The 2019 legislature has organized itself in Salem. From here it looks like the majority will do everything it can this session to make life more expensive and less free for taxpayers and other citizens who would rather be left alone.
First, there are dozens of bills to increase taxes — taxes on business, taxes on property, taxes on the use of carbon, and taxes on people’s income. No surprise about that. Governor Brown has wanted to increase state spending by something around $2 billion next biennium, mostly by pouring more money into our public school systems (so they can meet their pension obligations) and the state Medicaid program.
Then there’s the attack on daily life in our communities represented by House speaker’s proposal to outlaw single-family zoning, all because there’s supposed to be a housing crisis. Instead of a crisis, what we have is an incredibly cumbersome and costly regulatory scheme covering land development and building, a scheme built up by the state over the last 40 years without regard to the consequences.
At the Capitol they’re also talking about making the problem worse by authorizing some sort of rent control. The first result of that is likely to be a drop in the number of available rentals, not an increase. Either that, or a spike in the price of rent before the new controls take effect.
And let’s not forget the wave of bills against gun owners, all attacking citizens who have never done anybody any harm. One proposal, SB 501, was introduced by a couple of Democrats on behalf of a group of earnest but misguided high-schoolers calling themselves Students for Change. It would create a long list of restrictions and requirements along with potential year-long jail sentences for citizens who fail to comply. Among other things, the bill would require permits to exercise the constitutional right to possess firearms. It also would ban magazines for more than five rounds, which would indirectly make useless most firearms in Oregon homes.
And if that doesn’t achieve the gun banners’ desired result, Senate President Courtney has a bill subjecting shooting ranges to higher liability exposure and greater local regulation, as if he wants to drive them all out of business.
We can expect many of these bills to become law because voters in the state’s urban centers have created a one-party state government that allows no effective opposition. So, sit back and watch more of your liberties slip away. (hh)