The 2017 session of the Oregon State Legislature is well underway and the ACLU of Oregon is hard at work on your behalf. As the state's civil liberties and civil rights watchdog, we track hundreds of bills each year and provide testimony on many of them.
In a time when so much is at stake, we must urge the Oregon legislature to stand up for civil rights and civil liberties. When our civil rights and liberties are at risk and the federal government isn’t willing to step up, we can turn to state and local law and still make a difference in the lives of Oregonians.
End Profiling and Defelonize Drug Possession - HB 2355
Profiling is based on the false assumption that members of certain populations are more likely to be criminals. Although racial profiling was already prohibited in Oregon, we worked with Unite Oregon and allies to expand the law to expand the law to make sure it applied to more populations, including members of the LGBT community, people with disabilities, houseless people, religious minorities, and more. The new law creates mechanisms for collecting and analyzing profiling complaints and passed the End Profiling Act in 2015.
That law instructed the Attorney General to lead a task force to study anti-profiling policy and make recommendations for new legislation to help identify and correct patterns and practices of profiling by Oregon law enforcement. The ACLU of Oregon has served on this task force, which has reached consensus the need to:
• Require that law enforcement collect race and gender data about who they are targeting for stops.
• Mandate updated anti-profiling training for all levels of law enforcement; and
• Provide for accountability when patterns of profiling are identified.
Defelonize Drug Possession
The War on Drugs has been a failure. It is unfair, and it doesn’t work. Felony convictions for small-scale drug use ruin lives and waste taxpayer money. HB 2355 is Oregon's chance to take a smarter approach, by defelonizing small-scale drug possession.
A overwhelming majority of Oregon voters, from all across the state, of all political parties and backgrounds, support reducing drug sentences. In addition, the bill has support from the Oregon Sheriffs' Association and the Oregon Chiefs of Police. They know that law enforcement need to spend their resources on where they’re needed most, protecting our communities.
Reproductive Health Equity Act – HB 3391
Access to reproductive health care is critical for the health and economic security of all Oregonians. That’s why everyone in Oregon, regardless of income, citizenship status, gender identity or type of insurance, needs access to the full range of reproductive health services and the ability to choose whether and when to have children.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act of 2017 is an important leap toward ensuring that all Oregonians have meaningful access to the care they need. As a member of the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon (PCCO), we are proud to have helped craft and now to support this bill.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act will ensure that all Oregonians receive the full range of preventive reproductive health services at zero out-of-pocket cost, fills gaps in reproductive health coverage for those categorically excluded from health programs due to citizenship status, and prohibits discrimination in reproductive health care.
You can get involved with the campaign to pass this bill, Reproductive Health Equity Now! by visiting their website, reprohealthequity.org.
The Right to Rest Act – HB 2215
As Oregon faces a serious housing crisis, large numbers of Oregonians are living on the street. Criminalization of homelessness doesn’t help. Instead, it erects barriers for individuals who want to find housing and jobs. Reducing criminalization will allow us to redirect our resources to things that actually help reduce homelessness.
The Right to Rest Act will protect people who are homeless from discrimination and prevent the enactment and enforcement of laws that criminalize basic life-sustaining activities, such as sitting, sleeping, and sharing food. Rest is a basic human right, and is essential to everyone’s health, safety, well-being, and ability to function.
The Right to Rest act is part of the Homeless Bill of Rights campaign. You can learn more on the website of our allies at Western Regional Advocacy Project.
Grand Jury Recording – SB 496
Recording is necessary to ensure grand juries serve their constitutional function of protecting individuals against abuse of the grand jury process. The historical role of the grand jury is to provide a check on prosecutorial power in the criminal justice system, as is reflected in the Fifth Amendment. Yet grand juries too often serve as no more than a rubber stamp for prosecutorial decisions. Without a recording, and without disclosure of recordings to defendants, misconduct is all but impossible to correct.
Secrecy undermines public confidence in our judicial system and reinforces perceptions that the system is rigged. Secret proceedings leave the public helpless to do anything other than speculate about what actually occurred behind closed doors. Therefore, we support disclosure when a grand jury fails to indict a public official. For example, if a grand jury fails to bring charges against a police officer who shot and killed an Oregonian, we would want to know.
The ACLU of Oregon opposes bills that endanger civil liberties and civil rights, including bills that:
• Limit access to reproductive health care
• Impact free speech and association rights
• Endanger privacy
• Weaken protections against unreasonable search and seizure
• Increase criminal penalties or create new crimes
• Reduce government and law enforcement accountability
• Negatively impact communities of color or other marginalized communities
• Weaken anti-discrimination protections
• Reduce equal access to voting
• Weaken our public records laws