OR-Lege: CRC, Death Penalty, Foreclosure and other light topics.

Carla Axtman

After having a banner day with Oregon House passage of Tuition Equity, the legislature moves on this week to consider a some pretty controversial stuff--not a lot of light reading here, to be sure.

On the House side, the Columbia River Crossing is expected to continue its freight train run through the body with a floor vote on Monday. The bridge is on a $3.4 billion greased fast track, having skipped the usual route through the Ways & Means Committee.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hear public testimony on measure to change the state constitution and ban the death penalty in Oregon. The measure would potentially appear on the 2014 ballot. The House also begins looking at efficiency measures to streamline government, reduce redundancies and examine middle management numbers.

A couple of things to watch in the Oregon Senate: look for a Wednesday hearing for SB 558, which will improve the foreclosure mediation process by extending it to judicial foreclosures. Big banks found a loophole in the 2012 foreclosure reform bill and some have acted in bad faith, denying struggling homeowners critical access to alternatives. This bipartisan bill will close that loophole and hold banks accountable.

On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on the Earned Income Tax Credit. Oregon's EITC is scheduled to sunset this year. Sen. Diane Rosenbaum is taking the lead on a couple of bills to renew and expand the EITC with the goal of working families have more income and staying out of poverty.

Three Senate Republican bills from Sens Olsen and Thomsen that would roll back corporate and capital gains taxes have been introduced. Keep an eye out for those. Sen Doug Whitsett introduced a slew of bills that would substantially weaken the PERS system, requiring public employees to contribute up to half of their overall pension. Abridged Senate GOP: Tax cuts for the people who have money! Less money to those who already don't have very much! Let them eat cake!

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