Hill to Hall: March 19–22

March 19: Oregon permanently bans offshore drilling

The Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 256 to “prohibit drilling and exploration in the state’s marine waters,” according to Associated Press. This comes shortly after a bill for a 10-year ban on fracking passed the House. S.B. 256 prohibits state agencies from assisting the federal government in offshore drilling as a response to the White House finalizing a plan to open up all federal waters for oil drilling. The bill received a majority of 47-8 in the House and passed the Oregon Senate earlier this year. Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill into law to protect both the climate and Oregon’s coastal economy.

March 21: Oregon DHS discloses months-old data breach   

The Oregon Department of Human Services disclosed a data breach that affected more than 2 million emails in early January. The data included the personal medical information protected under the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act, according to Portland Tribune. The breach occurred when a spam email was sent out and clicked on by nine DHS employees and is currently being investigated by IDExperts. According to a DHS spokesman, the breach had the potential to affect more than 350,000 clients, and the agency does not know how many people’s information was exposed.

March 21: Trump signs executive order for free speech, threatening federal funding for universities

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to make federal funding for universities dependent on their adherence to free speech policies. The order directs 12 agencies in charge of federal grants in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure “colleges are complying with the law…to promote free inquiry and debate,” according to The Washington Post. Public universities are already required to uphold the First Amendment, and the executive order does not define what adhering to free speech policies entails. Portland State spokesman Chris Broderick said to Willamette Week the decision is not likely to affect funding for PSU.

March 22: Measles outbreaks continue in Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority announced two new measles cases unrelated to the measles cases in Washington state earlier this year. The new cases raise the measles case count in Oregon to 10 since January 2019. OHA reports most diagnosed measles cases occur in unvaccinated children. Enforcing vaccines as a state requirement for school enrollment has raised controversy in Oregon within the last few months. Hundreds gathered at a hearing for a bill to limit vaccine exemptions in February 2019 and according to OHA, vaccine exemption rates in children have increased sharply over the last decade.