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

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On June 17, these 3 bills were "withdrawn" directly to the floor of the Oregon Senate by their Republican sponsors.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)

Governor Kitzhaber: Please Veto SB 154, Criminalizes the Initiative Process

We ask Governor Kitzhaber to veto SB 154, the bill to criminalize the initiative process in Oregon.

SB 154 transforms any violation--however minor--of any election law or rule by an initiative, referendum, or recall campaign that pays circulators into the felony of false swearing under ORS 260.715(1) with penalties per violation of $125,000 and/or 5 years in prison.

Be sure to read the full story here.

Oregon House Passes SB 154 to Criminalize the Initiative Process

The Oregon House of Representatives on June 28 by a vote of 35-23 (all 23 "no" votes were Republicans) adopted SB 154, the bill to criminalize the initiative process in Oregon.

The facts about this bill were presented in the email, below, to all House members.

On the floor today, proponents brandished an "opinion" issued by Legislative Counsel immediately before the floor session.  The proponents did not read from the "opinion" and instead merely offered a vague summary of it.  The "opinion" was not made available to us until 7 hours after the vote.

We will ask Governor Kitzhaber to veto this dangerous bill.  SB 154 transforms any violation--however minor--of any election law or rule by an initiative, referendum, or recall campaign that pays circulators into the felony of false swearing under ORS 260.715(1) with penalties per violation of $125,000 and/or 5 years in prison.

Be sure to read the full story here.

Governor Kitzhaber: Veto the Pro-Nepotism Bill


by Dan Meek

That is the message of HB 2079A, which has already passed the House and the Senate on April 15. Governor Kitzhaber has 5 days to sign or veto it.

UPDATE:  Governor Kitzhaber has signed this bill, thus allowing public officials to decide to hire their own aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, half brothers, half sisters, stepchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law, without even disclosing the relationship.

My testimony against the bill as it appeared in the House is attached.  It has only gotten worse since then.

Under ORS 244.177, a public official is currently not allowed to appoint, employ, or promote a "relative" in a paid position with a "public body that the public official servers or over which the public official exercises jurisdiction or control," unless the public official does not participate in the decision to appoint, employ, or promote his or her "relative."

Oregon's nepotism restrictions currently apply to these "relatives" of a public official, under ORS 244.175(4):

(4)    “Relative” means the spouse of the public official, any children of the public official or of the public official’s spouse, and brothers, sisters, half brothers, half sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, stepparents, stepchildren or parents of the public official or of the public official’s spouse.

HB 2079A substantially changes the definition of "relative" applicable to the nepotism restrictions. It eliminates from that definition the public official's half brothers, half sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, stepchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law, replacing the current definition with this:

"Relative" means:

(a)    The spouse, parent, stepparent, child, sibling, stepsibling, son-in-law or daughter-in law of the public official or candidate;

                         (b)   The parent, stepparent, child, sibling, stepsibling, son-in-law or daughter-in law of the spouse of the public official or candidate;

Some dictionaries define "sibling" as including only "a person's brother or sister," not a half brother or half sister. See Collins English Dictionary (HarperCollins 2003). The new definition covers "stepsiblings," but half-siblings and stepsiblings are not the same.

I see no reason to remove half brothers, half sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, stepchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mothers-in-law, and fathers-in-law from the nepotism restrictions.

Governor Kitzhaber:  Please veto this bill.

Oregon Politicians on Their Knees to Nike

David Delk brings us this cogent summary of the latest example of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. As Ralph Nader says, it is "the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door."  The Oregon Center for Public Policy documented that the tax break Nike wants to be continued--on a guaranteed basis--reduces its Oregon state corporate income taxes by 95%.  Because the Oregon Constitution requires taxation to be uniform, this guaranteed tax break would have to apply to all corporations, at least to any corporation making a $150 million investment in Oregon property over the next 5 years.  Under the proposed bill, the contractually-guaranteed tax break would last from 5 to 40 years.

The Oregonian front page story on Tuesday was about the special session of the Oregon legislature called by the governor for passage of special protection of Nike from changes in the certain aspects of the Oregontax code for the next five years.  Local activist Michael Munk dubbed it the Nike Corporate Welfare Law (read his blog statement here).  The Oregonian article noted that there were critics of the move but only quoted the Oregon Center of Public Policy in a single paragraph.  So much for fair and balanced reporting. 

Oregon Center for Public Policy later issued their own response in an email titled:  A Highly Dubious Assumption in the Governors Proposed Nike Deal.  It is available on line here.   Nike appears to be afraid that because the Oregon legislature might rework some tax policy, their special tax adjustment worked out with the Oregon legislature a decade or so ago in which only the in-state sales would be used as the basis for calculating the income tax owed to the state of Oregon might be changed. They say they want "certainty."  Previously, the rate was based on value of company property in Oregon, total number of employees and total company sales around the world.  With the passage of the Single-Sales Factor, Nike and other companies doing most of their business out-of-state (Intel, Precision Castparts, Boeing, Columbia Sportwear, for instance) received a very, very, very big tax break and we were left with decreasing tax revenues to pay for teachers, senior services, parks and other state services.  Nike is part of that chorus of business that likes to remind us of the importance of having a educated population that they can hire even as they do their best to lower the taxes they pay.

And note that we don't know how much taxes Nike paid before receiving the generous tax break or how much they pay now.  All such information is private and not to be disclosed of us or legislators.

The draft legislation to be considered is available here

Please contact your state Representative and Senator and demand that they vote no on this.  And further, that they change the law to require disclosure of corporate tax reports. Find your representative and senator here.

Opposition to SB 1534 Goes Viral

The Oregon Legislature's consideration of SB 1534 has triggered a massive outpouring of opposition, not just in Oregon but nationwide. Here are two of the articles in national publications about it:

Mother Jones     Forbes

Here are videos of the testimony about the bill at the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee:

SB 1534 Testimony 1     SB 1534 Testimony 2

Oregonian Says Bill to Criminalize Protest is Dead

Attempt to criminalize tweets that solicit law-breaking fizzles at Oregon Legislature

occupy crowd.JPG
Flash mobs that engage in criminal activity are the target of a bill that would make it illegal to electronically summon two or more people to a designated place to do something that is against the law. Critics say the bill, which appears dead, is aimed at preventing demonstrations such as Occupy Portland.

SALEM -- It was dubbed the "flash mob" bill when it got a hearing Monday at the Oregon Legislature -- a proposal to make it a felony to summon people by Twitter or email to commit a crime at a designated place.

Now it's more like flash-in-the-pan.

"It's dead," said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, the Eugene Democrat who, because he holds the gavel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, gets to decide such things.

Yet 11 Republicans and one Democrat signed onto Senate Bill 1534, which would have created the crime of "aggravated solicitation." And we're not talking street corners here.

Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, said he asked for the bill because he heard from retailers about being victims of flash mobs that steal stuff. It wasn't meant to stifle free speech, he said, but to bring law enforcement up to date with the modern era of social media and instant communication.

"If someone wants to bring a whole bunch of people to the Capitol to demonstrate, no problem," he said. "But if they're solicited to come to the Capitol at 9 p.m. to firebomb the place, that's a problem."

Critics say it's an unusual -- and dangerous -- incursion into the freedom to protest, not to mention tweet.

"I would expect a law like this is Myanmar, Turkmenistan, North Korea or Zimbabwe," said Dan Meek, a Portland attorney who testified Monday. Not, he said, at the Oregon Legislature.

Progressive Party Testifies Against Oregon Bill to Criminalize Protest

FOR RELEASE:  February 6, 2012

Dan Meek

Daniel Meek, an attorney representing the Oregon Progressive Party, today testified at the Oregon Legislature against a bill to criminalize using any form of "electronic communication" to organize or join in any protest constituting civil disobedience.

"This is the kind of law you might find in Myanmar or Turkmenistan or North Korea or Zimbabwe, but not in Oregon," said Meek.  Several persons associated with the Occupy movement also testified against the bill.

SB 1534, with 12 Senators co-sponsoring (only 16 votes are needed to pass the Senate), would make it a Class C felony for anyone to send an email (or a tweet or text or blog post) "with the intent of causing two or more other persons to engage in specific conduct constituting a crime" that itself is only a misdemeanor.  A Class C felony is punishable by a fine of up to $125,000 and a prison term of 5 years.  A misdemeanor, such as disorderly conduct or failing to disperse when ordered or making an unreasonable noise, is punishable by $2,500 fine and 6 months in jail.  So SB 1534 makes sending the email a far more serious crime than the misdemeanor being suggested in the message.   Read more ...

House Rejects Bill to Cap Campaign Finance Reporting Penalties

On Friday, June 17, the Oregon House of Representatives voted 54-5 to reject SB 270A, the bill to limit fines for failure to report campaign contributions and/or expenditures to $5,000 for all violations occurring in any month, regardless of the number of violations or the amount of money not disclosed.

This was a victory for the Oregon Progressive Party, the Independent Party of Oregon, and Fair Elections Oregon, which were the only 3 organizations opposing SB 270A (which had passed the Oregon Senate by a vote of 29-0 before we heard about it).

We thank former Senator Rick Metsger for making his views known to House members on the eve of the vote. We also thank the members who spoke against the bill on the floor, including Bill Kennemer, Greg Matthews, Mary Nolan, Chris Harker, Brian Clem, Jeff Barker, and Carolyn Tomei. Jefferson Smith and his staff also worked to defeat this bill.

    Read more ...

Oregonian Writes about SB 270A

Oregon House will vote on capping fines for campaign finance violations
Jeff Mapes
June 14, 2011

SALEM -- Oregon legislators are nearing a final vote on a bill that could dramatically lower the potential penalties that lawmakers – and other political candidates -- face for violating campaign finance reporting laws.

Senate Bill 270, which is nearing the last legislative step of passage on the House floor, would cap potential fines at $5,000 a month for any and all reporting violations. Under current law, each violation can be subject to a fine of as much as 10 percent of the dollar amount of the transaction, which could result in vastly larger penalties.    Read more at The Oregonian ...

Progressive Party Explains Opposition to SB 270A

In a message to leaders of the Oregon House of Representatives, the State Council of the Oregon Progressive Party reiterated its absolute opposition to SB 270A, which remains in the House Rules Committee.  The bill would allow any candidate or political committee to avoid reporting any of its campaign contributions received during an entire month, upon payment of a single fine of only $5,000. It would destroy Oregon's campaign finance reporting system, allowing big money contributors to avoid disclosing their identities . . . ever.     Read more ...

Progressive Party Offers Advice on Remaining Bills at Oregon Legislature

As the 2001 Session of the Oregon Legislature draws to a close, there remain many bills realistically still on the table. The State Council of the Oregon Progressive Party on June 3 offered its views on 11 such bills. The reasons for the OPP positions are explained at Views on 2011 End of Session Bills.      Read more ...

Governor Signs Bill Allowing PUC to Reinstate Utility Tax Scam

The Governor has signed SB 967, which repeals SB 408 (2005), thus restoring the system that allowed regulated electric and gas utilities in Oregon to charge ratepayers over $1 billion for for phony "income taxes" that the utilities actually did not pay. SB 967 repeals the prohibition on utilities' charging ratepayers for "income taxes" that the utilities in fact do not pay.

The Utility Reform Project, Independent Party of Oregon, Oregon Progressive Party, and many Oregon citizens asked the Governor to veto SB 967.

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