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Measure 57 Key To Ending The 2009 Session June 23, 2009

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

On the road to adjournment of any legislative session, roadblocks always emerge.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, encountered one June 10, when one Democrat declined to vote for a budget-balancing tax bill and blocked its approval by the required 60 percent majority.

But that roadblock disappeared in less than 24 hours.

House Speaker Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, encountered one Friday, when he fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority required to approve lesser prison sentences under a ballot measure that voters passed in the fall.

Lawmakers will know Monday, when the bill can be reconsidered, if that roadblock has disappeared — or whether leaders will have to come up with a detour.

There are likely to be other roadblocks as leaders press to close the 2009 session. The target is June 30, but the talk is of sometime at the end of this week.

Many bills still are in the legislative pipeline, though not as many as last week, and many agency budgets have not yet emerged from committee, though many soon will.

But public-safety budgets will hinge on how the House resolves what to do about House Bill 3508, which failed on a 37-22 vote.

Not only does it phase in Measure 57, which lengthens sentences for repeat property and drug offenders, it proposes nearly a dozen other changes that generate savings from unneeded prison beds and smaller community-corrections caseloads.

A companion bill, which hinges on passage of House Bill 3508 or something similar, spends $60 million to restore programs that are proposed for cuts in prisons, the Oregon Youth Authority, Oregon State Police and other public-safety agencies.

David Rogers, executive director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice, expressed disappointment after Friday’s vote.

“Oregon’s approach to public safety just took a giant step in the wrong direction,” said Rogers, whose group promotes alternatives to prisons and mandatory sentences. “HB 3508 was designed to not only protect significant parts of our public-safety system from serious budget cuts but also to institute reforms that made our system smarter and more cost-effective.”




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