July 2011 - Despite numerous proposals to undermine civil liberties during the 2011 Oregon legislative session we had a very successful session. While we had a few losses along the way, we stopped the most egregious attempts to undermine civil liberties. We are happy to report our proposal to require the government to properly preserve evidence that can be used to exonerate a person years after conviction passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House.
This was one of the shortest sessions in Oregon history. However that did not reduce the numbers of bills introduced or considered. This report covers the highlights, and in a few cases, the lowlights, of the 2011 session. With another legislative session beginning in February 2012, we expect many of the proposals that we successfully stopped will be renewed during in the short one-month session. In the past two previous “short” sessions in 2008 and 2010, important policy issues were advanced with very little debate or opportunity for us to provide meaningful input.
In the 2011 session, we tracked hundreds of legislative proposals that in most cases would have diminished civil liberties and civil rights. These proposals covered the whole gamut of our work area including free speech, search and seizure, privacy, criminal justice, reproductive rights, equal protection, public records, religious freedom, the death penalty, prisoner rights and drug reform. This report begins with a summary of the ACLU sponsored proposals and then covers the work we did by issue area.
To see how your legislator voted on civil liberties issues, download the ACLU of Oregon's 2011 Legislative Scorecard (PDF).
ACLU Sponsored Legislation
This session, the ACLU of Oregon proposed two bills. The first, SB 731 requires long-term preservation by the government of any biological evidence collected during a criminal investigation. The second, SB 266 would have provided consumer privacy protections if Oregon implemented roadway toll collections. In addition, as discussed under the free speech section, we drafted legislation to repeal the unconstitutional portions of two 2007 laws restricting access by minors to sexually explicit material. While we were unsuccessful in 2007 in persuading the legislature not to pass the laws, we succeeded before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and much of the law was held unconstitutional.