The Dust Has Settled



Rep. Michael Dembrow 
NE Portland, Maywood Park & Parkrose

Phone: 503-986-1445


E-Newsletter                              April 23rd, 2013

Friends and Neighbors:

Well, we made it through “Deadline Week.”  This past Thursday was the last day for committees to take votes on bills originating from their respective chambers (i.e., House bills from House committees, Senate bills from Senate committees).  It was very stressful for everyone:  for legislators and advocates, who wanted to make sure that their bills stayed alive; for committee chairs and committee administrators, who needed to make sure that none of the bills in their charge were misplaced or mishandled; for legislative counsel, the lawyers responsible for the many last minute amendments, faced with an impossible workload; for legislative fiscal, the fiscal analysts who need to analyze every amendment and every bill (no bill can be voted on until we know whether or not it bears a price tag). 

By the time the dust settled, many hundreds of bills had breathed their last.  Others were sent to Ways and Means, in some cases to have further hearings and votes, and in other cases to die a less immediate death.  Others were sent to the House or Senate Rules Committees (Rules, like Revenue, does not operate under the usual deadlines) for additional work.

Others, I’m happy to report, are headed for the floor for a vote.  Generally speaking, if a bill comes out of committee, it’s going to pass on the floor.  (For bills that they know will be controversial, committee chairs usually try to get a sense of whether or not there will be enough votes to pass it on the floor before scheduling a committee vote.)  If it passes on the floor, though, its struggle is not over: it will subsequently be assigned to a committee in the opposite chamber and then may or may not make it to a successful floor vote “on the other side.”

How do you know if a bill is alive or dead?  If you go to OLIS, the legislative website (, and look up the bill number, you can view its current status.  If it’s a House bill, and OLIS tells you that it’s in a House committee other than Rules or Revenue, that means it’s dead. If it’s in Rules, Revenue or Ways and Means, then it may still have some life in it.  If you’re still curious, send me an email, and one of my staffers or I will try to get an assessment for you.

I’m happy to report that just about all my personal and committee bills are still alive.  I’ll tell you about some of them here, as well as one or two that won’t be moving forward this session.  But first, I want to let you know about the twin votes that are coming our way this week: on PERS and on added revenue.

PERS/Revenue Vote Scheduled for Tomorrow Morning

In my last newsletter I expressed my hope that we would get to vote on the same day on SB 822, which makes changes to PERS, and HB 2456, which raises $275 million in revenue by means-testing deductions on Oregonians with household income above $250,000, slightly raising the corporate income tax rate, lifting the cap on the corporate minimum tax rate for corporations with revenues above $100 million, and limiting offshore tax havens for Oregon corporations.  It appears that that’s what will happen tomorrow (Wednesday).

As I mentioned, I support this balanced approach—balanced in terms of the sacrifices that we’re asking of our public employees and of wealthy Oregonians and corporations.  Both are critical to our being able to reach a “stability” funding level for K-12.  With a positive May revenue forecast, they also will lead to better funding for community colleges and universities.

We’ll also be voting tomorrow on an alternative (“minority report”) revenue plan from House Republicans.  That bill would limit the revenue plan to the offshore tax havens piece—thereby raising only around $20 million.  It’s simply not enough to do much of anything to limit cuts to K-12.  Again, we cannot allow the budget to be balanced entirely through sacrifices by public employees and retirees.  That’s just not fair, and I can’t support it.  I look forward to voting for SB 822 and HB 2456.

Campus Safety Bill Gets a Good Hearing—and That’s Probably All

The House Higher Ed Committee heard two bills last week related to campus safety, taking opposite positions on the subject.  HB 3114, submitted by the committee on my behalf, would allow colleges and universities to prohibit individuals—even those with concealed weapons permits—from carrying their weapons on campus.  It responds to a recent court case challenging the long-standing practice by colleges and universities to prohibit weapons.  The Court of Appeals ruled that public colleges and universities cannot set their own gun policy (private colleges can) until the Legislature gives them that authority.  For more on why I think this would be the right move for the Legislature, see my testimony to the committee.

The other bill that we heard, HB 3009, took the opposition position:  it is intended to prevent OUS from doing anything to restrict employees and students from concealed carry on campus.  Its proponents, Reps Esquivel (R-Medford) and Thatcher (R-Keizer), argued that allowing and even encouraging students and staff to carry would keep our campuses safer.

Half of those giving testimony were supporters of 3114 (and thereby opponents of 3009), and the other half were supporters of 3009 (and thereby opponents of 3114).  One of those giving testimony was openly carrying a pistol, which was disconcerting for some of those present.  But overall, the testimony was quite civil.

Although I believe we could have passed HB 3114 out of the committee, there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be a path to pass HB 3114 this session, so I chose not to schedule a vote for either bill.  This remains a very important issue for me, and it’s one to which we’ll be returning.  As a college teacher myself, I know how important it is that we do all that we can to keep guns out of our classrooms.

It’s unclear just where the other bills related to background checks and other sensible gun regulation will go this session.  Several Senate bills were voted out of committee last week and may be voted on this week.  Those who are opposed to them, though a fraction of the population as a whole, are extremely well-organized and motivated, sending emails and phoning every day.  Those who support regulation are relatively quiet and unorganized.  This must change.  I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

Why I Voted No on HB 2963

It’s rare that I vote no on a bill that comes out of committee 9-0, but it happened last week.  The bill was HB 2963, which would allow local jurisdictions to expand their regulation of sidewalk use.  This is an issue that is wrapped up in the question of how we deal with the homeless individuals who live in our cities.  It was brought to us by the Portland Business Association.  I partner with the PBA on many education and workforce issues, but on this one we’re not aligned.

As I researched the issue, I saw a number of letters from downtown businesses with legitimate complaints about individuals congregating outside their shops or offices.  On the other hand, I am concerned about potential discrimination against the homeless.  I want to make sure that any local ordinances are fair and balanced to the greatest extent possible.   HB 2963 does not guarantee this.   In fact, we received a letter from the Oregon Law Center, which caused me a great deal of concern about the bill.

Furthermore, I saw no evidence of support for this bill from the City of Portland or from the League of Oregon Cities.  This made me wonder about the value of the legislation, since the cities didn’t seem interested in having this tool. 

So, I voted no.  To be honest, I was surprised to be one of only two no votes, but I’m glad that the record will show a lack of unanimity on the bill as it moves over to the Senate for its next phase.

Tonight – Ways and Means Road Show at PCC Cascade

The Legislature’s joint budget committee has been traveling the state to hear from Oregonians on their budget priorities.  Tonight, they’ll be at PCC Cascade campus in the Moriarty Auditorium from 5:30 to 7pm.  The event will likely be packed, and comments will be limited, so if you plan to attend make sure you prepare some brief remarks that capture your thoughts in a succinct manner.  You can also bring written remarks to share with the committee members.

For Your Calendar: Upcoming Events

April 27th – East Portland Transportation Town Hall

Rep. Jeff Reardon, another new member, has pulled together a group of legislators for a town hall focused on transportation issues in East Portland.  I’ll be there, along with Senators Jackie Dingfelder, Rod Monroe, and Chuck Thomsen; and Representatives Reardon, Shemia Fagan, Chris Gorsek, Alissa Keny-Guyer and Jessica Vega Pederson.  Also on hand will be Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Matt Garrett, ODOT Region 1 (including Portland) Director Jason Tell, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, Portland Bureau of Transportation Interim Director Toby Widmer and other transportation officials.  So please come, and bring your questions.

WHO: East Portland Legislators and Transportation officials

WHAT: Town Hall on East Portland Transportation

WHEN:  Saturday, April 27th at Noon

WHERE: IRCO, 10301 NE Glisan St., Portland OR

April 30th – PCC Cascade Jobs Fair

PCC Cascade is holding their annual jobs fair on April 30th, from 11 AM to 3pm.  Several dozen local employers will be on hand, and there will also be workshops on resume writing, job searching using social media, and other relevant topics.  For more information, visit PCC’s website.

May 4th – 82nd Avenue Community Forum

On Saturday, May 4th I’ll be at a forum sponsored by the Central Northeast Neighbors and SE Uplift.  The event will feature roundtable discussions about the future of 82nd Avenue, including issues of community safety, transportation options, streetscape design,  business development, arts, culture, recreation, family wellness and 82nd Ave. community happenings.  If you live in or near the 82nd Avenue corridor I hope you’ll join for the conversation.  Organizers are asking that folks RSVP due to space limitations.  You can do so here.

WHO: Neighbors, business owners, community groups, public agency staff and elected officials

WHAT: Community Roundtable Forum on 82nd Ave.

WHEN: Saturday, May 4th from 10 AM to 1 PM

WHERE: Madison HS Cafeteria

May 11th – Constituent Coffee at Maywood Park

Due to the 82nd Ave. Forum on May 4th, we’ll be having our May constituent coffee on Saturday, the 11th.  There will be no shortage of issues to discuss, so please mark your calendar and plan to join me from 10 to 11:30 am on May 11th at Mount Hood Community College’s Maywood Park campus, on NE 102nd and Prescott.  Parking is free, and there is a small coffee shop inside the campus.  We will be meeting in Room 223/224 on the second floor.  Bring your thoughts and your questions, and I’ll see you there!

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