• Oregon House approves bill on chemicals in kids’ products

    SALEM — The Oregon House soundly approved legislation Friday to require companies to report potentially hazardous chemicals in children’s products.

    Senate Bill 478, approved 43-17, would require the manufacturers and importers of children’s products to report 66 “high priority chemicals of concern” — including formaldehyde, arsenic and mercury — to the Oregon Health Authority or Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse, and create an eight-year phase-out from select products.

    Proponents said the provisions would inform parents on the presence of the chemicals, some of which have been linked to diseases and developmental disabilities.

    “The science is not 100 percent conclusive, but I think the overwhelming amount (of evidence) is there,” said Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, one of eight Republicans who voted yes.

    The bill is modeled after a Washington law enacted in 2009 that requires manufacturers and importers to report potentially dangerous chemicals in car seats, clothes, cosmetics and other children’s products.

    Oregon lawmakers had introduced legislation to regulate potentially toxic chemicals in children’s products during the last two sessions, but the bills didn’t have enough support to pass.

    Opponents argued the SB 478 would have little impact, and would drive consumers to buy the same products in other states or online.

    “We’re such a small player, it’s not going to make these markets change,” said Rep. Jim Weidner, R-Yahmill.

    The bill now heads to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.

    Jacy Marmaduke contributed to this report.

    — Ian K. Kullgren


  • Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics


    Wannabe Representatives

    The fact that Representative Tobias Read was going to give up his seat representing District 27 to be elected run for State Treasurer was the worst kept secret in Salem. He finally made it official on Tuesday a day after the legislature ended its session. Be prepared for the Running Man-esque battle that is going to take place to fill that seat. I predict there will be at least four people duking it out in the Democratic primary. The first to throw her hat in the ring was Community Health Nurse and Emerge Oregon graduate Sheri Malstrom who filed this Wednesday. Expect recent graduates of the Oregon Labor Candidate School and the Center for Women’s Leadership to jump in the race as well. The real question now becomes, who will come out victorious, ONA, OAR, OEA, SEIU…

    College Bound kids

    In 2013, the “Tuition Equity” bill passed giving undocumented Oregon high school graduates the benefit of in-state tuition rates if they met certain criteria. An estimated 75 students have taken advantage of this. Under Senate Bill 932, those students would also be eligible for state tuition grants worth about $2,000 a year.  If you really wanted to see fireworks, you didn’t have to wait until the 4th of July. You could have sat in on the debate over this bill. Hoo-boy! Things got so heated that a time out had to be called and House Speaker Kotek had to remind everybody not to be a-holes. The word she used was ‘decorum’, but whatevs. Same thing. Why is it that some legislators don’t bat an eye when they vote to give millions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations but balk when asked to spend a few thousand for a kid to get a decent education?

    Seniors and People with Disabilities

    Social Security, federal disability payments and pensions are shielded by federal law from collections. That didn’t stop the Oregon Department of Revenue. They routinely went after people even after they knew the income the person was living on fell under one of these federal exemptions. House Bill 2089, signed into law on Monday, directs the Revenue Department to suspend collection of unpaid state taxes from Oregonians getting by on these forms of income. Thanks to this bill, they can no longer send to collections sick and elderly Oregonians who are living month to month and often hand to mouth. Oh, what a sad day at the Revenue Department. Maybe there are some orphanages out there they can audit. That might cheer them up.


    Senator Richard Devlin

    Senator Richard Devlin, the Co-Chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee is running for Secretary of State. That is the rumor anyway. That in itself does not warrant placement in the Not Column, but the way he intends to go about it does. The speculation is that he is not giving up his Senate seat while he runs for higher office. He intends to hold onto his leadership role whilst campaigning. While it is not required to give up one’s seat, it is still poor form. Lastly, the rumor has him intending to dip into his campaign war chest to finance his campaign. A war chest that now stands at about 272k. Money he raked in by being the 3rd most powerful person in the Senate chairing the most powerful committee in the legislature. Money that should be going to help get other Dem Senators elected not financing your own aspirations. Using your position and a shit-ton of money to deter others from jumping in a race really isn’t fair. Nobody likes a bully. Cheer up, Val, at least you don’t have a recall to deal with.

    Sid Leiken

    Current Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken is a man with goals. One of those goals was to one day be Governor of this great state. That was until last week when he lowered his expectations and decided to run for Secretary of State instead. Why is he wasting his time? He has little name recognition and about 9k in his campaign account. It is hard not to feel badly for him as he seems like a decent guy. A guy who is already making a pretty good living serving the people of Lane County. Unfortunately for him, no republican has won state-wide office since 2002 and that isn’t about to change now especially for the race for Secretary of State (See above). Why can’t he just be happy? Why must he continue his trajectory towards the sun?

    Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

    If you heard City officials humming ‘Taxman’ by The Beatles recently now you know why. One of the marijuana-related laws passed in Salem this session allowed for medical marijuana dispensaries to sell weed to recreational users. Unfortunately that same law let the cities dictate how that weed would be sold. Enter the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. ONI, under the direction of Mayor Hales’ bestie, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, has been tasked with overseeing the permitting of these dispensaries.  These permits are going to cost $1500. That’s right, $1500. And what does the City plan to do with all this money? Officials say they will use the money to monitor “neighborhood public safety and livability concerns.” What the hell does that mean? How about transferring some of this money to PDOT to fix some potholes. Potheads For Potholes. There you go, ONI, I just gave you your next PR campaign. You’re welcome.

  • Oregon may regulate toxic chemicals in toys

    A bill that would regulate toxic chemicals in children’s products is back before the Oregon Legislature.

    “Many of these chemicals in children’s products and toys can lead to serious health effects,” Sheri Malstrom, a public health nurse, said at a brief hearing in a Joint Ways and Means subcommittee Tuesday. The hearing was continued to Wednesday.

    Senate Bill 478 would require the state to maintain a list of chemicals of concern for children’s products, require manufacturers to provide notice of chemicals on the list that they use in children’s products, and eventually require manufacturers to remove or use substitutes for certain chemicals.

    It’s modeled on a similar program implemented in Washington state in 2009. California, Vermont and Maine also have state-level toxics laws.

    Proponents in Oregon have been trying to pass legislation for at least six years. A similar bill passed the Oregon House in 2013, but stalled in the Senate.

    The current bill proposes focusing on the same 66 chemicals as Washington’s law.

    “There is sound scientific evidence showing that each of the chemicals on this list are of high concern to children’s health,” said Angela Crowley-Koch, legislative director for the Oregon Environmental Council.

    Opponents say such regulation should be done at the federal level.

    The federal Toxic Substances Control Act, passed in 1976, gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency power to require testing of chemicals. But the EPA has rarely used that power, prompting states to move on their own.

    Congress is working on an update to the law and is expected to vote on reforms this summer.

    “States have the opportunity to participate in that process,” Tim Shestek, of the American Chemistry Council, told the committee.

    However, the proposal has been criticized for restricting states’ rights to pass their own rules about dangerous chemicals.

    Several amendments to the Oregon proposal are in the works.

    Although they slightly weaken the bill, the Oregon Environmental Council is supporting them in order to get the bill passed, Crowley-Koch said.

    tloew@statesmanjournal.com, (503) 399-6779 or follow at Twitter.com/SJWatchdog

    About the bill

    Senate Bill 478 would require the state to maintain a list of chemicals of concern for children’s products, require manufacturers to provide notice of chemicals on the list that they use in children’s products, and eventually require manufacturers to remove or use substitutes for certain chemicals.

    The Joint Subcommittee on Human Services will hold a public hearing on the bill at 8:30 a.m. June 10 in Hearing Room F at the State Capitol.

    Source: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2015/06/09/oregon-may-regulate-toxic-chemicals-toys/28750043/

  • Support SB 478 to protect Oregon’s children

    As a family physician who practices preventative medicine, I read with interest the March 2 article on Senate Bill 478 to protect children from toxic chemicals in children’s products.

    It’s encouraging to see Oregon address a health threat too long ignored. Doctors and families can’t fight the rising tide of chronic disease alone – we need help.

    Science increasingly suggests that chronic disease has its origins in early childhood. Infants exposed to hazards during critical windows of development may spend the rest of their lives fighting uphill battles against chronic disease. Among early life hazards are the carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and developmental and reproductive toxic chemicals in products that children use every day.

    It’s no surprise that the Toy Industry Association objects to Oregon’s proposal that manufacturers track, report and replace hazardous chemicals. After all, no single toy or single company is to blame. But when thousands of children’s products on the shelves contain dozens of hazardous chemicals, it’s time to do something – and it’s Oregon’s responsibility to act.

    Our state pays a high price for chronic disease. We shouldn’t continue to pay while we wait for someone else to reduce risk.

    Evelin R. Dacker, M.D.


    Source: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/opinion/readers/2015/03/11/support-sb-478-to-protect-oregons-children/70160552/