THE OREGON LEGISLATURE convened a "special session" in February to push through some laws before next year's regular session. That session wrapped up on Thursday, February 25. So, what got passed? And are our legislators really incapable of saving babies from chemicals causing brain problems? Oh... they are. Wow.
PASSED: Job Applicant Fairness Act Amendment
Senate Bill 1045 prevents employers from looking at an applicant's credit history, unless it pertains to the job.
GOOD FOR: unemployed people with bad credit
BAD FOR: credit reporting agencies like TransUnion, which sent lobbyists to Salem to fight the bill
"Oregon will become the third state in the US to accomplish this task," says Angela Martin of Our Oregon.
PASSED: Unfair Trade Practices Act Amendment
Until now, a loophole left lending institutions exempt from state anti-fraud laws ["Loan Shark Hunting," News, Jan 21]. House Bill 3706 holds banks accountable for hiding adjustable-rate mortgages and other surprises behind fine print.
GOOD FOR: homeowners, the economy
BAD FOR: bankers, mortgage brokers
"Oregon was one of a few states [whose anti-fraud laws] didn't cover lending institutions," says Representative Jules Kopel Bailey of Portland.
PASSED: Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Senate Bill 1059 requires the Oregon Department of Transportation to develop a strategy to reduce transportation emissions, and sets pollution limits for Oregon's six largest urban areas.
GOOD FOR: citizens, Earth, and some unlikely allies (the Oregon Home Builders Association helped shape the bill)
BAD FOR: cars
"You reduce greenhouse gases by making it easier for people to get around by other means," says Eric Stachon of 1000 Friends of Oregon.
FAILED: Bisphenol A Ban
Senate Bill 1032 would have banned the use of Bisphenol A (BPA)—which has been shown to cause developmental problems—in baby bottles and sippy cups. The food-packaging industry lobbied against the bill, fearing a ban of the BPA-saturated lining of food cans. The bill failed after a split vote in the Senate.
GOOD FOR: food packaging companies
BAD FOR: babies
"We're really disappointed," says Roey Thorpe of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. Anti-ban lobbying group Associated Oregon Industries did not return our request for comment by press time.
SENT TO VOTERS: Annual Sessions
The Oregon legislature is only required to meet on odd-numbered years—with no limit on how long the sessions last. Senate Joint Resolution 41 proposes an amendment to the Constitution calling for time-limited sessions every year. The resolution will go to voters in November.
GOOD FOR: getting legislators to work more efficiently
BAD FOR: binge lawmaking
"It's a big deal that our sessions will be limited," says Representative Ben Cannon of Portland. "We'll have 160 days in odd years, and 35 days in even years."