Rep. Olson Tackles Metal Theft & Cell-Phone Drivers

OregonCatalyst will be profiling what issues our lawmakers will be working on. This week we highlight State Rep. Andy Olson from Albany and some of the issues he has talked about. Here is Rep. Olson in his own words:

Cellular Phones

One of the concepts I have been working on deals with the use of cell phones while operating a vehicle. Many of you have shared that you have nearly been run off the road by a driver who was busy talking on a cell phone. There are a number of ways we can approach this: one is to restrict cell phone usage completely, another is to allow usage only involving a hands-free set up, and yet another is to target the driving behavior. I am more inclined to focus on the driving behavior, such as “Distracted Driving.” I would be interested in your thoughts along this line.

Metal Theft

As most of you are aware, metal theft has become a big business in our state. Farmers, utility companies, construction sites, and a host of other folks are losing various types of metals to thieves because of the great demand overseas. To combat this, I have worked with a group that is currently crafting a law that will hopefully curtail much of the theft. The bill does several things, but the two main things that it does are: 1) add the crime of Failure to Maintain Metal Records to the enhanced property crimes section of the Criminal Code, and 2) make any amount of taking metal with the intent to sell to a metal recycler or salvage company a Class C Felony.

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Posted by at 07:03 | Posted in Measure 37 | 13 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Rep Olson:
    As is often the case in government, if you simply focused on enforcing the laws we already have you would not need to waste time drafting new laws that will not be enforced.
    If we had an adequate number of Oregon State Police actually out enforcing the laws already on the books both of the problems you mention, along with many others, would be ameliorated.
    Can you help in that area?

  • Steven Plunk

    Rep. Olson,

    Jerry is right. We need fewer laws and better enforcement of the ones we have. The measure of a legislative session’s success is not the number of bills passed. Work on prioritizing state spending, no new taxes, and getting the timber industry back on line. Thanks for listening.

    • *Mr. Plunk*,

      While I appreciate your attempt at a “math lesson”. *You are wrong*. With not intention of condescension, please note the following:

      *There is a difference between rate and the total number of crimes. The rate is tied to the population.* You did give a nod to population change in your post but, you also picked a very narrow definition of crime (vehicle theft).
      Why would you do such a thing? Are you attempting to be misleading? Or did you narrow your definition out of a general ignorance.

      *Please see the following 3 sites which _all_ corroborate my information:*

      * (slides 4,5,6,7 & 8 )*


      Oregon doesn’t need more patrols, nor do Oregonians need a new tax to support unnecessary patrols.

      • Steven Plunk

        Mr. Ludt,

        I think you have my post confused with someone elses. I have made no mention of crime rates, population, or the relationship between the two. I think the fact that my name is above such a post is what you saw.

        I am very careful to be civil and courteous in my posts. The post to which you refer obviously is not.

        If you would please acknowledge the error I would appreciate it.

  • Rep. Olson,

    Clearly I must be missing something. The previous two posters argue that we need more police siting the familiar “we have enough laws on the books” refrain. I agree with you, we need to give our prosecutors the tools to prosecute. (*Much talk has been made*) of late (*regarding the increased need for more State police*), siting the much repeated statistic that (*we had twice as many State police in 1980*). (*While the thought of spending money on police*) to protect our life, liberty, and property (*gives me warm-fuzzies, the FACT is that Oregon’s crime rate has dropped 30% since then*).

    See: for crime statistics.

  • DeVietro

    I am much more worried about the metal theft than cell phones, people get distracted by all sorts of things so a distracted driving statue makes more sense than a cell phone ban.

    As for metal theft this is a huge issue that is directly connected to the meth epidemic. As a member of the private security industry I see this problem a lot. The solutions are not easy but I do believe that enforcement is the answer rather than more statues.

  • Steven Plunk

    With due repsect to Mr. Ludt I would point out metal theft is already a crime and making it a crime for scrap metal dealers to fail to keep proper records would simply impose another burden on state businesses. The likely result would be the addition of a state auditors office for the examination of metal records followed by bureaucratic prosecutions for simple record keeping mistakes. The law of unintended consequences would be somewhat vengeful with something like this.

    The legislature has decided on annual session and this sort of thing is the cause. Laws on top of laws that already address the problem. Theft is theft and receiving stolen property is receiving stolen property. Our legal system presently deals with these crimes.

    As for cell phones, should we outlaw the hands free systems since it has been proven they are as dangerous as hand held systems? Should we outlaw eating while driving? Should we outlaw speaking to others in the car because of the distraction? Outlaw noisy children in the car? You see it doesn’t stop because you can’t legislate wisdom into people or outlaw stupidity.

    Legislators sgould resist the urge to do something even if it’s wrong and concentrate on the most pressing issues and budgeting.

  • Jerry

    This Ludt guy must be in a dream world if he actually thinks crime has gone down in Oregon since 1980.
    Here is an example using his own stated year of 1980.
    In 1980 there were 9,406 reported vehicle thefts in Oregon.
    In In 2005 there were 19,262 reported vehicle thefts in Oregon.
    This may be another poster who did not do well in math methinks.
    It is so sad to have to remind these people so often when they are wrong, wrong, wrong – simply put, how do they survive? It would be hard for me to survive if I was so totally in the dark like they are.
    Sad, very sad indeed.
    True, during that time we had a 28% increase in population, but the vehicle thefts more than doubled, so even considering that crime has NOT GONE DOWN IN OREGON.
    With due respect and an offer of a free math lesson.

  • Jesse O

    Rep Olsen:
    Generally, I’d urge you to have some consistency. If you’re going to penalize drunk driving, penalize cell phone driving as well. Studies have shown they’re equally dangerous.

    if you’re going to focus on driver behavior, focus on it for all laws. But I think drunk driving laws help teach people that drunk driving is dangerous, which it is, and the same with cell phone driving.

    Traffic crashes kill hundreds of Oregonians each year, and injure tens of thousands, and cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.. They’re a serious issue, and you should seriously address it.

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