OR Lege: No Spring Break for the Legislature Edition

Carla Axtman

While a whole bunch of Oregonians are on Spring Break this week, the legislature continues its work. If you're on vacation right now, this would be a great week to head to Salem and check in with your legislators. Also, there's a cool gold statue at the top of the building--that's always worth your time to see, right?

Or if you can't make it this week, the Senate is having an in-district day this Friday--so check your local newspaper type listings/Facebook to find out where you can meet up with them.

If bicycling is your thing, you'll want to be paying close attention to what's going on in the Senate. Senator Chris Edwards has a bill that makes helmets mandatory in competitions and a bill to increase the helmet mandate from age 16 to age 18. Look for those to have hearings on Monday in the Business & Transportation Committee. Senators Dingfelder and Prozanski also have a bill that would allow a checkoff contribution for bicycle funds on car registration forms. This is basically to offer an alternative to the ridiculous "bike registration bills" and the argument that bicyclists don't pay their fair share.

(The argument that bicyclists don't pay their "fair share" is one of the most dumb arguments I've ever heard. Their fair share of what? Fees for road repairs that they don't cause? Cleaning up air pollution that they don't make?)

The full Senate will be voting this week to restrict motors on Waldo Lake, and on another bill to allow seniors easier access to farm fresh products.

Over on the House side, work begins in earnest on getting to the $6.75 billion number for schools. Democrats are working to eliminate tax expenditures that aren't fulfilling expectations and Republicans are looking to slash spending that benefits middle and low income folks. Like I've said previously, this is a very real look at the values and priorities of the two different parties.

Bills headed to the House floor this week:

HB 2349: This bill removes requirements forcing affordable housing be located into distressed neighborhoods. It will give low income families a wider variety of options for where they live.

HB 2988: Rep. Ben Unger introduced this bill that allows 16 year olds to register to vote when they get their drivers' license. They won't actually be able to vote until they're 18, but it streamlines the process and makes it easier for more young people to vote. A minority report has been filed by two GOP legislators that requires they register as non-affiliated. Presumably the GOP believe that younger Oregonians won't give their party a look so they want a chance to deluge them with direct mail when they hit 18.

HB 2417: This legislation establishes a $5 increase in county property filing fees to create additional money for to expand the Home Ownership Assistance program to veterans.

Update: (HB 2477 moved out of policy committee but has to go to the Joint Tax Credits Committee, not the floor.) HB 2477 This will extend the sunset on the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Incidentally, my Facebook feed has been packed with people's photos of cherry blossoms and daffodils from the mall across from the Capitol. It looks gorgeous.

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