Sen. Jeff Kruse – Oregon Legislative Update

Jeff Kruse

Sen. Jeff Kruse

This was a very busy week for committees in both the House and Senate, as Thursday was the deadline for bills to be passed out of committees in the Chambers of origin.  It will take the system a bit of time to catch up to all of the paperwork, but by sometime this coming week you should be able to go on OLIS and find the fate, to date, of all bills.  It should be noted that passage in one Chamber doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything.  A bill could be significantly changed in the other Chamber or no action could be taken on the bill and it would die.   Additionally, some bills were sent to the Rules Committee, which can take action on bills in the Chamber of origin any time before the end of the Session.

 Bad Gun Bills

Unfortunately, the bills still drawing the most attention are the gun bills.  SB 347, SB 699, SB 700 and SB 796 all passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on a straight party line vote with Senator Close and me voting no.  At this point I do not know when they will come to the Senate floor for a vote, but I am 99.9% sure they all will fail.  It is interesting how things get labeled.  The proponents call these some “common sense” changes.  Keeping in mind the focus has been on incidences like Sandy Hook, the reality is none of these bills would have had any impact on that event or any event like it.  Criminals and those intent on doing this sort of thing ignore the law anyway.

Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants

Another bill that has come up with an interesting label is SB 833, which is the bill to give drivers cards to undocumented people.  That bill is now being called the “Oregon Safe Roads Act”.  Not a whole lot of truth in advertising in such a label.  The reality is the bill is a lot better than what it started out to be as to what these cards could be used for, but it still ignores some basic issues.  In reality the immigration issue can’t be adequately dealt with state by state.  It appears Congress may be getting closer to a legislative package and they may actually pass something this time.  I think it would be more prudent to wait for the federal law rather than do something unilaterally.  SB 833 will pass, but without my support for a wide variety of reasons.

PERS Reform and New Taxes

When we started this Session the target date for adjournment was June 28.  Assuming that date we are now at the halfway point.  By law we can go until July 15.  At that point we would have to call ourselves back in a few days at a time or the Governor could call us back in for an undetermined time.  There are several issues currently bringing the June 28 date into question, the two biggest being PERS reform and new revenue.  Unfortunately, there has so far been very little conversation between the House and Senate on either issue, and at this time we are a long way apart as to what solutions should be considered.  The House Speaker, Tina Kotek, has said she will not move from her position.  The House Democrats have said state PERS reform is not a priority for them and they want to balance the budget with new revenue.  They have even suggested spending the rainy day fund in this biennium.  My hope is they will become more reasonable in their position.  Until they do I fear there may be no end in sight.