Thanks to your City of Portland Government Relations staff for providing the following information, and to citizens who helped formulate the City's priorities for this Legislative session. Some recent news I find particularly interesting:
9-1-1 Privacy (SB 346) - A hearing will be held this Thursday, March 24 at 8 a.m. on a bill introduced by Senator Diane Rosenbaum at the request of constituents and the City of Portland, to require permission of the caller (or the caller's parent/guardian) before 9-1-1 audiotapes are released to the media and others making public record requests. Transcripts would still be available, as would the tapes for specified public purposes. The intent is to provide more confidentiality for people calling 9-1-1 to ask for help, only to find later their call was broadcast without their knowledge or permission. I plan to testify at the hearing.
Alcohol and Public Safety (HB 3295) – The Police Bureau joined a bipartisan group of legislators, neighborhood activists and other public safety officials in urging the House Judiciary Committee to advance HB 3295. The legislation provides law enforcement with the ability to do emergency closures of bars for up to 72 hours, includes specific references to serious crimes that should be considered in Liquor licensing decisions, and requires one member of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to have a background in public safety. Currently of the five members, one is required to be an industry representative, the others are undesignated. The restaurant industry is opposing this legislation. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a work session. I talked with members of the Judiciary Committee about it when I visited Salem last Tuesday afternoon.
Alcohol Servers (HB 2361) – This bill would allow the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to apply a reasonable person standard in imposing a sanction for servers who have sold alcohol to an intoxicated person. Currently the standard is having “knowingly,” sold alcohol; meeting this standard required proving a culpable mental state. At a hearing on March 9th, I sent written testimony in support, and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement's Theresa Marchetti spoke eloquently. A work session has been scheduled for March 28th.
Industrial Lands (SB 766) – This bill and potential amendments being discussed by a legislative work group would require that the City “mitigate” for any new development standard that reduces employment potential in specified industrial areas, despite multiple local planning objectives or state or federal planning mandates. On Thursday, March 10th the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on the bill. At the hearing, the City testified in opposition to preemptions that SB 766 would place on the City’s ability to modify or adopt new development standards, including environmental protections, in industrial areas.
Speed Limits (HB 3150) – On a vote of 45-14, the House passed HB 3150, a City of Portland initiative that will allow cities to set a speed limit 5 MPH less than the existing state limit on bike boulevards. Now in the Senate, the bill has been referred to the Business, Transportation, and Economic Development Committee.
Enterprise Zone Sunset Extension (HB 3017) – The House Revenue Committee amended and moved to the House floor with a ‘do pass’ recommendation, this bill which extends the Enterprise Zone program through 2025. The amendment the Committee adopted stripped out an income tax credit provision that supports rural enterprise zones because it will be included in another bill. Removal of the provision prevented the bill from also having to go before the Joint Tax Credit Committee. I am a big fan of Enterprise Zones.
Plastics Toxin Bisphenol-A (SB 695) – On Tuesday, March 15th, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on SB 695, which would ban the chemical bisphenol-A (also known as BPA) from children’s beverage containers and infant formula, as well as require labeling for food products sold in metal cans that are lined with plastic containing BPA. Commissioner Saltzman testified in support of the bill.
Tuition Equity (SB 742) – This highly publicized piece of legislation, which would make Oregon students that are not U.S. citizens, eligible for in-state tuition at Oregon universities, is now on its way to the Senate floor. At a hearing on Thursday, March 17th, the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee moved the bill with a ‘do pass’ recommendation. At a public hearing on March 3rd, a letter was submitted from Council in support of the bill. This is an Oregon-only version of the DREAM Act that came close to passing at the federal level last year.
Towing (SB 539) – At a hearing before the Senate Business Transportation and Economic Development Committee the City offered opposition to a provision of this bill that would limit the retrieval of items for an individuals car to those of an “emergency nature” rather than all of their belongings, should the individual be unable to pay all of the costs associated with towing and storage. This provision would cause undue harm to individuals that are homeless and living out of their vehicles. In their testimony the Oregon Tow Truck Association pledged to amend this bill to address concerns that the City raised.
Fireworks (SB 69) – The City Fire Marshall joined other fire marshals in testifying in support of this bill aimed at reducing injuries form fireworks. Specifically, this bill would bring the regulation of fireworks under the office of the State Fire Marshall and require licensing of fireworks dealers. The bill is scheduled for a work session on March 22nd.
Satellite Urban Renewal Areas (SB 217) – On Tuesday, March 14th, the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on this bill which would allow the City to allocate urban renewal funds for building schools outside of urban renewal areas. Senator Rod Monroe and Representatives Jefferson Smith and Mike Schaufler testified in support of this bill. Additionally, a letter in support was submitted by Mayor Adams and Commissioner Leonard. An amendment to limit the bill to allowing urban renewal funds to be used to build a school in the David Douglas School District was presented. The legislation was opposed by a broad group of stakeholders including the Association of Oregon Counties, the Special Districts Association of Oregon and the Association of Oregon Urban Renewal Agencies.
If you care about any of these issues, or others, please contact your State Senator and Representative. Messages from constituents are particularly meaningful. Find out who your legislators are, here.