SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Legislature will pay $1.1 million to eight victims of sexual harassment and hostile workplace behavior at the state Capitol under a settlement announced Tuesday by...
Oregon Senate President takes short medical leave
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney is taking a 10-day medical leave to recover from a flare-up of an existing eye condition.
Oregon prepares for next federal government shutdown
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Anticipating possible additional federal government shutdowns, Oregon's Senate president has prepared a bill that will allow federal employees who are working but not being paid to receive unemployment benefits, an aide said Monday.
Lisa Taylor, spokeswoman for Senate President Peter Courtney, said the bill that would alter state statutes is expected to get its first reading in the Senate Tuesday.
Oregon to help amid federal government shutdown
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With the federal government shutdown in its second month, officials in Oregon are looking to help beleaguered federal employees, possibly with millions of dollars in assistance, authorities said Wednesday.
Lawmaker proposes lowering Oregon’s blood alcohol limit
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Data show that 11 people were killed in Oregon in 2017 in crashes involving drivers who had a blood alcohol level between the current legal limit and a proposed lower limit.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports state Senate President Peter Courtney has proposed legislation to lower Oregon's 0.08 blood alcohol level limit to 0.05.
Oregon lawmakers discuss need to unite a divided state
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Leaders of the Oregon Legislature spoke Friday about the need to bridge divides that exist in the state, days ahead of the start of the 2019 session.
Speaking at The Associated Press Legislative Preview, lawmakers described an Oregon that is divided between urban and rural, Democrat and Republican.
Aide to Courtney resigns after report on harassment
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A top aide to Senate President Peter Courtney has resigned, citing an investigation into workplace harassment at the Oregon Capitol that was "disruptive."
Mediator to handle Oregon Legislature civil rights complaint
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries says it will pursue mediation over a civil rights complaint against the state Legislature, whose leaders were accused of allowing harassment to persist.
In a statement Friday the agency said representatives of the Legislature requested the conciliation process, which will be overseen by a neutral mediator. The first meeting will occur at the end of the month.
Oregon Legislature to release sexual harassment records
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — After losing an appeal, leaders in the Oregon Legislature said Wednesday they'll obey a judge's order to turn over documents to the state's labor commissioner, who is investigating sexual harassment at the Capitol.
Lawmakers ordered to comply with subpoenas over misconduct
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge has ruled that Oregon legislative leaders must comply with subpoenas for documents and testimony in the sexual harassment investigation at the Capitol.
Democrats face hurdles in Oregon despite supermajority
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The election gave Democrats a three-fifths supermajority in Oregon's Legislature with greater power to impose taxes, but the Senate president said Wednesday he'll still seek bipartisan support, noting that Republican lawmakers could doom revenue-raising bills if they sit out the votes.
State lawmakers to focus on mental health and incarceration
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — State lawmakers are vowing to take on the link between mental health problems and incarceration in the upcoming legislative session.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday that about half of all inmates locked up in Oregon have mental health issues, and that's partly because police officers have nowhere else to take them.
Commissioner: Officials ignored subpoenas over misconduct
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's State Labor Commissioner has accused legislators of ignoring subpoenas issued by his agency in its investigation of sexual harassment at the Capitol.
Oregon lawmakers battle labor commission’s #MeToo probe
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's Legislature on Friday battled the state labor commissioner's attempt to investigate sexual harassment in the Capitol, saying he lacks jurisdiction and that it would violate the privacy of those who have come forward with complaints.
The Legislature's 35-page response to Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian sets up a confrontation between the legislative and executive branches of state government.
Lawmakers hire firm to handle sexual harassment complaint
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers have voted to hire a Portland law firm to handle the Legislature's response to a complaint claiming top Democrats covered up sexual harassment at the Capitol.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports lawmakers voted Monday to hire Barran Liebman LLP.
Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson says the firm is not to charge over $100,000 for the work.
Sexual harassment scandal reignites at Oregon Capitol
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A Democratic leader of the Oregon Legislature rejected a call Thursday by the Republican candidate for governor to step down amid a sexual harassment scandal that cost one state senator his job and was reignited when a top official filed a complaint against legislative leadership.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's labor commissioner on Wednesday accused political leaders in the Legislature and officials in the state Capitol of permitting "a generally hostile environment based upon sex."
The complaint is among the latest in the #MeToo wave of sexual misconduct allegations against men in power to hit Oregon's Legislature and many other statehouses nationwide. It started with an expose last year of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Formerly a state representative, now a senator, Winston's Dallas Heard was sworn in to his new post in Salem Tuesday.
Freelance journalist Dick Hughes was there and captured the event on a series of videos.
Oregon Supreme Court Justice Thomas Balmer swears in Heard as the new senator for Senate District 1 during a ceremony in the Oregon Senate chamber in Salem:
A few dozen students from across Lane County met with state legislators Thursday morning to share their thoughts and concerns about school curriculum, culture and challenges.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With the short 2018 legislative session behind them, Oregon politicians are already looking forward to pushing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions during next year's long session.
After the session ended on Saturday, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said at a news conference with Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, that capping carbon emissions will be a priority for the long 2019 legislative session.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's Legislature ended its 2018 session on Saturday after nearly a month that saw additional gun controls, an attempt to curb opioid abuse and a remedy to prevent losses to state coffers from the federal tax overhaul.
However, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions was among measures that failed.
Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, said that was one of her biggest disappointments.
The Latest: Oregon Legislature adjourns for the year
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's Legislature ended its 2018 session on Saturday, wrapping up an almost month-long session that saw additional gun controls, an attempt to curb opioid abuse and a remedy to prevent losses to state coffers from the federal tax overhaul.
However, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions was among measures that failed.
The legislative session, which during even-numbered years can last a maximum of 35 days, started Feb. 5 and ended Saturday.
Legislative leaders ask for review of harassment policies
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The leaders of the Oregon House and Senate are asking for a review of laws and policies about workplace harassment at the Capitol.
House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney, both Democrats, on Thursday said they had made the request to the Oregon Law Commission. In a joint statement they said the review "will give us an outside perspective on how we can do better."
Lawmakers advance tax proposal after removing breaks
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The top legislator in Oregon's state Senate said he supports a stripped-down proposal to partially disconnect the state's tax law from last year's federal tax overhaul after legislators increased the amount of money the proposal would raise by removing breaks for individuals and businesses.
Student asks lawmakers to help pay for Salem shelter
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A Salem high school student has asked Oregon lawmakers to help him open a shelter for homeless youth.
The Statesman Journal reports that McKay High senior Raul Marquez said in a letter that he has raised about $125,000 for a shelter in the capital city, and needs another $275,000.
Bill to amend Oregon Constitution lands in health committee
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The president of Oregon's Senate on Wednesday told a committee headed by a retired nurse who's bullish on public health care to consider a bill that asks voters to amend the state Constitution to make health care a fundamental right.
Oregon Legislature faces likely budget shortfall
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's Legislature faces a likely budget shortfall as it prepares for the 2018 session that starts next week, the Senate president said on Monday.
Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said at an Associated Press forum that the Legislature "got a break" because voters last week passed Measure 101, which imposes a tax on hospitals and health insurers to help pay for Medicaid for low-income residents.
Ore. voters poised to have say on national popular vote bill
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Senate President Peter Courtney has repeatedly blocked a bill that would permit Oregon to give all seven of its electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote during presidential elections.
But that is poised to change at next month's legislative session.
Courtney has said he would allow the Senate to vote on a popular-vote bill only if Oregon voters have the final say on the matter.
Oregon lawmakers, lobbyists get sexual harassment training
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The intense national focus on sexual misconduct came to Oregon's capital this week, when lawmakers were given a training session on harassment and how to report it.
For the first time, the training was also offered to executive branch employees, lobbyists and others who work in the Capitol, said Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. Previously, it was required for legislators and legislative employees.
Apparently, Roseburg Sen. Jeff Kruse has a hard time listening.
When a female lawmaker complained he had touched her breast, her thigh, hugged her and kissed her cheek, the Legislature’s top lawyer and human resources administrator sat Kruse down and told him to stop. Other colleagues told him to his face that his actions were inappropriate or witnessed his behavior and chastised him. Yet Kruse kept on touching.
Oregon Sen. Jackie Winters selected as Republican Leader
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republicans in the Oregon Senate have chosen Sen. Jackie Winters to be their new leader.
The 80-year-old who represents Salem becomes the first black person to lead an Oregon legislative caucus.
She's one of the longest-serving members of the state Senate, having first been elected in 2003. She had earlier been a member of the House.
Response from Senate president’s office minimal in Kruse video incident
After learning it was Senate President Peter Courtney's chief of staff who told police about a YouTube video in which Sen. Jeff Kruse appears to be masturbating, The News-Review reached out to Courtney's office for an explanation via phone and email, and received a one sentence emailed response. The questions remained mostly unanswered.
It was Sen. Peter Courtney’s chief of staff who contacted police about a YouTube video that appeared to show Sen. Jeff Kruse masturbating, Oregon State Police records show.
The records, obtained by The News-Review Thursday morning, also show Kruse gave a different explanation to police than he did to the news media about the events that led to the video being posted online.
A retired Roseburg High School drama teacher has started a MoveOn.org petition asking Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Senate to remove Sen. Jeff Kruse from office.
Oregon Sen. Jeff Kruse was warned in March 2016 “to not touch women at work. Period,” according to Senate President Peter Courtney, and yet Kruse’s behavior has “gone unchanged.”
Senate president’s letter suggests Kruse warned previously about touching women
In a letter dated Friday, Oct. 20, state Senate President Peter Courtney told Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, he was not to touch women at work.
Courtney wrote that Kruse had been warned in March about touching women at work, and that the behavior remained unchanged. He wrote that two new incidents had been brought to his attention.
Longtime Oregon state senator is warned not to touch women
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A longtime Oregon state senator has been warned bluntly by the Senate president not to touch any women following complaints of inappropriate contact.
"Let me very clear," says a letter from Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney to Sen. Jeff Kruse, a Republican. "Women in the Capitol do NOT want you to touch them."
Sen. Sara Gelser has named Sen. Jeff Kruse as the person who allegedly inappropriately touched her. She told The Oregonian Monday that it had been happening for years.
Kruse, R-Roseburg, told The News-Review he doesn't recall giving Gelser anything more than a side hug. He said that doesn't seem inappropriate to him.
Kruse denies inappropriate behavior allegations, expects return to work soon
State Sen. Jeff Kruse said he expects he'll be back on his Senate committees in two weeks to a month, once everybody's "jumped through the appropriate hoops."
"This will all, I'm sure, be totally resolved well before the February session," he said.
Kruse made headlines around the country this weekend as word he'd been kicked off all committees circulated soon after a fellow senator suggested on Twitter that someone in the legislature had inappropriately touched her.
Oregon senator punished over alleged inappropriate touching
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon state senator was stripped of his committee assignments Friday because of "ongoing workplace issues," days after a senate colleague said she's been inappropriately touched by at least one member of the chamber.
Ads blast lawmaker’s stance on national popular vote bill
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A new ad campaign is targeting Senate President Peter Courtney for repeatedly blocking a bill that would permit Oregon to give all seven of its electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote during presidential elections.
National Popular Vote Inc., a California-based nonprofit, launched the ad campaign against Courtney on Thursday, the Statesman Journal reported (http://stjr.nl/2xQu8X7).
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — As an osprey soared overhead and boaters floated nearby, a pedestrian and cyclist bridge that connects green spaces in Oregon's capital city was dedicated Wednesday to the state Legislature's longest-serving member.
The Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge connects three riverside green spaces in Salem, and fulfills a dream long held by many supporters of Salem.
Oregon Senate president considers retirement
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Senate President Peter Courtney, one of the Oregon Legislature's most powerful members, has yet to decide on whether to stay on the job or retire.
The 74-year-old Democrat contemplates retirement after achieving career milestones such as being the most-tenured Senate president and longest-serving current lawmaker, with 33 years in office.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — In a party-line vote this week, Democrats on the House Rules Committee approved a controversial bill that would expand the mission of one of Oregon's most dysfunctional agencies — the Department of Energy — to include climate change policy.
Gov. Brown: No deal on tax reform this year
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon's two highest-ranking lawmakers say Democrats have conceded their months-long effort to convince at least two Republicans, one each in the House and Senate, to get on board with a scaled-back Measure 97 business tax that voters rejected last fall.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Senate President Peter Courtney said Friday there isn't enough support to successfully approve multi-billion dollar tax reforms on business, transportation and health care.
Correction: Popular Vote story
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In a May 19 story about a push in Oregon to have presidential races decided by a popular vote, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Preston Mann is the spokesman for the Senate Republican caucus. He is the spokesman for the House Republican caucus.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Democrats are planning to make a final push this year to have Oregon join almost a dozen states that want to sidestep the Electoral College and elect the U.S. president by popular vote.
Previous efforts to join the so-called National Popular Vote interstate compact have failed three times since 2009, with Democratic Senate President Peter Courtney blocking it in each instance.
This year, however, Courtney says he'll concede if Oregon voters have the final say.
New Oregon business taxes? Panel explores ideas
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Leaders in the Oregon Legislature are forming a temporary, bipartisan committee that'll spend the next several weeks hashing out a business tax-overhaul plan that may go to voters for final approval in a special election.