Oregon: Legislators Take a Stand Against Gun Control

NRA-ILA Oregon | February 28, 2020

A group of pro-Second Amendment lawmakers have taken the step of refusing to attend floor sessions. Their action prevents a chamber of the Oregon Legislature from reaching a quorum and stops House Bill 4005A and other bills from advancing.

If your state Representative appears in the list below, please take the time to thank them for taking a stand in defense of your Second Amendment rights.

District 1: Rep. David Brock Smith
District 2: Rep. Gary Leif
District 3: Rep. Carl Wilson
District 4: Rep. Duane Stark
District 6: Rep. Kim Wallan
District 7: Rep. Cedric Hayden
District 15: Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis
District 17: Rep. Sherrie Sprenger
District 18: Rep. Rick Lewis
District 19: Rep. Raquel Moore-Green
District 23: Rep. Mike Nearman
District 24: Rep. Ron Noble
District 25: Rep. Bill Post
District 39: Rep. Christine Drazan
District 53: Rep. Jack Zika
District 55: Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson
District 56: Rep. E. Werner Reschke
District 57: Rep. Greg Smith
District 58: Rep. Greg Barreto
District 59: Rep. Daniel Bonham
District 60: Rep. Mark Owens

House Bill 4005A is a firearm storage bill that mandates the same egregious provisions from SB 978, which failed to pass last year. HB 4005A requires all firearms to be locked with a trigger-locking device or kept in a locked container, unless carried, with each firearm not secured constituting a separate violation. Anyone who has their firearms lost or stolen would be strictly liable for any injury to persons or property if the firearms were not stored in compliance with the law. Gun safety and storage is a matter of personal responsibility and every person’s situation is different. It is unreasonable for the law to impose a one-size-fits-all solution. In short, this measure invades people’s homes and forces them to render their firearms useless for self-defense or become criminals.

Rep. Owens wants to get back to Capital

Leslie Thompson | The Argus Observer | Feb 28, 2020

ONTARIO — District 60 Rep. Mark Owens and his Republican colleagues are ready to get back to work, he says.

During a Monday night caucus, following a walkout of GOP members of the Senate, Owens says they decided that “solidarity was good” and joined the senators, who walked out on Monday.

“We did not show up after that,” he said during a phone interview on Thursday afternoon.

However, with the session set to adjourn March 8, “every member of the House really desires to get back in that building,” Owens said. “A lot of bills are very positive that we’d like to work through.”

The push to reduce Oregon’s carbon emissions, known as the cap and trade initiative, is working its way through the current short legislative session in Salem in Senate Bill 1530 and House Bill 4171.

The GOP lawmakers are urging Democrats, which are in the supermajority, to refer the issue to the voters, Owens said.

Owens said his “hope” and “desire” would to be back in Salem today, having left Oregon per instructions given to all House members.

This is because when a walkout happened during the 2019 session a request was given to Gov. Kate Brown to have Oregon State Police bring missing lawmakers back to Salem.

So far this year, Senate President Peter Courtney nor House Speaker Kotek have requested that measure be taken, Owens said, as the prompt would have to come from them to Brown.

If work resumes this session, Owens said he is looking forward most to working on a bill for small schools that would allow them to make foreign exchange students a part of enrollment.

“It’s a very important bill for our district and neighboring districts,” he said of being able to get needed funding for each student in attendance.

There is also a bill for funding foster care, that Owens wants to see go through.

And before the State Representatives left the session, Owens was successfully able to carry a local bill to the House Floor. The bill is for the Eastern Economic Development Boarder Board, and aims to clarify how the board can use that funding.

Originally set up as a grant-based establishment, the Boarder Board “feels ten grants is too restrictive,” Owens said, adding that the board would prefer to have “ten programs versus ten grants.”

That one got a third reading on the floor and passed unanimously out of the house, Owens said, and is slated to head next to the Senate.

“All they [the Democrats] have to do is say we will refer cap and trade to voters,” he said, of getting the GOP House members back to work.

Rep. Mark Owens voices opposition to cap & trade policy, urges legislature to refer bill to voters

PRESS RELEASE:
February 25, 2020

CONTACT:
Andrea Dominguez, 541-889-8866

SALEM—Mark Owens (R-Crane) voiced his opposition today to House Bill 4167 and Senate Bill 1530, the cap and trade legislation that has been introduced in both House and Senate Chambers, by denying the probability for the legislation to be pushed through the House without a commitment to refer the bills to the voters.

“As the state representative for House District 60, my number one job is to represent the citizens in my district and my number one priority is to be their voice in Salem,” said Rep. Owens, who was appointed to the position in January. “The voters have spoken—they have strongly and consistently opposed this cap and trade policy and I stand by them without question.”

Owens represents all of Baker, Grant, Harney and Malheur Counties and parts of Lake County. The five counties issued proclamations and/or signed on to the Eastern Oregon Counties Association proclamation last week in opposition to the cap and trade legislation, joining a total of 26 counties across Oregon who did the same.

“The short session was designed to fix budget tweaks and make policy fixes, not to play politics with people and pass legislation that would assuredly negatively impact the livelihood of every Oregonians,” Owens continued. “I have said from the start that this issue needs to be referred to the voters who have the right to make the final determination on something as significant as this bill. I will continue to advocate for that process and until that happens, I will not allow for this abuse of power to take place.”

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New State Rep. Mark Owens talks about his first session

By Leslie Thompson | Argus Observer | February 25, 2020

ONTARIO — It’s been a busy first session for Rep. Mark Owens, R-District 60, who was appointed to his seat just before the short session started on Feb. 3 in Salem. Republicans in the Senate walked out on Monday over the cap-and-trade, and according to Owens “all options are on the table” for a repeat of a similar move by GOP lawmakers in the House. Owens, who did take part with his colleagues in the first walkout of the session on Feb. 18, sits on both the Committee on Revenue and the House Committee on Water.

“The intent of the short session is budgetary fixes and small policy tweaks,” Owens said, commenting about joining his colleagues in the decision not to show up for a scheduled floor session. “Those in the majority are trying to run a lot of large policy bills, so we showed them we have the ability to have solidarity in our pockets and avoid a quorum if we have to.”

Owens, R-Crane, was nominated to fill the seat vacated by Lynn Findley, who was appointed to the Senate District 30 seat, and was sworn in on Jan. 31 just days before the session’s Feb. 3 start. As such, he did not get the option to bring any bills forward.

However, he still feels he has been able to make a positive impact for his community with the bills he has signed on. This included being able to testify on a bill for the Eastern Oregon Economic Development Board in order to get more funding.

As far as some other issues brought before Owens and the legislators this session, the Argus caught up with Owens about how he voted on bills that impact sage grouse and cellphone users, his thoughts on sanctuary cities and counties, and his priorities for the short session, which is expected to wrap up at midnight on March 7.

Rural birds and broadband

Owens says he only had a few days to review all the bills that came forward.

One of those bills, which he supported was House Bill 4091, which moved on to the Senate last week. The bill aims to create a fund to help facilitate development while supporting conservation of sage-grouse habitat.

Saying it was a “good bill,” Owens said he appreciated that it allowed funds raised for a specific purpose to only be used for that purpose.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the House, provides for an “in-lieu fee” fund — separate from the General Fund — with interest to be earned to support efforts to restore, protect and other steps to conserve and build up the endangered bird’s habitat. This is designed to defray the costs of mitigation for impacts of development in a habitat area.

House Bill 4079 regarding funding for broadband, however, was one that Owens voted no on.

While it might come as a surprise, he said, that the representative for the most underserved district for broadband in the state voted no on a bill that would help fund $5 million for rural areas, it was the way the money would be raised that didn’t sit well with the lawmaker.

The bill proposed an additional tax for 4.1 million wireless customers in Oregon, he said, by bumping up a 1.6% surcharge.

Emphasizing that he didn’t believe an extra tax “would be fair to those people,” Owens said he’s supportive of broadband in rural areas, but he believes there is money in the General Fund to be used as a match for that funding.

There is “plenty of revenue” to do so, he said.

Sanctuary cities and counties

As usual, gun rights have surfaced in this session. A bill this year would make a gun owner responsible for damages if their firearm was stolen and used for a crime.

“I’m supportive of rural counties in eastern Oregon standing up for what we believe, even only if it’s just posturing,” Owens said regarding municipalities and counties taking extra measures to protect the Second Amendment.

The Nyssa City Council in its last regular meeting voted on enacting protections over gun rights, and Malheur County did the same in 2015.

Attempts elsewhere in District 60 to do the same have not got off the ground in Harney County, but have in Baker County.

Saying he was supportive of those who do take the extra steps, he reasoned why:

“We are showing the state we will no longer take continued erosion of our Constitutional rights,” he said, adding he was unsure whether doing so was actually enforceable or not.

Owens’ priorities

Although it’s a short session and Owens is serving for the first time as a legislator he does have three priorities for the session. The first is to hear from constituents and “be a voice of our people.” The second, he says, is to learn the process in order to be effective in a longer session, as he has filed for the seat he is now filling for the Primary Election in May.

He already had been planning to file for the seat, he said, but when finding out about the shuffling of seats which began when former Sen. Cliff Bentz announced his bid for Congress, he waited. It wasn’t until after Findley, who had also been aiming to get elected to the House District 60 seat, pulled his file, that Owens filed.

Serving on the Harney County Commission, Owens said, gave him a good head start for a role as a state leader.

“It also taught me the closest form of government to the people. It taught me to build relationships and to be their voice,” he said. “I want to continue that in Salem and in all five counties I represent.”

Owens’ third priority in Salem, is in line with that: building relationships.

“As the super minority, we will have to work together to move forward.”

Oregon’s newest rural lawmaker sworn in

Mark Owens, a Republican from rural Oregon, was sworn in Thursday as the newest member of the state House of Representatives.

A rancher and small business owner from Crane, Owens previously served as a Harney County commissioner and is the school board chair for the Crane Union School District, home to Crane High and its 66 or so students.

County commissioners from numerous Eastern Oregon counties chose Owens to replace Lynn Findley, R-Vale, in the House after commissioners voted to appoint Findley to the Senate, where he replaced Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, who resigned to run for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s seat in Congress.

Secretary of State Bev Clarno administered the oath of office at Central Christian School in Redmond. Family members, friends, students and fellow Republican lawmakers attended the ceremony.

“I look forward to serving Oregonians and the communities in House District 60, and being a voice for eastern Oregon in Salem,” Owens said.

In a statement, House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, hailed his appointment.

“Representative Owens brings a vital rural Oregon perspective to Salem,” Drazen said. “His years of experience working the land, serving as a county commissioner and school board chair will serve him well.”

Owens will serve on the House Revenue Committee and the House Water Committee.

Prior to his nomination by the Republican Party as a candidate for the appointment, he had filed to run for the House District 60 seat this year.

He joins fellow Republican Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville and Democrat Akasha Lawrence Spence of Portland as House remembers who will serve in the 2020 Legislature having been appointed rather than elected to their seats.