First of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church
4675 Portland Rd NE Salem
The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Second of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church
4675 Portland Rd NE Salem
The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Third of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church
4675 Portland Rd NE Salem
We Are Stronger Together
Monday, March 27, 2023 at 10:00 am
Oregon's Natural Resources & Industries (ONRI) is sponsoring the rally to meet legislators and influencers to bring light on legislation affecting natural resource industries, their families, and their communities. https://onri.us/events
Secretary of State Audits Division doesn’t have it on the radar
The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles is still closed to walk-up customers, despite nearly every transaction-type system in Oregon being allowed to function with safety measures in place.
The Secretary of State's Audit Division is responsible for performing audits of State Agencies, including ODOT and the DMV, but we just elected Shemia Fagan to that office on the backs of massive financial support from public employee unions and a pledge not to do "gotcha" audits on State Agencies, which to me means that she isn't going to put pressure on them to perform. So, maybe it is a little bit of a left/right issue.
According to one Capitol insider who declined to be identified, "We just spent $90 million dollars on a software system for the DMV so they could perform better. One way or another, they need to do better."
According to their website,
DMV office visits are by appointment only.
Some services MUST be done online or by mail.
Even with an appointment, you may have to wait outside for some period of time before being helped. Please dress appropriately for all weather conditions.
The DMV has not released a public plan to return to normal services
As if it weren't bad enough that the Oregon Department of Education was denied a waiver for testing by the Biden administration, At a loss for how to actually improve education in Oregon, Democrats have finally resolved to do something concrete: Burn down the entire system. Today Senate Democrats voted in lockstep to scrap graduation requirements for the next two school years and order a study to give them cover to do away with them permanently.
Empirical data has shown that school closures have done significant damage to student’s learning. Evidence from Vermont, a state with one of the highest graduation rates in the country, shows that proficiency-based education promotes equity and the learning of valuable skills for students.
SB 744 would cover up the damage of school closures and hurt kid’s future potential. One suspects that the Democrat’s position is that if they hold our students to no standard, that a diploma will mean more and our students will be better served.
“Democrats figure that the best way to cover up their responsibility for decades of public education system failures is to trash all traditional standards of learning,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “This bill tries to pull a fast one on Oregonians by allowing Democrats to claim victory for improving our education system. The reality is that this bill will artificially inflate graduation rates at the cost to our students’ futures.”
In order to avoid blowback, no Democrat was willing to put their name as a sponsor of the bill, though it was introduced by the Senate Committee on Education, which is chaired by Michael Dembrow. SB 744 would do away with all essential learning skill requirements and ban the State Board of Education from requiring students to show any competency in any academic content area.
“Republicans are the party of educational opportunity,” Girod continued. “Rather than scrap standards for learning, Republicans have introduced several measures to allow students to choose the education that best fits their learning needs. Democrats would prefer to trap our kids in a failing system that doesn’t demand anything from them than do the hard work to reform education and set our kids up for future success.”
A recent analysis by Policy Analysis for California Education found that second graders were 26% behind where they would have been absent school closures in their ability to read aloud. Third graders were 33% behind. Another study shows that kids are lagging in reading and writing.
Recent polling shows that 71% of voters nationwide back school choice. 65% support getting a portion of their tax dollars back to help families afford other options if public schools don’t reopen for full-time in-person instruction. A recent report from the University of Arkansas established that the more school choice, the better students do academically.
SB 744 passed over bipartisan opposition and now heads to the House for further consideration.
The Oregon Legislature learned that an individual who was present at the Capitol has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Potential exposure may have occurred on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives on April 15.
Human resources for the branch is notifying all individuals who appear to have had close contact with the individual.
The House adjourned this morning until Monday, April 26 at 11am. Committee work, which is being done remotely, will continue as planned.
Anyone who shows symptoms should be tested and quarantine. Legislators and staff who are known to have had close contact with the individual who tested positive have been notified and encouraged to quarantine and get tested. Facilities staff will fumigate the House chamber and wings and continue to diligently, thoroughly and regularly clean the Capitol in line with the CDC’s guidance on environmental cleaning and disinfection.
The priority for the session continues to be to keep people safe and do the people’s work.
“This is about treating all Oregonian’s health plans equally”
The Oregon Senate passed SB 699 today with overwhelming bipartisan support. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) authored the legislation and carried it on the Senate floor.
SB 699 would prohibit grandfathered health insurance plans from imposing a preexisting condition exclusion. Under current law, health plans that are older than 2010, are exempt from certain requirements and can refuse coverage to those with preexisting conditions.
“This bill is about treating all Oregonian’s health plans equally,” Senator Knopp said. “Some people’s health coverage is operating under a different set of rules than most Oregonians. We should protect Oregonians with preexisting conditions, regardless of how old their plan is.”
SB 699 now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Would increase access to health care for rural Oregonians
Oregon is the only state west of Texas that doesn’t allow the practice of telepharamacy. Senator Bill Hansell’s SB 629 allows the practice in Oregon and expands access to pharmaceutical services to rural, elderly, and disabled Oregonians.
In small cities that cannot support a full-time pharmacist, many residents must travel considerable distances to pick up their prescriptions or depend on others to pick them up for them. This can cause many to either go without their needed medication or have their treatment delayed. SB 629 would allow a pharmacist to consult over electronic means with pharmacy techs to fill prescriptions and communicate with patients.
“The pandemic has made us realize that many services we depend on can be provided online or over the phone,” said Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena), chief sponsor of the bill. “We can leverage these tools to expand access to health care for rural, elderly, and disabled Oregonians. This is a chance for Oregon to evolve in our delivery of health care.”
SB 629 passed on a 29-1 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
On Saturday, April 17th, at about 10:00p.m., a group of about 70 people formed in front of Portland Police East Precinct, 737 Southeast 106th Avenue. The group began moving into the street, blocking traffic. Many in the group wore helmets, body armor, and had heavy backpacks, which was consistent with the characteristics of those intent on criminal behavior.
Some individuals began to roll two large dumpsters from a nearby school into the street toward the precinct. Because dumpsters have been used many times as vessels to start fires, the Unified Command of Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire & Rescue determined it was likely that this group's intent was the same.
East Precinct is part of the city's critical public safety infrastructure and a working precinct 24 hours a day.
The crowd was warned by loudspeaker not to restrict access to the precinct, not to start fires, or block traffic. Despite the warnings, one dumpster was pushed up close to the front door and the other near the garage door.
Due to the criminal activity and clear intent to block access to the precinct, the group was advised by loudspeaker that it had become an unlawful assembly and they were directed to leave to the north. They did not comply so officers moved in and the group moved away as instructed. The officers discovered that one of the dumpsters smelled of smoke but had not caught fire. A collapsible baton and some other gear was dropped when they ran away.
The City of Portland and downtown businesses are totaling up the most recent damage from rioting, arson, theft, and vandalism. Reports are being compiled and there is no cost estimate, but it appears to be significant damage.
The woman must be believed. Unless the man is a powerful Democrat
After applying the harshest of interim safety measures to then-Representative Diego Hernandez -- not punitive, because interim safety measures aren't meant to be punitive -- including removing him from committees, and then beating down Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) by taking his access to the building away, the House Committee on Conduct has finally found a limit to the extent of their punishments, er, uh, I mean safety measures. Both Hernandez and Nearman are no friends to House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), so it's fun to dish out harsh measures. Additionally, Witt barely hung on to his seat in fairly conservative Columbia County.
Now, Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), who is not out of favor with the Speaker stands accused by some sort of misconduct and has to appear before the House Committee on Conduct to get his interim safety measures. His victim serves on a committee that he chairs. It's not certain that the victim is a Republican, but if you want the video, can you imagine if the victim was a Democrat that two women on the committee would choose to not implement a recommendation of the investigator, who recommended that Representative Witt step down as chair of the committee. This, even after Representative Witt offered to be removed as chair of the committee.
Maybe we're done with the #MeToo movement and "the woman must be believed" and when the committee convenes, the victim will have to attend with her accuser. According to Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene), Representative Witt need not step down as committee chair because that would be "punitive" as she hems and haws her way through a weak explanation. According to Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland), Representative Witt need not step down as committee chair, because, after all, the committee meets virtually.
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) had this to say. “Co-chair Fahey’s rejection of the independent investigator’s recommendation to temporarily remove Chair Witt from his committee shows a shameful disregard for the pressing need for interim safety measures to protect the victim. This is a sham process if the committee rejects the recommendations of the independent investigator with no basis for that rejection. This is not, in fact, a “tricky situation” as co-chair Fahey indicated. It is traumatizing a victim and protecting those in power—and it is completely unacceptable. The responsibility now falls to the Speaker to ensure that Chair Witt is removed, to ensure the safety of the victim.
"Allowing the accused to choose the actions they will voluntarily take to protect their victim is not how this process should work.”
The war is over, but the battles continue in Yamhill County
Friends of the Yamhelas-Westsider Trail in Yamhill County, a project that the courts have decided does not comply with various laws, are circulating a petition to support an illegal action. These are good citizens who are continually misled and not informed of relevant factors by selfish interests, elected idealists and senior County staff interested in their personal power. Sowing the seeds of resentment and evoking divisive emotions distracts from rational thought causing animosity among neighbors.
Petition statements are corrected below.
"Commissioners are doing a favor for a small, well-funded group."
Commissioners are recognizing the County has wasted huge dollars pursuing a project deemed illegal on four occasions by LUBA. They have stopped that continued law breaking and financial waste by officials.
"Stopping the Trail could cause the County to repay $3 million."
$3 million is a wild guess intended to stampede decision makers. Omitted is a discussion of who authorized the illegal expenditures. ODOT was compliant in facilitating the illegal expenditures. The amount to repay and terms of repayment are negotiable.
Not having a trail to maintain, police, need fire protection, emergency services and require legal costs from litigating liability claims conservatively saves the County $150k/year perpetually. The savings far exceed even the “wild guess” largest claimed financial liabilities.
"A sale would funnel money out of the County."
A lease or sale to adjacent land owners would keep everything in Yamhill County. It would allow more agriculture on acres now idled, enhancing Yamhill County’s economy and largest primary industry.
"The Trail is not illegal because on one occasion the Land Use Board of Appeals did not fully rebuke the County."
The Trail is illegal because it cannot pass an Agriculture Impact Study showing no harm to existing farm practices. Failure to pass the Study results in no Conditional Use Permit and makes a Trail operation impossible. The plaintiffs were awarded attorney’s fees in the case of a Stay on Construction. Fees are only awarded if the plaintiff is correct on all of several counts. The County was wrong on all counts.
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"The Masterplan will answer many LUBA questions."
The Masterplan cannot change the requirement for a Conditional Use Permit. It will not change LUBA’s ruling. You don’t build something and then draw up the plans afterward. The Masterplan was a ruse.
"This is not a property rights issue because the Right of Way was owned by the railroad for 150 years."
Land use laws have changed since 1872 when the farmers were forced to sell to the railroad. The transport of commerce has changed since 1872. Now farmers have property rights equal to those of the railroad. This issue is at the core of individual and private property rights.
Cyclists can access over 200 very safe and scenic public and private bike paths in Oregon. Those facilities are already built and maintained. They offer cycling opportunities for all ages and skill levels. Cyclists can discover a beautiful state for themselves and their families by taking some initiative, or not.
We’re past halfway. There’s still lots of ideologically charged bills to come
The Oregon House of Representatives is more than halfway through the 2021 session, held in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
This session Republicans have pushed bills that provide wildfire relief and mitigation, fund educational enrichment to address gaps from distanced learning, and investment for Navigation Centers to support unsheltered individuals.
Republicans from the start of session this year have held the majority party accountable for a misguided agenda that they say includes far reaching and unrelated bills that do not address immediate problems Oregonians are facing.
Meanwhile, Republican members voted to expedite the passage of essential budget bills, as well as policies related to wildfire recovery such as HB 2341.
“It’s important for Republicans to continue standing up for the Oregonians who can’t be here, pushing for real solutions and bipartisan consensus,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Unfortunately, the majority party is still pushing an aggressive agenda that threatens personal safety, freedoms, and the recovery of our communities across the state. We’re halfway through this session, with a long way to go.”
At the end of March, House Republican Leader Drazan issued a call for the Legislature to refocus on priority issues that continue to be an immediate need for Oregonians. The Legislature responded by moving up the 2019-2021 budget rebalance to expedite important funding for communities.
A group of an estimated several hundred people started marching from Director's Park in Portland, Oregon at about 9:30 p.m. on April 16th, 2021. Participants in this march started breaking windows of businesses, including the Nordstrom, Verizon, Nike, the Oregon Historical Society and more. In addition to burglary and vandalism, individuals engaged in the crime of criminal mischief by damaging planters and applying graffiti. Looting was reported as well.
Windows were also broken at the First Christian Church, a location known for their generosity in feeding over a thousand meals weekly to the homeless.
A riot was declared due to the widespread criminal activity. Warnings were provided via sound truck that a riot had been declared. The rioters were ordered to disperse and were warned they were subject to arrest and/or force.
Some of the individuals in the group were observed changing clothing in an attempt to disguise themselves and elude police actions.
At about 10:49 p.m., there were 79 holding police calls for service in the City of Portland, including priority welfare check calls, at least three calls of shots, a priority hit and run, and three burglaries. Two burglaries have been holding for over 13 hours. Police resources were stretched across the City to manage the calls for emergency calls for service and the riot.
Officers worked to encourage dispersal and make arrests when they could. In addition to the destruction to businesses and non-profits, multiple fires were set at various locations. Police Bureau Officers dispersed the crowds to allow Portland Fire & Rescue to gain access to the fire locations to safely extinguish them.
At about midnight a portable toilet fire near SW 4th Avenue and Yamhill Street presented a significant life safety threat. The fire was near an occupied building and a propane tank, which increased the danger. Portland Fire & Rescue personnel responded and doused the fire.
A community member's vehicle sustained a flattened tire when they struck a rebar spike device known as a "caltrop" while driving downtown. These devices have been used to target first responder vehicles during other events in the past.
During the dispersal, pepper spray was deployed. No CS was deployed.
"Damage to businesses hurts our City. Our community has made it clear that it will not tolerate wanton violence and destruction" said Acting Chief Chris Davis. "No one is entitled to break windows, set fires, or attack police officers. If you choose to participate in this kind of criminal activity, you can expect to be arrested and prosecuted. None of this destruction tonight has anything to do with the important work of racial justice and reconciliation our community and our nation need at this critical time in our history."
The following people were arrested, booked, and charged:
Cameron Millar-Griffin, 24 years-old, from Portland- Riot, Criminal Mischief I, Resist Arrest, Disorderly Conduct II
Theodore O'Brien, 22 years-old, from Portland-Criminal Mischief I
Skye Sodja, 43 years-old, from Portland-Assault a Public Safety Officer, Disorderly Conduct II
Many Oregonians are still dealing with wildfire and COVID fallout
House Democrats expedited the passage of a bill that reduces the anticipated ‘kicker’ that Oregonians are due when state revenues exceed projections by more than two percent.
In 2020, this threshold was triggered. As a result, the state’s budget was fully balanced with money left over, which under law is due to be returned to the people of Oregon. Instead, SB 846 retroactively readjusts budget actions taken in the second special session in order to pocket even more cash for the state, rather than put it in people’s wallets.
“This is the worst time to be padding the state’s coffers which are overflowing with federal support. Oregonians are still recovering from a really tough year,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “The pandemic, government-mandated business shutdowns, and natural disasters were especially challenging for people who could really use this extra financial support. We shouldn’t be taking this money that people are owed.”
SB 846 passed on the House floor on a straight party-line vote.
For almost two hours on the floor of the Oregon House, the House Democrats and Republicans debated changing a single number in a bill: 3-vs-4. No other changes to the bill were proposed, and in fact it was not a new conversation. It was a change that had been discussed in the House Education committee but voted down on a party line vote. The House Education Committee is chaired by Representative Teresa Alonso-Leon (D-Woodburn) who, according to the Secretary of State, has received over $78K towards her campaigns since 2016 from the Oregon Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
HB 2954 proposed to allow public charter schools to continue the non-discriminatory practice of admitting students, but added a weighted lottery system that would favor historically underserved students which would be based on race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. The House Education Committee agreed that this was a good change, but the Republicans on the committee felt that prioritizing admissions would also be improved if made available to more students. If the cap were raised from 3 to 4% more students could seek education opportunities outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar public school buildings.
The conversation about how many students should attend public virtual charter schools has been acerbated by COVID-19 and Governor Brown shutting down schools to in person learning last Spring. With her executive order, she instantly turned every brick-and-mortar school into a virtual school. As parents, teachers and students struggled with the unknown world of virtual learning, many of them made the choice to move to established virtual public schools. According to information provided by the Oregon Department of Education, as of October 1, 2020, brick-and-mortar school enrollment was down by 3%, and virtual charter school enrollment was up 54% from the same time the year prior.
However, the true debate in committee and on the floor was all about money, not about equity or access. Laurie Wimmer, with OEA submitted testimony to the committee that stated “This particular amendment would cost the school districts of Oregon $118 million. Representative Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), agreed saying “It is going to have a huge price tag. I want to caution everyone to not only think about the education impacts of this change, but that it would be nearly a $120M change”. However, Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) reminded her that “it is not a loss in funding it is a shift in funding. It still goes to the educational opportunities for children”. Representative Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) continued the money argument on the floor of the House yesterday saying “197 school boards and districts would agree, this is not the time to take money away from them. Small districts especially are impacted by these by large charters who increase their grasps on those smaller districts”. According to an ODE report, districts currently at their 3% cap range in total enrollments from 420 to 18,400 kids and represent a wide variety of district sizes and geographic locations.
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Representative Owens shared during debate that “As of October 1, 2020, there were 560,917 students enrolled in K-12 schools in Oregon with 21,705 of those students enrolled in virtual charter schools; right around 3.9%”. The amendment of 4% would preserve those students’ rights to continue learning where they area. Currently school districts may go over the 3% cap, but the decision is up to the individual district not the student’s family. Since last Spring, approximately 25% of the school districts in Oregon have reached or exceeded their 3% cap and are now denying student transfers. Denied students have an appeals process, but, according to ODE, Since June 2020, the Department had received 832 appeals, 388 were denied and 31 are pending. 46% of all appeals are denied giving parents little to no choice. They can return to the distance learning or limited in person learning now being offered by most school districts, homeschool their children themselves, or pay for private education.
As public school in Oregon are still not fully open for in person learning and the start of the 2021-22 school year is only 5 months away, many families are concerned that full-time in person learning may not return and they may also be shut out of the public virtual charter school option. In a recent survey conducted by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, it showed that 58% of Oregonians expect remote learning for K-12 students to continue for a few years.
Representative Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook), a retired public school teacher of 30 years, told the House members
“This body has rightly spent this session addressing equity; making sure that ALL Oregonians have equitable access to the services to which they have a right. That is exactly what the cap adjustment does. It insists that every child in Oregon has a right to a public education. Equity in education means that we meet our students where they are, not insist they fit into a model of public education that comes to us from a time when only white, wealthy men ran public institutions, and insisted that everyone conform to the way THEY think things should be. That’s not equity. Let’s not just pick and choose what we believe equity to be based on pressure from political special interests. Let’s do what’s best for students, especially those who have been marginalized for so long”.
House Democrats used their supermajority powers, ignored the request, and voted to protect the OEA and brick-and-mortar funding over doing what was best for Oregon families and Oregon students. The bill is headed to the Senate and will most likely be assigned to the Senate Education committee.