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Session Ends with Progressive Victories

Bills expand contraception; fight racial profiling

7/7/2015, 4:03 p.m.
On Monday the Oregon Legislature drew its current session to an end, a year highlighted by several progressive victories, including ...
Gov. Kate Brown signs a bill expanding access to contraception during a June 11 ceremony. The bill makes Oregon the first state to require insurers to pay for up to 12 months of birth control at a time. (AP photo)

On Monday the Oregon Legislature drew its current session to an end, a year highlighted by several progressive victories, including bills to make voting easier, improving access to birth control and fighting racial profiling by police.

The law banning the practice of profiling as a law enforcement tactic is on its way to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for her signature. The bill offers residents a formal complaint process and creates a new work group tasked with identifying patterns or practices of profiling, along with identifying methods to correct it.

The bill received bipartisan support in both chambers and had the backing of the Center for Intercultural Organizing, the NAACP, Basic Rights Oregon, the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, and the Oregon Sheriff’s Association.

“Profiling corrodes the relationship between law enforcement and the community they serve,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek. “To eliminate profiling, we need to face it head on, recognize it and provide the means to report and address the problem when it occurs.”

Brown signed the birth control law on Monday, giving Oregon women access to contraception without having to first schedule a doctor’s visit. Pharmacists can now prescribe birth control after the patient completes a 20-question risk-screening assessment. In June, Brown signed another measure that requires insurance companies to cover up to 12 months of birth control at a time, allowing women fewer visits to the pharmacy.

Under a so-called motor voter law, an Oregon resident who interacts with the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division, but hasn’t’ registered to vote, will automatically receive a ballot in the mail at least 20 days before the next statewide election. It’s expected to add about 300,000 new voters to the rolls.

Lawmakers also managed to expand background checks for private gun sales in May and approved a bill requiring companies with at least 10 employees to give their workers paid sick days so employees will no longer have to choose between recovering from an illness or preserving their paycheck. Both bills were signed by the governor.

The Oregon Legislature is expected to return in five months to begin next year’s session.