The Oregon Legislature passed hundreds of laws in 2017, many that will impact the daily lives of thousands of Oregonians. There are new transportation taxes, the prospect of new health care taxes, and a number of laws proposed to make everyone a bit safer in 2018.
Nearly half of the 750 laws created in 2017 go into effect on the first day of this new year. Here are a few:
Tobacco age increase
Oregon became the fifth state last year to increase its legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. This increase also applied to "delivery methods" that vaporize or aerosolize tobacco or cannabis products, such as e-cigarettes.
The law also expands the locations where underage individuals cannot have tobacco products to include colleges, universities, technical schools and community colleges.
Lawmakers say the law will help prevent deaths from tobacco use and save the state billions in medical expenses. The National Academy of Medicine says that increasing the age limit for these products can reduce the number of young people getting addicted.
Removing guns via court order
Senate Bill 719 created a process by which a judge can issue an "extreme risk protection order" to seize an individual's guns if petitioned by a law enforcement officer or family member.
The petition must show the person in question is an immediate risk to themselves or others through a statement or affidavit under oath. The court will consider, in part: history of suicide threats or attempts; history of physical violence; previous convictions for stalking, domestic violence or cruelty toward animals; and previous unlawful and reckless use of a deadly weapon.
If a petition is made, the court will hear the case and deny or issue an order that very day.
Groups looking to curb gun violence by targeting guns directly promote laws such as this, saying they can be a proactive way to prevent unneeded deaths.
Expansion of "move over" law
Oregon already had a law on the books requiring drivers to change lanes or slow down when passing an emergency or roadside assistance vehicle on the highway, but now that law will apply to all cars.
If any vehicle is on the side of a highway displaying hazard lights, flares or other emergency or distress signs, drivers must change lanes or slow down to five miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
Failing to do so is a Class B traffic violation, which could yield a maximum fine of $1,000.
No physical restraints on youth
Each of the previously mentioned laws received significant opposition when they were voted on in the House and Senate. But there were laws passed and signed in 2017 that cleared both chambers unanimously, including Senate Bill 846.
This law says that youths in juvenile court will longer be allowed to be physically restrained while in the courtroom unless there is a clear risk. Outlawed items include handcuffs, chains, straitjackets and leather or plastic restraints.
Any restraints must be removed before the child enters the courtroom and remain off during the proceedings.
To determine if a young person needs to be restrained, the law says the court should consider any history of dangerous or disruptive behavior, the risk of physical harm they pose and their flight risk.
These terms also apply to the transportation of young people by the Department of Human Services or the Oregon Health Authority.
Public meetings within tribal land
Another unanimous passage, Senate Bill 317 consists of a single paragraph that allows public bodies at the state, county and city level to hold public meetings at locations within the jurisdiction of federally recognized Oregon tribes.
When the previous law was strictly read, public bodies could only hold meetings on tribal lands when they were meeting with the tribe. Now, any public meetings can be held on those lands.