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Lesser known bills headed to Brown's desk

SALEM — These bills might not make headlines, but may make a difference to Oregonians all the same. Each of these bills heads next to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.

DON’T HAZE ME, BRO: House Bill 2519, which the Senate passed unanimously Thursday, requires the state’s community colleges, colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees and accept state financial aid to adopt a written policy on hazing. Colleges and universities will have to provide policy training on hazing and report to lawmakers annually on all incidents of hazing that they investigate.

CEMETERY CLEANUP: An unpleasant consequence of natural disasters, especially landslides, is that they can sometimes dislodge and expose people who have been laid to rest. Senate Bill 227 gives permission to cemetery authorities to re-inter and temporarily store human remains that have been swept up by a storm or other natural disaster. The bill also requires those authorities to make efforts to notify relatives or others with the right to control the disposition of the remains.

STACK ATTACK: House Bill 2089 makes people who haven’t fully repaid an outstanding payday loan or title loan ineligible for a new one. “If somebody needs a $600 loan, they would simply lend them the $600,” Sen. Shemia Fagan, D-Portland, said, explaining that the proposal is intended to prevent “stacking” of multiple loans, which run up more fees and create financial risk.

RECORDS DEAL: House Bill 2353 creates penalties for government agencies that don’t comply with Oregon’s public records law. The bill gives district attorneys the power to order a public entity to pay the person requesting records a $200 penalty if he or she determines that they’re taking too long to respond to a records request and the public entity doesn’t qualify for an exemption. The district attorney could also order the agency to waive or reduce fees otherwise charged for producing the records for the public.

GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING: Fancy taking the motorboat out for a jaunt this Memorial Day weekend? State laws restrict the use of boats with electric motors on certain Oregon lakes. House Bill 3168 would allow boats with electric motors on certain lakes, at low speed and with no wake, in Clackamas, Deschutes, Douglas, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lane, Linn and Marion Counties. Here’s the catch: the bill wouldn’t take effect until 90 days after lawmakers adjourn in late June, putting your earliest possible motorboat adventure on those lakes in late September.

FARM BREWERIES: Oregon’s land use laws say that only certain nonfarm uses are allowed on land zoned for farming. In recent years, the legislature has allowed wine- and cider-makers to brew and serve beverages on farms. SB 287 would allow small beer breweries on hop farms.

SENIOR PARTNERS: Been practicing law in Oregon since the Johnson Administration? Under Senate Bill 358, you may have to pay annual bar membership dues again. The Oregon State Bar is currently prohibited from charging dues to people who have been admitted to the bar for 50 or more years, and this bill would lift that prohibition.

DARK MATTER: Two years ago, a total eclipse brought tons of visitors to Oregon towns inside the path of totality. In response to the frenzy, the Senate on Thursday passed House Bill 2790, requested by Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, to allow counties to require permits for “outdoor mass gatherings.” Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, seemed put-upon by the influx of stargazers two summers ago.

“You may all recall several years ago, we had an eclipse,” Bentz said. “One of the results was tens of thousands of people from the Willamette Valley flooding into the previously pristine lands of eastern Oregon, wrecking havoc and worse. This bill is an attempt to give the counties the authority to manage these gatherings better and collect adequate permitting fees.”

“This is a good bill. We all know what we went through with the eclipse (a) couple years ago,” said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., of Grants Pass. “The fortunate thing is we probably won’t have to utilize this bill for 100 years.”

Oregon State Capitol at sunset. Photo courtesy oregonlegislature.gov