Several Republican law-makers have given their summations of the last Legislative Session that has just adjourned.
— The Legislative session officially ended on June 25 in the late afternoon. Republicans and Independents denied quorum for weeks, protesting corruption and unconstitutional bills and actions, only for a deal to be concocted (more on that here). The changes some minority caucus members got to HB 2002, one of the most extreme bills in the country, are not good enough. Embedded in the Democrat party is a disdain for parents and the nuclear family. They want the government to have an active role in child development.
— Do not forget that Democrats are the ones who set the agenda because they are the ones in power. They chose to push the most controversial bills first, holding the budgetary bills hostage. Legislators should work for Oregonians and not the government.
— 2 GOP house officers step down from their leadership roles.
— 40 cent cellphone tax passes.
— Voters will have the chance to approve a constitutional amendment in 2024 ‘to give the Oregon House the power to impeach statewide elected officials and the Senate the power to hold a trial and remove them from office.’
— Oregon Capital Chronicle reports, “Many Oregon tenants will see rent hikes capped at 10% in high-inflation years.”
— Multnomah County with its $3.32 billion dollar budget in 2023, up 17% from 2022, is suing 17 fossil fuel companies over a deadly 2021 heatwave that killed over 70 people for their ‘role in fueling the climate crisis’. The Guardian reports: “The suit seeks $50m in damages for the 2021 heat dome’s consequences and $1.5bn for future climate damages. And it demands the defendants spend an additional $50bn on a county plan to upgrade public healthcare services and infrastructure to protect residents from coming extreme heat events and other climate disasters.”
— Oregon heatwave victims were older and isolated. Gov. Brown was winetasting when the heatwave struck, sending Oregon into triple digit temperatures. In 2022, the legislature responded by making it possible for renters’ to have a ‘right’ to AC, but Vox has an article indicating that air conditioners pose another direct problem to the climate. It is frustrating that the “little guy” or everyday American is made to feel bad about their AC units, sometimes needed for survival, yet the elite are given a free pass to water their acres of grass, fly private jets, and heat and cool their mansions.This is beyond laughable and embarrassing and encroaching on the territory of unhinged. It is clearly a moneygrab under the guise of the “environment”, the leftists’ favorite special interest. The people who thought this lawsuit was a good idea clearly didn’t play many team sports or participate in band otherwise they would understand their actions and foolish lawsuits impact the entire reputation of the state.
Oregon State Senator Lynn Findley,
The Oregon Legislature officially adjourned the 2023 Legislative Session. State Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) is recognizing the adjournment of the session by highlighting important legislation he sponsored that has passed:
- SB 498 – Supports family farmers, foresters, and fisherman by creating a $15 million exclusion from the estate tax for natural resource properties.
- SB 53 – Improves the integrity of our elections by prohibiting members of a household and domestic partner of candidates’ from being employed to process ballots.
- SB 57 – Helps farmers by making brucellosis (Bang’s disease) vaccinations for female cattle voluntary.
- SB 70 – Allows rezoning in the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region by fixing a technical error in SB 16 from the 2021 Legislative Session.
- SB 523 – Expands access to education and health care in rural Oregon by allowing community colleges to offer Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing.
- SB 644 – Increases the housing supply in rural Oregon by allowing accessory dwelling units, meeting certain criteria, when no statewide map of wildfire risk has been adopted or if the parcel is in an area identified as high wildfire risk.
- SB 955 – Supports agricultural workers’ mental health by providing funds for an AgriStress Helpline in Oregon.
- HB 2411 – Reduces unnecessary government spending and fees by dissolving the Oregon Alfalfa Seed Commission.
- HB 2420 – Refines government accessibility by creating a workgroup to propose options to access birth and death certificates.
- HB 2509 – Assists family farmers and ranchers by improving the brand transfer process.
- HB 2689 – Empowers small-scale farmers by providing a licensing exemption for on-site rabbit processing.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
The 2023 Legislative Session has finally come to an end. We closed out this session at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 25th, which was 7 hours ahead of the Constitutional Deadline. This session started out Good, then it got Bad, and then it got just plain Ugly. I’m happy we have reached the finish line to “Sine Die” this 2023 Long Session.
The 2023 session started out great. My wife and kids were regulars at our Capitol Office. We were excited to start my first long session at the Oregon Legislature. After being appointed to HD39 and making it through the rest of the 2022 short session, I was anxious and ready to get to work as the newly elected State Representative in the newly redistricted House District 51. I had previously introduced several bills for the long session, was excited, and ready to go! Ultimately, every bill that I had drafted was killed in committee. Luckily though, I was still able to get some of my priorities included in various other pieces of legislation.
Funding: Politics has been coined by academia as “who gets what and how.”
While I’d prefer that more of our tax dollars went back into our pockets, we got the next best thing. I successfully redirected a portion of our tax dollars away from Portland and towards impactful projects right here in House District 51 and the surrounding Clackamas County.
$2.4+ Million for the City of Estacada – wastewater treatment project – This will help to keep rates down for affordable housing.
$850,000 to the Boring Oregon Foundation to purchase property needed to build their new community center.
$1 Million for the Vietnam War Memorial at the State Capitol grounds.
$30 Million for the Clackamas County Courthouse – The new courthouse is already under construction and is located on the Red Soils Campus in Oregon City. Hopefully more funding is on the way!
Here’s a few good things we did get accomplished during this “Trainwreck” of a legislative session.
This session, I was able to contribute to a few pieces of legislation, which I signed onto as a Sponsor or Chief Sponsor. We are including a comprehensive list of bills that made it out of the legislative process, that I signed onto, and were subsequently signed into law by the Governor:
– House Bill 3441/Senate Bill 933 – These stopped tolling of I-205 until at least 2026. These bills were not signed into law because of overwhelming community support that the Governor went forward with them through executive order.
– HB2645 – Makes possession of 1 gram or more of fentanyl, or 5 pills, a Class A misdemeanor.
– House Bill 2395 – Increases the availability of Naloxone, an overdose antidote kit, and protects “Good Samaritans” from prosecution.
– SB957 – Increases the penalties for sexual acts done in the presence of a minor.
– SB974 – Creates the crime of “sexual abuse by fraudulent representation” in order to prosecute predatory doctors and other professionals who use their title to abuse children.
– SB498 – Increases inheritance tax exemption from $1 million to $15 million, protecting family farms.
– HCR13 – Recognizing and honoring Specialist Four Michael Lee Wilkins for sacrificing his life in the service of our Nation.
– SB420 – Directs DHS to provide resources and services to individuals who have a brain injury.
– HB2296 – This bill is a temporary fix to Oregon’s hemorrhaging of Law Enforcement Officers. It allows retired Police Officers to fill some of the vacant positions, without it affecting their retirement funds.
– HB2535 – Provides a doula or midwife services to Mothers who are incarcerated while pregnant.
– HB2594 – Modifies the penalty for littering of burning material, giving Police officers more discretion whether to cite someone as a violation or misdemeanor.
– HB2627 – Modifies the Oregon Medical Board to add an additional Physicians Assistant position to the 14-member committee.
– HB2634 – Modifies the definition of a “Recreational RV Park” to provide a distinction for residential tenancy law.
– HB2676 – Modifies provisions related to compensation for victims of violent crime.
– HB2687 – Authorizes the Department of Agriculture to issue pesticide applicator licenses to Indian Tribe members, for use outside Tribal lands.
– HB2725 – Prohibits pharmacy benefit managers from retroactively denying or reducing payment on claim after a prescription has been dispensed to the patient.
– HB2732 – Allocates funding to qualifying Child Advocacy Centers for survivors of horrific abuse.
– HB2772 – Creates a state level offense of “domestic terrorism” in the first degree or second degree.
– HB2812 – Provides income tax deductions for individuals who lost their homes in the wildfires that were not a part of the federally declared emergency.
– SB853 – This bill was intended to stop travel reimbursement payments for telecommuting State Employees that live out of state.
– SB4 – Allocates funds to incentivize microchip manufacturers to Oregon. This will have a local economic benefit as well as bolstering our national security.
– SB11 – Requires meetings of State entities to be posted online to be viewable by the public with no charge.
– SB70 – Modifies requirements for residential rezoning of lands within Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region.
– SB238 – Creates educational program to inform students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, as well as certain good Samaritan laws that protect people who assist someone experiencing alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose.
– SB450 – Exempts Naloxone and other opioid overdose reversal drugs from certain labeling requirements.
– SB478 – Dedicates a portion of Oregon Highway 82, which shall be known as Deputy Raymond Williams and Deputy Michael Cheney Memorial Highway.
– SB479 – Directs State Department of Agriculture to adopt rules allowing donation of meat to charitable organizations and other organizations that offer food for noncommercial purposes.
– SB482 – Provides that aviation maintenance occurring at an airport in a neighboring state may be included in clock hours of instruction for purposes of Community College Support Fund.
– SB548 – Provides children who are in the foster care system luggage for their clothes, instead of garbage bags, when moving between families.
– SB573 – Allows for an individual to amend their original birth certificate to include their biological father, if both parties agree.
– SB609 – Allows a graduate student’s studies to qualify as “hours worked” as it pertains to snap benefits.
– SB644 – Amends requirements relating to wildfire hazard mitigation for development of accessory dwelling units on lands zoned for rural residential use.
– SB785 – Allows a person to park in a parking spot if the meter is broken, unless otherwise marked.
– SB835 – Directs DEQ to adopt rules allowing for an accessory dwelling unit to be connected to the existing septic system of the main residence, provided they are on the same lot or parcel.
– SB864 – Provides that person who voluntarily fights wildfire on private forestland is not civilly liable for injury to person or property resulting from good faith performance of firefighting efforts.
– SB900 – Provides grant program to provide funds for law enforcement to combat organized theft rings.
– SB931 – Provides rules for when an accessory dwelling unit can be permitted to use a private septic system versus when they will be required to hook up to city utilities.
– SB955 – A grant program to help with the stresses and mental health needs of the agricultural community.
– SB1034 – Directs Department of Education to make biennial transfer to Oregon Military Department from the State School Fund for purpose of paying costs of educational services provided through programs operated by military department for at-risk youth.
– SB1043 – Provides that if someone is being treated for opioid addiction, two doses of naloxone are provided upon discharge.
– SB1052 – Relating to involuntary servitude (slavery) occurring in Oregon’s southern districts and adds penalties for human trafficking.
– SCR2 – Recognizes the Oregon National Guard and their contribution in fighting the 2020 wildfires.
– SCR16 – Brings members of the south Pacific Islanders into the COFA agreement, allowing for federal recognition in order to receive benefits afforded to other people with permanent residency status.
– SCR18 – Adjourns sine die 2023 regular session of Eighty-second Legislative Assembly.
Things started to get Bad when it became apparent that only Majority Party bills were going to move forward. My Republican colleagues and I had diligently drafted and collaborated on several bills, consulting various agencies, entities, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders. Many of these bills had broad bicameral, bipartisan support, but were lacking one crucial thing: They were not introduced by members of the “Correct Party.”
Each of us House Members represent an equal number of voters in their districts. We are supposed to have an equal voice at the table. To my dismay, the Orwellian dystopia has become near prophesy. As was stated in the famous George Orwell novel, Animal Farm:
“We are all equal. Some of us are just more equal than others.”
This session was going downhill fast, then things started to get Ugly.
Things got ugly for the state when the voices and concerns of Oregonians were disregarded by other Legislators. The promise of bipartisanship was hollow, mere lip service. There was an illusion of cooperation when we did show up. But we were discouraged from asking questions of the experts and prevented from inviting experts of our own to testify. Although I anticipated a little of this, being in the minority party, how were we to represent our constituents when we weren’t even allowed to be part of the discussions?
Then came HB 2002 and HB 2005. These bills were by far, the most controversial bills of this session, which resulted in the longest Walk-Out in Oregon’s history. HB 2002 was being touted by the Left and its bias narrative Complicit Media as a “Women’s Reproductive Rights” bill, knowing abortion is already widely supported in Oregon. What was really happening was that the Majority Party was “Logrolling” bad bills into this bill under the guise of popular policy. This has been deemed unconstitutional by the Oregon Supreme Court.
HB 2005 was being branded as a bill that would ban “Ghost Guns” and quickly became a “Gun Grabber Omnibus Bill,” written entirely by people without firearm knowledge.
In reflecting upon these past 160 days, I think we did as well as any minority party can hope to do. We forced compromise when the odds were stacked against us.
AND….. I have been asked many times: “What about those Senators who missed more than 10 days? Can they still run for re-election?”
Well….. Section 4 Article 15 of the Oregon Constitution was amended, as you may know. But, to cut to the chase, it says: “Shall disqualify the member from holding office as Senator or Representative for the term following the election after the current term is completed.”
The way many people are interpreting this is that these Senators are possibly allowed one more term. We shall see….. Semper Fidelis.
The 2023 legislative session has finally concluded. Both the House & Senate rushed through bills to meet the 160-day constitutional deadline of June 25th. Seemingly more bills were pushed through the legislature during the last two weeks of session than during the prior two months. It is really a challenging process, where legislators scramble to keep up with the specifics of each bill and budget, let alone any last minute amendments. However, much of this is done on purpose to keep most legislators in the dark. It is really no more than a version of what US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in the bill.” While the majority party is gleeful from the passage of their bills, the minority is frustrated with the oblique and frantic pace which prevents real transparency and public input.
HB 2002 & HB 2005
The two most controversial bills the 2023 legislative session were HB 2002 (expansion of abortion and insurance mandates for gender treatment/surgery) and HB 2005 (omnibus gun control bill). Republicans spent over 10 hours on the House floor debating both bills before they passed in early May. Then in the Senate chamber, Republicans and Independents denied quorum to block these bills from final passage. A denial of quorum means a chamber does not have enough members present to conduct business. Constitutionally, each chamber must have 2/3’s of its legislators on the chamber floor in order to vote. This requirement exists to foster dialogue between the majority and minority parties. The lack of quorum caused great concern for some legislators as many bills and budgets had not yet passed and were stopped from moving forward, including HB 2002 & HB 2005. Moreover, without budgets passing — the only constitutional obligation of the legislature — a special session would have been inevitable.
Late last week at the 11th hour, a deal was struck by the Senate Republicans and Democrats to amend HB 2002 & HB 2005 in order to end the stalemate. These amendments made HB 2002 & HB 2005 “better”, but in my opinion, even the amended versions of the bills are still incompatible with the idea that a legitimate government protects life and individual liberty, not weakens those protections. As the amended bills passed the Senate on a party-line vote, the bills then had to return to the House for a vote to concur with the Senate amendments. House Republicans had an opportunity to prevent these bills from passing by denying quorum for 5 days until the end of session. It would have meant many other bills, special projects and budgets would also fail to pass, therefore requiring a special session. However, in my view the collateral cost would have been worth the reward. Half of House Republicans agreed and were not present on the House chamber floor in protest; the other half were present, which was enough to provide the Democrats quorum. The two bills passed last Wednesday.
There is much blame to go around for the passage of these, and other policy, bills. However, rather focusing on the negative, it is important to remember that as long as the State Capitol is a place of one party rule — with only one political philosophy shaping most bills and budgets — with a Governor also of the same party, Republicans and Independents will always face extremely difficult challenges, with few opportunities to stop such anti-life and anti-2nd amendment policies.
The answer is not to blame others, but to engage in the process in order to change the minds of legislators. It is imperative to bring balance and common sense back to Salem. Under a balanced government extreme ideas, like HB 2002 & HB 2005, would not be allowed to go any further than a passing hallway conversation. Moreover, real dialog from different perspectives could happen without having to enact delay tactics or halt the business of either chamber.