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Reparations in Play in the Legislature
No joke. $123,000 to Black Oregonians who can demonstrate heritage in slavery

The concept of reparations for slavery has been around for a few years, and though the idea rarely surfaces in a raw form -- a proposal for cash payments to descendants of slaves -- it more often surfaces as "equity" proposals, or more recently in assistance programs targeted by race. Now, however, a bill proposing reparations has been proposed for the 2021 legislative session. The proposal, SB 619 has explicitly laid out a plan for reparations. The plan calls for a $123,000 annuity to be paid out for the life of the applicant.

The legislation is being introduced by State Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and has indicated that it is at the request of former State Representative Tiffiny Mitchell. Mitchell recently served one term representing House District 32, which is Clatsop and Tillamook counties. She has since moved to Washington state. It's not clear if Senator Frederick, who is black, would be eligible to apply for reparations.

The eligibility criteria are listed in the bill:

(a) Is descended from an American slave
(b) Has identified as African-American on legal documents for at least 10 years before the date of the application
(c) Is at least 18 years of age, an emancipated minor or a ward, as defined in ORS 419A.004, whose parents are deceased or for whom parental rights have been terminated and have not been reinstated, and
(d) Has resided in Oregon for at least two years before the date of the application.

Reparation payments as outlined in the bill would be protected from being taken by legal processes, too. The bill says, "Reparations paid under this section and the right of a person to an annuity under this section are exempt from garnishment and all state, county and municipal taxation, except as provided under ORS chapter 118, are not subject to execution, garnishment, attachment or any other process or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law and are unassignable."

It's not clear if the bill would pass constitutional muster. Besides running counter to the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, the Oregon Constitution provides that "No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens." Cases making claims against the Oregon Cares Fund for its racial criteria are pending now in federal court.

There is no fiscal report for the bill to determine what the cost of this would be, but we did a quick back-of-the-cocktail-napkin calculation. The Census Bureau estimates that there are about 78,000 blacks in Oregon. If half qualified for and applied for reparations at $123,000 per person, the cost would be about $9.5 billion dollars, though that would be paid out over the lives of the recipients.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-17 10:03:45Last Update: 2021-01-18 14:01:19

Portland Protesters Hinder Crisis Intervention Situation
Even the man’s mother begged the crowd to stop

A protest that formed around a crisis call involving a man holding a knife downtown prompted a call for help citywide.

On Friday, January 15, 2021 at about 1:00p.m., Portland Central Precinct officers responded to a welfare check call outside an apartment building in the 300 block of Southwest 4th Avenue. The call indicated that a man had jumped from a second story window of the building, pulled out a knife, and began waving it around at people and cars going by.

The 30-year-old man showed arriving officers his knife, held it to his neck, and said he would kill himself if they came any closer. An Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team (ECIT) officer began a dialogue with the man in crisis, while other officers attempted to clear the area hoping to reduce the stress of the situation. The officers learned that the man was schizophrenic and extremely paranoid. He not only threatened to kill himself, he said he would hurt others as well. Rather than rush in, exacerbating a dangerous situation, officers slowed down, kept their distance, and exercised patience and de-escalation.



The negotiation lasted for about 90 minutes before two separate crowds of protesters began showing up to the north and south. Some in the crowd began chanting, and one even started using a bullhorn. The extra noise and distraction made it impossible for the specially trained officers to speak to the man. Officers implored the crowd to stop interfering, but their energy only increased. Even when the suicidal man's mother arrived and begged the crowd to stop, most in the crowd continued. Some in the crowd began threatening the officers. A supervisor requested resources citywide, and all available officers responded from North and East Precincts. This caused a major resource drain citywide and all but the highest priority calls had to wait. The officers had to don helmets and face shields to protect themselves as they stood in front of the hostile crowd.

The officers consulted with the Crisis Negotiation Team, whose members were able to find a mental health professional familiar with the man. They learned that the man could be a threat to himself and violent toward others. After over 3 hours of negotiation, the incident commander set into motion a plan to take the man into custody. A K9 unit was used to divert his attention by barking so officers could safely approach him. A Conducted Electrical Weapon (CEW, or Taser) was used to prevent him from using the knife, and he was taken into custody and transported by ambulance to a hospital. Besides the punctures from the CEW probes, he was uninjured. Officers placed him on a Police Officer Hold so that he could be evaluated by medical professionals.

The only force used against the protesters was some pushing to keep them back and out of the street.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-01-16 17:58:40Last Update: 2021-01-17 15:37:50

Businesses Targeted by Legislation
Eugene Democrat wants to eliminate compensation

As if times weren't tough enough for businesses, legislation has been proposed that will change the way businesses are compensated when governments take possession of their property during an emergency. Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) has introduced HB 2238 is a proposal to make these changes and they could have massive impacts on businesses in Oregon and their ability to recover damages after being shut down for close to a year with no end in sight.

Currently under Oregon Law, if a piece of property is a threat to persons or property during an emergency, a government agency is allowed to take possession of it, but the owner must be compensated. It's fairly clear that this law is intended to curb lawsuits by businesses to recover damages from the state because of being shut down during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The effective part of the proposed legislation reads,

An owner of property that is used or possessed only temporarily under this section is not entitled to compensation except as the owner may prove entitlement to compensation under Article I, section 18, of the Oregon Constitution.

Two words that are not defined in the change are "temporary" and "possessed." One can imagine a scenario in which the COVID-19 lockdowns are regarded as temporary and an order to shut down or reduce activity is regarded as possessed. If both of these are true, then the state need not compensate businesses for losses due to lockdown orders.

Affected businesses could include: Several lawsuits regarding compensation are currently pending. Oregon's constitution prohibits ex post facto laws, or laws that have a retroactive effect.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-16 17:47:11Last Update: 2021-01-17 15:30:31

Timber Industry Targeted
Forest management doesn’t support carbon taxation

The timber industry is a target on two fronts. Representative Pam Marsh (D-Ashland) and Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene) propose to extend or make permanent the privilege harvesting tax with automatic increases - funding for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute Fund (HB 2430, HB 2389). On another front, Representatives Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), Khanh Pham (D-Portland), Marty Wilde (D-Eugene), and Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) propose to eliminate the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) and the Oregon Forest Resources Institute Fund (HB 2357).

HB 2357 would create a separate Sound Forestry Practices Subaccount and the funds in the Oregon Forest Resources Institute Fund from privilege harvesting taxes will be transferred to the General Fund. It poses the questions of proper use of those tax funds that had a specific purpose.

Calling for the elimination of OFRI, they propose to require the State Forestry Department to develop and apply sound forestry practices to:
(a) Promote forest health;
(b) Incorporate regulation or monitoring of pesticide use in forests;
(c) Employ adaptive resource management; and
(d) As related to forest management, advance climate science or climate policy.

The Legislature created OFRI in 1991 to advance public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products, and to encourage sound forestry through landowner education. It has been a lobbying arm for Oregon’s timber industry. Therein lies the problem for the Governor’s carbon agenda.

Governor Kate Brown crafted her cap-and-trade bill in 2018 to enact sweeping limits on greenhouse gas emissions that targeted industries, and timber was not excluded. OPB reported that OFRI worked to discredit the research that calculated for the first time how much carbon was lost to the atmosphere as a result of cutting trees in Oregon. It concluded that logging, once thought to have no negative effect on global warming, was among the state’s biggest climate polluters.

A new OFRI report highlights the major role Oregon’s forests play in keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, underscoring the importance of using strategies that enhance these forests’ carbon-sequestering superpowers to combat climate change. The vast forests that cover nearly half the state capture and store significant amounts of atmospheric carbon, both in growing trees and wood products sourced from those forests, according to their Carbon in Oregon’s Managed Forests science review report. “As we work to solve the climate crisis, this report will inform Oregonians about ways we can harness our forests’ natural carbon-storing abilities in the fight against climate change,” says OFRI Director of Forestry Mike Cloughesy, who served as one of the report’s technical editors.

The primary goal of OFRI is to educate the public about forestry and responsible forest management. Is it that OFRI’s forest management doesn’t support carbon taxation that prompts elimination? Numerous Legislators have introduced bills to reinstate the tax credit for reforestation (HB 2632, HB 2782). If timber happens to retain their lobby arm in OFRI, they will surely face increased privilege harvesting taxation.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-01-16 16:36:39Last Update: 2021-01-16 17:47:11

Vaccines: Who Gets it and Who Doesn’t
Winners and losers and how they are picked

As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed to states, they are then distributed to the public according to a formula developed by each state. In oregon, Oregon Health Authority websiteseveral phases have been identified to earmark the vaccine to be administered.

Everyone is Phase 1A, Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 are currently eligible for the vaccine.

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Phase 1B, IC and Phase 2 have yet to be specifically determined, but the Oregon Health Authority is beginning to map out who will be next. Adding to the complexity of vaccine administration is that both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines require two injections. First, a priming dose must be given, followed by a booster shot. The interval between Moderna doses is 28 days. The Pfizer vaccine's interval is 21 days.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-15 08:22:27Last Update: 2021-01-16 14:04:32

Gov. Brown Visits Vaccine Administration Site
Government rationing of vaccine slows the pace

As Oregon stumbles to get vaccines distributed to certain selected members of the public, Oregon Governor Kate Brown visited Salem Health's vaccination clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, where she visited with Oregon National Guard members who are administering vaccines at the clinic, spoke with community members in the 1a vaccination group who were attending the clinic, and met with officials from Salem Health. The Governor was joined by Adjutant General Michael Stencel, Salem Health President and CEO Cheryl Wolfe, and Salem Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Yates.

"Today I had the opportunity to visit with Jason, a hospice care worker who received a COVID-19 vaccine administered by Private First Class Juan Rojas," said Governor Brown. "It's truly overwhelming. As a hospice worker, not only does Jason make people feel more comfortable as they're nearing the end of their lives, he also provides massage therapy for cancer patients. With this vaccination, we're going to make sure Jason can continue this important and honorable work.

"I am very proud of the leadership of Salem Health, who stood up this vaccination clinic on their own, and who are vaccinating hundreds of people a day. They also have a great partner with the Oregon National Guard, who are providing vaccination support. We are working to develop more partnerships like this one—in communities large and small across the state—to get Oregonians vaccinated as quickly as possible."

As of this point in time, the Oregon Health Authority is reporting that 133,090 persons have been vaccinated in Oregon, or about 3% of the population. The daily record for vaccines is 12,039 on January 8. Even at that record pace, it would take over a year to get all Oregonians vaccinated.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-15 08:02:33

Rep. Wilde Proposes Tax on Business Aid
Put a tax on assistance. Yeah, that will work.

Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) introduced HB 2253 that would “surcharge” those that received forgiven loans received as a corporate excise or personal income taxpayer through Paycheck Protection Program of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. His proposal would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2021.

The Governor continues to keep Oregon closed, so businesses have resorted to alternative means to keep their businesses above the red line with the help of forgiveness loans. It has kept millions employed while unemployment has skyrocketed and many businesses have gone beyond that to keep employees in jobs. Do they get thanked? NO! They get reprimanded for making the slightest effort for survival. Those businesses not hit the hardest are expected to spread their wealth, which will ultimately put more businesses into bankrupt status.

One businessman told Northwest Observer that he was able to keep his staff and not reduce any hours even though clients cancelled. He said, “My landlord was able to collect full rent from me at the office, my utilities were able to be paid, and I was able to take what little revenue my business generated during the toughest months of the pandemic and keep my rent paid at home and my wife and baby fed and clothed.” He calculated his addition tax -- or surcharge, as it is called -- would be around $1000.

That may not sound like a lot, but another business owner said they have been in the red $4-5,000 monthly since last May, and none of the surcharge will help his business as the Governor has put her focus for relief on minority business and restaurants.

If the bill passes, any business that increased receipts by five percent over 2019 will be charged a 10% tax on moneys received under the CARES Act. How will that restore Oregon’s economy? Maybe we're not all in this together.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-01-14 20:42:14Last Update: 2021-01-14 20:53:53

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Supports Forest Management
Rule addresses a harmful court decision

This week the Associated Press reported wildfire smoke has accounted for up to half of all health-damaging small particle air pollution in the western U.S. in recent years. Even as pollution emissions declined from other sources including vehicle exhaust and power plants, the amount from fires have increased sharply, researchers said.

The news continues to illustrate the need for proactive and science-based forest management as part of the solution to reducing the risk of severe wildfire. To protect our communities, wildlife habitat, recreation, clean air and water, the federal government must allow its professional land managers to do their jobs.

Fortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a new rule changing their regulations on duplicative interagency consultations for existing Forest Plans. The rule addresses a harmful court decision, known as "Cottonwood" that has stalled many important forest management, wildlife habitat enhancement and wildfire fuel reduction projects developed by the U.S. Forest Service. Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are also impacted.

This solution is bipartisan. It reflects efforts by both Democratic and Republican administrations and members of the U.S. Congress to resolve lawsuits over duplicative interagency consultation procedures that have prevented work from being done on public lands.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-14 18:40:47Last Update: 2021-01-16 16:36:39

Public Employee Union Membership in Decline
Public workers don’t have to join a government union

Oregon’s largest government employee union, SEIU 503, had been on a decades-long winning streak prior to June 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union membership and/or agency fees in the public sector are a violation of the workers’ Constitutional rights.

Knowing the union had no intention of notifying its members of this landmark decision, the Freedom Foundation developed and distributed mail, emails, texts and other materials to SEIU 503 members all over Oregon to inform them of their rights.

SEIU 503s’ 2017 LM-2 report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor claimed the union had 58,384 members/fee-payers. However, by 2018 — the year Janus was decided — that number had already been whittled down to 45,741.

And with fewer paychecks to be plundered came a major reduction in the amount of dues money the union was able to spend influencing Oregon politics.

This was a victory public employees in Oregon, who now won’t have to fund political causes they don’t agree with. And the trend has only continued. According to the union’s newest report, membership declined yet again in 2020 – for the third year in a row since Janus – meaning that, in total, SEIU 503 has lost at least 15,284 members/fee payers since the decision, resulting in a $3.6 million reduction in dues revenue and a $3 million drop in spending on political and lobbying activities.

Editor's note: this article is excerpted from a post that first appeared on the Freedom Foundation website

--Josh Ebert

Post Date: 2021-01-14 17:52:42Last Update: 2021-01-14 18:40:47

Majority Party Consolidates Legislative Power
House Republican Leader Calls for Good Government Reforms and Increased Transparency

As the Oregon Legislative Session begins, and Democrats double down on the exercise of raw power, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released a statement on the adopted rule changes for the upcoming 81st Legislative Session which will continue to deny direct public involvement in the legislative process:

“As I have said before, we are the people’s legislature here to do the people’s business. Once again, Democrats have passed a set of rules that require us to meet without public input or involvement as the Capitol remains closed to Oregonians. This absolute denial of all access undermines the legislative process. House Republicans requested we find a way to safely allow for the Capitol to be open on a limited basis, relying on existing public health guidance. This request was dismissed and in response Republicans proposed additional adjustments to rules to increase transparency and public engagement.

"We are kicking off a new Legislative Session where we will discuss important issues such as safely re-opening Oregon’s schools, health care liability protections and continued COVID relief for impacted individuals and small businesses. These proposals deserve a fair and inclusive discussion from all Oregonians.”

"House Republicans requested additional good government provisions to improve transparency, fairness and accountability including: A Minority Report is an amendment presented by members of a committee who are members of the minority party and are proposed to be substituted for the underlying bill.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-13 19:47:07

Schrader Backtracks
Oregon Congressman issues apology

Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5) issued a statement apologizing for his previous statement earlier this week, that likened impeaching Trump to a "lynching," and said it would divide the nation.

The Oregon Democrat's comments led his spokesperson, Larkin Parker, to resign. Schrader's statement said:

Over the last several days I have reached out and spoken to my colleagues, constituents and staff. The pain and harm caused by my words is immeasurable. As I work to build trust and do what is right by the people of Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, I am making the following commitments:

  1. I will participate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training and will ask President-elect Biden to overturn Trump’s Executive Order banning such training in the federal government workforce;
  2. Intentional hiring in my congressional offices;
  3. Specific actions I can take while serving as a Member of Congress to ensure full representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

It is an honor and privilege to serve Oregonians in the United States Congress.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-13 13:23:51Last Update: 2021-01-13 19:52:27

Brown Activates National Guard in Salem
Will be utilized by Oregon State Police

According to a press release from the Oregon State Police, the Oregon National Guard will be utilized by OSP.

Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie requested and was granted the activation of members of the Oregon National Guard to assist with potential upcoming civil unrest/protests by Governor Kate Brown.

“The Oregon State Police will continue to take a neutral role in ensuring Oregonians exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Oregon State Police Superintendent Davie. “For the past seven months, your Troopers have responded throughout Oregon to various protests, unlawful assemblies and riots. Our goals have always been to protect people, protect people’s rights and to protect property. The recent events at our Nation's Capitol building and at our own statehouse illustrate the need for law enforcement to be prepared and appropriately staffed for any large gatherings,” Davie added.

The Oregon Army National Guard will be deployed as necessary and their deployment locations will not be made public. OSP and the ONG routinely work and train together in response to Oregon’s challenges, including civil unrest, human remain recovery in the recent wildfire response and safeguarding our communities in times of crisis.

“With the Oregon National Guard supplementing OSP ranks, we will be ready to ensure peaceful events and handle emergency situations,” said Oregon State Police Captain Timothy Fox.

Oregon State Police will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners in planning for potential events at the Oregon State Capitol or any other jurisdiction in Oregon. OSP will continue to leverage their strong partnerships with local and federal law enforcement, in efforts to provide safety to legislators and employees conducting the people’s business in the Capitol.

The Oregon State Police declares they do not discuss the specifics of potential threats or tactical plans made unless it is determined there is a public safety need.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2021-01-13 12:22:30Last Update: 2021-01-13 12:34:51

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