Despite Mockery, Oregon Officials Are Poised to Investigate the Health Effects of WiFi on Schoolkids

A wireless radiation safety study made it through the Oregon Legislature. Other bills didn’t survive.

David Douglas High School classroom in 2013. (Leah Nash)

Some scoffed at the idea that Wi-Fi could harm schoolchildren. Not Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham).

"People laughed at this and said, 'We can't be wearing aluminum all the time,'" she says. "Sen. Rob Wagner put a roll of aluminum [foil] on my desk, which I thought was hilarious."

Monnes Anderson was a chief sponsor of Senate Bill 283, which directs the Oregon Health Authority to look over independent peer-reviewed scientific studies of the effects of "microwave radiation" in schools. When WW examined the idea as a "Bill of the Week" in May, its passage seemed a long shot. But it cruised through both legislative chambers and now awaits the signature of Gov. Kate Brown.

Monnes Anderson says she's glad, but not surprised, her bill passed. "You can't see radiation, feel it, taste it, so it doesn't exist? I know better than that," she says.

It's one of nearly two dozen bills WW examined during the turbulent legislative session. Here's how the others fared.


Senate Bill 1013

Limits crimes which qualify for the death penalty.

House Bill 2437

Allows farmers to excavate dig more ditches without a permit, and dump some of the dirt into wetlands.

HB 2015

Issues non-commercial driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

SB 212

Started as tax reductions for college tuition and fees. But it was "gut and stuffed" with a measure that says if voters overturn a tax hike, schools won't get promised funding.

SB 792

Require annual inspections of auto scrapyards.

SB 577

Toughens the law on bias crimes and tracks them.

SB 90

Outlaws plastic straws unless customers ask for them.

SB 421

Ensures that victims of accidents will be fully compensated before their health insurance company can collect.


HB 2020

A cap on carbon emissions.

HB 2796

Allowing the construction of affordable housing on wetlands.

This bill would have paved over wetlands and built housing on top of them, and would only replace a quarter of the wetlands instead of at a 1-1 ratio.

HB 3063

Removed the religious and philosophical exemptions for vaccine requirements.

SB 543

Allowed taxing districts for children's services.

HB 2786

Qualified deputy district attorneys for police pensions.

SB 892

Exempted Pedialyte should be exempt from the bottle deposit.

SB 451

Reclassified an incinerator as a renewable energy plant so that it could receive tax credits.

HB 3338

Removed guns from campus police at public universities.

HB 2688

Required big tech companies to release blueprints for repairs.

SB 595

Shifted lodging taxes from tourism to affordable housing.

HB 2859

Established confidentiality for legislative workers reporting sexual harassment, as well as the accused.

HB 2184

Taxed cell phone users to pay for rural broadband.

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