OR-Lege: It will be spray tans from now on, kids.

Carla Axtman

As we head into the second month of the legislative session, organizations from across the spectrum will be hosting lobby days. Constituents make the pilgrimage to Salem under the umbrella of the policy set of the organization to check in with their legislators and let them know how they'd like them to vote. This week, it's Planned Parenthood's turn. They'll be walking the halls on Thursday, and I hope to be there with them.

As I reported last week, the Ways & Means co-chairs released their budget. Following that release, the Republicans released their budget as well. Interestingly, both sides proposed exactly the same for education: $6.5 billion, for education. The number is higher than that offered by Governor Kitzhaber.

The real difference on the budget is how each side actually works to balance it. Democrats say that everyone should pay their fair share to adequately fund the services we all count on- that means sun-setting, capping, means testing, and in some cases eliminating tax giveaways.

Republicans say the budget should be balanced by cutting the Human Services budget by $150 million. That budget covers services for the most needy in our state--in many cases provided by people who are already paid poorly. They also want $1.5 million in give-backs from middle class and low-income retirees (i.e. taxes on the middle class and poor).

The Republicans are also offering absolutely nothing in reductions to tax breaks for the rich and large corporations.

This is the overarching philosophical discussion being had by the legislature this session. And again leading into the next election, I expect.

In the House this week, look for the first hearing on HB 2013, the early learning bill, a priority of the Speaker. The House Revenue Committee will conduct hearings about fixing the property tax system.

A work session will be held on a bill protecting the Dept. Revenue from allotment cuts. Essentially, it says that if the Governor has to make proportional across the board cuts, the Dept. Revenue is protected from those cuts. When these cuts take place, the Department of Revenue doesn't have the resources to go after people dodging their taxes. It exacerbates the downward revenue spiral.

Last week, the House approved a bill banning teens from using tanning beds. This after Rep Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) opposed the bill, saying that if teens are legally banned from using tanning beds, the underground tanning bed market will flourish. Or something. The real point is that he doesn't want the government regulating what his kids can or cannot do. I presume he's against child safety seat and seat belt regulation, too. Whatever.

Besides the tanning bed bill, the Senate will have its first public hearing on SB 692, the Oregon Conservation Network bill to make appliances more energy efficient. SB 120, Treasurer Ted Wheeler's bill to bring investment agents in house, as well as other efficiency improvements, gets it first hearing, too. Wheeler's office calls the bill IMACRA, which stands for Investment Modernization and Cost Reduction Act.

In addition, SB 633 is up for a hearing this week. It would preempt any local government authority from regulating agricultural issues. This is interesting because it would preempt the Jackson County anti-GMO ballot measure, which is on the May 2014 ballot.

SB 222 will be in the Education Committee. It allows high school graduates to earn more college credits in high school, giving them a head start on an Associate or Bachelor Degree. The Education Committee will also hear bills relating to Charter Schools in Oregon, including student requirements and financing.

Look for a hearing on Wednesday for a bill to ban motors on Waldo Lake (SB 602). It has a metric crap ton of sponsors. Waldo Lake is a pristine body of water in the Cascades. There's been a lot of back and forth over the years about whether to allow boats with engines as well as seaplanes on the lake. Well, boats with engines have been banned...but seaplanes are being allowed to land. This would end that practice.

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