Oregon bills on ivory, pot and attacking religious freedoms

Jeff Kruse

With one-party rule in Oregon, we are seeing more loss of freedoms every week

by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)

At this point in the Session I thought I would show the track of three bills and the way they have been characterized.

The first one is Senate Bill 913 otherwise known as the ivory bill, which basically bans the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn products in Oregon. We received a large number of emails on this subject, all of them basically saying that elephants need the ivory more than humans. The goal of the legislation was, in theory, to stop the poaching activities in Africa, which would be a good goal.

Unfortunately this aspirational goal does not match up with reality. First the legal ivory trade has been going on for centuries. Second all of the activities in Oregon are part of the legal trade. Third this ban will have absolutely no impact on the poaching activities in Africa. What this bill will do is put some people who are involved in legal, sanctioned activities out of business. It should also be noted this bill bans the sale of mammoth ivory as well and the last time I checked they are still extinct. This is another example of form over substance. It was said on the Senate floor that we needed to do something, and I suppose this will make some people “feel better,” but that will not include those who will now be put out of business for no real reason.

The second bill is SB 844, which is the bill dealing with Oregon’s medical marijuana program. With the passage of Ballot Measure 91 a committee was formed to deal with the implementation of the legalization of marijuana. I am a member of that committee. It was decided by leadership that the first thing we should do was to clean up the medical program before taking on the recreational side, which was a good idea.

Initially there were a couple of workgroups on parts of the issue, but the workgroups for the main part of the bill consisted of two Senators and two Representatives, all of them Democrats. Last Friday the Republican members of the committee were given copies of the amended version of the bill (the -6 amendment), which was 89 pages long. It took me a couple of days to fully digest all of the provisions partially because, as with most complicated legislation, one has to look into references to other statutes.

While there are several areas of the bill I would like to see changed, I think the majority of the bill was well done and I am hoping things like a local option can still be added. One of the provisions I like the most is the section on tracking. Currently there is a significant amount of pot in the medical program unaccounted for and we believe it is ending up in the black market and some people are getting very rich on this trade. One of our goals is to stop this activity.

Over this week I have received several hundred emails in opposition to the -6 amendment. What I am reasonably sure of is those sending the emails did not read the bill. These emails were generated by the people who have become millionaires in this program, primarily because accountability would dry up their revenue source. So they scared a whole lot of patients into thinking we were “going to take away their medicine” in an attempt to derail the bill. This is a good example of how the internet can be a very powerful tool and should also be a lesson that if you are getting all of your information from one source you can be misled.

The third bill is House Bill 2307, otherwise known as the conversion therapy bill. This is in response to a somewhat questionable claim that some therapists are forcibly trying to convert kids with homosexual tendencies to a straight lifestyle. On some levels this is a bill about nothing, because licensed therapists have a code of conduct which would put them in violation of their license for such activities and could result in them losing their license. Because this bill has already passed in the House we assume it will pass in the Senate. It was up for a work session yesterday and we offered an amendment to create a religious exemption. We were told it already existed. We said, if that was the case, why not spell it out explicitly? Our amendment was rejected and the bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote. We did serve notice of a minority report and will try and get the religious exemption included on the Senate floor. This bill is just another in a series of bill attacking our freedoms and parental rights.

Last week I talked about our gradual loss of freedoms, and we are seeing more of it every week. While SB 913 and HB 2307 are not “major bills,” they are very much indicative of this trend. I hope people are starting to wake up to where one-party rule is taking our state.