e-Bulletin: PERS, Gun Safety Bills, Scam Alerts & More


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-417, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
Email: sen.floydprozanski@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/prozanski
e-Bulletin                     April-May 2013

If you're having trouble viewing this message, please visit my legislative web page at http://www.leg.state.or.us/prozanski/, click on "News" in the lower left-hand column and scroll down.

Dear friends,

    We have begun the second half of the 2013 Legislative session. April 18 was the deadline to pass bills out of the chamber where they originated. Several of my bills were casualties of the deadline, but others continue to advance. Please see below for updated statuses and summaries of my bills that continue to advance.

    I trust that you have been enjoying this summer-like weather. Unfortunately, it means that fire season has [unofficially] begun. Our current weather conditions and fuel moisture levels support fire, and a few have already flared. So please be unseasonably careful when burning debris, dousing campfires, etc.

    Below you will find information on:

        - PERS Reform
        - Local Control over GMO Regulation
        - Gun Safety Legislation
- Status Updates on Some of My Bills
Cottage Grove Nighttime Lane Closures
        - OSU Extension Welcomes Back Lane County's 4-H Program
        - Scam Alert: Ticket Fine Collection Con
        - Scam Alert: Counterfeit Money Con
        - Door-to-Door Sales Spring into Action
        - Fruit-damaging Fly Expected to Hit Record Populations this Year

    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail.

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

PERS Reform

Last month, the House voted in favor of SB 822, which the Senate earlier approved. SB 822 reforms the Public Employees Retirement System, reducing costs to employers system-wide by an estimated $810 million in the 2013-15 biennium and reducing the system's unfunded liability by $3.2 billion. The savings are a key part of the co-chairs' budget plan to increase funding for K-12 schools by $1 billion in the next two years.

    The 2008 stock market crash wiped out $17 billion from the fund that supports the Public Employee Retirement System, causing employer rates to spike and putting pressure on public budgets across the state. Prior to the 2008 stock market crash, PERS was fully funded. The actuarial analysis concludes that the combined elements of SB 822 will reduce PERS's unfunded liability by $3.2 billion.

Senate Bill 822 lowers the annual cost-of-living adjustments for retirees on a sliding scale. It maintains the current 2 percent rate for those receiving less than $20,000 a year and gradually reduces the rate to 0.25 percent for retirement income above $60,000. The measure also eliminates the tax reimbursement for retirees living out of Oregon. An actuarial analysis predicts the changes in SB 822 will result in $460 million in savings to employers like school districts, counties, cities and the state in the next biennium. The bill further includes a budget note that directs the PERS Board to undertake administrative actions that would further reduce employer contributions for an additional system-wide savings of approximately $350 million.

We expect that any changes to PERS made in 2013 will be challenged in court. Earlier this year, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum issued an opinion stating that a graduated cost-of-living adjustment like the one in SB 822 would have a better chance of surviving judicial scrutiny than other proposals.

    Various a
lternative proposals were put forward, offering a "scatter shot" approach in hopes that one would stick in the courts. These alternatives would likely have caused a flood of immediate retirements – as many as 9,000 in the next few months. This would increase the costs to PERS and cause a labor shortage in critical state services. Those alternatives, which can’t get the votes in the Legislature or hold up to a constitutional challenge in the courts, would save nothing.

Local Control over GMO Regulation

I've received a lot of correspondence about SB 633, which would preempt local regulation of seed in favor of state regulation.
I oppose the bill, voting "no" in committee and the full Senate. I also spoke to my concerns over the bill in committee.

    At this time, I don't see a need for the state to preempt local control of GMO regulation and to prohibit local decision-making in this area. I'm concerned that this is a preemptive move to disallow what the citizens in Jackson County have already been working towards, with a vote scheduled this month. Additionally,
I foresee farmers being pitted against one another; suing each other because cross-pollination ruins certain high-value crops. I have not seen or heard a compelling overriding issue to cause us to preempt at this time.

Gun Safety Legislation

Below are summaries of the five gun safety bills that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. There continues to be a lot of misinformation out there and I want to ensure that you have the accurate language of the bills as passed out of committee. All of these measures have been amended from the original bills as presented to the Judiciary Committee, based on the four-hour public hearing that was held and other feedback we've received. (To view the in their current state, click on the bill numbers below.)

     As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as a gun owner for over 40 years, I believe that the first four bills (SBs 699, 700, 713 and 796) are reasonable and provide common-sense gun safety regulations. The fifth bill, Sen. Burdick's SB 347, is reasonable because it will allow local communities to have the authority to openly discuss gun regulation in their K-12 schools.

    On Monday, the President of the Senate, Peter Courtney, exercised his authority to send four of the bills, SBs 347, 700, 713, and 796, to the Senate Rules Committee. (SB 699 had already been subsequently referred to the Senate Rules Committee.) These bills were passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor with a do-pass recommendation. Even though the President has the authority to add a subsequent referral to a bill passed to the floor by a committee, it is not frequently done. At this point, Sen. Courtney has stated that he is going to appoint a workgroup of four senators to see if greater consensus can be reached by the Senate. I've been told that I will be appointed to the workgroup. My goal is to get the bills to the floor for a vote. 

    SB 699 - concealed carry in public buildings:
The bill will require CHL holders to carry their gun concealed in public buildings. They will no longer be able to open carry in public buildings. Under current law, a CHL holder can open carry a ready-to-fire, fully-loaded semi-automatic weapon into most public buildings.

    SB 700 - extending background checks to all private transfer of firearms, except between certain family members:
Current law requires background checks at gun shows, including private transactions and at retail stores. In 2012, this requirement resulted in more than 2,400 transactions being denied due to past criminal history or mental health issues. SB 700 closes the loophole on other private transactions. By requiring background checks in all private transactions and not just at gun shows, we will reduce the number of criminals getting guns through private transactions.

    SB 700 provides an exception for private transactions between family members, unless the family member who is going to transfer the gun knows or should have known that  the other family member is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.

The bill also clarifies that background checks are only required when a firearm is sold, given or leased. In other words, handling, possessing, borrowing or loaning a firearm to a friend or family member does not require a background check.

    Lastly, it is worth noting that Oregon first instituted background checks in 1989, and through a voters' initiative in 2000 extended background checks to private transactions at gun shows. SB 700 will close the loophole for private transactions not occuring at gun shows.

    SB 713 - Permits firearms training facilities to be sited on non-prime farmland in exclusive farm use zones: The bill will allow more people to access more traning facilites and increase great public safety.

    SB 796 - Requires CHL applicants to attend a gun safety training course taught by an instructor in a classroom setting: The bill will prohibit internet classes and gives students more hands-on training.

    SB 347- authorizing school districts to prohibit guns in K-12 schools: The bill will allow school districts to prohibit individuals, including concealed handgun license (CHL) holders, from carrying a gun into K-12 school facilities and premises. The bill also authorizes school districts to install and require CHL holders to use gun lock boxes while on K-12 campuses. The bill exempts CHL holders for the purpose of dropping off or picking up a student. A CHL holder who fails to leave the property while carrying a weapon will be subject to a criminal trespass charge (Class A Misdemeanor) as compared to an individual without a CHL who will still be subject to an unlawful possession of a firearm charge (Class C Felony).

    Since 1995, the state has virtually preempted local communities from adopting ordinances regulating firearms. Even though I believe it is important to have uniformity and consistency throughout the state, I also recognize that many individuals believe things have changed in recent years and that one size no longer fits all. Due to the rash of school shootings in recent years, I believe it is appropriate to allow school districts to determine whether or not to prohibit individuals from carrying guns on their K-12 campuses. Under SB 347, each school board would be allowed to make that decision for their own district.

Status Updates on Some of My Bills

    SB 421 - civil commitment of "extremely dangerous" persons
(passed Senate committee; awaiting public hearing in Ways & Means Committee): I introduced this bill at the request of Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner and family members of fallen Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen. Under current law, a person who has been determined by a court to not be able to "aid and assist" in their own defense can be civilly commited to the state hospital. These individuals are guaranteed to have their status reviewed every six months. SB 421 will permit a court to set the review period to every two years after the first six-month review if the court determines that the person is extremely dangerous. The bill provides that the hospital can seek to release the person prior to their next scheduled hearing if the doctors believe the person is no longer extremely dangerous. Finally, SB 421 provides for representation of the person by counsel at commitment and status hearings. It passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and I have requested a hearing for the bill in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means.

    SB 422 - police support for rural fire districts
(passed the Senate; hearing held in House committee): This bill will allow rural fire protection districts (RFDs), if authorized after a district-wide election, to contract with state or local law enforcement agencies to provide the district with special law enforcement services. Dwindling resources at the county level have resulted in cuts to law enforcement services throughout the state, making it difficult for RFDs to do their jobs. For instance, most RFDs will not enter private premises if there is a security threat at the location. This can result in delays in responding to both medical and fire emergencies. My bill would: (1) make available more law enforcement services for RFD call-outs and (2) ensure that a deputy would be available, when not responding with RFD personnel, for regular law enforcement services within the RFD. This program would be voluntary. I carried SB 422 to passage in the Senate and testified in support, alongside Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner, in the House Veterans' Services & Emergency Preparedness Committee.

    SB 424 - Oregon Statehood Day (passed the Senate; hearing requested in the House): February 14th is not only Valentine's Day, but it's also Oregon's birthday! SB 424 will designate Feb.14 of each year as Oregon Statehood Day. This idea was brought to me by a group of student constituents. I carried SB 424 to passage in the Senate and have requested that it be scheduled for a public hearing and possible work session in the House Rules Committee.

    SB 496 - federal money for sheriff's patrols (passed the Senate; hearing requested in the House): This bill will require that money in a county's road fund and expended for sheriff's patrols be used solely for direct and indirect costs associated with patrolling. It defines "patrolling." I carried SB 496 to passage in the Senate and have requested that it be scheduled for a public hearing and work session in the House Rules Committee.

    SB 525 - prohibiting the use of state or other governmental seals on letterhead to collect debt or restitution by a private entity
(passed the Senate; hearing held in House committee): I introduced this bill after learning that individuals were receiving letters, featuring an official DA's seal, from collection agencies contracted by DAs to recover restitution in bad check cases. Despite being from a private entity, these letters threaten that a warrant and criminal record may result from non-compliance. SB 525 will disallow that practice. I carried the bill to passage in the Senate and testified in support earlier this week to achieve passage out of the House Consumer Protection & Government Efficiency Committee.

    SB 549 - extending tax exemption for federal land used by recreation facility operators (passed the Senate; hearing scheduled in House committee 5/15): Diamond Lake Resort has been a employer and vacation destination in Douglas County (near Crater Lake) for almost 90 years. It and other resorts that lease their land from the federal government pay taxes to the federal government as part of their lease payment. Those taxes are shared with the county. For many years up until 2012, the state has had a tax exemption in place so that treasures like Diamond Lake Resort don't have to pay both state and federal property taxes. There are approximately 90 rural properties throughout the state facing similar problems. I introduced SB 549 with Sen. Jeff Kruse to put that property tax exemption back in place for another 10 years. I carried SB 549 to passage in the Senate and will testify in support next week when it receives a hearing in the House Revenue Committee.

    SB 574 - allowing parents to freeze children's credit files (passed the Senate; hearing held in House committee): I introduced this bill at the request of a constituent following a 4J School District data breach. It will allow parents to "freeze" their child's consumer report. In 2012, a former student breached 4J School District's computer system, accessing identity information for thousands of current and former students. I carried SB 574 to passage in the Senate and will request that it receive a public hearing and work session in the House.

SB 602 - Protecting Waldo Lake (passed the Senate and House committee; full House vote pending): Sen. Lee Beyer and Rep. Paul Holvey have joined me in co-chief sponsoring this bill to prohibit sea planes on Waldo Lake. Sixteen other senators and 18 representatives signed on to the bill as co-sponsors. Currently, 21 other lakes in Oregon have this protection. Waldo Lake is a treasure for our region. This bill stems from contradictory rulings made by the state Marine Board and Aviation Board. The Marine Board made a ruling to ban gasoline motors on boats operating on Waldo Lake. The Aviation Board then made a ruling to allow float planes to continue to use Waldo Lake. While I understand that the Aviation Board has general authority over aircraft, I do not believe it should be able to override a Marine Board decision to prohibit gas motors on Oregon's waterways. It is my opinion that once a float plane lands on a state waterway, it becomes a watercraft and is subject to the rules of the Marine Board. Since we now have two state agencies making contradictory rulings, I believe that the state legislature has a duty to resolve the dispute and to clarify which agency has jurisdiction over the waterways of the state. The purpose of SB 602 is to affirm the Marine Board's previous decision banning the use of gasoline motors on Waldo Lake. I carried the bill to passage in the Senate and testified in support in the House Energy & Environment Committee. Thank you to those who have come to testify in person and/or have submitted written testimony. Rep. Holvey will carry the bill on the House floor.

Cottage Grove Nighttime Lane Closures

    Cottage Grove motorists should continue to expect nighttime lane closures within one block of the East Main Street intersection with Highway 99 for the next week or so, ODOT has advised.
Pacific Excavation, the prime contractor for the project, began replacing the water main on April 28. Most of the pipe on East Main has been replaced, and they have started work on the Highway 99 section.

   Through this week
, there will be additional nighttime work on both East Main  and Highway 99. The contractor needs to finish replacing the water main on both roads and also work on the service connections. As a result, there will be some noise at night. Drivers should watch for construction signage, traffic control devices and flaggers.

ccess remains open to all businesses in the project area, day and night.

ODOT makes every effort to share information with the public as it becomes available. However, please note that construction schedules are sometimes subject to change without notice. For more information on the East Main and Highway 99 project, contact, Dan Latham with ODOT Public Affairs at Dan.Latham@state.or.us.

OSU Extension Welcomes Back Lane County's 4-H Program

    When Lane County's 4-H program closed in 2010, there were about 400 students enrolled. Now, thanks to grants and community donations, Oregon State University Extension is hoping to enroll 1,000 students in the Lane County program.

    There are six community 4-H clubs open to students in grades 4-12 throughout Lane County, including Eugene and Springfield. 4-H members will decide what they want to learn about. Possible topics include woodworking, public speaking, entomology and leadership development.

    To date, Lane County Extension has trained 45 adult volunteers to lead the clubs. They are still recruiting. For more information, contact Lane County’s 4-H coordinator, Kate Hammarback, at Kate.Hammarback@oregonstate.edu.

Scam Alert: Ticket Fine Collection Con

Scammers claiming to be with the Oregon State Police (OSP) are placing pre-recorded phone calls to Oregonians telling them they owe money for unpaid traffic tickets and asking that a Green Dot MoneyPak card be used to make the payment. These calls, which may begin with a siren sound, are fraudulent and should be ignored.

 March, OSP was made aware of the scam when a citizen reported getting a phone call from a restricted number. Following a siren sound, an automated voice identified himself as "Alex James Murphy with the Oregon State Police." The caller stated that a "bench warrant" had been issued on an unpaid speeding ticket issued on Interstate 205. The pre-recorded call gave further instructions to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak re-loadable debit card and to place $154 on the card, then call back to another phone number in the (203) area code and provide the Green Dot card number and security code to pay the citation and avoid further legal action.

In November 2012, OSP received complaints from citizens regarding similar telephone calls from individuals claiming to be OSP troopers demanding money in exchange for dropping criminal charges or clearing arrest warrants. Two similar cases involved callers using titles of "Officer" and "Deputy."

OSP reminds us to be aware that:

  •  OSP or any other legitimate law enforcement agency does not call citizens seeking payment for outstanding traffic citations.
  •  OSP does not call individuals and demand money from citizens under any circumstances.
  •  Individuals claiming to collect debts may try to instill fear in potential victims to persuade them to forward money.

     The Oregon Judicial Department advises that courts may use an independent collection service to collect unpaid monetary judgments and fines. If someone believes they are being scammed regarding an alleged unpaid traffic citation or other court-imposed financial obligation they can:

  •  Ask the collector (caller) for information specific to the alleged unpaid traffic citation. The caller should have the court case number, date of ticket and vehicle license number.
  • Verify the debt or confirm other details by calling the OJD collections hotline at 1-888-564-2828.
  • Use OJD Courts ePay to directly pay money owed to state courts for most traffic citations, civil fees or criminal fines (For more information go to http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/OnlineServices/ePay/Pages/index.aspx.)

    According to Oregon Department of Justice, Green Dot MoneyPak cards and similar cash-load cards have been the focus of scammers around the country to defraud unsuspecting people. Avoid reacting to requests requiring you to purchase MoneyPaks, but if you do purchase one for any reason, treat it like cash because unlike credit cards, MoneyPak transactions can never be reversed. The Green Dot Corporation is aware of similar scams and has a link on their website to tips from the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

If you receive a similar call, hang up without providing any information or taking any instructions from the caller. Contact your local police department, sheriff’s office or OSP. You may also file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection Office via the Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392, or complete an online Consumer Complaint Form anytime at http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/Pages/complaint.aspx.

Scam Alert: Counterfeit Money Con

    Scammers have contacted individuals, claiming to be an officer conducting an investigation of counterfeit money. They ask you to withdraw cash so that they can "inspect" it. The bogus officer then disappears with your cash. In the last few months, scammers posing as detectives, have conned two people out of more than $50,000 in the Portland area.
     The police do not need your money to investigate a counterfeit crime ring and would never approach a citizen to assist in an investigation of this type.

    If you receive a similar call, file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection Office via the Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392, or complete an online Consumer Complaint Form anytime at http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/Pages/complaint.aspx.

Door-to-Door Sales "Spring" into Action

    It's inevitable that when the temperature starts to rise, so do the number of solicitors on your door step. The Oregon Department of Justice recently received several reports of salespeople who re ignoring clearly posted "no soliciting" signs and using high-pressure tactics to make sales. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum urges Oregonians to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Consider not answering the door in the first instance. Chances are that the person would cause you no physical harm, but the risk of financial harm may lead you to conclude that you prefer not to engage at all. That is entirely your choice, but once you open the door, it's harder to say "no."
  • Unless you already know the solicitor, do not let the person into your home.
  • Take your time; never buy on the spot.
  • Watch out for door-to-door scams. The "asphalt paving scam" is particularly common this time of year. It usually involves a traveling contractor who catches you off guard by claiming they have "left over" asphalt from another job. They offer a great, on the spot, cash-only deal, but the result is either an improper and/or incomplete job with an inferior product. By the time you notice something is wrong, the "company" is long gone and looking for their next victim. For more information on door-to-door scams, visit http://tinyurl.com/casjw46.

    If you do buy a product or service from a door-to-door salesperson, know your rights.

  • Door-to-door salespeople must: (a) explain your cancellation rights at the time of sale, (b) provide you with two copies of a cancellation form, and (c) give you a copy of the contract or receipt.
  • The contract or receipt must: (a) include the date of the transaction, (b) display the seller's name and contact information, (c) explain the consumer's right to cancel, and (d) be in the same language that was used in the sales presentation.
  • You have three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more. Although subject to some exceptions, this right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale. To learn more about the exceptions, visit http://tinyurl.com/ck99ewf.
  • The salesperson must refund your money within 10 days after you submit a written notice of cancellation.

    For more information on door-to-door sales, visit the Oregon Department of Justice online at http://tinyurl.com/cst93ux.

Fruit-damaging Fly Expected to Hit Record Populations this Year

    Oregon State University researchers predict that the spotted wing drosophila fly, which lays eggs in fruit and subsequently makes that fruit difficult to market, could reach record population levels in the Pacific Northwest this year. Warmer temperatures are largely to blame for the anticipated high population.

The fly lays its eggs in ripe and ripening small and stone fruits, and it particularly likes blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches and plums.

OSU researchers are currently looking into using a parasitic wasp native to the United States to control the fly. That wasp, the Pachycrepoides vindemmiae, lays eggs in the fly's pupae, killing them. Losses are estimated at $31 million per year without detection and control measures of the fly. Currently, insecticides are the best known way to control it.

More information on the fly itself, OSU's research on the topic and tips for gardeners and commercial growers can be found here: www.spottedwing.org.

Update your subscriptions, modify your password or e-mail address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your User Profile Page. You will need to use your e-mail address to log in. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact support@govdelivery.com.