New taxes to pay down Medicaid debt — Oregon will pay off half of its Medicaid debt through new taxes on health care providers. Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday approved a six-year tax on hospitals and insurance plans to help fund the state’s $950 million Medicaid shortfall. The move is expected to bring in over $430 million. The state has been struggling to keep up with Medicaid funding after a drop in federal contributions. The governor hopes to make up the rest of the money through a tax on tobacco and e-cigarettes. She’s also exploring a tax on employers who don’t provide workers affordable health care coverage. Legislative budget leaders say that without new revenue, Oregon will have to fill the rest of the approximate $450 million funding gap through its general fund.
Proud Boy pleads not guilty — A member of the right-wing Proud Boys group has pleaded not guilty to felony third-degree assault and misdemeanor fourth-degree assault in connection with the June attack of a man in Portland. Donovon Lyle Flippo, of Vancouver, Washington, entered the pleas Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Flippo, 23, was arrested on a warrant Tuesday, a day after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler complained that law enforcement was basically ignoring violent protests in the city and failing to arrest violent activists. Proud Boys members have been violent at protests in the past. Protests occur often in Portland and police have at times struggled to contain clashes. A request for comment from police about the timing of Flippo’s arrest hasn’t been answered. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Karin Immergut ordered Flippo on Wednesday to have no contact with the man who was attacked or the co-defendant, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, while the case is pending. Toese, another Proud Boy member, hasn’t yet been arrested. Flippo and Toese were indicted last month after a 35-year-old man said Flippo and another man shouted homophobic slurs at him before punching him in the face.
Hate crime guilty plea — An Oregon woman who is one of two defendants in an ongoing hate crime trial has entered a guilty plea. Colleen Catherine Hunt, 37, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and is scheduled to be sentenced March 19 on the charge that carries a mandatory-minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Hunt and Russell Orlando Courtier, 40, are accused of the 2016 killing of Larnell Bruce Jr., 19, outside Portland. Authorities say Hunt was a passenger in a Jeep driven by Courtier and encouraged him as he drove into Bruce following a fight with Courtier in front of a convenience store. A grand jury indicted both of them on charges of murder, hit-and-run driving and intimidation. Intimidation is a hate crime under Oregon law.
Legislation updating LGBTQ language — The Oregon House of Representatives moved Wednesday to scrub language offensive to LGBTQ residents in a bill that also specifies that sexual orientation is not a physical or mental impairment. The bill passed the House 58-2 and goes to the Senate. Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, said the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws date back to the 1850s when Oregon was a territory, and helped put some people into mental hospitals and the state penitentiary for expressing their love or true gender. The laws were enforced until the 1970s, Nosse said. The measure modernizes language referring to transgender people, deleting “transsexualism” and “transvestism” from Oregon’s employment anti-discrimination law. The bill clarifies that sexual orientation isn’t considered an impairment and that a person doesn’t have a disability solely due to sexual orientation.
Officer-involved shooting in Eugene — Two men are in police custody after shots were fired by a Eugene police officer Wednesday. No one was injured. Two men reportedly had a physical confrontation with an officer before one of them took off running. Meanwhile, a second police officer arrived and saw the second man allegedly stealing the first officer’s patrol vehicle. The second officer fired his gun at the vehicle as it drove away.