SALEM, Ore. – Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) is introducing a bill during the 2022 Legislative Session that will restore the balance of power in Oregon’s government.
“This is really about transparency and a balance of power,” said Representative Owens. “Oregonians are growing tired of Governor Brown’s never-ending emergency and a rule-making process that they don’t understand. We need to introduce sensible limits to the power of the Governor’s office in our state.”
HJR 206, introduced by Representative Owens with bicameral support, would refer to the voters the option to vote to amend the Oregon Constitution to limit the Governor’s ability to declare an emergency or exercise powers under the declaration of emergency to only those granted by the law and for 30 days. This resolution would bring better balance to Oregon’s government which currently concentrates a large amount of authority in a single office.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in strict government mandates and regulations, dictating how people can live their lives, all directed by the Governor’s Office through the Oregon Health Authority. Oregonians have become discontent with rules like a permanent indoor mask mandate and want more transparency in the decision-making process.
“It’s time for accountability and fairness in how these decisions are made. One sole person should not have ultimate and unchecked authority when it comes to determining the rights and freedoms of Oregonians.”
For Immediate Release
December 2, 2021
Representative Owens announces he will seek re-election to House District 60 in 2022
CRANE—Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) announced today he will seek re-election to Oregon’s House District 60 in 2022. House District 60 encompasses all of Baker, Grant, Harney and Malheur counties and a majority of Lake County.
“My priorities are to be the voice of my constituents and to build relationships with my colleagues so we can get good work done for all Oregonians. We deserve to have a voice at the table and to be heard, and I am going to make sure that happens,” said Rep Owens. “There’s more work to be done to make sure eastern Oregon does not get left out, left behind, or overruled by the supermajority powers-that-be in Salem.”
During the 2021 legislative session, Rep. Owens served as Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Water, and on the House Education, Energy and Environment, and Human Services Committees.
“We need to create opportunities for our small businesses to thrive, implement smarter ag and natural resource policies, prioritize our kids’ future by expanding educational choice, and invest our state’s financial resources more wisely and effectively so we aren’t raising taxes on hardworking Oregonians every turn of the dime.”
Rep Owens, an alfalfa farmer, small business owners and former Harney County Commissioner, was appointed to the House seat in January 2020 and was sworn in three days before the February short legislative session. He was elected to the position in November 2020.
For more information, Oregonians are encouraged to visit markowensfororegon.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2021
Findley, Owens Call on Governor Brown to Halt, Reverse Mandatory Vaccines,
Provide Robust Religious and Medical Exemptions
Public employees, healthcare providers, educators speak out about significant negative impacts to
rural hospitals, schools, and public services
VALE, Ore—Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) and Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) called on Governor Brown today to halt and reverse the recent COVID-19 mandate requiring all health care and education sector workers, as well as some public services and state level employees, to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to keep their jobs, and to implement robust medical and religious exemptions immediately.
“The newest mandates requiring vaccination for employment go too far—nobody should be forced to make a medical decision under threat of losing one’s job,” said Representative Owens. “Tens of thousands of hard-working Oregonians will be unfairly forced to choose between a medical procedure and the ability to provide for their families.”
“The impacts these vaccination mandates will have on rural schools, health care providers and hospitals, prisons, public safety, and social and public services will be severe,” added Sen. Findley. “These mandates will result in more harm than good and will have an opposite effect than desired.”
During the 2021 general session, Rep. Owens introduced and Sen. Findley co-sponsored HB 3407 to protect Oregonians’ right to privacy and ban vaccine passports to access credit, insurance, education, facilities, medical services, housing or accommodations, travel, entry into this state, employment or purchase goods or services. The bill never left committee or received a hearing.
“The mandate will not result in significantly more vaccinated health care workers, but rather will drive them out of our organizations to other states or out of health care all together. That one decision to mandate vaccines has done more to put our rural health system at risk than any other threat I have faced in my 30 years of working in hospitals,” said Dan Grigg, CEO, Harney County Health District.
“I’ve dedicated over 36 years to being on the frontlines to keep Oregonians healthy because I truly care. To know I’m being forced to quit a career I love or give up my rights to make my own medical decisions is wrong, and it will put our already overwhelmed health care systems further underwater,” said Ramona Tweed, a pharmacy technician from Jefferson County. “It’s a really scary and heartbreaking time for our state.”
Earlier today, Sen. Findley and Rep. Owens sent a letter to Gov. Brown calling for a reversal of the mandate and immediate implementation of robust medical and religious exemptions. In addition, Rep Owens contacted Oregon Legislative Counsel last week with multiple questions on how these exemptions would work if they are in fact implemented.
At time of this release, the questions remain unanswered.
“As emergency status is prolonged and mandates roll out, critically absent is the process for individuals to self-attest for medical and religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine. If this cannot be allowed in Oregon healthcare workers, Eastern Oregon will lose the only longstanding provider for some 2500 Oregon Health Plan dental patients in Harney County,” said Dr. Matthew Bauer of Burns Dental Group. “Due to our unique location, we are also the Dental Home for multiple patients in Harney and Grant Counties and parts of Northern Nevada – that would go away as well. Furthermore, this healthcare entity creates jobs that provide a living wage for 16 families who participate with their dollars in our fragile local economy – with less employees the 43 year-old Burns Dental Group would be kaput.”
Public and union employees have voiced their concerns about the serious impacts on public safety and services.
Casey Johnson, President, IAFF Local 922 Baker City Professional Firefighters, provided testimony to the Baker City Council on August 24 stating that under this mandate, they stand to lose 25% up to 50% of career professionals in the fire service and 90% of their volunteers, including vaccinated firefighters and EMS professionals.
In a letter received from Jess Tolman, Fire and EMS Chief for the Vale Fire and Ambulance, he outlines that 16 out of 22 members of Vale Fire and Ambulance will resign from their jobs if the mandate is enforced, effectively closing their department – an ambulance service responsible for 2,500 square miles with some communities more than two hours apart.
“If this mandate continues to be enforced, we will have no choice but to close the department down. This will greatly impact the community that relies on us to care for time sensitive emergencies. We ask that Governor Brown lift these mandates so we can continue to provide lifesaving care here in Malheur County,” stated Chief Tolman.
Jordan Valley School Superintendent Rusty Bengoa shared, “Out of the 25 total school staff at the Jordan Valley School District, including teachers, para-pros, office personnel, administrators, bus drivers, and coaches, 21 have stated they will not get the Covid-19 vaccine. That is 84% of the staff in Jordan Valley. If this happens there is no way that the school district can sustain that loss to personnel. It is already extremely difficult just to replace one teacher when a position opens. The Jordan Valley School District will have no other option but to close if this requirement stands. That will leave 65 students who live 46 miles from the closest town, which is actually in Idaho, and 70 miles from its closest Oregon neighboring town, with no access to a school.”
“This is not a debate about the reality and dangers of COVID-19 or the Delta variant, or the efficacy of the vaccine,” said Rep Owens. “This is about a gross overreach of authority that is legally, ethically, and morally wrong. The decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal and private conversation and choice between the individual and their healthcare provider.”
For copies of the letters referenced above, please contact
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Immediate Release
June 24, 2012
House Bill 2842 creates a home repair grant program at the Oregon Health Authority aimed at low-income renters and homeowners to receive energy efficiency upgrades, smoke filtration and home hardening, and other critical housing fixes and upgrades.
SALEM, OR – Today the Oregon House voted to advance a bipartisan bill aimed at supporting low-income Oregonians across the state in receiving home repairs that will drive down energy costs, improve wildfire resilience, and protect the health of residents from mold, smoke, and polluted air.
House Bill 2842, known as the Healthy Homes bill, will seed a new Healthy Homes Repair Fund at the Oregon Health Authority with $10 million that will be granted out to housing authorities, local governments, Tribal Nations, coordinated care organizations, and nonprofit organizations to support home repairs that improve the health, safety, and energy efficiency of housing stock for low-income Oregonians.
“House Bill 2842 is focused on the intersection of housing and health care,” said Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Southern Jackson County), a chief sponsor of the bill. “Housing is a social determinant of health, as fire-displaced families seeking refuge in motels, cars, or substandard housing demonstrate. This bill will ensure that as we incentivize construction of new housing that our current housing stock is maintained and upgraded to provide safe, healthy and affordable housing for decades to come.”
“Everyone deserves a home that is healthy and safe, but too many Oregonians live in housing that is aging and energy inefficient, has structural problems, and contributes to health disparities,” said Rep. Mark Owens (R-Crane). “This is particularly problematic in our rural communities, and housing quality is one of the contributing factors to high energy burden in Eastern Oregon districts like mine. By passing this legislation, we are taking important steps to improve the quality of life for Oregonians.”
“Weatherizing our homes not only protects us from the elements, but also reduces our energy bills and creates jobs in home retrofitting,” said bill supporter Lisa Muñoz in Hood River, Program Director for Comunidades and a life-long resident of the Columbia River Gorge. “Our community members who have suffered due to contracting COVID-19 and those who are permanently affected by lung and breathing issues such as asthma should not have to worry about wildfire smoke in their homes. These home upgrades will help provide a refuge as wildfire smoke becomes a seasonal companion.”
House Bill 2842 establishes a grant program to provide funding for repair and rehabilitation of homes owned by low income households or to landlords seeking to repair rental units occupied by low income households. Repairs can include energy efficiency improvements, health and safety upgrades including radon, lead or mold abatement, installation of smoke filtration or air purification systems, structural improvements, seismic upgrades or other repairs.
The program will be administered by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) via grants issued to eligible entities such as local governments, housing authorities, nonprofit organizations, Tribes, and coordinated care organizations. The bill encourages OHA to gather data and refine the program over time, and establishes an Interagency Task Force on Healthy Homes to collect and review data on the program in coordination with other relevant state agencies.
HB 2842 passed 56-2, and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
For Immediate Release
Date: June 8, 2021
Contact: Stacy Cayce
Rep Owens introduces bill to protect Oregonians’ right to privacy,
ban implementation of discriminatory vaccine passports
SALEM, Ore. – On Monday, Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) introduced House Bill 3407 to ban the implementation of vaccine passports in Oregon and protect the privacy and rights of Oregonians.
“Requiring proof of vaccinations via a vaccine passport program is wrong and it opens the door to myriad problems,” said Rep. Owens. “It’s a violation of our privacy and our freedoms, it’s discriminatory, and it shows the Governor doesn’t believe Oregonians can be trusted.”
The legislation would prevent any public body – state, local or special government body – from issuing a requirement for proof of vaccination through a vaccine passport from COVID-19 or variants of COVID-19.
“Let me be clear—this is not an argument over COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s about Oregonians’ rights. I believe the choice to get a vaccine is a personal, private medical decision that should be made between an individual and their medical provider, and that Oregonians should be free to make that choice for themselves,” said Owens.
In addition, in order to prevent discriminatory actions and repercussions, it would prohibit a person or public body from being able to legally require an individual to state or document vaccine status against COVID-19 to access credit, insurance, education, facilities, medical services, housing or accommodations, travel, entry into this state, employment or purchase goods or services.
It would also prohibit these entities from being legally able to require an individual to wear a face covering if the individual does not wish to disclose vaccine status. The bill applies only to the COVID-19 vaccinations and would not change any current laws with regards to immunizations for other restrictable diseases for schools and children’s facilities.
House Bill 3407 is requested in partnership with Eastern Oregon Counties Association and would go into effect immediately upon passage. At the time of press, the legislation has 12 Chief Co-Sponsors including House and Senate members and bipartisan support in the House.
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Date: May 4, 2021
Contact: Andrew Fromm
Republicans attempted to pull bill with Democrat and Republican sponsors out of committee to House floor
SALEM, Ore. – Today, Oregon House Legislators voted to consider a bill on the House floor that would give the Legislature oversight on Governor Kate Brown’s emergency powers and sole authority over the COVID-19 response.
Republicans moved to pull HB 2243 out of committee directly to the House floor for a vote.
The motion did not receive the required number of votes to pass. All Republican members voted in favor to make the Governor accountable to the Legislature. 28 Democrats voted against the motion, maintaining the Governor’s sole authority over COVID-19 and unchecked ability to shut down businesses.
The decision is in response to the Governor’s announcement last week to unilaterally extend her own emergency powers again, granting her the ability to issue shutdowns without involving another governing body.
County commissioners have repeatedly asked the Governor to be more targeted in her decisions. Currently, the statewide threshold for “extreme risk” designation disregards the fact that hospital cases of COVID-19 are decreasing in some counties where businesses must now close.
“The Legislature is in Session and we have a duty to engage,” House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) previously said. “Oregonians deserve a balance of power between their separate branches of government again.”
HB 2243 (chief sponsors Rep. Wilde, Lewis, regular sponsors Rep. Cate, Evans, Hayden, Leif, Levy, Moore-Green, Morgan, Owens, Post, Reschke, Wallan, Wright) – Requires that declarations and extensions of states of emergency under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations.
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