As the State Turns…

stateturnssymbolIs Oregon Arizona 2.0?
The now infamous (and finally vetoed) law in Arizona to protect businesses from being sued after turning away same-sex couples based on religious beliefs seems to have an ally here in Oregon under the title “The Protect Religious Freedom Initiative.” Filed by State Representative Sherrie Sprenger, a Republican from Scio, the ballot title reads, “Exempts religious opposition to same sex marriage/civil union/domestic partnership from penalties for discrimination.” While in Arizona their bill would have granted “personhood” to corporations, business organizations, and so on, the proposed law here would be a little bit different; instead, it would exempt individuals from public accommodation laws. This would allow all of the benefits of operating a public business, minus any of the rules that forbid them from treating people unequally.

While this bill has yet to be potty-trained, its supporters are on the war path in an attempt to gain the 88,000 signatures they need by Thursday, July 3 to get on November’s ballot.

Voting from the Comfort of a Computer
It’s no secret registered voters in other states are envious of Oregon’s effortless vote by mail system. Now they’ll really be peeved that the Senate passed a bill (SB 1515) last week which proposes studying whether it’s possible for Oregonians to vote online. Although the measure was passed by an 18 to 11 margin, is headed to the House Rules Committee, and reportedly fits in the current budget, it’s still faced major opposition thus far.

Some people feel given all the snafus with the Cover Oregon site that voting online will just create more headaches.

Ballot Fight Turns to Sit-Down
Oregon might have just dodged another very expensive bullet from the healthcare industry, or that is what some are saying. Governor John Kitzhaber said last week that Services Employees International Union (SEIU) will drop five costly ballot measures in favor of sit-down discussions with the state’s largest healthcare providers: Kaiser, Legacy, Providence, and PeaceHealth.

According to SEIU Local 49, which enlists thousands of the state’s healthcare workers, one of the five measures would’ve made it easier for folks to shop for healthcare. Another measure would’ve capped executive pay to 15 times that of the lowest paid employee.

Reports indicate Kitzhaber, the big providers, and SEIU Local 49 have been able to work out their issues.

State Police Find Trap Site
Animal trapping has been a hot topic recently, especially of the illegal variety. Oregon State Police found a spot along a trail near the Cline Butte area west of Redmond where a hiking couple reported finding a trapped bobcat two weeks ago. The animal was allegedly captured only about seven feet from the trail, which is a clear violation of the state’s 50-feet off-limits law for trapping.

When police officials arrived at the location, both the animal and trap were missing. This is a growing problem that will likely end up on the 2016 ballot.

by Patrick Fancher

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