Key deadline means end of the road for hundreds of bills
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Hundreds of proposed bills in the Oregon Legislature died after lawmakers pushed to move other legislative priorities in advance of a key deadline.
Some of the more controversial measures that met any end this session included proposals on gun safety, environmental regulations and marijuana use.
Legislators had until Tuesday to move their bills out of committee, either to the floor for a vote or to another committee for further consideration. Over a thousand bills were introduced since the beginning of session, and committees found themselves rushing to vote on hundreds on bills sometimes with little to no discussion.
Proposals that couldn’t get a vote are essentially doomed for this session, although there are some legislative loopholes lawmakers can still use if they wanted to revive the bill later. House Speaker Tina Kotek said most of the dead bills still needed more work before they could receive a vote. She added that there were simply “too many bills” introduced this year, which prevented lawmakers from effectively addressing them all.
Here are some of the measures that were scrapped:
A plan that would have paved the way for the creation of cannabis lounges went up in smoke, dealing a blow to the state’s budding marijuana industry.
Brandon Goldner, supervisor of Portland’s Cannabis Program, argued that the legalization of indoor cannabis lounges would provide a safe, regulated space for users to consume the drug. He said that tourists often visit Oregon to purchase recreational marijuana, but find they have no place to consume it.
Parents and public health officials raised concerns that cannabis cafes would normalize marijuana use among teens and weaken the state’s public health laws.
The proposal also would have allowed for the sale and consumption of marijuana at festivals and other events, something cannabis retailers claimed would generate more tax revenue and tourism for the state.
A representative for Sen. Lew Frederick, who sponsored the measure, said the bill died “seemingly because of opposition to the use of Cannabis itself among members.”
Lawmakers ditched a potential ban on the creation of new ‘megadairies,’ an idea proposed in response to a troubled operation that racked up hundreds of environmental violations.
The measure would have prevented building permits for new or expanded large dairies, defined as those with more than 2,500 cows. These dairies would have also been classified as industrial operations instead of farms, which would block the operations from receiving regulatory exemptions for farmers.
Farmers and megadairies, including Tillamook, came out in full force to oppose the bill, saying it would be a blow to business at a time when dairy prices are already plummeting.
The proposal was floated as a response to the shuttered Lost Valley Farm in Boardman, Oregon, which was permitted to have 30,000 cows over the objections from about 4,000 residents who raised concerns over environmental impacts on air and water. In less than two years, the operation was slapped with $200,000 in fines for more than 200 environmental violations.
“After the Lost Valley disaster, with millions of gallons of animal waste still sitting at the site, we expected more of our elected officials in Salem,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety.
Two radically different approaches to gun safety were scrapped as lawmakers decided to forge ahead with another approach to tackle the topic.
One plan would have enabled school districts to offer firearm safety courses to first graders. The course wouldn’t use any real firearms or live ammunition but would instead teach children what to do when encountering an unsecured firearm, among other things.
A sweeping gun control package proposed by a youth-led gun reform organization was also rejected. Students for Change, a local youth-led group formed after the deadly shooting a Parkland, Florida. The measure, introduced by the Oregon-based Students for Change, would limit the amount of ammo a person could buy, outlaw high-capacity magazines and require state residents to obtain gun permits before purchasing firearms.
Lawmakers are considering another gun reform package that includes some elements of the student-driven proposal, such as firearm storage requirements and lengthened background checks.
Other rejected measures included a plan addressing hiring discrimination against seniors, a measure lowering the legal blood alcohol driving limit from 0.08 to 0.05, and proposals to limit where and how pesticides can be applied.
Follow Sarah Zimmerman at @sarahzimm95