establish public records retention schedules that require a minimum three-year retention of public records (Failed 27-33)
  • HB 3043 provides that upon being sworn into office, or for other stated reasons, the Governor shall file declaration with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission declaring identity of First Spouse and identifying official policy-making or agenda-setting duties of First Spouse, if any  (Failed 28-32)

One big win but battle not over

UPDATE: JUNE 18.  Today the House of Representatives approved a "stand alone" Fast Track Authority bill on a vote of 218-208. Democrats who voted in favor again included Rep. Blumenauer, Bonamici and Schrader.

One Win but battle not over.

On Friday, President Obama's corporate driven trade agenda was dealt a serious blow in large part due to the huge grassroots insurgence of phone calls, emails, faxes, meetings, rallies and general rabble-rousing done by all of us and our allies in the labor, environmental, consumer, farmers, internet users, public health, LGBTA and other peoples' movements. Those movements have really stepped up to the plate to say No to Fast Track, the TPP and other corporate trade agreements.

But the fight will continue and so we must be ready ON MONDAY to swing back into action.

What happened on Friday is that the corporatists' plan fell apart. The Senate had passed a combined Fast Track/Trade Adjustment Assistance bill (62-37) last month. But the House split it apart, resulting in two votes, one on Fast Track and one on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The House voted in favor of Fast Track Authority (219-211, with 28 Democrats voting with the Republicans) but soundly defeated TAA (126-302). Democrats, who typically support TAA, voted against it because of various modifications made to it in order to attract conservative Republican votes and most importantly, because it had to pass for Fast Track to move forward. Not wanted Fast Track to move, Democrats in large number voted No. Note, however, that Oregon Representatives Blumenauer, Bonamici and Schrader, all Democrats, voted wrong on both these pieces of legislation, voting to move Fast Track forward.

Because of differences between the House approved Fast Track and the Senate version, it must either go to the Senate for their approval or the House must try to pass the TAA in another vote on Monday or Tuesday. Speaker Boehner has called for the House to reconsider during that time frame. If the Speaker does not think that a vote would produce the desired result, he might delay the vote. For us, the more delay the better. Or the Fast Track bill could be sent to the Senate as is, without the TAA, for their approval.

So our job now is to CALL, CALL, EMAIL, and CALL more and more often.

Our Candidate Wins Seat on Portland Community College Board

Our candidate, Michael Sonnleitner, yesterday won a seat on the Board of Directors of the Portland Community College system, which serves over 90,000 students.

The vote was close.  We conducted a phone bank for Michael on May 5.

Courtney Wilton . . . . . . . . 3,407 30.5%
Anita Yap . . . . . . . . . .   3,435 30.7%
Michael Sonnleitner . . . . . . 4,234 37.9%
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . .      93