SALEM — These bills might not make headlines, but they may make a difference to Oregonians all the same. Each of these bills passed their last hurdle this week and now head next to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.
TOW TIME:Senate Bill 396 slashes the amount of time a gas station operator must wait before towing a vehicle that's blocking access to a pump. Current law states there's a 72-hour minimum before a vehicle that's been abandoned on private property can be towed away. Under SB 396, which passed the House unanimously on Monday, if a vehicle is parked at a fuel pump and preventing it from being used, the business-owner can have it towed with two hours' notice. Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, who carried the bill, said the provision is needed to help businesses that depend on having fuel pumps available at all times, such as truck stops.
RESTRICTED IMAGES:Critics of Oregon's much-publicized ban on "revenge porn" in 2015 have argued it contains a notable loophole — it only bans intimate photos and videos posted on a website without the subject's consent. House Bill 2393 changes the law to make sharing those images illegal regardless of how they are distributed, whether they're put on the internet, sent in a text message, email or social media app, or printed out and given to people. It passed the Senate unanimously Monday after previously passing the House.
MUZZLED:In 2017, local paper Columbia County Spotlight touched off a statewide conversation about how dogs are used in jails and prisons when it obtained video of a K-9 being sicced on a Columbia County Jail inmate who had refused to leave his cell. Senate Bill 495, which the House approved on a 54-1 vote Monday, bans the use of dogs to extract inmates from cells. The legislation has the support of law enforcement and civil rights groups. Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, was the sole "nay" vote.
DNA DILEMMA:As DNA testing became more accurate and available, there's been an increase around the country of inmates having their convictions overturned. But in Oregon, it's very difficult for someone to use science to clear their name. Current law states a petitioner must show that doing DNA testing would lead to their innocence. Advocates for change say it's a catch-22: How can you show it would lead to innocence before you receive the results of the test? Senate Bill 321 would get rid of that language to make it easier to have a judge approve testing. It passed the Senate Wednesday.
I LIKE TURTLES:Senate Bill 90 would ban restaurants and convenience stores from serving beverages with plastic straws. The final version of the bill passed the Senate Wednesday on a 18-8 vote, with Sens. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, and Tim Knopp, R-Bend, joining Democrats in favor. The war on straws began after a video of biologists pulling a straw from a sea turtle's nose in 2017. Estimates say there are billions of straws polluting the world's shorelines, but overall they account for a fairly insignificant amount of the plastic in our oceans. When asked why target straws specifically, Gov. Kate Brown said it's an important bill that raises awareness. It passed the Senate Wednesday.
GANJA GLUT:Oregon's marijuana community got a touch overzealous at the legalization of weed. Oversupply of cannabis has gotten to the point that it would take six years to consume the state's surplus. With no current avenue to export the excess cheeba, the state wants more control of production. Senate Bill 218 gives the Oregon Liquor Control Commission the authority to stop giving out new licenses when supply exceeds demand. It passed the Senate Thursday.