Legislature’s misplaced priorities

Oregon Capitol in Salem – Kitzhaber resigns – Feb 13, 2015 (Oregon Catalyst)

Some of the High Priority “Budget Needs” Oregon’s Legislators Seem To Think We Need (or don’t need)
By William MacKenzie

SB 5506 – $100,000 to the Criminal Justice Commission to study the advantages and disadvantages of decriminalizing the crime of prostitution and provide a report on the study to the Emergency Board and relevant interim committees related to judiciary, no later than September 2024.

HB 2757 – A new tax that Salem politicians want added to Oregonians’ phone bills to fund the state’s new 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline. Establishes 9-8-8 Trust Fund for improving the statewide coordinated crisis system. Imposes tax of 40 cents per line per month on consumers and retail subscribers who have telecommunications service or interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service and 40 cents per transaction for prepaid telecommunications services, to pay for crisis services system. At least 44 other states have thus far funded their call centers without adding a new tax on consumers. A tax of $.03, not $.50, should suffice to cover basic costs of the 9-8-8 hotline.

SB 611 – Caps cap rent increases at no more than 10% annually, Oregon’s current rent cap limits yearly rent increases to a base of 7% plus consumer price index (CPI), which is set annually by the state’s Office of Economic Analysis. Because of inflation, the 2023 CPI was set at 7.6% which brought the total allowed increase to 14.6%. Bill would only be effective in years where CPI increases more than 3%.

HB 2426 – Would allow gas stations to make half of their pump units to be self-serve so Oregonians could stand out in the rain, wind and sun to pump their own gas.

HB 2004 – Would create a statewide ranked choice voting scheme for Oregon. Establishes ranked choice voting as voting method for selecting winner of nomination for and election to offices of President of United States, United States Senator, Representative in Congress, Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Attorney General. Would require all voters to have a high level of information about all the candidates in order to choose preferences. If you only vote for the candidate you prefer and don’t rank all the rest, you are effectively disenfranchised if your candidate doesn’t come in first in the initial ballot count. Jeff Jacoby, an award-winning columnist for the Boston Globe, calls the RCV process “democracy on the Rube Goldberg model”, where ideas that supposedly simplify people’s lives wreak havoc instead.

HB 2049 – Allocates just $4.9 million for a proposed Cybersecurity Center of Excellence – about one-third of the original request from a joint legislative technology committee, intended to help government agencies monitor cybersecurity, train specialists and respond to data breaches like the one at Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles affecting 3.5 million Oregonians. The League of Oregon Cities, which represents municipalities of all sizes in the state, is concerned about the limited funding.