Legislature Ends on Low Note

The Taxpayer Association was at the Capitol during the last few hours of the Legislative Session and picked up these events, talk, news and rumors. Due to the closing day chaos, some of the information below could not be verified by Legislative Staff and authorities (until a later date).

1. Ethics Bill
2. Penny per-hour tax failed
3. Turning private employees public
4. Last ditch attempt to fund troopers
5. Senators Comment on the end

Ethics Bill Looking Unethical
– The final ethics bill, SB 10-C, turned out to be quite unethical! First of all, the committee completely ignored the recommendations of the commission that spent thousands of dollars and man hours trying to create. The bill was created by amending in surprise amendments with no public hearing or chance for the public to comment. The lawmakers could not bear to fund the new requirements (out of the 16% growth in state government) so they just changed the bill to requiring the State Ethics Commission (GSPB) to invoice all public officials and agency board members when they send out the required ethic forms. There was also a striking complaint that somehow union organizations are exempt from the ethics rule in SB 10c!!!

Payroll tax Bill
— HB 2575 the penny per hour payroll tax failed. This bill was awful and full of contradictions. Rep. Sal Esquivel noted that the bill was a tax (penny per hour) but they said it wasn’t a tax so the bill didn’t have to have the supermajority tax vote requirement to pass. The bill language referenced the tax as an insurance plan with premiums, yet this so-called insurance program violated Oregon state insurance laws on many levels. To get around this, the bill supporters said it wasn’t reallllllly an insurance program even, though the bill clearly states that it is.

Turning private employees public
– SB 858 helps to turn foster home caregivers into public employees. The bill stipulates that the governor gets to appoint the union — which somehow everyone in the building knows to be SEIU.

Last ditch attempt to fund troopers
In the remaining hours of Session Rep. Sal Esquivel was trying to get funding of more troopers out of the OLCC budget, as opposed to a new tax. The reasoning was to help pay for the troopers DUI efforts by the agency that regulates liquor.

Senators Comment:– Senator Jeff Kruse was noting that he and Sen. Beyer were part of the 400 club — senators who voted No 400 times simply because there were that many horrible pieces of legislation in the Session.
– Senator Whitsett said “We are supposed to say we did it for Oregon, not we did it to Oregon”. Sen. Whitsett was upset of the high number of fees saddled upon taxpayer families.
– Senator Frank Morse had a host of budget reform bills that passed including SB 1039 performance excellence standards and SB 474 which forces future legislatures to set-budget limits early in the Session. The bills received little attention, but will have a big impact on the future.