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Jan-01-2018 15:09printcomments

New Laws to Know for Oregonians

Oregon Senator Kim Thatcher (Dist 13) reports on new laws going into effect.

Oregon capital

(SALEM, Ore.) - With the new year upon us, you've probably heard about several of the higher profile or controversial laws, soon to go into effect, that passed during the last legislative session.

I would like to highlight some of the good, bipartisan bills that passed that may not have had much media attention.

All of the bills below I am proud to have sponsored and passed during the 2017 legislative session. Though, in several cases it seems a shame that a law had to be passed to begin with but that's often what happens as courts interpret statutes and situations arise which reveal deficiencies in the law.

Protecting the Community

One of the bills that I am very proud of and chief sponsored, goes into effect today. It is SB 1050. This bill passed unanimously with both Democrat and Republican support. It keeps repeat sexual predators off the streets by ensuring they stay in prison.

If a sexual predator has been convicted twice of rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree, they will have a presumptive sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release or parole.

Just two months ago, a man from Eugene was convicted for the third time of rape. He had been convicted of raping and abducting a 17-year-old girl in 1989 and a different woman in 2003, months after he was released. He was released again, and in 2015 raped a third woman.

If this law had been in effect in 2003, the third woman never would have been raped by this man. I don't think these disgusting predators ever deserve a third chance. I am very pleased to have chief sponsored this bill. There is no doubt in my mind that this new law going into effect today, will save many from the life altering trauma of rape.

SB 249 A and SB 250, protects victims of sexual exploitation. Not too long ago Portland Police set up a "decoy website," for sex trafficking and within a three year period, it received over 150,000 calls from people seeking sex with teenagers.

Many of these pimps exploit, blackmail, and force vulnerable victims into prostitution. Unfortunately, some of these young people get caught up in the system and are charged with prostitution even if they have been forced into it.

SB 249 A establishes procedures for such a person to file a motion to vacate a conviction for prostitution if the person was a victim of sex trafficking at or around the time of offense. These individuals have to show they were recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided or obtained for the purpose of commercial sex acts.

SB 250 allows victims to mount an "affirmative defense" against prostitution if they were either 15 years of age or younger, or over the age of 15 and forced, tricked, or coerced into commercial sex acts. Both of these bills go into effect today.

HB 2740 A modified the definition of "trafficking in persons" to include 15, 16, and 17-year-olds. This law goes into effect today. Believe it or not, yesterday 15, 16, and 17-year-olds who were being trafficked, were not considered to fall under the legal definition of being "trafficked" by a pimp.

I was glad to sponsor this bill and align our juvenile laws and standards to more appropriately respond to the reality of sex trafficking of minors.

Informing victims of their rights

SB 795 A requires police and hospitals to inform victims of sexual violence that they have a right to receive counseling services from a victim advocate. It is already in law that they have a right to these advocates but it has not been required that those victims be made aware of this right and service.

This bill changes that. When someone is raped or sexually assaulted, it can be devastating. Victims can have a hard time knowing what to do next or even knowing what choices they actually have. The victim advocate can greatly help these sexual assault victims to access resources they otherwise would not know about. This law also goes into effect today.

Privacy

HB 3077 A is another bill I sponsored that goes into effect today. It helps protect a victim's or witness's anonymity and privacy during a court criminal discovery process by withholding social media and electronic email addresses from victimizers. This is a good example of a law catching up with technology.

There was already a law that prevented a district attorney or a defense lawyer, in the absence of a court order, from providing a defendant with a victim's or a witness's address, telephone number, Social Security number, date of birth, credit, or bank account information. This law enshrines and extends that same protection to a victim's social media and email accounts.

Jobs

SB 1028 is another bill that I chief sponsored and it goes into effect today. It authorizes professional licensing boards to consider and substitute relevant work experience for a high school diploma or equivalent education requirements.

In other words, if someone without a high school diploma has been working a job for many years and the licensing or certification requires a certain education level, this bill directs the licensing board to consider their real-life experience.

One of my biggest complaints about the state burdening business and hindering the average citizen, is its licensing schemes. This bill recognizes the dynamic circumstances of Oregonians. There are people in Oregon who dropped out of high school and went straight into the workforce.

They have been in their trade for quite some time and have a deep knowledge of their specific craft. They should not be barred from advancement because they unfortunately could not finish high school or couldn't afford college training. I was very happy to be a chief sponsor of this bill.

Education

SB 253 A Goes into effect today. I think of this as a student loan consumer protection bill.

It requires colleges to annually provide to each student information detailing the amount of education loans they have received; the amount of tuition and fees the student has paid to the institution; the estimate of the total payoff amount of loans the student has received; an estimate of the amount that the student will have to pay each month to service their loans; and the percentage of borrowing limit that the student has reached for each type of federal loan.

College loan defaults are on the rise and it is imperative students have a clear understanding of their debt obligations.

Veterans and National Guard

HB 3423 A The Oregon Promise Grant is available to students that attend college within six month after high school graduation. However, many of Oregon's National Guard members are recruited during high school.

They are sent to basic training and then onto service duty training. This can take up to a year and by that time, the national guardsmen are no longer eligible for the Oregon Promise Grant. This bill changes the law to extend the same opportunity when these guardsmen and women finish their training.

They will have six months from the time they complete their training to take advantage of this grant to further their education. This law goes into effect today.

Transparency

In 2009, I introduced HB 2500 that created the "Transparency Website" to make information about state agency revenues, expenditures, contracting, human resources, and other data publicly available at one location for citizens.

If you haven't been on this website, I would highly recommend checking it out by clicking here. Since that time, we have slowly added different government agencies and functions onto the website to maximize public awareness, government accountability and transparency.

The newest bill, HB 2946 A expands Oregon's transparency website. It allows semi-independent state agencies, public universities, Oregon Health and Science University, the Oregon Tourism Commission, the Oregon Film and Video Office, and the Travel Information Council, the Children's Trust Fund, Oregon Corrections Enterprises, the State Accident Insurance Fund, the Oregon Utility Notification Center, and any state-designated public corporation to be added onto the website for the public to see and scrutinize.

The transparency website has always been close to my heart. I am proud that this new law is building on the founding of what I began back in 2009. This law goes into effect today.

Second Chances

HB 3446 B is an interesting bill. During a Senate Judiciary committee we heard testimony from an individual in his late 40's who had a felony driving conviction. When he was much younger, his license was suspended for speeding numerous times but he continued to drive. Eventually, he was given a felony for not complying with his suspension.

Since that time, he has not been in any trouble with the law and has maintained a clean driving record after his license was reinstated. However, he still has a felony. These felonies in Oregon could not be expunged, or taken off his record. This bill allows the court to reduce this felony conviction to a Class A misdemeanor.

It requires that the convicted person successfully complete probation. It also requires that the court consider the nature and circumstances of the crime and the history and character of the person. If it is determined by the court that they have met this criteria, then their felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor.

I think if someone reforms their behavior and can demonstrably prove that to a court, then they should have a second chance. This bill takes effect today.

Charitable Giving

SB 378 A Adds Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association to list of entities eligible for individual income tax return checkoff contribution.

In 2017 Forbes reported on a survey conducted by WalletHub that ranked Oregon in 14th of the 50 states of most charitable in donations.

This bill helps expand that list of generous giving by adding our first responder volunteer firefighters to our list eligible for the individual income tax contribution. This bill went into effect on October 6, 2017.

Source: Senator Thatcher; If you want to contact Sen. Thatcher's office you can send an email to: sen.kimthatcher@oregonlegislature.gov or call 503.986.1713

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