Oregon legislation

Man accused of attacking women has long criminal past

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Police previously arrested the 31-year-old man linked to two violent attacks on women in Northeast Portland more than 10 times in the past decade, according to records obtained by KOIN 6 News.

Sergio Jose Martinez remains in the Multnomah County Detention Center with bail set at more than $2 million.

On Wednesday, Martinez was arraigned at the Multnomah County Justice Center on a total of 13 felonies including burglary, sodomy, sexual abuse, robbery and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

He has been linked to two separate attacks on July 24 in Northeast Portland.

The first attack happened near the intersection of Northeast 17th and Irving, according to police. Martinez used scarves and socks to bind the victim’s hands and feet and blindfolded her, according to court documents. He proceeded to violently attack the woman physically and sexually.

The second attack happened near Northeast 21st and Halsey several hours after the first attack, according to police. Martinez is accused of approaching a woman with a knife and threatening to kill her. Police believe that Martinez was trying to kidnap the woman as she left work.

According to an official Portland Police Bureau report, officers have arrested Martinez a total of 13 times since 2008.

February 2008 – Drinking in public
March 2008 – Theft of a motor vehicle
March 2008 – Hit and run
January 2017 – Criminal trespassing
February 2017 – Drug offenses
February 2017 – Interfering with public safety
March 2017 – Fugitive Warrant
March 2017 – Detox, civil hold
March 2017 – Fugitive warrant
April 2017 – Theft of services
April 2017 – Shoplifting
June 2017 – Fugitive warrant
July 2017 – Criminal trespassing

He was also cited in June 2017 for providing false information to police.

Prior to his arrest on Monday, his most recent arrest was for criminal trespassing. Details about that case were not immediately disclosed because of the on-going investigation into the two assaults Martinez is accused of committing.

The police bureau has a total of 7 different names and various birth dates Martinez has used over the years.

Martinez has a history of illegal entry into the US

Records show Martinez, at the time of his arrest on Monday, did not have a fixed address and was considered by the bureau as “transient.” In December 2016 and February 2017, Martinez used an address in the 6900 block of Southeast Nehalem Street. Attempts to reach the current owner of the residence listed were not immediately successful Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

According to court records reviewed by KOIN 6 News, Martinez’s first criminal case in Multnomah County was filed in March 2008. He was charged with three misdemeanors. The case went into warrant status in April 2008 when Martinez failed to show up for his arraignment. He was arraigned on the case in December 2016 but the case was dismissed by the DA’s Office for unknown reasons in January 2017.

In January 2017, the DA’s Office also dismissed a 9-count indictment filed against Martinez in March 2008. The case remained in warrant status for years, according to court records.

On December 29, 2016, Martinez was issued a citation for violating TriMet rules for riding a MAX without a fare at the Hollywood Transit Center. He has never paid his fine and the case has been sent to a collection agency, according to court documents. Martinez received similar citations, which also went into collection status, in March and April 2017.

In April 2017, the DA’s Office declined to prosecute Martinez on charges of interfering with public transportation and theft of services. Details of the case were not immediately available.

Martinez’s first conviction in the Multnomah County Circuit Court came in July 2017 when Martinez entered a guilty plea to one count of second-degree criminal trespassing and one count of interfering with a peace officer. Records show there was a “sentence of discharge.” Under Oregon law, if imposed a sentence of discharge, “the defendant shall be released with respect to the conviction for which the sentence is imposed without imprisonment, probationary supervision or conditions.”

Earlier this month, prosecutors also dismissed a single count of possession of meth and giving false information filed against Martinez. Records show the DA’s Office dismissed the drug case and the false info case as part of the plea agreement reached in the criminal trespassing case and interfering case.

On July 12, 2017, the Multnomah County Pretrial Services Program issued a report pertaining to the potential release of Martinez while he was in custody. The author recommended Martinez be held in custody. The report revealed Martinez has a lengthy criminal record out of California including being an alien found in the United States after deportation, parole violations, illegal re-entry to the United States, burglary, battery, theft and obstructing a public officer.

Other jail records show that “[Martinez] has entry/removal from United States to/from Mexico 20 times with at least 5 probation violations from re-entry.”

Jail records submitted in March 2017 show Martinez’s most recent deportation to Mexico was Nov. 2, 2016. It remains unknown how or when he returned to the United States.

Several federal cases have been filed against Martinez for his alleged illegal re-entry into the United States.

A spokesperson with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told KOIN 6 News Wednesday that the agency was looking into Martinez’s cases and would provide an update later Thursday.

In a letter dated September 21, 2016, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese wrote that the county is “not responsible for enforcing federal immigration policy….MCSO follows the direction of the Federal District Court of Oregon prohibiting local jail systems from honoring ICE detainees. Additionally, there are provisions of Oregon law which restrict our cooperation with federal immigration authorities.”

The letter goes on to state, “The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office does not hold persons in jail based upon their immigration status.”

In a joint statement issued in January 2017, eight high-ranking elected officials within Multnomah County issued a statement reiterating the county’s policy.

“The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office does not give ICE officers access to areas of court facilities that are not open to the public, and does not permit ICE officers to maintain a presence in any County correctional facility….The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office does not notify or alert immigration officials or agencies regarding individuals with whom [it] come[s] into contact.”

Martinez is due back in court next month. Portland police told KOIN 6 News it is likely additional charges will be filed against him. Read more about Man accused of attacking women has long criminal past

Jail sued over holding immigration detainees

A lawsuit was filed Friday, July 21, in Wasco County Circuit Court claiming the regional jail is violating state law by holding immigration detainees.

The lawsuit, filed by the Oregon Law Center in Portland on behalf of four Wasco County residents, asks the court to stop the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities (NORCOR) from holding the detainees.

The four plaintiffs in the suit are Brian Stovall, John Olmstead, Connie Krummrich and Karen Brown.

A 1987 state law prohibits the use of state or local resources to “detect or apprehend” people whose only offense is being in the country illegally.

The lawsuit states Oregon law defines apprehend to include “restraining an individual’s liberty so that the [government] can assert the authority of legal process over that individual.”

The suit contends the jail is in violation of that state law through its contract “which requires it to incarcerate individuals solely to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law.”

Will Carey, attorney for NORCOR, said that while state law says resources can’t be used to detect or apprehend illegal residents, “We aren’t doing any of those things, we are just housing prisoners. We also have a policy that we won’t hold anybody who is only being held because they’re a citizen from another country and don’t have proper papers to be here.

“As a matter of fact, the head of NORCOR, our jail administrator Bryan Brandenburg, went through the list the other day and found two people that he didn’t think qualified. He called up ICE and made them come down from Tacoma and pick them up.”

Carey said the lawsuit is a complaint that “an institution is violating Oregon law because it’s cooperating with the United States. So you’re in violation of Oregon law because you’re cooperating with the U.S. That’s going to be an interesting concept. I don’t think they’ve probably even faced this since the Civil War.”

Almost since the jail opened in 1999 it has housed immigration detainees. After a detention facility for detainees was built in Tacoma, the federal government stopped sending detainees to the regional jail, causing a budgeting crisis for the jail.

In 2014, the jail signed a four-year contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold federal detainees. It was amended in 2015 to include detainees from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].

Brandenburg has previously said that all detainees being held at the jail have final deportation orders.

The jail’s current budget anticipates that ICE will use around 22 jail beds per day, though sometimes it is as few as five. The anticipated revenue for the current fiscal year is $1 million.

The lawsuit states the contract requires the jail to accept federal detainees who “are awaiting a hearing on their immigration status or deportation.”

Carey said he believed the lawsuit is “a pure political thing” that was a result of the presidential election. While deportations were high under former President Barack Obama – and the regional jail housed detainees for years without controversy — President Donald Trump campaigned on a hard stance against illegal immigration.

Citizens began attending regional jail meetings earlier this year, and were asked by jail board officials why they were only now focused on the fact that the jail houses detainees. One attendee said she hadn’t realized it before, but was now taking action.

The lawsuit contends the jail does not house federal detainees because of any violation of state or local law.

Rather, the jail uses “county money, personnel and equipment to incarcerate people solely because they allegedly are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”

The suit says the 1987 state law is intended to prevent agencies from assisting “federal officials at any stage of the immigration enforcement process.”

Carey said, “We’ve told the marshal’s office and we’ve told ICE, if they’re not charged or convicted with a crime, then we won’t hold them.”

The lawsuit states, “Whether or not these persons have criminal charges or convictions, the sole reason they are held by NORCOR is to assist ICE in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

In a press release distributed Monday, Jessica Campbell, co-director of the Rural Organizing Project, a statewide network of over 60 groups organizing for human dignity across Oregon, said, “NORCOR officials have been violating Oregon law by using taxpayer money to detain people for federal immigration purposes.

“This is not only a violation of the law, it’s a violation of the trust Oregonians have in their locally elected officials and their public institutions.”

In May, a spokeswoman for Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told the Associated Press the 1987 state law did not apply to NORCOR's contract to house ICE detainees because "it doesn't appear that NORCOR resources are being used to detect or arrest people."

Mat Dos Santos, legal director for American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, told Willamette Week in May that he believed the Attorney General’s office was wrong.

“We think it’s a clear violation of state law for a local facility to house ICE detainees.”

He said “apprehend” not only means arrest, but “detain.”

The suit contends the plaintiffs are subject to the risk of additional future taxes.The ICE contract states the jail is responsible for all medical care provided inside the facility to detainees. (The federal government is responsible for all medical care provided outside the facility.)

The contract assumes the jail’s medical expenses are covered in the $80 per diem rate for each inmate.

The lawsuit notes the jail is only paid in arrears for holding detainees, subject to the availability of funds appropriated by Congress.

It notes the contract requires the jail to apprehend escapees at its own expense, at federal direction.

Carey said it costs $6.2 million a year to run the jail, and the four member counties, Wasco, Hood River, Sherman and Gilliam, contribute $3.8 million. Wasco County pays about $2 million of that.

The regional jail helps support the cost of running the jail by renting beds to ICE, Carey said. “So it’s not like we’re taking money away from Wasco County taxpayers, we’re actually precluding them from being taxed for more money.”

Andrea Williams, the executive director of Causa Oregon, a statewide immigrant rights organization, said in a press release, “We applaud the courage of those who are challenging NORCOR’s use of local public funds and hope that NORCOR stops detaining people for federal immigration purposes.

“We must uphold the integrity of Oregon’s 30-year-old law that limits our local resources from being used to enforce questionable federal immigration policies,” said Williams, who is not involved in the lawsuit.

Carey said the Oregon Law Center sent him a letter July 12 telling him that if NORCOR did not notify the federal government it would stop accepting ICE detainees by Friday, July 21, it would file suit. Read more about Jail sued over holding immigration detainees

Help overturn Oregon's Sanctuary Statute - gather signatures for IP #22

Alert date: 
July 21, 2017
Alert body: 

Oregon was the first state in the country to pass a "sanctuary" statute 30 years ago.

Today, with illegal aliens causing a myriad of problems in states across the country, it makes no sense to have laws that prohibit law enforcement officers from aiding in the enforcement of our Federal immigration laws.

Illegal aliens are not and should not be a "protected class" of people, allowed to break our laws if it suits their purposes. 

Oregonians for Immigration Reform and three Oregon Legislators (Rep. Sal Esquivel, Rep. Greg Barreto and Rep. Mike Nearman) are working to overturn Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820 - Oregon's Sanctuary Statute - to allow law enforcement to more easily assist ICE in removing criminal aliens from our communities.

Please help OFIR by volunteering to collect the needed signatures of your friends, family, at events you attend etc. to get this initiative on the November 2018 General Election ballot. Voters can tell our Oregon Legislature, loud and clear,  to stop shielding people in our country illegally. Remove the state statute that prohibits law enforcement officials from working with ICE to remove criminal aliens from our state!

Call 503.435.0141 to request signature sheets.  If you get the answering machine, please leave the following information:


FULL Mailing address  - including County

Telephone number

How many TEN line signature sheets you would like OFIR to send to you

Let's get busy!

Thank you!


Please visit the Stop Oregon Sanctuaries website!

Oregon legislators push to allow police to enforce immigration laws

Three Oregon legislators are spearheading an initiative petition that would repeal the Oregon law prohibiting local and state police from enforcing federal immigration laws.

Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, and Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Pendleton, certified a ballot title with the Elections Division for Initiative Petition 2018-022, which is proposed for the November 6, 2018 General Election.

The trio is hoping voters will support repealing Oregon Statute 181.850 [ORS 181A.820], which states law enforcement agencies may not use agency money, equipment or personnel to detect or apprehend people who are only violating federal immigration laws by being foreign citizens in the United States.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, an organization calling for an end to illegal immigration, is "cosigning" the initiative, said communications director Jim Ludwick.

"Every nation has a sovereign right to set its own immigration policies and we believe the state statute is in violation of federal law," Ludwick said. "People should have the chance to vote on this."

Ludwick said OFIR plans to lead a community campaign which includes providing information to residents an gathering signatures for the initiative at places like the Oregon State Fair and other public venues.

"We're going to start a vigorous process to make sure we overturn the sanctuary state of Oregon," Ludwick said.

88,184 signatures are required to certify the initiative for a ballot measure, according to the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division.

Rep. Nearman and Rep. Barreto did not respond to requests for comment. Rep. Esquivel was out of state and could not be reached by publication time.

Andrea Williams, executive director of immigrant rights organization Causa Oregon, said Causa has been keeping an eye on the initiative ever since it was filed.

"The last thing we need is our local law enforcement resources being used for federal immigration purposes," Williams said.

She said Causa has passed 14 inclusivity resolutions across Oregon cities and counties that vow to not allow city resources to be used to enforce federal immigration law. Salem City Councilors voted unanimously to pass the resolution in February.

Williams said the initiative would undue the bipartisan effort in 1987 that brought ORS 181.850 into law, which she says was in response to accusations of police racial profiling.

When President Donald Trump released an executive order that halted federal funding to sanctuary cities and allowed law enforcement to perform the functions of immigration officers in January, local and state police officials said they would not alter the way they operate.

Salem Police, Marion County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police stated they would follow state law as long as it an Oregon statute.

Ludwick said, however, local and state law enforcement should follow federal law.

"People need to understand the cost of illegal aliens on the state of Oregon," Ludwick said. "Everybody has to obey the law."

The prospective petition, which was initially filed on April 25, is currently in an appeal period. Registered voters have the opportunity to submit comments and requests for the Oregon Supreme Court to review the ballot until Monday, July 31.

For questions, comments and news tips, email reporter Lauren Hernandez at lehernande@statesmanjournal.com , call 503-983-6030 or follow on Twitter @LaurenPorFavor

  Read more about Oregon legislators push to allow police to enforce immigration laws

Lane County commissioners weigh protections for local unauthorized immigrants

Lane County commissioners on Tuesday could add new language to the county’s policy manual barring county employees from using public funds to enforce federal immigration laws in most cases.

A board order commissioners are scheduled to vote on Tuesday would add a provision to the Lane County Manual, under “foreign citizenship,” banning the use of money, equipment or personnel for “detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”

The language would allow county staff to help if a federal judge had ordered a person to be arrested for violating federal immigration law. However, such situations appear to be extremely rare.

The language virtually echoes Oregon law, as well as an ordinance the Eugene City Council approved in March. The Oregon law applies to the state and to all political subdivisions in the state, including county governments.

The county move comes amid a national debate over so-called “sanctuary city” policies, and efforts by liberal-leaning states that don’t want to use local staff and money to enforce stricter federal immigration policies sought by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The proposed Lane Manual change puts into county rules the policies already practiced by agencies such as the Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Lane County Health and Human Services, county officials say.

The proposal “makes it more clear at a local level how (state law) plays out here for the county,” Lane County spokeswoman Devon Ashbridge said. “So it’s valuable in that sense. It takes a look specifically at county services and how it will guide how employees will work within that framework.”

The language doesn’t violate state or federal law, Ashbridge said. A provision permits the sheriff’s office to give information to federal immigration agencies about someone arrested for a criminal offense.

It also authorizes the sheriff’s office to arrest anyone charged with violating federal immigration law if a federal judge issues an arrest warrant.

But Lane County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Carrie Carver said the agency is “not aware of any specific cases” of someone being arrested solely on a such an order. Typically, the federal government arrests illegal immigrants without a judge’s order.

Members of the public have spoken up at recent county commissioners’ meetings about protecting local unauthorized immigrants who haven’t committed any crimes besides entering and living in the country unlawfully.

In November, Lane County, mayors of nine cities and other organizations co-signed a statement of unity vowing to protect marginalized residents such as immigrants.

But dozens of speakers and numerous letter writers have urged local governments such as the city of Eugene and Lane County to go further and commit to not help in federal deportation arrests — even though such assistance is already prohibited by state law.

Follow Elon on Twitter @EGlucklich . Email elon.glucklich@registerguard.com . Read more about Lane County commissioners weigh protections for local unauthorized immigrants

For our friends in Lane County - take action now!

Alert date: 
July 9, 2017
Alert body: 

The election is over and President Trump won.  His campaign focal point was to, once and for all, reign in the rampant disregard for our immigration laws and to finally put citizens first.

Now, it seems that many counties, cities, schools etc. have been whipped up into a frenzy by the paid advocates of unfettered immigration and open borders.  They seem to be trying to scare the very people they are supposed to be advocating for.  Why?

When ICE was contacted about the charges made that they are conducting sweeps across the state, they explained they haven't, they don't and they won't enforce our immigration laws in such a way.  But, open border advocates can't get the emotional driver they need unless they enhance the stories they hear far beyond the reality.

Unfortunately, citizens once again, take a back seat to illegal aliens.  Why on earth are these entities creating "safe havens" for people here illegally?  Are these Commissioners, Mayors, Professors etc, willing to accept the responsibility and the cost of harboring illegal aliens?  I doubt it - that's what they have the tax-payer for.  You get to pay for schools, healthcare, prisons, roads and on and on...

And, one last note.  It was mentioned that the idea was to "protect" people whose only issue was being in the country illegally.  Typically, an illegal alien obtains a stolen identity, typically, they are working here illegally, hired by a business that is using illegal labor,  They may also be getting paid under the table - that's tax fraud.  How are they getting around - probably driving without a license or insurance.  Is it fair to break certain laws, if it benefits the law breaker?

Lane County will be holding a meeting and anyone able to attend should be there and speak up against this sick policy.

ANARCHIC: Criminal aliens shielded by Left's symbolism

SALEM, Ore.-Democrats in the Senate today passed a proposal that will force Oregonians to obstruct justice by restraining them from cooperating with law enforcement in dealing with criminals at public schools, public health facilities, courthouses, public shelters and other public facilities.

"This bill is all about the 'undocumented,' and while it serves as a symbol for the Left, it is in reality a shield for criminal aliens to avoid justice," said state Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby. "Democrats have used the politics of fear to ignite division and they have stoked fear in the hearts of undocumented workers. Making it possible for criminal aliens to evade justice not only makes Oregonians less safe, it also puts undocumented immigrants in danger."
Olsen asked a series of questions to the carrier, Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland. He said the bill is nothing more than a "Trump bill." Olsen said that the senators took their oath to uphold the constitutions of both Oregon and the United States, and that everyone said "yes," or that he hopes they did. 
While Oregon Democrats are bidding to block and deny federal law enforcement legal access to critical information that would help ensure public safety, Union-backed Democrats, formally requested information from the federal government about federal law enforcement activities in Oregon.

Murder victims advocate and child of an immigrant Maria Espinoza has worked across the nation to stand up for the victims of violent lawlessness. Espinoza spoke out on the horrific slaying of college football player Parker Moore. Moore was brutally stabbed to death as he shopped in a convenience store. The unprovoked perpetrator of this tragedy violated multiple laws. Espinoza is worried sick about HB 3464 and is urging Oregon lawmakers to oppose the bill. 
"How will you explain to the families of Parker Moore, Dani Countryman and others, that you had a part in making our communities dangerous for our children?" questioned Espinoza. "To move forward [in passing HB 3464] would be an outrage."
Espinoza recalled in an interview on her advocacy work how a relative, a World War II veteran, had his monthly pension cut from $240 a month to $200 - "and yet there were people illegally in the country who got everything free."
"And sadly, shamefully, I never did anything about it," she said. "For years."
Richard LaMountain, a Cedar Mill resident, served as a chief petitioner of the rejected 2014 initiative, Measure 88, which would have directed the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to issue at taxpayer-expense driver licenses to criminal aliens. The measure failed in the Nov. 4 election with a two-thirds no vote.
"It was an overwhelming rejection of giving drivers' licenses to illegal aliens," said Jim Ludwick, communications director for Oregonians for Immigration Reform in an interview about Measure 88. "But somehow that doesn't apply to people who are here illegally and think the law doesn't apply to them." 
Familias En Accion and Los Ninos Cuentan, on behalf of criminal aliens, sued the State of Oregon following voters defeating Measure 88. Their lawsuit was an effort to undo Oregonians' votes for Measure 88. Kristina Edmunson, then-spokeswoman for Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, said during the dilemma the state "is reviewing the case" but declined to comment further.
"When used for the intent of thwarting potential referenda, the emergency clause perverts the relationship between Oregonians and the legislators they elect to represent them," LaMountain said. "We need to restore that clause to its proper, limited role in lawmaking - and the voice of the citizen, as manifested in the referendum, to its paramount place in Oregon's representative democracy." 
"We should provide support for [law enforcement] and not support criminal behavior," Marion County resident Karen Franke said. Franke disagrees with Democrats that criminals should be shielded from accountability.
Rosenblum says the passage of HB 3464, "is imperative." And that Oregon must take "this important step to protect the rights of all Oregonians."
The bill now heads to sanctuary state-advocate and presumed leader of the Trump so-called "resistance" movement Gov. Kate Brown to sign into law.
For follow-up commentary please contact Olsen spokesman Jonathan Lockwood at 971-645-2140, or Jonathan.Lockwood@OregonLegislature.gov.

Oregon Republicans shrug off politics, extend benefits to undocumented children

Oregon Republicans took the lead in arguing for spending $36 million on health care for undocumented Oregon children during a Monday session.

The “cover all kids” Senate Bill 558 passed the body on a 21-8 vote. The bill now proceeds to the House where it's likely to find favor with the majority Democrats.

Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, said he’ll take a shellacking for his ‘yes” vote on the bill from constituents who believe extending benefits encourages illegal immigration.

“I can hear the town hall questions; I can write them,” he said.

“I will look at folks with anger in their eyes and they will not listen to the answer that it is less expensive (to provide coverage),” Ferrioli said, finally adding, “Folks can sharpen their knives and load up. I’ll be in the district after the session is over. I can answer the questions then just as I can now.”

The bill would extend coverage under the Oregon Health Plan to an estimated 15,000 children in the state who otherwise would be prohibited from signing up because they lack legal residency status.

Gov. Kate Brown highlighted the cover all kids program as a priority in her proposed budget. Ninety-eight percent of Oregon children are covered today. The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, would bring the proportion even higher.

A hospital provider tax of 1.7 percent on large hospitals and 4 percent on small hospitals passed in June will pay for the expansion, according to legislative documents.

Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, carried the bill to the Senate floor and made the case that it is really a conservative bill. Children don’t go completely without care, he said. When they turn up sick at hospitals, hospitals have to treat them, and that’s the most expensive way to treat them.

“I know about the optics of this thing. We could get wrapped up in sanctuary this, sanctuary that. We could get wrapped up with immigration this or immigration that,” Kruse said. “This is not about the optics or the politics. This is about health care at a reasonable cost.”

Passing the bill will bring relief to hospitals large and small across the state.

“We have asked hospitals to step up in a major way with the provider tax,” Kruse said. “Now to ask them to absorb (emergency department) care for these kids is just one more ask. That is an ask too much. ...

“Chances are I’m going to take some political hits for this too, but quite honestly, I don’t give a damn. I don’t care about politics, I care about policy and I care about doing the right thing.”

Not all Republicans favored the bill.

“My priority are services to veterans who fought and have been injured for this country and for this state,” said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, who voted no. “We have not taken care of them the way we need to. If there are tens of millions of dollars, we need to start there.

“We can work our way to seniors who need care in their homes, those with disabilities, those who are vulnerable -- and there are many Oregonians who are in need,” he said.

All Senate Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, a high school principal, said schools must teach all the children who turn up. “They only learn when they’re healthy,” he said.

Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, is a public health nurse.

“Every child needs health care regardless of where they were born,” she said. “It is the moral and right thing to do. A child is not responsible for who their parents are, whether they’re legal or illegal, whether they’re rich or whether they’re poor.” Read more about Oregon Republicans shrug off politics, extend benefits to undocumented children

Democrats get aggressive on approving bills in final days of session

SALEM — After a session of restraint, Ore­gon’s Democratic lawmakers are flexing the power of their big majorities in Salem as the final bell approaches.

For months, Democrats have held back many controversial policy bills, as they pursued needed Republican votes on three major tax increases. Doing so, they hoped, would avoid antagonizing GOP leaders and swing votes.

But with a major new tax on health care providers already passed, a package of transportation taxes and fees moving forward, and a new corporate tax dead, Democrats are being more aggressive.

This week, they advanced a bill requiring Ore­gon insurers to cover abortions, among other reproductive health services, for women without charging them any out-of-pocket expense.

And they moved to extend government-funded health insurance to many unauthorized immigrants under age 19.

Those hot-button social policies are big priorities for key Democrat constituencies, but most Republican lawmakers oppose them.

Some Democrats also want to change the election rules for any bill passed this session that’s successfully referred to voters. The idea drew angry accusations of “electioneering” and “turnout suppression” from Republicans this week.

Immigrants’ health care

In the final days of the session, Democrats expect to pass a bill that would enroll an estimated 15,000 young unauthorized immigrants into the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid.

Thanks to $550 million in recently approved taxes on hospitals and health insurance companies, lawmakers have identified the projected $36 million needed to pay for that health insurance coverage for the next two years.

The minors, but not their parents, would become eligible for medical and dental services starting in 2018.

Unlike for the rest of the Medicaid population, where the federal government picks up most of the tab, the state will have to pay the full bill for the young immigrants.

But supporters say Senate Bill 558 is a humane and sensible idea.

“This means that children in our state will no longer suffer from preventable illness or death,” Linda Roman of the Ore­gon Latino Health Coalition told lawmakers this week.

Women’s health bill

Democrats are forging ahead with a women’s health bill that is controversial mostly because of its provisions on abortions.

House Bill 3391 would require Oregon insurers to provide a wide array of reproductive health care services, including abortions, to women for free.

Those services also include birth control, prenatal and postpartum care, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, cervical and breast cancer, breastfeeding support and supplies, and counseling for domestic violence victims and tobacco cessation.

In an attempt at compromise, the latest version of HB 3391 would exempt religious employers from having to provide health plans with abortion coverage. Instead, it would set aside $500,000 in new state funds to provide abortions for their workers through the Oregon Health Authority.

Sen. James Manning, a Eugene Democrat, said Thursday he supports the bill.

“Why are we bickering about women’s reproductive health care, but not about men’s health care?” he said.

But Republican lawmakers objected to the new state funding for abortions, which they said could pay for around 300 procedures.

“It is difficult to be accused of being discriminatory for expressing a pro-life view,” House Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte said. “Many of us believe that a human life is ended with an abortion.”

SB 558 and HB 3391 were voted through to the floor of the Senate and the House, respectively, on Thursday evening.

Both votes fell largely along party lines, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed.

Voter referral rule rewrite

The proposal to temporarily rewrite the rules for voter referrals, meanwhile, caused a partisan firestorm in the Capitol this week.

Under the bill, lawmakers — not the Oregon attorney general — would get to draft the initial ballot title and explanatory statement for any bill passed in the 2017 session that is successfully referred to voters.

Majority Democrats would get four of the six seats on the committee drafting the ballot materials. The committee’s final product could be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.

While the details of ballot drafting can seem arcane, the wording that voters see can have a significant impact on a measure’s chances of success.

The bill also would set a special election date in January 2018 for any referrals, as opposed to November’s general election.

Democrats say their target is an embryonic campaign aimed at referring to voters the $550 million in new taxes on health care “providers.”

If that campaign gathers enough signatures, under current law, the taxes would have to be suspended until the question goes voters in November 2018.

That would jeopardize health insurance for more than one million Ore­gonians on Medicaid, said Rep. Dan Rayfield, a Corvallis Democrat, because the state is relying on the new taxes to fund those services for the next two years.

A vote in January 2018, on the other hand, would allow lawmakers to fill the Medicaid budget hole during the 2018 short session in February should voters reject the taxes, he argued.

“Leaving the whole process up to chance would be a failure on our part,” Rayfield said.

But Republicans were incensed by the move.

Rep. Julie Parrish, a West Linn Republican who expects to work on the campaign to strike down the provider tax, called it a “travesty for voters.”

Turnout in a January special election is guaranteed to be low, she said, and bypassing the November election “is akin to voter suppression.”

“We have a referendum process that creates a check on our power,” she wrote in an email. “We should not steal that process from voters to strengthen the power of politicians and special interests.”

Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, meanwhile, decried the proposal as “political shenanigans.”

The proposed ballot writing process “subverts the nonpartisan process for drafting a ballot title by injecting partisan politics and political bias,” he said.

But Rayfield said the accusations of partisanship around the ballot drafting were unfounded.

“Opponents often feel that going through the Attorney General is political too,” he said. “A bipartisan committee gives us a better chance for finding consensus” on ballot language.

The House Rules Committee could approve the referral changes as soon as Friday.

To place the Medicaid tax before voters, Parrish will need to gather more than 58,000 signatures within a 90-day window.

Follow Saul on Twitter @SaulAHubbard . Email saul.hubbard@registerguard.com . Read more about Democrats get aggressive on approving bills in final days of session

Oregon House votes to expand privacy for undocumented immigrants

A bill that would limit the assistance of schools, courts and other public agencies in federal immigration enforcement passed the Oregon House of Representatives Tuesday.

Under the bill, public institutions would be prohibited from disclosing personal information such as a workplace or phone number to federal immigration authorities unless that disclosure is required by federal law.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn, and Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, and passed 35-23 along party lines...

Alonso Leon and Hernandez, along with 26 House and seven Senate Democrats...wish to increase privacy for immigrants "in response to recent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raids throughout the state," according to a news release by House Democrats...

The bill would also prohibit public agencies from collecting information about a person's immigration status...

A statement from House Republicans called the bill "an attempt to subvert federal immigration policy."

"This bill would make it nearly impossible for state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials and would allow even individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes to escape immigration enforcement," Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, said in a statement.

During the House session, Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, read a letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement representative Melissa Nitsch, who said the agency "does not conduct raids, sweeps, or checkpoints, or conduct random enforcement activity," but rather does "targeted, lead-driven enforcement" on individuals the agency deems a threat to public safety.

As a sanctuary state, Oregon already prohibits the use of state and local resources in federal immigration enforcement if a person's only crime is being in the country illegally... Read more about Oregon House votes to expand privacy for undocumented immigrants


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