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Think Out Loud

Live from Salem

Pete Springer/OPB

There have been a number of interesting (and well-attended) hearings in the Capitol this week. On Monday, the House Rules Committee heard testimony on the subject of sobriety checkpoints. The last time Oregon police officers randomly stopped drivers to check their sobriety was 1982. That’s when the ACLU of Oregon brought a lawsuit against Lane County. The case was eventually decided in the Oregon Supreme Court, which found sobriety checkpoints to be unconstitutional. In order to bring back the checkpoints, lawmakers would need to pass a Joint Resolution that would put the issue before voters in 2012. This issue has been raised many times, most recently in the 2010 special session, but has yet to pass out of committee.

A hearing on another high profile issue took place on Tuesday. Students, administrators, University of Oregon’s president and others traveled to Salem to discuss two proposals that would affect the U of O. Senate Bill 559 would allow the university to be an independent public university with its own governing board. (All public universities in the state are currently governed by the State Board of Higher Education.) Senate Joint Resolution 20 would put a constitutional amendment before voters in 2012, asking them to decide whether or not universities could use bond money to fund their endowments. These complex proposals are part of a larger effort to restructure Oregon’s higher education system. The University of Oregon proposal has met with a mixed response from legislators even before the session got underway.

The current tuition bill is similar to the others that have been introduced in previous sessions with one major difference: a direct appeal to the Supreme Court. This means that any legal challenge to the law (if it becomes a law) would go directly to the state Supreme Court without passing go, collecting $200 or working its way through the lower courts. While the tuition bill enjoys bipartisan support, it’s unclear if it has the votes to pass both chambers this time around.

We’ll also continue our new Capital People feature, in which we meet interesting people who work in the Capitol building but are not elected officials. This time around it’ll be Andre Rogers, who has worked in three different jobs at the Capitol over the last 11 years. He’s currently a public service representative and he says his favorite part of the job is leading tours for school children who visit the Capitol.

Have you ever been on a tour of the Capitol building? What would you like to know about the home of state government?

Do you have experience with Oregon’s online school system? Would the tuition equity bill affect you? What legislation is most important to you right now?


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