Speaking on the Floor

Speaking on the House Floor


The "Short" 2014 Session is well underway.  The Revenue committee has heard several technical and a few controversial bills that raise a lot of interest. During Wednesday’s Revenue Forecast, the State Economist, noted that Lane County has been slow to bounce back and that the mix of industries in the area has contributed to that sluggish response.  I continue to look for opportunities to help job growth to put Oregonians back to work, funding to reduce class size and increase opportunities in our schools, and lower tuition in our colleges and universities.  We continue to find places we can improve your state government by making it more efficient and effective.

My bill to protect the health of our young people and the quality of our air in indoor public places has been turned into an interim work group, see below.

As always, I welcome your comments, suggestions and requests.  




Short Session Runs:
February 3rd to March 9th

Bills Deadlines:
Must be voted out of Second Chamber Committee before
February 25th*

Sine Die (The Constitutional End of Session) is
March 9th

*Deadlines exlcude bills in Revenue, Rules and
Ways and Means

Lane Community College


Creswell Coffee

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Last year, I was waiting for a flight when someone activated a device that released something that looked like smoke and had a strong scent.  It was clear at the time that this was not a traditional cigarette, but kids, pregnant women, and non-smokers, like myself, were forced to breathe in its vapor.  I was appalled and thought that something needed to be done.  I submitted House Bill 4115 to stop the victimization of innocent bystanders and to ban the sale of these devices to minors. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass this session.  Instead an interim work group will be established to more comprehensively review e-cigarettes.

My father died of lung cancer, so I have seen the effects of tobacco smoking first-hand.  It took many years to fully understand the tragic consequences of tobacco products and their secondhand effects on non-users.  While some argue that the science is out on vaping, one thing is clear; the majority of these products contain nicotine.  Nicotine alone is highly addictive and has health consequences such as raised blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels.  It is known to have adverse effects on brain and lung development in children and increases the risk of birth defects when pregnant women are exposed in the early stages of pregnancy.  While we wait for the science to become main-stream on the effects of the other chemicals in e-cigarettes, people who wouldn’t otherwise smoke cigarettes may get addicted to vaping and could suffer the consequences years later when it is too late to undo the damage. 

Preventing teen smoking, which is essential to prevent addiction to nicotine in later life, is complex. Making sales of e-cigarettes to teens unlawful is only one aspect, another is the reduction of modeling behavior by adults.  Banning e-cigarette smoking in no-smoking areas will help reduce the incidence of youth smoking and reduce the number of new nicotine addicts.

The Human Services and Housing Committee heard testimony for 2 hours, most of which was dominated by vapor business owners or workers, who supported the ban on sales to minors, but were against banning use in places where tobacco smoking is not allowed. 

HB 4115 did not ban adults from using e-cigarettes, it merely limited them to places that wouldn’t expose the 3 million Oregonians who don’t use any type of cigarette (electronic or otherwise) to hazardous vapors in public places.  Many other lawmakers have had experiences like mine, coming upon someone smoking an e-cigarette in a no-smoking area.  Nearly all were as appalled as I was.  Banning e-cigarettes in no-smoking places is not a new concept in Oregon.  Benton, Clatsop, Deschutes, Hood River, and Umatilla Counties have already passed smoke-free policies that explicitly include e-cigarettes.  These laws protect residents and provide a unified law, which is easy for residents and businesses to follow.  The proposal to add vaping to the Indoor Clean Air Act was supported by the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs, the Association of Oregon Counties, Lane County Board of Commissioners, and the Coalition of Local Health Officials.

Experts in smoking prevention know that there are many aspects of preventing teen addiction to nicotine. This bill covered only two. I look forward to working on a stronger bill in the interim that will be more comprehensive.  

February 14, 2014