Lawmakers Seek to Strengthen Domestic Violence Law

Oregon has lagged behind other states in taking seriously the crime of strangulation. The crime is a felony in many other states but often charged as a misdemeanor in Oregon, as WW reported last year ("Looking the Other Way," WW, Nov. 15, 2017). Next month, lawmakers led by Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) will attempt to expand the definition of strangulation and reclassify it as a felony when the victim is a family or household member of the perpetrator. Senate Bill 1562 calls for a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of $125,000, or both. "It's outrageous to me that strangulation is usually a misdemeanor," Taylor says. "Oregon can't continue to be passive on how it treats perpetrators of domestic violence."

Environmentalists Want Tax on November Ballot

Environmentalists have filed a November ballot measure to create a Portland tax on businesses to fund renewable energy projects. The proposal would create a 1 percent city tax on local gross receipts of retailers with national sales over $1 billion if those businesses do at least $500,000 in annual sales in the city of Portland. It resembles statewide Measure 97, which voters rejected in 2016. But this time, enviros have exempted food, medicine and health care services from the tax. It would fund energy upgrades for buildings, renewable energy infrastructure like solar panels, and related job training for "low-income communities and people of color."

Oregon's Fight for Net Neutrality Moves Slowly

Oregon trails other states in fighting a December ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that repealed the Obama FCC's doctrine of "net neutrality." The doctrine prevented internet service providers from treating customers differently. Under net neutrality, providers could not charge customers different rates, slow down transmission of data or discriminate against content providers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, both Democrats, have issued executive orders prohibiting their states from buying internet service from companies that violate net neutrality. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown isn't there yet. "[She] is working with the state chief information officer to explore ways for Oregon to take action at the state level that will ensure an open and fair internet, for both consumers and companies," says her spokesman Chris Pair.

Peterson's on Morrison Closes Shop

The downtown convenience store Peterson's on Morrison closed this month after a drawn-out battle with Prosper Portland. The city's urban renewal agency plans to remodel the parking garage where Peterson's occupied a street-level storefront ("No Longer Convenient," WW, Aug. 30, 2017). "I'm really disgusted," says owner Doug Peterson, who closed his doors Jan. 7. "We were a needed service, and they just wrote us off." The city will renovate the garage and give priority to new retail businesses run by women and minorities.