Last day to register or change parties

Tuesday, April 24, is the last day to register to vote or change party registration in time for the May 15 primary. Either register online by 11:59 p.m. or make sure your mailed registration is postmarked Tuesday to be accepted. For more information, go to the Secretary of State’s website at sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/registration.aspx?lang=en.

SALEM — Good news for community college students, bad news for legal marijuana sellers, a notable endorsement in the Republican primary for governor, and a big deadline top the collection of start-of-the-week news from the Capitol and around the state.

Promise kept

The state should be able to cover all students who qualify for the Oregon Promise grant program, which helps to cover tuition at any Oregon community college for high school graduates and GED recipients. The program, approved by the Legislature in 2015, was intended to cover all students regardless of family income. But budget cuts required the Higher Education Coordinating Committee to give the grants to students according to need.

But now, Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, the original chief legislative architect of the plan, says funds are projected to be sufficient to cover all qualified applicants.

“This is fantastic news that more of our students, regardless of their parents’ income, will be able to get the training they need to become mechanics, nurses, welders and medical assistants, or to begin earning credits toward four-year degrees,” Hass said in a statement.

The program was created to cover the costs of community college not paid by federal financial aid and scholarships. The student contributes a $50 copay each term. Last year, nearly 6,800 students used the program to attend community colleges, with 44 percent first-generation college students.

To qualify, students must have a 2.5 GPA in high school or have received a score of 145 or better on each GED test. They must plan to attend an Oregon community college at least half-time within six months of graduation or receiving their GEDs, and not have more than 90 units of college credits. For instructions and a full list of requirements, go to: oregonstudentaid.gov/oregon-promise.aspx.

Marijuana glut

Tax revenues from legal marijuana topped $9.2 million per month in January, with the state receiving $8 million and local governments just over $1.2 million. But there may be trouble on the horizon. According to the state, Oregon has 1.1 million pounds of legal cannabis “flower” registered as available for sale as of the end of February. Willamette Week reports that in 2017, Oregonians consumed about 340,000 pounds of legal marijuana. Put the two numbers together, the newspaper notes, and there is three times the amount of marijuana in the system than the legal clientele can use in a year.

The impact of the glut on state and local revenues is difficult to project because the number of outlets is still growing. Willamette Week notes that the number of legal cannabis growing operations is slated to double this year.

The result of the glut of marijuana on the market is falling prices. On the wholesale level, a pound of marijuana that sold for $1,500 in early summer 2017 fell to $700 by late autumn. Retailers have cut their prices, with what Willamette Week called the one-time standard $8 gram now selling for $4. The newspaper came up with an ironic way to illustrate the issue: “A gram of the beloved Girl Scout Cookies strain now sells for little more than two boxes of actual Girl Scout cookies.”

Post’s pick

State Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, became the first major GOP politician in Oregon to endorse Greg Wooldridge in the Republican primary for governor. Post, a conservative radio host-turned-lawmaker, said Wooldridge was the best candidate to take on Gov. Kate Brown, the Democratic incumbent.

“He’s proven his leadership in both the private and public sectors and he’s able to competently and confidently, and most importantly authentically, articulate our values and our messages to all Oregonians,” Post said of Wooldridge.

Wooldridge, a retired naval aviator and motivational speaker, is competing with Bend businessman Sam Carpenter for the conservative vote in the primary. State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, a moderate who has faced opposition from anti-abortion activists on the right and labor groups on the left, has received the most endorsements in the race so far.

Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, whom conservatives had courted to run for governor, is backing Buehler. Among other endorsements, Buehler is supported by former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican.

— Reporter: 541-640-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

20135928