by Kim Conolly
The Oregon Equality Act, known as SB2, aims to protect all citizens regardless of sexual orientation.
Brought before legislators by Representative Greg Macpherson and Representative Diane Rosenbaum in 2007, the intent of SB2 was noble and the law enacted.
Yet in 2016, the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA), education administrators in Dallas, Oregon, and their lawyers are interpreting SB2 to mean full inclusion for transgender students into the locker rooms and restroom facilities of students of the opposite anatomical gender.
The Dallas School District (DSD) has sent a letter to Governor Kate Brown seeking clarification on SB2 after offering a transgender student full inclusion into the locker rooms and restrooms of the opposite anatomical gender at Dallas High School (DHS) last semester. The student, who had not undergone gender identity counseling nor biological and surgical changes, had been given reasonable accommodations, and then asked for full inclusion. DSD granted the request.
How Governor Kate Brown and our legislators interpret The Oregon Equality Act will effect all Oregon’s school children.
Decisions locally, were made through the guidance of OSBA Director of Policy Services, Peggy Holstedt, and DSD legal counsel Kelly Noor and Paul Dakopolos – who represent a variety of Oregon school districts.
Furthermore, Dallas parents have been told by Noor and Dakopolos that every school restroom within the district is open to anyone of any age based on the gender they identify with.
This call for full inclusion for transgenders into locker rooms and restrooms has no basis through either state or federal law. Yet Noor and Dakopolos have given DSD the option of litigation, federal investigation, or both, unless they comply with full inclusion. Their pressure will extend to many Oregon school districts.
However, the Oregon Equality Act, Section 29, ORS 659.850, states:
“Discrimination” does not include enforcement of an otherwise valid dress code or policy, as long as the code or policy provides, on a case-by-case basis, for reasonable accommodation of an individual based on the health and safety needs of the individual.”
The Oregon Equality Act senate floor tapes from April 17th, 2007 speaks to full inclusion only for those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery with major biological changes required. Yet, OSBA, Noor, and Dakopolos are misapplying SB2 with their call for full inclusion even without gender reassignment surgery.
Further, Noor and Dakopolos argue Title lX requires full inclusion, but the Ninth Circuit Court ruled against Title lX requiring inclusion in 2009 in Tempe, AZ on the basis of safety, as did the Eastern Federal District Court in Virginia in 2015.
Misapplying US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regulations, which are meant to keep transgenders safe from physical and sexual violence, creates further civil rights violations, and an unsafe environment for all.
The Eastern Federal District Court stated:
“Department of Education regulations stipulate: A recipient may provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex, but such facilities provided for students of one sex shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex. 34 C.F.R. § 106.33.
This regulation (hereinafter, “Section 106.33”) expressly allows schools to provide separate bathroom facilities based upon sex, so long as the bathrooms are comparable…. Rather, Section 106.33 seems to effectuate Title lX’s provision allowing separate living facilities based on sex.”
Further, the court states regarding the US Department of Education’s/Government’s Title lX interpretation which calls for full inclusion:
The Department of Education’s interpretation does not stand up to scrutiny.
Furthermore, the Department of Education’s interpretation of Section 106.33 is plainly erroneous and inconsistent with the regulation. Even under the most liberal reading, “on the basis of sex” in Section 106.33 means both “on the basis of gender” and “on the basis of biological sex.” It does not mean “only on the basis of gender.”
To defer to the Department of Education’s newfound interpretation would be nothing less than to allow the Department of Education to “create defacto a new regulation” through the use of a mere letter and guidance document. See Christensen, 529 U.S. at 588. If the Department of Education wishes to amend its regulations, it is of course entitled to do so. However, it must go through notice and comment rulemaking, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act. See 5 U.S.C. § 553. It will not be permitted to disinterpret its own regulations for the purposes of litigation.
Oregon’s parents, education administrators, law makers, and the Oregon Department of Education, as well as the ACLU need to understand there is no basis for full inclusion for transgenders (who have not undergone gender reassignment surgery) under Title lX without misapplying the law.
Many school districts, such as Portland, have implemented transgender policies on a case by case basis with reasonable accommodation. Eugene solutions include, gender neutral single-stall bathrooms which protect privacy, safety, and respect, yet OSBA, OCR, DSD legal counsel, nor the ACLU has advised Dallas to seek these solutions. When will these organizations be part of the solution vs. encouraging an end which leads to litigation at potentially tax payer expense?
New Oregon Department of Education school guidelines are to release in March. Reasonable accommodation is needed for transgender students, and policies which follow the law and do not violate anyone’s civil rights. We can and must find loving solutions which do not violate civil rights.
Let’s find loving solutions for all students which afford privacy, safety, and respect. These are the same rights Lambda Legal seeks for LGBT persons. The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child mandates privacy for children in article 16. Will we not also in Oregon mandate and protect privacy, safety, and respect for all? There is no room in Oregon for discrimination of any citizen regardless of sexual orientation.
About the Author: Kim Conolly is a parent in Dallas, Oregon who desires and values loving solutions for all persons, which violate the civil rights of none. She volunteers with First Lego League Robotics, Parent Teacher Committee, Dallas United Soccer, and along with her family, is part of the national program Safe Families for Children.
* Copyright February 2016 by Kim Conolly
by Rebecca Roth
Who would have thought that self-proclaimed defenders of human rights would make speeches in defense of a eugenicist and organizer of The Negro Project?
Why would people who organized this annual meeting of commemoration for the annual U.N. Human Rights Day, and who spent time telling us how to converse and ran an exercise in the four ways to make a statement in a non-aggressive way, be unable to follow their own rules of engagement?
Could it be that the rules of communication they put in place have nothing behind them? Could they be running a scripted “event” for show and facts get in the way?
They began, “When a person hears an uncomfortable statement, like “All Muslims are terrorists” there are four steps to re-direct the thinking of the person who has made the statement.” This theme of bigoted statements about Muslims was followed by several people making announcements about 50 Muslim “refugees” due to arrive soon in the Salem area. (Of course these “refugees” are purified of Christians fleeing the slaughter directed at them.) Thankfully, they also stated that it would be desirable for the “refugees” to not stay on welfare for too long. I was so relieved at that…I wonder about that sometimes–do we have any people who have ended up on generational welfare? Will we see the next generation of Syrian refugees on welfare? but I am wandering…
So…we paired off and had a practice session on how to do the four steps. My partner asked me if I had heard any racist statements. I said, “YES! Margaret Sanger said, ‘we don’t want word to get out that what we are trying to do is exterminate the Negro population.’” She stared at me, so I continued to explain how eugenicists think, and their goals to “progress” the human race. Then it was time for everyone from the “community” to give speeches.
The speeches were mostly like announcements except for one man who gave a moving (and very long) thought about how men make women nervous and how sorry he was to be a man. The three minute rule was followed fairly well. Speeches were delivered by the groups that had organized the event. They addressed pressing needs like the petition they are starting to TAX EVIL CORPORATIONS, and to legislate that CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE. A little girl with balance problems wants the school system to meet her needs saying that they haven’t been very understanding about her need. Everyone was admonished to exert pressure on the school system. Nobody spoke about the demands that are being made on schools to accommodate little boys who need/want to enter girls’ activities, restrooms, and locker-rooms and forcing children to treat boys as girls and girls as boys. Maybe that problem of human rights will be next year’s agenda.
In fact, the organizers of the event must have noticed their lack of getting a transgender to come to their meeting, because they announced that the meeting was not “diverse” enough, and that everyone should try really hard to get more diversity in the room next year. They didn’t seem to appreciate the diversity I brought with my speech, which was pretty much the only speech with any diversity of thought.
I meant to start my speech with my conversation last year with the Democrat Chief of Staff at the capitol. When I asked him if he realized that Belgium is killing children through age four he replied, “but only the handicapped.” (That’s a good ageism/handicap statement that should have been addressed on Human Rights Day.)
However, I messed up and started with my experience at the Salem Public Library, collecting signatures on pro-life petitions, to which people generally say to me “it’s my choice” but in recent years has transformed into “We really need to KILL MORE PEOPLE.”
I focused on how global warming scare curriculum is filling young people with angst that killing people is the only way to save the planet. (Maybe that’s why the Democrats passed a bill that will give money to government to examine why our children are killing themselves.) Ahh…it’s so difficult to stay on subject. But, have you ever had someone tell you they thought it was great to kill a group of people and then want money to find out why our young people prefer death? It’s kind of sickening, and if you didn’t laugh you might cry.
After I spoke on Margaret Sanger, and other eugenicists who are practicing the art of child killing, and gave references to resources like the soon-to-be released movie on the story of Dr. Gosnell, scissor murderer of Philadelphia, others spoke in praise and support of eugenics and defended the right to choose who lives and who dies, so that every person will be a “wanted” person. (Is this Human Rights Day?) They spoke of how there wouldn’t be enough air, food, or water if the population of the world continued at its present rate. They said that birth control was Margaret Sanger’s greatest contribution. Nobody mentioned how Oregon quietly passed a bill last session to allow the Marion County incinerator to be the destination of “medical waste” like was being done before and now will be legal. (Hitler produced soap, too.)
After the meeting concluded I made my way to the table of the folks wanting single payer. I asked the lady there if she had attended the hearing last year where people were crying for the state to dissolve any remnants of the evil corporations that might want to deliver any free market health benefits, and have the state be the only power to decide whether we live or die, and she said “No.” Then she broke ALL THE RULES we just learned, on how to communicate–and finally knocked over her display. She wouldn’t even let me help her pick it up. Then she grabbed her purse and escaped into another part of the building.
Maybe it was the buttons on my coat, one said, “Guns protect innocent life” and the other says, “Democrats (heart) terrorists.” I know those two topics are very difficult for socialists to discuss rationally.
Well, thanks for reading about Salem Speaks Up and the celebration of Human Rights.
Maybe you will join me on their Facebook page during the year, and remember…we have been asked to provide more diversity next year. That’s what it’s all about when you celebrate the U.N. Human Rights Day. Peace…and diversity.
~ Rebecca Roth attend the Salem Speaks Up event on December 10th, 2015 and lives in Salem, Oregon.
In a letter submitted today, State Representative Bill Post (R) asked Oregon Governor Kate Brown to clarify the state’s position on the potential relocation of Syrian refugees to Oregon. Post is urging the governor to protect Oregonians from potential terror attacks while also allowing those fleeing religious persecution a safe haven.
by Dr. Mark Anderson | I Spy Radio
In the wake of the Garland TX shootings, much has been made and continues to be made, about the “appropriateness” of Pamela Geller’s “Draw Muhammad” event. As recently as this morning, Martha MacCallum of Fox News interviewed Lars Larson and Jehmu Greene who all agreed Pamela Geller had the absolute right to do what she did but debated the “appropriateness” of her actions to hold the event. Within that heated debate, Martha posed the question “What is the appropriate response to ISIS?” Sadly, due to the combative nature of the interview, it went largely unanswered. So allow me.
When responding to terrorists, it is exceptionally appropriate to demonstrate you are not afraid of them. That their threats of violence—to say nothing of their acts of violence—have done nothing and will do nothing to make you cower in fear. That you will not abridge your own speech out of fear they may do something violent in return.
Showing weakness emboldens terrorists. Unfortunately, weakness now passes as official U.S. policy. Even before he became president, Obama launched his apologetic world tour. He has since backed up those apologies by official actions, conceding time and again in the face of radical Islamic threats. When push came to shove in the “Arab Spring” he sided with the radical elements in Egypt and Libya. He sides with the more radical Syrian rebels (many factions of which evolved into ISIS) over the more secular and moderate (though despicable) President Bashar al-Assad.
Reminiscent of Palestinians throwing rocks at well-armed Israeli soldiers, Obama has launched just enough missiles and drone strikes from afar, to give the appearance of doing “something” to the American people. But absent is a bold, authoritative, and crushing offensive strike that would send the message that needs to be sent.
In this sense, Pamela Geller’s event was entirely appropriate. She—a woman no less—stood in the face of violence, shook her fist, and proclaimed, “We will not be silent!” Would Martha MacCallum question the “appropriateness” of a woman standing up to an abusive husband with a similar determination of “I will not be silent!”?
It’s not just Martha MacCallum but many of the Fox News team. Bill O’Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, and others have scolded Geller over the “appropriateness” of her event—while conceding her right to hold it. The only two who seem to get it are Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity. In an on-air exchange, Megyn absolutely dismantled O’Reilly pontificating with a single question: “You know what else the jihadis don’t like? They hate Jews. Should we get rid of all Jews?”
It’s also highly appropriate to know the mindset of the people you’re fighting, to know your enemy. And judging from the self-righteous comments of those on Fox News and others like Jehmu Greene in this morning’s debate, I would guess none of them have actually read the Qur’an. I challenge them to do so; I invite you to do so. There is a highly respected English translation, fully searchable, electronic version of the Qu’ran available on the page for Show 5-04 (see the “Links Mentioned” section). Take a look. See for yourself about the treatment of Jews and Christians and the absolutely permissible act of killing them if they do not submit to the superiority of Islam. The difference between moderate and radical Islamic beliefs is that moderates view the killing of Jews and Christians as “permissible”; radical Islamists view it as a commandment.
If the Fox News crew actually knew the mindset of radical Islamists, they would know that the “appropriate” response against radicalized violence is strength. On I Spy Radio, I have interviewed multiple guests on radical Islam and ISIS, from Brigitte Gabriel (Act! for America) to Dr. Andrew Bostom to Joseph Klein to Dr. Bruce Thornton to, most recently, Raymond Ibrahim. In discussions with them both on and off the air, all of them underscore that the Middle Eastern mindset is one that respects strength. This has existed for centuries. The Muslim incursions into Europe did not stop because Christians the world over apologized. The incursions stopped because of strength, because of the Crusades, which proclaimed via actions that Christians had had enough and were also willing to die for their faith.
The Fox commentators have also used the infamous “Piss Christ” (an “artwork” of a crucifix in a jar of urine) as an example to counter Geller’s event in that they agreed the artist had a right to do it but that it too was “inappropriate.” They are correct that it was inappropriate. But it’s a false comparison because his rights as an artist were not being threatened. If Christians were dragging atheists or artists out into the streets and beheading then, yes, “Piss Christ” would have been an absolutely appropriate response. Instead, it was an artist with a cushy fat taxpayer grant thumbing his nose at Christians, whose tax dollars helped fund it. The only way you can compare “Piss Christ” to Geller’s event would be if there had been no radical Islamic killings of Westerners, no threats of violence, no implied or overt threats of forcing America to abide by Sharia law—and that Muslims had funded Geller’s event to insult them.
Another common refrain among the Fox News commentators is that Pamela Geller should not have “provoked” the radical Islamists. Our very existence “provokes” radical Islamists. To echo Megyn Kelly, the very existence of Jews and Christians “provoke” them (unless they were to admit the superiority and ultimate authority of Islam). Our way of life is an insult to them. They hate that our women flaunt themselves and walk around half naked—to say nothing of their demands of equal rights with men.
Our entire existence as a nation “provokes” them. They hate us for our freedoms and not just freedom of speech but all of them. The very fact that we’re free to worship who we want and how we want throws it in their face that we have not submitted, that we have not turned our society on its head to follow the dictates of Islam. And they hate that we have even enshrined all of this in the Constitution that guarantees us these rights and this ability to thumb our nose at radical Islam.
So many of our Founding Fathers proclaimed the price of Liberty was so high and so precious they were willing to die to defend it. Do you think Pamela Geller or those attending the “Draw Mohammed” contest—or the former Muslim who won it—weren’t all keenly aware that they were putting their own lives at risk for standing up for freedom? In decrying the “appropriateness” of Pamela Geller’s event, the Fox News crew admitted her right to free speech. Just as they have the right to criticize. And yet it makes one wonder whether they too would put their lives on the line to defend it?
Standing up with strength and resolve, and knowing that it is the correct response in the face of those who would do violence against you simply because you dared to stand up is appropriate. Because the price of freedom is that, at some point, you will be offended. Some are willing to pay the ultimate price for freedom. Others take the safety of the newsroom.
The I Spy Radio Show is not your typical conservative talk radio show. They are a one-hour show and not just news but actual analysis. Host, Mark Anderson, and top-level guests give a more in-depth insight in one hour than most shows do in three.
Don’t get yelled at. Get informed.
An Open Letter to:
Governor Kate Brown
Senate President, Peter Courtney
House Committee On Rules: Representative Barnhart, Representative Hoyle, Representative Kennemer, Representative McLane, Representative Nosse, Representative Rayfield, Representative Smith Warner, Representative Wilson, and Representative Gilliam:
Re: SB 941
My husband I wanted very much to attend the Hearing today on Senate Bill 941 because we feel very strongly, as do many, about this issue. My husband has pneumonia and I am still taking antibiotics for the flu virus and so we were forced to stay home.
Too many decisions are being taken out of the hands of voters. BM 941 is a case on point. Because feelings are so strong on both sides of this issue, we feel it is unfair for the Oregon Legislature to be deciding the issue. We also believe SB 941 is a decision that belongs in the citizens of Oregon. Outside influences, especially, should not be a factor in matters that affect Oregonians. Only Oregon voters should be able to make the decision.
I urge you to do the right thing and put this to the voters even if a special election is necessary.
Billy M. and Rosemary Scott
Salem, Oregon 97306
by Anne Marie Gurney at Freedom Foundation
Oregon interim-Gov. Kate Brown’s recent actions speak louder than her hollow rhetoric on the subject of transparency.
When she signed a bill on April 10 that made some public-sector unions more secret, she added at least 55,000 home healthcare workers to Oregon’s growing list of special interest groups already exempted from public disclosure laws.
Last December, the Freedom Foundation submitted a public records request to the state of Oregon for a list of all home healthcare providers so we could inform them of their newly affirmed constitutional rights under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn ruling to opt out of paying union dues and fees.
Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS) responded with a letter informing us, “Your request is in process, and it is currently with the Department of Justice for a quick review prior to our response. I expect that review to be completed next week, and I will get back to you at that time.”
We weren’t holding our breath. This is a government agency, and “next week” is code for, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
The concept that everyone should earn at least some government-mandated minimum wage is politically very appealing. It’s almost the classic example of taking from the few and giving to the many. “The few” in this case are portrayed as rich businessmen who could never spend all the money they have, so what’s wrong with making them pay their workers a little more? Now, proponents of raising Oregon’s minimum wage are trying to convince us that somehow such policy is actually good for small business owners.
A recent report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy claims that a higher minimum wage works for small businesses by giving them “more of what they need most: customers with money.”
In reality, raising the minimum wage would only benefit small businesses if owners didn’t mind depleting their own savings or investment funds in order to support higher labor costs. Otherwise, they would have little choice but to raise prices, which would harm all their customers, especially those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
And, because minimum wage laws actually cut off those lower rungs on the economic ladder, younger, less educated, and less experienced workers will be even less likely to get or keep the very jobs they need to be customers in the first place. They may spend their unemployment checks, but those checks won’t go as far once prices are raised to cover the higher labor costs that a boost in the minimum wage imposes.
Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg, District 1) has been a consistent voice of fairness, reason and openness during this Oregon legislative session. In a letter to constituents sent today, he discusses SB 941, vaccinations, the K-12 budget and provides an insight into the political process.
There were several interesting and very troubling events relative to bills that happened this week. I am going to focus on three of them; two were in committees and one on the Senate floor. The first is Senate Bill 941 which is the gun background check bill. It has been stated by Senator Prozanski that this will help end gun violence, which is patently untrue. The focus of the anti-gun people has always been the school shootings and events like the Clackamas Town Center shooting. The reality is nothing in this legislation would have had an impact on any of those events; in fact it was a man with a concealed carry permit who stopped the shooter at the Clackamas Town Center.
I want to share with you some statistics and a comparison of two cities, Chicago with a population of 2.7 million and Houston with a population of 2.15 million. Chicago allows no concealed carry permits and has no gun stores, which means they should be a “gun free zone.” Houston allows concealed carry and has 184 gun stores and an additional 1500 stores where guns can be purchased. I would think the advocates for SB 941 would have to claim Chicago to be the safer city. However, what you would actually find should change people’s minds. In 2012 the number of homicides in Chicago was 1,806 and the number of homicides in Houston was 207. It should also be pointed out the country with the lowest level of gun violence is Switzerland where all citizens are not only trained in the use of guns but actually own one (or more).
The reality is that putting more restrictions on law-abiding citizens will not stop criminals from getting guns and this bill will in some ways make people less safe. Gang members, drug cartels and other criminals will always be able to get guns. SB 941 will do nothing more than make it harder and more expensive for the average citizen to be able to protect themselves. The vote in the Senate will come on Tuesday and with the Democrat 18 to 12 majority it will pass.
The second issue is mandatory vaccinations. I will repeat again I am not opposed to vaccinations, just the government mandated schedule that is trying to be imposed. Senator Steiner Hayward had a bill in the Health Care Committee (SB442) which would have, among other things, removed the religious exemption. That bill died in committee in large part because of a vast amount of public objections. This week the issue resurfaced in the Senate Education Committee as an amendment to SB 895. I guess some people just won’t give up. The real issue here from my perspective comes down to parental rights and personal freedom. This is just one of many cases in which certain legislators are saying “the government knows more about what is in your best interest than you do.” Because this country was founded on the principles for personal freedom and personal responsibility, this type of heavy handed action should be objectionable to all who really care about their freedom. At this point I don’t know what will happen with SB 895, but I hope it has the same fate as SB 442.
The third issue was the K-12 budget, which has now passed in both the House and Senate. It was incredibly inadequate, and everyone admitted it. The Republicans offered a series of other budget adjustments that could have brought the funding level to an acceptable level, but they were all rejected by the Ways and Means Committee. To make matters even worse the Senate Majority Leader put out a position paper detailing what the impacts of our suggestions would do to other budgets. The problem with that was the fact it was all lies. We objected to these lies being read into the record, but once again the super majority status prevailed. In reality, with a projected 1.8 billion dollars more to spend the K-12 budget could have been better and given school districts a real target as they complete their budget process. What we are going to see instead, a couple of months from now, will be a move to either increase taxes or steal the kicker or both so that we can adequately fund education. The reality is this is a ploy that has been used before to portray republicans as being anti-education because we won’t raise taxes. This is another purely political move and is definitely is in no one’s best interest.
The next two weeks will be interesting and probably get very intense as we near the deadline for bills to be heard in the Chamber of origin. At this point I won’t speculate on what will be coming out of the various committees, but I guess the good thing is we will have a better idea at that point what bills are still alive. Unfortunately what we haven’t seen yet is significant movement on any legislation designed to help business or create jobs. By jobs I mean private sector jobs; there will undoubtedly be the creation of more government jobs. The interesting part of that is the fact there are people up here who actually think creating government jobs will stimulate the economy. That type of ignorance can be hard to overcome and clearly demonstrates the type of barriers we have to deal with.
Sincerely, Senator Jeff Kruse
from The Gospel Coalition
America is in the midst of a seismic cultural shift in matters of faith, family, and freedom.
More than 35 states now issue same-sex marriage licenses. An increasing number of scholars and judges insist that the First Amendment only protects the freedom to believe—not the freedom to live out those beliefs. At least one state now compels employers to provide insurance coverage for elective abortions. Many cities nationwide ban religious employers from hiring and firing based on their religious convictions. Gender fluidity is gaining legal and political legitimacy.
Churches cannot afford to ignore the fallout of the sexual revolution. Churches that desire to maintain a faithful gospel witness increasingly feel the effects of these cultural changes.
Pastors are being asked to perform same-sex ceremonies and admit same-sex couples to marriage enrichment retreats. Churches face litigation for holding their employees—including pastors or music directors—to a biblical sexual ethic. Church administrators receive requests to use church sanctuaries for same-sex ceremonies. Pastors who teach the sanctity of human life and the creation institution of marriage are frequently labeled “political” and threatened with the loss of their church’s tax-exempt status.
These new political, cultural, and legal realities directly affect the church’s freedom to live out its faith. While most church decisions about internal governance or doctrine currently enjoy constitutional protection, churches cannot assume that these protections will stand indefinitely. Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today’s culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church’s freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith.
Here are five ways churches can protect their freedom to maintain fidelity to the faith.
Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg, District 1) has been a consistent voice of fairness, reason and openness during this Oregon legislative session. In a letter to constituents sent today, he discusses SB 941 and provides an insight into the political process.
The main focus of this newsletter will be the current version of the gun background check bill (Senate Bill 941), but first a little recap of a couple of the measures we have passed that can only be described as political payback. First was the low carbon fuel standards bill that mostly benefits out of state “green energy” companies. The second was the re-write of common law on class action law suits which primarily benefits trial lawyers. The thing these two groups have in common is the fact they are heavy contributors to Democrat campaigns in Oregon.
The way the gun bill can easily be connected is through the fact the Bloomberg group (the former billionaire mayor of New York City) contributed over $600,000 to Democrat campaigns in this last election, including $75,000 in one Senate race; and this group’s single issue is the banning of guns. With the results of the last election we knew these bills would be coming, because this was the reason for the financial support and, as a reminder, this also includes the Former Governor and his girlfriend.
Now we will get to the bill itself and the political process. The way the process works is a bill is not available for anyone to see until it is “first read”, which is the point where it is submitted to the office of the Senate President or Speaker of the House and acknowledged in First Readings on the Floor of the appropriate Chamber. At that point it will be assigned to a committee and then it is up to the committee chair to decide whether or not to schedule the bill for a public hearing and potentially a work session, which is when the bill can potentially be amended and passed out of the committee. The bill will then be “second read” on the Floor which would set the stage for it to be “third read” the next day which would be when we would vote on it. There is no set time frame for when this can happen, for example the presiding officer can wait a long time to assign a bill to a committee and can also wait a long time to put a bill on the Second Reading calendar.
Here was the track of SB 941. It was first read last Thursday (our first opportunity to see it) and was assigned to the Judiciary Committee the same day. The bill was then scheduled for a public hearing this Wednesday and a work session on Thursday. Because of the last minute amendments submitted on the bill the Chair decided to hold it over for a work session on Monday, but I doubt if he is going to make any significant changes to the bill.
The public hearing Wednesday was actually embarrassing. When I was the chair of a committee I would always make sure members of the public who came to testify would be able to have their opportunity. In this case we had people who had driven in some cases up to 6 hours for the hearing and were either denied the opportunity or given just two minutes to testify. Meanwhile the Mayor of Portland and his group were given 15 minutes which actually stretched into close to 25 minutes. In fairness one pro-gun group was also given 15 minutes, but their time was not extended. It should be noted the only people who were denied happened to be those in opposition to the bill.
This is a paraphrase of the dialog I had with the Mayor. He stated passage of this bill would greatly reduce gun violence in Portland. I pointed out the fact Chicago and Detroit already had such restrictions and it hadn’t reduced the violence in those cities. I then asked him to explain the discrepancy between his statement and the reality in these other cities. His response was there were a lot of other factors to consider, which was a total non-answer.
The basic element of this bill has to do with private sales. For example, if I wanted to sell a gun to my neighbor we would be required to go to a gun store with the gun and submit to a background check, which with all of the fees involved would cost maybe fifty dollars and we would have to do this for every transaction. We are told this will go a long way towards keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, which is patently untrue. The reality is nothing in this bill would have stopped any of the high profile shootings over the last few years.
If the goal of the bill really was to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the chair would adopt the -8 amendments. This would be a very simple solution. It would require a designation on the back of driver’s license or ID card for anyone convicted of a felony, similar to what currently exists for a motorcycle endorsement. This would make it very simple to know if a person was eligible to purchase a gun by just checking their ID. It would also not impose unnecessary restrictions on honest people.
This idea will be rejected because it will not help the majority party achieve their ultimate objective which is total gun registration. While they will deny this, it is easy to track what the next step will be. We will be told at a future date that we have no real way to know if people are complying with this new law and registration will be the only way we can know for sure. This is clearly what the Bloomberg group wants and just as clearly the majority party in Oregon is more than willing to let groups from New York dictate policy for campaign contributions.
Elections do have consequences, and we are in the process of finding out just how far the Democrats are willing to go with their supermajority status. In the end all of this political payback will not be in the best interests of the majority of the people in this state. Because we really can’t stop anything, I want you all to be paying very close attention.
Sincerely, Senator Jeff Kruse