Capitol Currents

Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon. Chris Lehman is the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network. Contact Chris at 503-689-1182 or clehman@opb.org. On Twitter @capitolcurrents.

Oregon Senate Republicans Choose New Leader

Nov 15, 2017
Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The Oregon Senate Republican caucus chose a new leader for the first time in more than a decade Wednesday. Jackie Winters, R-Salem, won a closed-door election to lead the 13-member Senate GOP delegation.

Kitzhaber Agrees To $1,000 Civil Ethics Penalty

Nov 15, 2017
Oregon Department of Transportation

Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has agreed to pay a $1,000 civil penalty to the state of Oregon for ethics violations. Kitzhaber agreed to the penalty after a review by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

Oregon Eclipse Costs Top $260,000

Nov 14, 2017
Rajah Bose

This summer’s total solar eclipse in Oregon came with a price tag. The Oregon Military Department is requesting an extra $260,000 to pay for the costs of managing crowds during the August 21 event.

Inciweb

The wildfires are largely out in places like the Columbia River Gorge and the south Oregon coast, but the economic fallout continues in many nearby Oregon communities. That was the message Tuesday during a meeting of the Oregon House Committee on Economic Development.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said more bad news could be coming for the agency he’s led since August. Allen made the statement to a legislative panel in Salem Monday, but he gave no details of what the revelations could be.

Adam850 / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/yawme9ox

What would it look like if Oregon’s largest public universities fell into private control? It’s an idea that surfaced recently as a possible way to save the state money. But the people who floated the suggestion also acknowledged that it’s a bit of a long shot.

Joe Wolf / Flickr - tinyurl.com/z8o86qr

An Oregon lawmaker said she’ll introduce a bill next year to clarify that consensual sex between teenagers does not need to be reported to state authorities.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

A task force appointed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has released a series of possible options for shrinking the state’s public pension deficit. The options include a lengthy list of ways to generate cash through a combination of one-time and ongoing changes.

The list includes some eye-catching proposals such as privatizing the state’s public universities that are unlikely to gain much traction politically.

An Oregon state representative is awaiting word from the Trump administration about whether he’ll receive a job that would require him to leave the Legislature. Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, said Thursday he’s in the running to be the head of rural development in Oregon for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Two of the longest serving members of the Oregon Senate are stepping down from their seats.

Oregon Legislature

Oregon state Sen. Sara Gelser said a fellow lawmaker sexually harassed her at the Oregon Capitol. Gelser, D-Corvallis, first raised the issue publicly on Twitter last week, but initially said she would not name the lawmaker in question. 



Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Starting in January, Oregonians in the market for a new electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle could be offered a significant incentive: a taxpayer-funded rebate of up to $2,500.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The federal government has approved a key waiver that will allow Oregon to proceed with a program designed to blunt the cost of health insurance plans purchased on the individual market.

City of Sherwood

Voters in the Portland suburb of Sherwood, Oregon, have voted overwhelmingly to remove two city council members from office.

Cacophony / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/jk2a8tl

In January, Oregon voters will decide whether to overturn a new tax on hospitals and other health-care providers. Secretary of State Dennis Richardson's office ruled this week that opponents of the tax collected more than enough signatures to put the repeal on the ballot.

Health Care Tax Qualifies For Oregon Ballot

Oct 16, 2017
Shaundd / tinyurl.com/jy9ukrb

Oregonians will be voting on a tax on hospital and health insurance companies next January. The Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced Monday that opponents of the tax had successfully gathered enough valid signatures to force a vote.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Voters in one of Oregon’s largest counties will have the chance this November to dramatically reshape their county government. The question before Douglas County residents is whether or not to approve a home rule charter.

Oregon Governor Replaces Head Of Education Agency

Oct 11, 2017
Cacophony / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/jk2a8tl

The person in charge of the Oregon Department of Education stepped down Wednesday.

Campaign photo

A potential Republican candidate for Oregon governor said Tuesday she won’t seek the state’s top office after all. Lori Chavez-DeRemer is the long-time mayor of Happy Valley, a Portland suburb.

Red-Light Cameras In Oregon Can Now Ticket Speeders

Oct 9, 2017
Derek Jensen / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/lmd624r

A new law in Oregon allows municipalities to use their red-light cameras to ticket speeders, too.

Drivers won’t be fined unless they’re going at least 11 miles per hour over the speed limit. But the speeding tickets can be issued regardless of whether the light was red, yellow, or green at the time.

Oregon Prison Population Forecast Trends Downward

Oct 9, 2017
Thomas Hawk / Flickr - tinyurl.com/ha5h3wp

The projected incarceration rate of Oregonians is expected to fall by 11 percent over the next decade. That’s according to the semi-annual prison population forecast issued by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The Oregon Department of Revenue is getting ready to distribute $85 million in cannabis tax revenue to cities, counties and several state agencies. It’s the first distribution since a tax on recreational cannabis kicked in last year.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

A group trying to overturn a recently created health care tax turned in more than enough signatures Thursday to send the issue to Oregon voters.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

An Oregon task force is recommending that future redistricting be done by an independent commission. The task force was created by Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

A new law that takes aim at distracted driving goes into effect October 1 in Oregon.

Oregon Judicial Department

Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau will step down at the end of this year. He announced his retirement in a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

Equifax

The credit reporting agency Equifax doesn’t have to notify the estimated 1.7 million Oregonians who may have been impacted by the company’s massive data breach.

Oregon Governor's Office

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she requested a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his visit to Portland Tuesday. But she says she never got a response from Sessions or his staff.

Cacophony / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/jk2a8tl

An Oregon legislative panel came up empty Monday in its efforts to grill three former Oregon Health Authority employees. The committee wanted to ask about their role in a plan to discredit an Oregon health care nonprofit.

Dori / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/hjdn8fs

Supporters of a so-called “cap and invest” proposal are laying the groundwork for the Oregon Legislature to take on the issue next year.

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