Oregon legislature: Vaccines, pot, taxes, tuition

Legislature hopes to conclude session Sunday

Inside the chamber of the Oregon Senate, Feb. 2, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Inside the chamber of the Oregon Senate, Feb. 2, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon legislature is busily finishing its business ahead of an anticipated end of the session Sunday night.

Here is a look at what the House and Senate did:

House approves bill making schools publish vaccine rates

House lawmakers have approved a measure ordering schools in Oregon to make public the number of vaccinated students they have enrolled in their classes.

Oregon has one of the highest rates of kindergarten students using a personal belief waiver to opt out of one or more vaccinations. Lawmakers have been trying to reduce those rates, saying a high number of immunized students protects those who can’t get the shots themselves.

But parents have pushed back against immunization requirements, saying it takes away their choices.

Supporters of the measure say it’ll help parents with children vulnerable to contagious diseases decide whether a school is safe for their kids.

The bill heads to Gov. Kate Brown.

Oregon House backs Oct. 1 start for marijuana sales

The fate of an Oregon bill allowing retail marijuana sales to begin Oct. 1 lies with Gov. Kate Brown.

The House signed off in a 40-19 vote on Thursday, sending the bill to the Democratic governor.

Possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana became legal on Wednesday, but there’s no place for pot users to legally buy the drug.  The bill would temporarily allow tax-free retail sales through existing medical marijuana dispensaries beginning Oct. 1.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will develop regulations and license permanent pot stores next year.

A spokeswoman for Brown declined to say whether the governor will sign the bill.

Tax credit package clears Oregon House

The Oregon House has advanced a bill extending expiring tax breaks for six more years.

The credits benefit film and television producers, lower-income workers and other groups.

The House’s approval on Thursday sends the measure to the Senate.

House Democrats dropped an earlier attempt to offset the tax credits with tax increases on cigars and certain individual taxpayers. They also dropped a push to extend the earned-income tax credit to cover more people.

Republicans were divided on the bill, which passed 45-13. Several GOP lawmakers said they support some of the credits but oppose voting on all of them as a package.

Oregon Senate passes community college tuition waiver bill

Some Oregon students could qualify for tuition waivers at community colleges under a measure given overwhelming bipartisan support by senators.

Advocates on Thursday touted a program known as the “last-dollar scholarship,” which means the proposal will fill in whatever tuition federal and state dollars don’t cover.

Not all students would qualify for the waivers. Some of the stipulations include requiring students to have achieved at least a 2.5 grade point average in high school. They also would have to have applied for and accepted all federal and state grants available to them.

Though lawmakers from both sides of the aisle gave the measure their support, some still expressed concern about the state’s ability to handle the additional costs.

The measure passed 28-1. It now heads to the House.


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