Legislative report: Pole truck permits, Bill of Rights for siblings of foster children
A lot of the bills that get introduced are in response to problems that only come to light under very particular circumstances. That is the case with a bill that I introduced, HB2568, which authorizes the transport of utility poles in the event of an unplanned power or telecommunications disruption, where the total load length of the pole and truck may exceed 80 feet.
Exceeding that length requires a variance permit, which may be impossible to obtain when it's a weekend or after hours. This bill is a commonsense solution when problems occur during weather-related emergencies, and it will allow utility workers to do their jobs without running the risk of being cited for exceeding the restrictions of the Oregon Vehicle Code.
Another interesting bill, HB2515, refines access to historic cemeteries that exist on private property. Many are single gravesites and we have several of them in my district. The well-known pioneer and fur trader Thomas McKay is buried just outside of Scappoose. Current law requires landowners to allow access at reasonable times for the purposes of visitation by descendants, maintenance of the grave site, or someone interested or curious about history. The bill tightens this up a bit so that those interested in history should actually be "conducting historical research." The object of this legislation is to make sure that landowners have a better sense of who is accessing the gravesite and for what purpose.
Finally, Oregon statute currently spells out a Bill of Rights for both children and parents in the foster care system. Last week we passed a Bill of Rights for siblings as well. Even though federal law requires that siblings be placed together whenever possible, nearly 75 percent end up being separated from each other. HB2216A instructs the state Department of Human Services to facilitate sibling contact by developing a contact plan, including transportation if necessary, provide training on the importance of sibling relationships for foster parents, and promote the participation of current and former foster children in developing rules going forward. It's a great bill and I am happy to support anything that contributes to the well-being of our foster children.