Oregon Legislature: Some of the news that's fit to print

Carla Axtman

In theory, we're getting close to wrapping up the February legislative session. Whether or not it actually happens on time... I guess we'll see. In the meantime, here's a roundup of stuff legislature-related. WARNING: be prepared to be annoyed. Here's the legislature's toll free phone number, for reference: 1-800-332-2313

One bill that seems to have flown under the radar of a lot of people is House Bill 4095. This nasty bit of policy would allow Jackson, Josephine and Douglas county to petition the Land Conservation and Development Commission to redefine agricultural and forest lands. It would also allow the counties to redesignate current agricultural and forest lands as "non-resource" setting it up for development. If it passes, it could become an avenue for all counties in Oregon to go this route. In short, it's a way for counties to do an end run around land use policy in our state. Since most Oregon cities are located amid the state's most productive resource lands, protecting farmland around them is a fundamental mission of Oregon's land use program. It's a set up for obliterating our land use system. This bill is hunkered down in the House Ways & Means Committee right now. Hanna is holding on to it like a raccoon with a shiny object.

Kari posted recently about Rep. Gene Whisnant's blocking of foreclosure reform, under the guise of being a champion for homeowners. Matt Wand (R-Troutdale) has decided to get in on the action, too. Even the Oregonian smells a rat on this one. But there's a reason that these guys can get away with garbage like this: some local media outlets are more than happy to aid and abet.

In early February, I reported on GOP Rep Matt Wingard, a guy convicted of misdemeanor assault for hitting his kid with a screw driver, was blocking a bill expanding mandatory reporters for child abuse. The bill, championed by Rep. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), has finally passed the House Education Committee. I spoke with Gelser over this last weekend. She said that due to the generous efforts of Rep. Huffman (R-The Dalles) and Rep Conger (R-Bend), the bill is now moving.

Somebody over at the oil lobby let one slip, sending a letter to Senator Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland) addressed to "Senator Dickfelder". I'm guessing this isn't the way to win her over to their side. Not that they had much of a shot.

In much less annoying news, Rep. Mike Schaufler (D-Happy Valley), has drawn a pair of primary opponents. Fire up your volunteer time and your checkbooks, progressives. This guy needs to go.

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    Two challengers for Representative Schaufler's seat is a move from embarrassment to an embarrassment of riches. Good luck to both. It is sad when taking back the house means working to unseat a Democrat incumbent. However, Carla is correct when she writes, "This guy needs to go."

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    Carla, Thanks for this update. Many of us have been fighting the horrid HB 4095. We need to run out the clock. Thanks for letting people know about it.

    So glad Schaufler is getting Primaried. He helped push HB 4095 out House Judiciary. (Why it was assigned to HJ in the first place is another story.)

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    There are other stinking bills sitting around the capital still alive.

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