New year, new laws, while legislature poised to draft more bills

The Oregon Legislature may have convened back in the first half of 2019, but the results of the hundreds of bills passed back then are being felt now, as many new laws went into effect at midnight on Jan. 1, 2020.  

For some quick background, when legislators draft a bill, we are able to assign an implementation date.  Some bills go into effect on a specific date, some are implemented in pieces over a period of time, and still others require “emergency” implementation and go into effect the moment they are passed by both chambers of the Legislature and signed by the governor.  

A large percentage of bills, however, go into effect on the first day of the new year.

One such law that went into effect on New Year’s Day was a statewide ban on plastic shopping bags, along with the introduction of a 5-cent fee on paper bags in most retail stores.  

While several cities have banned plastic bags already, this is the first statewide ban. Implementation of this law has already caused some confusion, especially in Portland.  The Oregonian reported that, as of Jan. 3, some stores hadn’t yet begun charging for paper bags and at least one was still using plastic shopping bags.

Another bill that went into effect on Jan. 1 is known as the “Idaho stop law.”  

The new statute allows bicyclists in Oregon to roll through a stop sign instead of coming to a complete halt. However, cyclists must continue to yield the right of way to pedestrians or traffic that is already in the intersection or is approaching. 

 The law is named after the state which first adopted the statute back in 1982.  The bill narrowly passed the House on a 31-28 vote with both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition.

A final measure that became law on Jan. 1 is an expansion of Oregon’s “revenge porn” law, originally passed in 2015.  

The original law made it a crime for people to post intimate images on websites without the consent of the person in the photo.  This law removes the word “website,” so offending images may not be distributed through any means without permission.  

The law essentially makes the crime “technology-proof” by removing the method of transmission and ensuring that any intimate image transmitted without permission is a criminal offense.

The legislature is coming back into session in February with lots of bill drafts that, if passed, will impact Oregonians significantly. We can really only speculate which bills will be introduced, but there are rumors of another cap and trade bill and increased restrictions on firearms, among others.  

What would you like to see passed or repealed this February that would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021?