Hill to Hall March 26-28

March 26: Betsy DeVos defends proposed cuts to Special Olympics program

Betsy DeVos defended the White House’s 2020 budget proposal to the House Appropriations Committee. She defended the proposal to cut the budget for the Special Olympics, which would save $17.6 billion, with the assumption the private sector would step in to save the program according to Vox. The Education Department’s budget for 2020 was set at $64 billion—$7 billion less than the previous year’s budget—and proposes a 17.6 percent cut to special education grants to states, the National Technical Institution for the Blind and Gallaudet University, a federally-funded university for the deaf.

March 27: Oregon fails oversight in multiple departments, new reports show

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office published an audit from 2018 revealing over $800,000 of “questionable costs” in foster care oversight, including the state’s failure to vet foster homes and complete criminal background checks. The audit also revealed overpayments and failure to track eligibility data of welfare recipients, according to The Oregonian. Oregon Secretary of State Leslie Cummings published a separate report in March 2019, revealing the Oregon Department of Education has failed to implement any of the 15 recommendations from the 2017 audit.

March 27: NRA opposes renewing Violence Against Women Act

The National Rifle Association announced their opposal to renewing the Violence Against Women Act after it expired in December 2018, and Congress let it lapse during session in February 2019. The VAWA, first passed in 1994, protects victims of abuse through community and police resources like federal funding according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The NRA opposes renewing the VAWA because of its “red-flag” clause, which prevents persons convicted of stalking or abusing their partners from owning firearms according to Splinter News.

March 28: Oregon lawmakers re-introduce bill to remove alcohol tax from kombucha

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D–Ore., and U.S. representatives Earl Blumenauer and Greg Walden, D–Ore., re-introduced KOMBUCHA—the Keeping Our Manufacturers from Being Unfairly Taxed While Championing Health Act. The bill would remove alcohol taxes and regulations on kombucha, as well as “increase the permissible amount of alcohol present in the drink from .5 percent to 1.25 percent by-volume,” according to Willamette Week. Wyden previously introduced the KOMBUCHA act in 2017, but it failed to make it the Senate.