Alyssa Sutton

Oregon government will be convening for the 2018 regular legislative session on Monday. Regular sessions convene each February, lasting up to 160 days during the odd number years and 35 days during the even number years.

While several bills were signed into law in Oregon at the beginning of the year, senators and representatives alike, along with lobbyists and legislators, already have dozens of new bills they’re working to make into Oregon law. On Jan. 22, the pre-session list was posted with the house and senate bills that will be read this session.

A few bills that could pertain to the Eastern Oregon region

House Bill 4030, if passed, will require individuals who commit a misdemeanor under wildlife laws that involves the taking or killing of wildlife could also be required to pay a fine to the State Fish and Wildlife Commission, in addition to any other fines or jail time.

Last November, Nathan Crouch was convicted as the third Elgin resident involved in a 2016 elk-poaching case, where he was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Dylan Crouch and Brianna Black also pleaded guilty. Both of their hunting privileges were suspended until May 2020, and they both served five days in jail and were sentenced to 36 months of bench probation.

If this bill were to pass, individuals involved in a situation like this would also have to pay a compensatory fine to the State Fish and Wildlife Commission.

House Bill 4036 would require school districts to allow homeschooled students and students who attend public charter schools to participate in interscholastic activities, regardless of whether such activities are governed by voluntary associations that administer interscholastic activities. In 2016, La Grande’s Don McLean said La Grande School District’s policy for online students not to participate in the high school’s teams was unfair. His sons were enrolled at the Baker Web Academy, an online charter school. The passing of this bill would change the policy that La Grande High School Principal Bret Baxter said has been in place for years, as well as affect every other school in Oregon.

At the request of Governor Kate Brown, House Bill 4143 has been declared an emergency, meaning if passed the law will go into effect immediately. The bill would require the director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services to study barriers to medication assisted treatment for substance use disorders, including addictions to opioids. The department director would also have to report and make recommendations to the legislative assembly.

Opioid use is a rising concern in Oregon. According to Oregon Health Authority data collected last year, roughly 268 out of every 1,000 residents in Union County are prescribed opioids, resulting in a higher percentage of hospitaliza tions due to opioid overdose than any of the surrounding counties.

Also at the request of Gov. Brown, House Bill 4145 would modify the definition of relationship statuses that pertain to types of court orders and misdemeanor convictions that cause a person to be prohibited from possessing any firearms. Senate Bill 719, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, allows families to petition the court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms. The bill states that if an individual feels that someone in the family –– the person has to be a direct relative or someone living in the household such as a mother, father, sister, brother, spouse or intimate partner –– might harm him/herself or someone else, the individual can file a petition with the court. The new bill if passed would modify the current bill, and could provide some clarification.

House Bill 4153, sponsored by Representative Greg Smith, would designate Eastern Oregon University as Oregon’s Rural University. Since the bill has only been filed, there is no indication at this point what difference it would make to the university, but according to the summary sponsors provided, the university is established in a rural area, and mostly accommodates rural students.

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Meanwhile, there are several bills that are sponsored by local representation. A sponsor is a member of the House or Senate that is listed –– potentially with other lawmakers –– who introduces a bill for consideration.

Some bills sponsored by Senator Bill Hansell

Senate Bill 1502 would allow for counties in Eastern Oregon with a population of less than 50,000 –– such as Union and Wallowa counties –– to approve land use applications on certain non-resource lands for industrial or commercial uses, that are inconsistent with zoning of non-resource land.

Senate Bill 1530, if passed, would establish a task force for public education planning. According to the bill’s summary if the bill were to be enacted, legislation would form a 16-person committee that would develop a 10-year plan for public education in kindergarten through grade 12. The committee would be focused on reducing class sizes, increasing teacher retention and providing stable funding. At the end of the year, the committee would submit a report at the end of the year that includes recommendations for change in legislation pertaining to their findings.

Senate Bill 1539, which would be enacted immediately if passed, would establish an Oregon Psychiatric Access Line program in Oregon Health and Science University. The access program would allow telephone access by primary care providers to psychiatric physician consultations.

Senate Bill 1557 would require community colleges, public universities and Oregon Health and Science
University to provide rights to students ordered to
federal or state active duty for 30 or fewer consecutive days, that would include, but are not limited to, the opportunity to withdraw from a course, but complete it at a later date, the right to be readmitted to a community college and the right to a continuation of any scholarships and grants awarded to the student previously.

House Bill 4046, if passed, would make it so that outside compensation of employees of a public university or community college is not included in an employee’s salary for the purpose of the Public Employees Retirement System. The Public Employees Retirement System is the retirement and disability fund for public employees in Oregon, established in 1946. Employees of the state, school districts and local governments are eligible for coverage.

House Bill 4051 would establish a task force of 14 members for rural education who would review data and research related to student outcomes in rural schools and assess the impact of
current state policy and laws in regard to rural schools, with the purpose of recommending changes to state policy.

Some bills sponsored by Representative Greg Barreto

House Bill 4092 would create and establish standards for the expansion of state airport on land zoned exclusively for farm use.

House Bill 4109 would direct the Department of Environmental Quality and State Forestry Department to study opportunities for state actions to promote carbon sequestration and to include in the study the consideration of regional approaches for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration.

House Bill 4116 would modify the exceptions to the offense of driving a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device.

Some bills sponsored by both Sen. Hansell and Rep. Barreto

House Bill 4056 would create a scholarship program, that would distribute civil forfeiture proceeds to family members of deceased or disabled public safety officers.

House Bill 4069 would make it so that a fixed percentage of certain forecasted video lottery revenues be transferred into counties for economic development. Currently Union County and the City of La Grande have money set aside for economic development, that does not come from lottery funds.

House Bill 4106, if passed, would require the State Department of Fish and Wildlife to biennially report to the Legislative Assembly regarding the estimated change in wolf population.

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