Legislative Update #2 2021

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Senator Dallas Heard

email: Sen.DallasHeard@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1701
address: 900 Court St NE, S-315, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/heard

Hello Friends,

     We had another busy week this week in The Capitol. With every passing week that the people are not allowed in, more and more legislation passes that whittles away at the safety and security of our citizens without proper oversight by the people. This week we saw the passage of Senate Bills 282 and 713 from the floor and SB 571 from committee. Before I get into the details of those bills and why I believe them to be dangerous for our society, I did want to take a moment to inform you all that the Joint Ways and Means Committee (the committee that oversees that drafts the state budget) is on tour through out the 5 Congressional districts. CD 1 was on Wednesday of this week, but the following linked Facebooks events give you the details of the future events and how to sign up to testify! Show up and make your voice heard in the budgeting process! Even if you do not have Facebook you can see the information on the page and sign up using those resources! 

      In other news, this week in the Legislature we had a deadline for policy bills to be passed out of their "First Chamber Committees". This deadline was on Tuesday and it means that if a bill had not passed out of it's policy committee in it's chamber of origin (Senate bills out of the Senate committees, and House bills out of their House committees) by 11:59pm that day, then the concepts were effectively dead. There are some exceptions to this deadline however and those are; any Joint Committee of the Legislature, Senate Finance and Revenue, Senate Redistricting, Senate Rules, and their corresponding committees on the house side. We will continue to keep a diligent eye on those committees to make sure nothing gets snuck in last minute. 


Bad Bills:

     As I mentioned previously, there were many bills that passed this week with which I have some concerns, however the ones I wanted to speak to today are as follows. 

     Senate Bill 571 would allow for a person who is a convicted felon to register to vote and to vote while incarcerated. This one only passed out of committee, but is now headed to Ways and Means where it can come out and straight to the floor without much more public testimony. This bill unfortunately fails to consider the social contract we believe all citizens are born into: if you are going to benefit from society, there are certain damages you cannot cause without repercussions. Voting is a pillar of citizenship and a scared privilege that democracy is founded upon, and committing felonies violates that privilege. If you allow incarcerated individuals to vote you have effectively eliminated the distinction between those who are criminals and those who are not. Not only this, but now you have felons voting on changes to Measure 11 sentencing. Literally moving the goal post on convictions that a judge or a jury of their piers would have levied against them. Furthermore, there is great cause for concern about voter intimidation in the prisons. Would finding out how certain adults in custody voted make them safer, or put them in more peril in these isolated locations? Please write in to those individuals who are supporting the measure to express your concern for these or any other things you might see wrong with the bill! 

     SB 282 extends the grace period for repayment of residential rent accrued during the rent moratorium, until February 28, 2022.  It prohibits residential landlords from reporting nonpayment of rent accrued during emergency period to credit bureaus and prohibits them from screening tenants based on nonpayment of rent accrued during the grace period. I understand that the pandemic and the governments response to it has caused many people to struggle to make ends meet. Rent can be a very expensive factor, but so can a mortgage. What this bill fails to do is to provide any protection for those who have invested their hard earned dollars into property from losing it all at the hands of foreclosure. Not only does it fail to do that, but it takes it a step further and does not allow landlords to screen to see if a new tenant might have any outstanding debt with their previous landlord! This is setting a dangerous precedent for policy going forward. Finally on this matter, the date is set for February 28, 2022. This is a date that is conveniently placed towards the tail end of our short session. I have a feeling that one of the first bills we will see in that session is another extension. So the question for landlords is: Will you EVER get paid for those months of rent? Not if the majority has anything to say about it. 

     Finally SB 713-A would prohibit private and public colleges from requiring prospective students from disclosing whether they have a criminal conviction prior to offering admission to the student. Schools should be allowed to screen their incoming student population based on prior criminal records, and to make determinations as to what their student body composition looks like based on these facts.  Not only is the state forcing its ideals on private institutions of learning (a private entity), but it is putting at risk the safety of our students who have chosen to not live a life of crime. This bill makes it almost impossible for a school to know if when making housing determinations for their students, they are rooming a sexual assault victim with an individual charged with a sexually violent crime, or a recovering addict which someone who may have been charged with possession and distribution of an illegal substance. 

     Bills like SB 571 and SB 713-A show an increase desire on behalf of the ruling political party to favor the comfort and ease of those who have chosen to break the law, over those who choose to abide by it. They are sending a stronger message that there are little repercussions for living outside the law, than within it. I would encourage those who support these kinds of bills to reconsider the policy path they are choosing. I am not saying that those who make mistakes are irredeemable, but there has to be a reward for living by the law.

     Please keep praying for myself and for my staff. We can use all the help we can get! As always I wish you a wonderful and safe weekend, and until next time many blessings to you and yours.


Yours truly,