Everything from taxes to whistleblowers to crime to driving, prescription drug costs and cockfights become laws

Every year the Oregon legislature passes a number of bills that become law on Jan. 1. Some of these laws only focus on some of us, others affect all of us. The incoming legislature also plans to discuss bills that may affect Oregon residents early in the season such as new gun storage, climate change and the governor's budget.

One of last year's most contentious stories dealt with an extension of the Aurora Airport's runway. After residents from near and not so near the airport were against what they called a back-end deal with very few hearings open to the public, the idea died in a Salem committee. It appears that it may come up again this year, but perhaps without making an end run going behind resident's backs.

Another potential bill would create a plan to require those owning weapons to lock their weapons when not in use. Weapon owners who don't follow the bill could receive fines up to $2,000 if a can get access.

As for climate change, Governor Kate Brown and other state officials are ready to ensure that it happens.

This article looks at bills that the state's senators and house members passed during the previous session that will affect us about a week from now.

The following laws all become effective on Jan. 1.

Senate Bill 1562 amends the bill defining strangulation. Until Jan. 1, a person commits the crime by impeding the normal breathing or blood circulation of another person by applying pressure to the throat or neck of a person by blocking the nose or mouth. If the victim doesn't die, that defines a Class A misdemeanor, raising it to a Class C felony when committed in the company or witnessed by the offender's or victim's minor child, stepchild or child in the same household.

It expands the definition of strangulation to include conduct that obstructs normal breathing or circulation of a person by applying pressure to the chest. It also reclassifies the transgression as a Class C felony if the victim is a family or household member or intimately related to the offender. While currently strangulation is considered a Level 6 offense for sentencing in the state guidelines, it becomes a Class C felony when the victim is a family or household member.

House Bill 4050 amends former state laws governing unlawful cockfighting and unlawful participation in cockfighting, which are both Class C felonies. One provision of the law had defined cockfighting to include any person who knowingly manufactures, buys, sells, barters, exchanges, possesses, advertises or offers to sell a gaff, slasher or other sharp implement designed for attachment to a fighting bird with the intent that those instruments be used in cockfighting. The new bill removed those behaviors and added the offense of unlawful participation in cockfighting.

ORS 496.705 allows the State Fish and Wildlife Commission to initiate litigation to recover damages for taking or killing wildlife. The legislature in 2016 enacted HB4046 amending ORD 496.705 increasing financial penalties to be assessed against those unlawfully killing or taking wildlife with different penalties for different animals. Because of an appeals decision, sentencing for restitution can only use objectively verifiable economic loses. It legally can't substitute established civil damage amounts authorized by ORS 496.705. Once there is a conviction for the unlawful taking or killing wildlife the court can order a compensatory fine and transfer amounts collected to the State Fish and Wildlife Commission. This measure doesn't preclude State Fish and Wildlife Commission from initiating litigation for civil damages.

SB1538 modifies provisions for driving privileges, suspensions, revocations and the ability for people to get driving privileges following a suspension or revocation. This bill eliminates driving license suspensions arising from events unrelated to driving, such as for littering, uncollected payment to the Department of Transportation, failure to use same name, giving false information to a police officer, misrepresentation of age, perjury of false affidavit for certain vehicle transactions and the theft of gasoline.

It also modifies suspensions for controlled substance offenses, minors in possession of alcohol and cannabis offences. It also eases the process for those with a suspended or revoked license to obtain limited driving privileges. Currently those with a suspended or revoked licenses can obtain limited driving privileges by a probationary or hardship permit. It eliminates probationary permits and streamlines all requests for limited driving privileges into the hardship permit process while establishing rules for the eligibility of a hardship permit.

HB4055 amends some statutes defining the obligations of a motor vehicle driver following an accident when the accident results in damage to property, injuries to people and/or domestic animals. Former laws provide several degrees of offenses for hit and run or refusing to meet legal objections following an accident. These offenses range from a violation offense for injury to domestic animals; to a Class A misdemeanor for damage to property; to a Class B or C felony for injuries to people.

These violations are related to people leaving an accident scene before police arrive, without exchanging required information and rendering aid when necessary. An Oregon State of Appeals court interpreted ORS811.705 to mean that a driver's affirmative legal obligations to remain at the scene and/or provide certain identifying obligations only arises when the driver becomes aware of the damage to people or property. HB4055 makes changes to the hit and run statutes: changing the language from accident to collision; it applies the duty to exchange information to know or have reason to believe they were involved in a collision; and, most important, it creates an obligation for those who later learning of the accident after they left.

HB4145 modifies several statutes relating to firearms, firearm offenses, ammunition, background checks and firearm reporting requirements of prosecuting attorneys and the Department of State Police. It modifies ORS 166.255, which establishes a Class A misdemeanor for people who unlawfully possess firearms or ammunition and are precluded from doing so by an existing court order, a Stalking Protective Order, certain misdemeanor convictions involving the use or attempted use of physical force or threatened use of a deadly weapon.

The bill replaces the term of "intimate partner" with family or household member to align with other statutes governing domestic violence. The bill extends those subject to prosecution for violating ORS 166.255 to cases in which the protected party is a sexual partner regardless if the protectee and defendant have ever resided together. Additionally, it extends the Stalking Protection Order and Family Abuse Prevention orders allowing prosecution for contempt if the stalker or abuser possesses a fire arm or ammunition in violation of that order. The same goes for people convicted of a qualifying misdemeanor, which prohibits carrying a fire arm or ammunition. State Police is required to report attempted transfers or purchases of firearms within 24 hours to all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including district attorneys having jurisdiction in the location of the sale or transfer. State Police must prepare an annual report on the number of attempted purchases and the number of investigations resulting from these attempts as well as the charges and dispositions of all charges coming from these attempts.

HB4149 does two things. It precludes a court from conditioning pretrial release on a person's agreeing to be tried in absentia if they fail to appear at a court date. It also adds a provision that prevents district attorneys from conditioning a plea offer on the defendant stipulating to the unconstitutionality of a law.

SB1550 authorizes the state Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt record keeping requirements for people engaged in taking, landing, buying or selling food fish for commercial purposes or otherwise dealing with food fish for commercial purposes. This will help trace the chain of commercial food fish, a charge for the ODFFW to promote food fish safety and public confidence.

HB4054 authorizes the Oregon Department of Transportation to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with cities with populations over 500,000 to remove, store and dispose of personal property from locations that are owned by ODOT. It's intended to allow Portland to work with ODOT to clear unlawful camping sites within the city that are on ODOT property. It sunsets on Jan. 2, 2023.

SB1559 asks the Bureau of Labor and Industries to prepare a book of uniform standards and procedures of regulations for whistleblower protection. It requires OHA, ODOT and DEQ to develop pilot programs to provide optional pilot programs to provide optional procedures for employees to anonymously disclose certain information.

SB1536 changes elections of certain mass transit districts to government appointment. However, certain elected directors will continue serving their term until it expires.

HB4005 authorizes a statewide prescription drug cost and price transparency program, which defines manufacture, manufacturer, prescription drug and price and directs the Department of Consumer and Business Services to define any new prescription drugs. It requires the prescription drug manufacturers to report specified information regarding certain prescription drugs to DCBS. It also requires drug manufacturers to report production, marketing and research costs, and use of consumer assistance programs and current prices of planned price increases for certain prescription drugs during a certain period.

The bill grants DCBS the authority to impose civil penalties for drug manufacturers failing to comply with reporting requirements as well as grants DCBS to set manufacturer fees to implement the transparency program for rulemaking. It also requires health insurers with a prescription drug benefit to report information to DCBS to hold a public hearing annually regarding prescription drug prices. DCBS must submit an annual report to the Legislative Assembly that addresses prescription drug prices and cost containment. While it took effect last March, its first report on drug pricing (without including pricing new drugs) by pharmaceutical manufacturers is due July 1, 2019. The first report on new drugs is due March 15, 2019. Thereafter the new drug report must be submitted no later than 30 days after the introduction of the drug to the market. Insurers must report drug prices along with their rate filings after Jan. 1, 2019.

HB4020 explains criteria for licensing extended stay centers and requires Oregon Health Authority to adopt rules. It requires extended stay centers to report discharge data to OHA on request. Then OHA has to apply for authorization from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to receive federal matching funds for services of extended stay centers provided to medical assistance recipients and to permit extended stay centers and ambulatory surgical centers to operate under a single license. It creates new requirements related to hospital financial assistance policies. Hospitals must have written financial assistance policies complying with statutory plain language requirements for consumer contracts. Hospitals have to display policies in publicly accessible areas and provide written copies to patients on request. OHA is required to make a uniform financial assistance application form available that consumers can use with any Oregon hospital. While it took effect last April, the majority of its substantive sections become effective Jan. 1.

HB4104 modifies the requirements for health benefit plan coverage of hearing loss treatments. Insurers must cover costs related to bilateral cochlear implants including programming, reprogramming and repair. It defines a hearing assistive technology system and requires health insurers to cover ear molds, replacement ear molds and hearing assistive technology for pediatric enrollees and students. The bill requires health insurers to provide notice of coverage limits to enrollees and offer education materials. Health insurers are requirement to ensure that enrollees have access to pediatric audiologists. While it takes effect on Jan. 1, it applies to health benefit plans in 2020.

SB1534 separates personal support workers from home care workers, but retains the same requirements for both. It requires the Department of Human Services to establish minimum training standards and procedures for both jobs beginning Jan. 1. It includes a nonexclusive list of topics that can be included in training with specifics that training must be geographically accessible to all areas of the state and culturally appropriate for workers of all language abilities. Elder law practitioners need to keep an eye on whether the bill impacts availability and cost of in-home care for clients. A potential increase in the cost of such services may affect Medicaid planning when looking at the length resources can last before needing benefits and in determining whether applying for benefits makes financial sense for clients.

SB1553 amends HB 2536 (2017) by expanding an unlawful collection practice and added more requirements that debt buyers must adhere to; it further clarifies that this sub-section of the statute applies to both debt buyers and debt collectors acting on behalf of a debt buyer.

HB4135 updates the Oregon Advance Directive Adoption Committee to review and propose modifications every four years. The current advance directives remain in effect as do advance directives completed on previous forms. The new form should be used only after Jan. 1, 2019. It will sunset on Jan. 1, 2022 because the Advance Directive Adoption Committee is expected to have a new form by the Health Law then.

Carol Rosen
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine