Birth control, sick leave and pumping your own gas: Oregon's new laws in 2016 – OregonLive.com
SALEM — All throughout Oregon, some of life’s basic rituals — from voting to pumping gas to preventing pregnancy — are about to change.
And you can blame (or, fine, thank) Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Legislature. Of the hundreds of bills passed by lawmakers in 2015, more than 300 are set to take effect Jan. 1.
Some of the new laws were major enough to win national attention.
Rep. Knute Buehler, the Bend Republican who championed nearly-on-demand birth control prescriptions, was talking to The New York Times about his bill as recently as November. In the spring, Oregon’s plan to use driver records to automate voter registration hit The Washington Post and got a nod from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Others bills, meanwhile, will be plenty important for regular Oregonians. Thousands of workers won’t lose pay when they call in sick. And, in an end-run around Oregon tradition, drivers running low on gas in rural counties won’t have to pray someone is still working the pumps. They’ll be able to do it themselves.
What else is changing? Take a spin through The Oregonian/OregonLive’s roundup of the 20 most consequential laws waiting for you in 2016:
Birth control: Women who want or need oral contraception will be free to head straight to their local pharmacist for a prescription — skipping costly or inconvenient doctor visits. And they’ll be able to stock up for a year. Oregon, in 2015, was the first state to require all insurers to cover 12-month refills.
Sick time: Employers with 10 or more workers will have to provide five paid sick days a year. The new law preserves Portland’s 2013 sick-leave measure, which applies to smaller businesses.
Pumping your own gas: Oregonians driving non-commercial vehicles will be allowed to pump their own gas — so long as they’re stopped at a service station in a rural area (counties with 40,000 people or fewer) between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“Vaping”: Puffing on electronic cigarettes or other related devices inside a public place — on the job, at a bar, at a restaurant, wherever — will no longer be allowed.
“Motor voter” bill: The next time you renew your Oregon driver’s license, or when one of you transplants finally signs up for one, you’ll be automatically added to Oregon’s roster of registered voters. (Assuming you’re eligible to vote — as in, you’re 18 and can prove American citizenship.)
“Ban the box”: Employers will lose the ability to ask job applicants to check a box on an application form that asks whether they’ve been convicted of a crime. The law, seen as a means of easing recidivism by making it easier for ex-convicts to find work, will be enforced by the state Bureau of Labor and Industries.
Hidden cameras: Using a hidden camera to record someone in places where privacy is normally presumed, such as a bathroom or changing area, will become a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Sex crimes prosecutions: Rape victims will have 12 years — instead of six — to report an attack before the statute of limitations expires. The issue was crystallized in 2015 by testimony from rape survivor Brenda Tracy.
Filming the police: Bystanders will have the explicit right to film police officers as they perform their official duties.
Same-sex marriage: The words “husband and wife” will no longer appear in state marriage statutes. They’ll be replaced with “spouses in a legal marriage.”
Domestic workers: Oregon’s 10,000 domestic workers, many of them women and immigrants, will receive workplace rights including overtime pay, rest periods and paid personal leave.
Collecting wage claims: The Bureau of Labor and Industries will have the power to garnish someone’s income when collecting on delinquent orders and judgments — without spending time asking a court’s permission.
Animal abuse: Knowingly possessing video recordings that show bestiality will become a misdemeanor crime punishable by jail time or a large fine. Sexually abusing an animal will become a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Bomb threats: If you phone in a fake bomb threat or something similar at a courthouse or public building, you’ll now be committing a misdemeanor crime.
E-vehicles: Parking your non-electric vehicle in a parking space reserved for alternative-fuel vehicles will jolt you with a $250 fine.
Adoptions: Grandparents will have the right to remain in the lives of children whose parents have had their own legal rights revoked.
Social media freedom: Bosses will lose the right to force employees to use social media for work purposes or to make employment conditional on having a social media account.
Animal neglect: Police officers who see an animal suffering inside a hot vehicle will have the legal right to break in and make a rescue.
Death and cable TV: Cable companies and other telecommunications providers will have to stop charging early-termination fees when customers enter hospice. Or die.
Stoplight mercy: Bicyclists, motorcyclists and anyone else on two wheels will get to run a red light — cautiously! — if the light strands them by failing to go through a full light cycle and turn green.
— Denis C. Theriault