This installment of Oregon news briefs is all about nanny bills. Special thanks to the Oregon Legislature for plenty of fodder via their vaguely-sexualized obsession with getting involved in other people’s lives.
Despite the fact that we already have anti-littering laws, cops are complaining of a lack of enforcement when it comes to flicking cigarette butts on the ground. Their plan: make a new crime, and classify “unlawful disposal of a tobacco product” as a separate littering offense that would carry a $90 fine. Current laws do cover cigarette butts, but are seldom enforced, possibly because “offensive littering” carries potential jail time, and is sometimes considered too harsh.
State lawmakers want teens under 18 in the Portland metro area to be required to take a drivers education course to get their drivers license. Oregon Department of Transportation says that teens who take drivers ed courses are less likely to get into accidents and engage in risky driving. Currently, approximately two thirds of teens opt out of the course, choosing instead to log 100 hours of driving time.
“It’s been my observation that folks that take driver’s education seem to know more about driving,” said Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, co-chairman of the committee. “I also know that insurance costs going down is proof enough of the value of the program.”
Flawless logic, Cliffy.
When Oregon implemented the rules requiring teens to log 50 hours of driving time, then take drivers ed course or log another 50, fatal accidents involving 16-year-old drivers decreased 62% over the next ten years. Sounds impressive, right?
But the statistical decrease for teens who take the drivers ed test versus log additional 50 hours is only 10%, and some wonder if that’s enough to make the cost of the measure worthwhile. While ODOT provides subsidies to cut the cost of classes, families are still required to pay – a fact that many fear will hit harder to low income families and might hinder some teens from being able to get their license, and do stupid things like drive with a pet in their lap, which the Oregon congress is also trying to ban.
Fear not, cyclists. It’s not just the drivers who are getting shafted for the stupid things they do. Both carrying a child under the age of six on a bike and riding with headphones will be outlawed if our friends in Congress have their way. Either one would mean a shiny new $90 fine from the Man.
Clark County, home of Portland-suburb Vancouver, Wash. is considering banning the sale of tobacco vaporizers — aka “e-cigarettes” – to minors. Rather than burning plant matter, the small, battery-operated tubes heat a nicotine-laced liquid until it produces a light vapor said to be less harmful than conventional tobacco smoke. But Clark County wants you to know that just because it’s safer, doesn’t mean they approve of your filthy, filthy habit. Since they fall outside the current regulations on other tobacco products, they can be sold to anyone, regardless of age. There are also flavored varieties of the nicotine charges, which, if they had been conventional cigarettes, would have been outlawed two years ago when Obama granted the FDA regulating authority over tobacco products. If When this passes, expect similar legislation to be on the table in the Portland area in the very near future.
Salem lawmakers may soon raise the tax on cigarettes to from $1.18 to as much as $2 a pack. That means Oregon will have 13th highest tobacco tax in the nation, up from 29 (still far behind New York’s $4.35, but still enough to dwarf Missouri’s $0.17 tax). But it’s not about raising money amidst a financial crisis. According to Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a Portland Democrat who supports the proposal, it’s more about getting people to either quit smoking, or never start.
“Tobacco is the most addictive product we deal with,” said Greenlick … “It’s more addictive than heroin.”
Oregon lobbyist Mark Nelson of R.J. Reynolds, who own the Camel brand as well as Nabisco cookies, has a different perspective on it, though:
“More than half of smokers in Oregon make less than $35,000 a year,” Nelson said, citing tobacco industry profiles. “This tax is regressive and aimed at the poorest Oregonians in the state.”
Proof that if you spin something hard enough, both sides start to look appealing and/or fucking irritating.
Speaking of things you can smoke … Oregon Republican Andy Olsen of Albany wants the state to ban the legal hallucinogen Salvia Divinorum. The state previously considered a ban in 2003 in 2007, but opted against it both times. But apparently this time YouTube videos sufficed in the place of hard data to get Oregon lawmakers to “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!”
As it stands now, the bill would restrict those under the age of 21 from purchasing Salvia, and breaking the law would be a Class A Misdemeanor. Others, such as Republican Matt Wand of Troutdale want to put in place exceptions for religious or spiritual use, in light of the state’s tolerance of peyote use by Native American spiritual sects.
But that’s not enough for some. Republican Wally Hicks of Grants Pass is convinced that it needs to be outlawed all together, and raised to the level of a Class B Felony, which would make it on par with some manslaughter, rape, arson, assault, child porn, robbery manufacture and sale of illegal guns, kidnapping, violation of a corpse, and a slew of other nasty infractions.
That’s all for now, folks! Be safe out there, and keep fucking that chicken.