Debates last week centered on HB 3535, which would have dedicated 1 percent of the state's general fund to increase Oregon State Trooper numbers in the future. Coupled with a promised but unfunded increase this session, it would have started the recovery of the state police.
However, even though 14 Democratic House members were co-sponsors of the legislation they referred it back to committee to die. All Republicans voted to expand the state police force.
While many Democrats do agree with Republicans on this issue, they want a new tax increase instead of paying for it from the 20 percent in new revenue expected in the next biennium.
In floor votes, bills passing covered such topics as financial property dormancy, child support reviews, commuter rail study, insurance for prosthetic devices, hunting access, state union organizing, veterans Hepatitis C prevention, larger city budget committees, tankless water heaters and unregistered farm worker camp operators.
One bill allows wiretapping and other interception of communications by police without a court order.
For details about bills, see the State Legislature's web site, www.leg.state.or.us
On Thursday, the majority party decided to bring a tax increase bill to the floor without the votes for passage. It appears to have been a political effort for use in the next election.
The problem with such efforts by either party is that they reflect bad public policy. In the case in point on Thursday, the House melted down in arguments and counter-accusations, an unfortunate thing for the state government and a waste of the taxpayers' time.
HB 2201 would have increased cigarette taxes by 85 cents a pack, using part of the funds to provide families earning less than $62,000 a year with health care for their children. Presently, 60,000 children are eligible for existing programs but are not signed up.
Negotiations may lead to a financially sustainable referral to the voters.
Rep. Brian Boquist represents rural portions of Polk, Yamhill, Benton, Linn and Marion counties. He serves on the Veterans and the Agriculture/Natural Resources committees.