As the State Turns & the Linn-Benton Backwash

By Johnny Beaver

2015-01-28_2110Oregon: New Battleground for Background Checks

Billionaire Bruce Wayn—I mean, billionaire Michael Bloomberg is sitting fat and happy right now. Just off the boat from a background-check-a-licious victory in Washington, his Everytown for Gun Safety gun control group has now set its sights on Oregon. As federal law only requires these checks on licensed gun dealers, gun control advocates have taken up arms (get it?) in the fight to expand universal background check requirements in each state. Washington was the 17th to make such an expansion.

As you may remember, Oregon state legislature failed to pass new background check policies over the last two years—though only by a narrow margin. With the incoming torrential downpour of Scrooge McDuck dollars, that scale is likely to tip in favor of gun control advocates.

The change in policy, if pushed through, will target felons, the mentally ill, those under restraining orders, illegal immigrants, dishonorably discharged veterans, and those under indictment. Opponents have said a lot about why the laws would be bad for us, but let me translate:

“These laws are bad because they make it take longer to buy guns, and hey, it won’t matter if you stop the dangerous sale of a thousand guns if one can still slip through the cracks!”

Personally, having a slow drip on a faucet seems a lot better than the head busted off, spraying everywhere. But that’s just me, what the hell do I know?

Push for Stricter Pesticide Rules

Remember back in 2013, when some residents near Gold Beach made the claim that a helicopter sprayed weed killer all over them? Those were the good old days. And it looks like they may be coming to an end.

Nineteen separate environmental groups have signed a letter sent to Oregon state government asking for them to create stricter rules for spraying weed killer. The suggestions include the creation of an alert system, the expansion of buffers around streams that serve as drinking water sources or fish habitats, open access to pesticide spraying records, buffer zones around homes and schools, and more.

Some legislators, led by Senator Michael Dembrow, have already started putting together a bill that addresses the same issues outlined in the letter. While timber companies spray to aid new crops of trees in their early years and use helicopters for efficiency, environmentalists have been all like, “Dude, no. Oregon is way more relaxed in its rules over this than other states, bro.”

Timber industry experts say that the problems described by environmentalists are more about perception than real risk, but it seems like their words may be falling on deaf ears. I guess it truly is all fun and games until someone’s kids are sprayed with pesticide.

Big Beer Continues to Gobble PacNW Breweries

There’s a reason that when I go to buy or order a beer… I go for something from the Pacific Northwest. The fact is, we do beer better. I’ve lived all over the place (quite literally), and the only region that could put us in our place is Bavaria, Germany. And that is, I’m sure, in part due to the fact that they don’t have ::barf:: Widmer Bros. Though, they do have Bitburger ::another barf:: …anyway. Calm down, I’m sure you’ve seen a buried lead before.

Let’s just get this out of the way: Anheuser-Busch has purchased Seattle’s Elysian Brewing. Along with Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co. (purchased last year), these brands are now known as “Local Champion Brands,” which is just as stupid and corporate-sounding as you think it is. With beer being the sweet nectar that it is here, you better bet that the trend of Big Beer scooping up our local breweries is just getting started. Though Anheuser-Busch does own some brands that are delicious, namely Stella-Artois and Modelo, the last thing many of us Northwest beer drinkers want to see is the entire culture transformed by being vacuumed into the kangaroo pouch of a billion-dollar-a-year monster.

Thankfully, though, not everyone is willing to sell. Eugene’s Ninkasi actually just dropped Anheuser-Busch as its distributor, citing the benefits of supporting locally owned and independent businesses. So take that. And now I’m going to end this section awkwardly, because I suddenly feel the need to go drink a beer.