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Many bills beat deadline and live on in Legislature

Under legislative rules, most bills not yet passed from one chamber to another are now dead for the session.

By Claire WithycombE

Capital Bureau

Published on April 20, 2017 9:07AM

SALEM — Tuesday was the deadline in the Oregon Legislative Assembly for policy bills to move out of the chamber where they originated, or into one of a handful of key committees.

With the exception of bills assigned to bicameral committees — or to those in the rules, revenue or ways and means committees — bills that have not been passed by either the House or the Senate are effectively dead for this session.

Legislators are still crafting a transportation package, which has not been assigned a specific bill. Yet-to-be written revenue and spending bills are similarly exempt from the deadline.

The following is a handful of significant legislation, and whether it met the deadline.

• Public pensions ­— In a narrow committee vote Monday, the Senate Workforce committee referred Senate Bills 559 and 560, which would change public employee benefits in an effort to bend the cost curve of the Public Employee Retirement System, to Ways and Means.

• GMOs — Companion bills that would have allowed local governments to regulate genetically modified crops are among the casualties midway through the session. Under state law, most local governments can’t restrict seed. House Bill 2739, which would allow landowners to sue biotech patent holders for the unwanted presence of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, on their land, was passed to House Rules Committee, which isn’t subject to an April 18 legislative deadline.

• Pay equity — HB 2005 would increase civil penalties for paying women and minorities less than others who do the same work. It passed out of the Oregon House 36-24 after extended debate. As a result of its passage out of the House, it met Tuesday’s deadline, and will be worked in the Senate Workforce Committee.

• Carbon emissions — SB 557, which would create a “cap-and-invest” system for pricing greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters and using the proceeds for things like transportation infrastructure projects. It still survives by way of referral to the Rules Committee, and subsequently, the Senate Business and Transportation Committee.

• Rent control — HB 2004, which would lift a statewide ban on rent control, has been a popular bill as Portland and other areas of the state struggle with a housing shortage during a time of strong population growth. It’s been criticized for failing to address the root of the housing problem here, but advocates say that it’s a short-term fix for a dire need. The bill has passed out of the House and still survives.

• Transitional leave — SB 935 would expand the maximum amount of time someone can be released from prison through the state’s short-term transitional leave program from 90 to 180 days, part of the state’s efforts to reduce the burden on the state prison system. It has been referred to Ways and Means.

• Child welfare — SB 942, which initially would have required the Department of Human Services to conduct a study on child safety, was replaced by an amendment that would require the agency — which has been beset with child safety issues — to improve how it makes findings in investigations of child abuse. It’s now in Ways and Means.

•Guns — A series of senate bills that provoked emotional testimony at the Legislature Monday did not pass out of chamber, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get reintroduced through rules or through other revival mechanisms. Senate Bill 868, for example, which would create a court process to prevent someone at risk of suicide or harming someone else from possessing a gun, was instead inserted as an amendment to another bill that did make it out of committee Tuesday.


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