Feb 25 2010

The last of the experimentals?

Published by at 4:45 pm under Oregon


The Oregon Legislature’s special session is done as of mid-afternoon, a day later than most members had hoped but still three days ahead of the deadline. It was a special session not because it was called for emergency business – which ordinarily is supposed to be what even-year sessions, when they occur, are about – but as an experiment to see if even-year sessions can work reasonably well.

Evidently they can. The final hangup (and not one between parties but between House and Senate) had to do with how long the sessions in an annual-session scheme should run; those deadlines would be built into a constitutional amendment to set up annual sessions henceforth. On Wednesday (after Senate President Peter Courtney decided against giving up and adjourning), they resolved the impasse. As the Salem Statesman-Journal noted, “The total time of 195 days over a two-year cycle would be shorter than the 211 days that lawmakers have met on average over the past decade, counting the current session in its 25th day.”

A call to cut session length might be an overall voter winner in November.

They can add that to a considerable batch of legislation approved in these last three and a half weeks. The list form the House speaker’s office included these (and it’s a partial list):

HB 3698 – BOOST: Establishes a new fund to give loans and grants to help small businesses that create new jobs and hire Oregonians.

SB 1017 – Accessing Business Capital: Makes it easier for businesses to access funds from the Oregon Business Development Fund.

HB 5100 – Employment Related Day Care: Helps 5,500 kids, 2,900 families and 1,800 workers maintain their day care, subsidy and jobs respectively.

HB 3649 – Hydropower: Provides stability and growth potential for low-impact hydropower facilities.

HB 3674 – Energy from Forests: Supports biomass as an alternative energy technology, helping to create new jobs for Oregonians while obtaining energy from our forests.

HB 3680 – Business Energy Tax Credit: Reforms the BETC, protecting the jobs the program has created while adding stringent new controls that will rein in the costs of the program and prevent abuses.

HB 3644 – Economic Gardening: Lays the groundwork for giving small businesses the tools they need to succeed.

HB 3655 – Unemployment Benefits Extension: Extends unemployment benefits for nearly 19,000 Oregonians whose benefits have run out or will soon expire.

HB 3706 – Unlawful Trade Practices Act: Protects victims of misleading and fraudulent lending practices by giving consumers the chance to hold lenders accountable.

HB 3656 – Mortgage Protection: Protects families who lost their homes to foreclosure from being sued by the bank or lender that owns their 80/20 loan.

SB 1045 – Job Applicant Fairness Act: Prohibits employers from using credit history to screen potential employees.

HB 3631 – Health Insurance Non-Discrimination: Prohibits insurers from discriminating against victims of sexual violence by treating that victimization as a preexisting condition that would exclude or limit coverage.

HB 3649 – Hydropower: Provides stability and growth potential for low-impact hydropower facilities throughout the state.

HB 3674 – Energy from Forests: Supports biomass as an alternative energy technology, helping to create new jobs for Oregonians while obtaining energy from our forests.

HB 3680 – Business Energy Tax Credit: Reforms the BETC, protecting the jobs the program has created while adding stringent new controls that will rein in the costs of the program and prevent abuses.

HB 3646 — Reducing Borrowing Costs: State Rep. Lew Frederick’s bill, D-Portland, would reduce borrowing costs for both government and nonprofit entities. The estimated savings are $100 million or more for the state alone.

HB – Cutting Taxes on Manufactured Home: Rep. Val Hoyle’s bill would allow Oregon;s four largest counties to eliminate property taxes on manufactured homes, helping low income families and reducing costs of collection for the counties.

Not a bad lot of work for three and a half weeks. Or a bad calling card for the annual plan.

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