Sen. Bill Hansell

One of the terms I was unfamiliar with when I was elected to the State Senate six years ago was the Latin phrase “sine die.” In order to adjourn the Legislative Session and go home, a Sine Die Resolution has to pass in both chambers. You Latin scholars might be better able to define the term, but the definition I found is “without any firm date being designated.” So, when you “sine die,” it is over. This is what the Senate did at 3:45 p.m. March 3. The House followed an hour or so later. I am now home in Athena.

I have appreciated the opportunity The Observer gave me to share my thoughts in a couple of columns over the past 30 days, as the Short Session moved through the legislative process. As I reflect back on what did or did not happen, I feel it was a productive session. I sometimes use the title of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti-western — “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” — to describe any legislative session. All three categories are always present.

Among the good this session was the opportunity to work with Rep. Greg Barreto. He is as hard a worker as there is in either chamber. His rise to leadership in the House Republican Caucus attests to his leadership ability. It is a pure pleasure to work with Greg, and we support each other to get things done for the citizens in our neck of the woods.

Each Senator was allowed to introduce only one bill in the short session, but we could sign up on our colleague’s bills as a chief co-sponsor, which I did. I chose three I felt were especially significant.

I have been working to make strangulation in a domestic violence situation a felony. In SB 1562 we accomplished it. For the first time in Oregon, all strangulation will be classified as a felony. I believe a lot of lives will be saved.

SB 1517 provides hunting tags for veteran organizations such as Divide Camp in Wallowa County for disabled veterans. Whatever we can do for these men and women who were injured serving our country, I will be supporting such efforts.

HB 4153 designates EOU as Oregon’s Rural University. It will be a big help in branding and recruiting.

Concerning the budget, we had some significant investments for our area. EOU will receive $9 million for a new field house that will use laminated timber in its construction. It is a win-win for both the university and the state’s wood products industry. One other investment at EOU is the track and field complex. We increased the previous allocation to $1.18 million, which will complete the project.

Two other funding allocations were $500,000 for eastside rate relief for forest fire protection, and $10,000 to put up sex trafficking phone helpline posters in restrooms along the interstates. This funding is connected to SB 375, my legislation from last session. Ladd Marsh rest area will be one of the rest stops on I-84 to receive the posters.

My “big and ugly” was all the work that went into my one bill, SB 1556, to protect community banks and help them offer mortgage loans to homebuyers. It died in the House. Speaker Kotek refused to hear it and assigned it to a dead committee in the final hours. Sometimes you just wonder why.

If you have any issues or needs, feel free to call my Salem office. My legislative director, Branden Pursinger, works full-time for everyone in District #29. We want to help if we can. My Salem office phone number is 503-986-1729. And with that, I will “sine die.”