Crime Victims Hit Twice as Special Session Ends

Press release from Rep. Linda Flores 2-22-07:

(Salem) “Isn’t the protection of persons and property one of the highest priorities for the state? Isn’t this what we should be doing, protecting the public, locking up bad guys?” asked State Representative Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) during debate on the House Floor tonight over Senate Bill 1087. “I hear over and over from constituents who say, “˜look, if it means my car won’t get ripped off from a meth freak or my home won’t get broken into by a crack head, then I’m fine with having my tax dollars pay to build a few more prison beds.’ ”

Flores voted in favor of the measure, which passed 54-2, because she faces campaign rhetoric accusing her of being “˜soft-on-crime’. “For the record, I am not soft on crime. I do favor some level of mandatory minimum sentences for property criminals.”

SB 1087 will now be referred to the November ballot as a competing measure to Initiative Petition 40, which has tough new mandatory minimums for repeat property offenders. Flores said this move sends a bad message to the 150,000 voters who signed the petition for
IP 40 over the past year. “This is nothing more than an end-run around the initiative process.”¦
if we were really concerned about property crimes we would have enacted one of the legislative measures proposed last year,” explained Flores. “In fact, if SB 1087 is such a great deal, why don’t we just pass it into law right now? Why wait until November?”

Crime Victims United of Oregon (CVU) opposed SB 1087 because they had several of the same objections as Representative Flores. CVU was hit with two defeats today. In the final hours of the 2008 Special Legislative Session, House Bill 3633 failed to move out of the budget committee. The bill would have provided the necessary language to enact two ballot measures coming up for a vote in the May election to enhance rights for crime victims.

“Crime victims’ rights currently in the Oregon Constitution have been characterized by experts as “unenforceable rhetorical promises” These important measures make these rights enforceable and meaningful,” pointed out Flores. “We’ll have to redraft this legislation all over again next year and what’s worse, victims will have to wait at least another nine months before they can exercise their rights.”

Flores made this observation about the two bills, “it seems very hypocritical for this body to subvert the will of the voters by putting a rival crime measure on the ballot in November, but apparently we don’t have the political stones to help victims get the rights they’re entitled to in May.” Flores has been a member of the House Judiciary Committee since 2005.