Sen. Boquist: Sci-balloon over Oregon, abortion lawsuit, more

By Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist
Highlights, excerpts from Sen. Boquist newsletter

– Camp Creek Fire allowed to continue to burn in the Bull Run Watershed, the main source of Portland’s water supply.

– Senators fighting Measure 113 and advocating for the First Amendment rights of those who are elected, and that of the people. As one senator said, “Measure 113 allows the partisan Senate President, who is currently a Democrat, to declare an absence by any member “excused” or “unexcused”. This power was used in a capricious, vindictive and retaliatory fashion against Republicans in the 2023 legislative session.” Make your opinion known in this random poll.

– Bend City Councilor announces bid for Sen. Tim Knopp’s seat. Curious.

– It turns out the concept of the “Chinese Spy Balloon” is not a big deal anymore, as a “science balloon” is floating over NW Oregon.

– Oregon Capital Chronicle reports on Oregon Right to Life suing state insurance regulators, directly targeting an Oregon law that requires insurance companies to cover abortion and contraceptives: “The suit seeks a federal ruling ordering the state to make an exception for Oregon Right to Life, requiring any insurance company that provides a health plan to the organization to accommodate the organization’s religious beliefs… The complaint also asks for a ruling blocking the state from enforcing its mandate on any insurer, and such a ruling could clear the way for other companies to block coverage for abortion and some contraception on health insurance plans.” See the complaint here.

– Oregon has a serious drug problem.Despite Measure 110’s shiny promises of drug rehabilitation, the realities of legalized meth and heroin in Oregon has created an all-out nightmare. The reason Measure 110 passed? Thank out-of-state money from a drug “alliance” in New York for meddling in a state across the country. Democrats were dazzled by funds from New York and thought that this state would be the perfect place to experiment with drug legalization, effectively treating the addicted population like lab rats, except worse, because lab rats at least live in a lab and not on the streets.

– Oregon voters are souring on Measure 110 with many in favor of a complete repeal, new poll finds. This article includes stories from real people in Portland who are unhappy with the legalization of hard drugs. A nonprofit is now paying for some elected officials to visit Portugal and find ideas for solutions for this self-inflicted drug crisis.

– It is fascinating how it has become “politically correct” for the Democrats in power to shift away from touting nightly lawlessness, open drug use, and daily street sleeping, realizing that a gross downtown Portland corridor doesn’t help their bottom line.

– Along the same lines, as reported by the Oregonian, drug smuggling has become a more prevalent issue in state prisons. If people are addicted to substances outside of jail, the problem won’t suddenly evaporate the second they are booked. In the article: “Two years ago, the Oregon Department of Corrections began offering buprenorphine to prisoners suffering from opioid addiction when they were within 13 months of release, Bajpai said.” This is already not the way to handle drug addiction in prison. If people are coming to prison with longer sentences than a one year and a month, they are looking at the excruciating experience of getting clean from an all-consuming opioid addiction without any tapering assistance like from buprenorphine.  It continues: “This year, the Legislature set aside nearly $8 million to pilot more comprehensive treatment programs — including giving buprenorphine to prisoners at any stage of their incarceration — at the Oregon State Penitentiary and Snake River Correctional Institution.” This is a good first step because the government SHOULD be doing something.

– Even before 2020 and the hopelessness and lawlessness that came with it, a news organization released a documentary called Seattle is Dying, showcasing the horrific homelessness and addiction crisis in that city. The documentary also showed the success of a detoxifying program in Rhode Island, that was subsequently mentioned in the above Oregonian article: “Nationally, an increasing number of states are introducing or expanding treatment that involves medication used to treat prisoners who are addicted to opioids, said Kempf, who previously led the Idaho Department of Corrections. Data so far is promising, he said. Rhode Island, the first to offer the treatment in 2016, saw a significant drop in fatal overdoses the following year among prisoners who had been recently released, according to one medical journal.” This is old news, but Oregon is just catching on.

– Gov. Tina Kotek has a “secret” panel working on prison issues.

– The Oregon Innocence Project successfully freed Jesse Lee Johnson from prison after spending more than two decades on death row. This case from 1998 could potentially be a case of racial profiling because his release from jail was possible “because of an eyewitness account from one of the victim’s neighbors, who was never interviewed by police or Johnson’s original defense team. The neighbor said the man she saw running from the victim’s apartment after the murder was not Johnson.” There appears to be “strings attached” with this release, as OPB reports: “Rich Wolf, another of Johnson’s current attorneys, said Marion County prosecutors working the case contacted him Tuesday and offered to dismiss Johnson’s first-degree murder charge without prejudice, meaning they could prosecute him again in the future if new evidence surfaces.”

– Oregon is part of a 50-state request for Congress to study how artificial intelligence can exploit children and pass laws to prevent such harms. As with most things powered by the internet, there is a dark side, however, AI isn’t all bad, as detailed in a Brookings Institute essay from 2018.