OR Lege: The grand center, or lack thereof

Carla Axtman

Now that PERS reform is in the rear view mirror, the legislature is pushing the pedal down on revenue generation, especially around school funding. What to expect? Likely a good deal of heel-digging from the Republicans, who are trying to claim the mantle of the center--which seems weird, given way that the Dems in the legislature aren't exactly towing the lefty-liberal side, especially when you factor in the sweet deal given to Nike just before session began. But I digress.

Last week in the Oregon Senate, a bill passed stabilizing SNAP benefits for seniors and low-income mothers to purchase fresh produce at local farmers markets and food stands. They also opened up more opportunities on state contracts to apprenticeship programs for job training. And as mentioned last week, the Senate gave local communities more accountability and certainty over incorporating wave energy projects.

This week on the Senate floor look for:

A vote to approve authority for ODOT to enter into agreements in order to create high-speed rail from BC to Eugene (HB 2918) and a vote to allow proof of car insurance via electronic device (HB 2107).

In committees:

Business & Transportation: will consider and maybe advance a bill to require prevailing wage for contracts at Oregon universities (HB 2646) and a bill to allow "Grieve Leave" for death of family member under work leave laws (HB 2950).

General Govt, Consumer & Small Biz Protection: On Wednesday will likely pass a bill to disallow employers from requiring access to employee's social media information (HB 2654)

Health Care & Human Services: Cultural Competency (HB 2611) will get a hearing. The House GOP blocked this bill in 2011.

Judiciary: will hear a bill regulating police use of drones (HB 2710) and expanding authority for city "Sit-Lie" laws (HB 2963)

Rules: will likely tighten the initiative process by voting out SB 148, which requires chief petitioners to conduct background checks of paid signature gatherers.

Over on the House side:

Last week was not a banner one for the GOP.

House Republicans continue to alienate themselves from the Latino community with the majority of their caucus voting NO on SB 833, a bill to allow driver's cards for folks who can't provide proof of legal residence. That vote put them at odds with the agricultural community and the restaurant and hospitality industry, in addition to many in law enforcement. The bill passed anyway and is on to the Governor for his signature.

Five Republicans joined with the Ds to support it. Word is those 5 are very frustrated with their colleagues long ranting against the bill, which took an hour and a half.

The House also passed HB 3400 which improves government transparency and strengthens the "Buy Oregon" program. In addition, the House moved HB 3079 forward, which helps students and families better understand and weigh their options when making decisions about college. Information includes the real costs as well as other key data before committing to a public college or university.

This week in House committees:

Revenue: HB 2505, Requires a revenue impact statement for measures that would create a tax expenditure (tax breaks, loopholes, etc), and must include revenue impact for three consecutive biennia, beginning with current biennium.

Energy & Environment: a public hearing and possible work session for SB 602, which would ban the use of motors on Waldo Lake.

connect with blueoregon