SB 695: Cannon's discharge petition on BPA

T.A. Barnhart


A Portland Democrat is trying a procedural move in a long-shot effort to get the Legislature to ban a certain type of plastic used in sippy cups and water bottles. Rep. Ben Cannon filed what's called a "discharge petition" aimed at wresting a bill out of a committee – where it's stuck – and bringing it to the floor of the Oregon House for an up or down vote.

SB 695 is being blocked by GOP leadership in the House for one simple reason: if it made it to the floor of the House for an up-or-down vote, it would pass. Co-speaker Hanna has likely reasons to object to this bill, and House Republicans in general would like to keep the Dems from any popular accomplishments. By keeping the bill from a work session in the House Energy, Environment and Water Committee, the GOP hoped to kill SB 695.

Rep Cannon’s response: Not so fast, skippy.

Any use of the discharge petition process means one thing: a failure of leadership. Rep Cannon is not acting as a lone wolf here; he’s obviously counted heads, consulted with his own party and sees a high likelihood of success. That success will prove the point legislatively that many of us believe already: GOP House leaders were wrong to block this bill. The signatures required to pull SB 695 from the committee will be enough to pass it into law (the Senate passed it 20-9 on April 7). Most bills that die in committee lack the support to become law anyway; only a few have majority support as does SB 695 (and, for that matter, SB 892, Tuition Equity, which, at this point does not appear likely to be rescued in this way).

The GOP leadership is wrong about SB 695 in almost every possible way. It has majority support in the House. It is hugely popular among Oregonians. And it addresses not only health and environmental issues; it is a case of law being necessary to address a failure of the market. Basic economics assumes knowledge on the part of economic actors, including consumers. As the video shows, this is not the case. And the point is made not only by one of the usual suspects, Eugene Democratic Senator Chris Edwards, but by Sen Jason Atkinson, the current front-runner to be the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate in 2014, who credits his views on this bill to both his wife and to former Senator Avel Gordly.

(For Sen Atkinson’s full, but brief, floor speech, visit The Action TAB website.)

Rep Cannon has til 5pm Wednesday to get the 31 signatures he needs. I assume co-sponsor Greg Smith will be one of those signing, and I assume all 30 Democrats would back him as well, especially given the vote in the Senate and the popularity of this issue. But for various reasons, there may be one or two who are reluctant to go this route. Call (don’t email) your Representative on Tuesday and ask if he or she has signed — and if not, why not.

The blocking of SB 695 (and SB 892) is undemocratic and wrong-headed. Help send a clear message to the GOP leadership: This is a bill that is good for all of Oregon. Either let it through or prepared to get steam-rolled.

Unless the GOP message to the voters is: Your kids’ health is less important than obedience to our corporate funders.

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    House Republicans in general would like to keep the Dems from any popular accomplishments.

    We must hope that that isn't unanimously true - otherwise Cannon won't be successful and the bill wouldn't pass.

    Hopefully there will be at least one House R who will join his/her Senate R colleagues in recognizing this clear threat to our children's health and buck Rep. Hanna (R-Coca-Cola) to pass this bill.

    Frankly, it's in Hanna's self-interest to pass this bill and stave off a broader ban on BPA.

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    We posted this link from OLCV on, it sends an email to your legislator urging them to support SB695:

    But we agree it is most effective to use every available method of contact, starting with a phone call to your state Rep's office. Don't know who to call or the correct number:

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    Hey, T.A., one quick correction not related to the substance of your - this session's Tuition Equity bill is SB 742.

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    • Human exposure to BPA through food and other consumer products is far below those levels. A peer-reviewed analysis by Michael A. Kamrin, published in Medscape General Medicine, assesses the best available data on consumer exposure to BPA. It reveals that consumers are most likely exposed to BPA at levels that are 100 to 1,000 times lower than the EPA's estimated safe exposure levels.

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    According to data from a 1999 National Academy of Sciences study, exposure to natural phytoestrogens is 100,000 to 1 million times higher than exposure to estrogen mimicking substances found in BPA. “Given the huge relative disparity between the exposure to phytoestrogens as compared to BPA concentrations, the risk of BPA in consumer products appears to be about the same as a tablespoon of soy milk,” notes researcher Jonathan Tolman.

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    In wide use for over fifty years, BPA has been extensively studied. The best science continues to tell us that consumer exposure to BPA is far below levels of concern even for infants and children.

    It is time to finally let reason and rationality win this debate and allow SB 695 to die.


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