Hill to Hall Jan. 22–24

Jan. 22: Potential legislation would double fines for rioters wearing masks

Ahead of the Oregon Legislature session, State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger (R-Scio) introduced a drafted bill which would double the penalties for rioters with partially or concealed faces, according to Willamette Week. Currently, rioting, a Class C felony, is punishable by upwards of five years and a fine of $125,000. If the new law passed, both of those numbers would double. Former Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw suggested that masks should be banned in protests in July 2019, after the previous weekend’s protests. 

Jan. 23: Canadian energy company withdraws state permit for pipeline

Pembina, a Canadian energy company, has withdrawn its application for a state permit for the Jordan Cove Project, a $10 billion natural gas pipeline and export center. The permit was originally filed in November 2017 but has since received multiple extended deadlines for the Oregon Department of State Lands to make a decision regarding the permit. With a deadline set for Jan. 31, the company filed for an additional two month extension on Jan. 14, which was rejected, according to Willamette Week. The company project is turning instead to a broader application from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to AP News.

Jan. 23: Oregon high school graduation rate rises to 80 percent

Oregon’s overall graduation rate for high school seniors reached 80% in 2019, which is the highest the state has seen since it started keeping tighter records, according to OPB. Every student group received at least a one percent increase since 2018, according to The Oregonian, with the highest increases for students with disabilities by 3%, and 2% for low income students. Oregon’s graduation rate has consistently been one of the worst in the country, ranking No. 48 in 2018 at 78.7%. 

Jan. 24: State Representative sworn in with promise not to run in November Elections

After a unanimous vote by Multnomah County Commissioners, Akasha Lawrence Spence was sworn in as the newest member of Oregon’s House of Representatives. Lawrence Spence represents House District 36, representing a disrict that encompases downtown Portland and parts of the city’s west hills, which was left empty after former Rep. Jennifer Williamson resigned to run for Oregon secretary of state, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. According to The Oregonian, Lawrence Spence was chosen partially because she agreed not to run for the seat, which faces a heavy contest in the next election.