In Oregon, the new year often begins with a slew of changes to state law. This year is no exception, though thanks to the 2015 Legislature’s addiction to calling most proposed changes emergencies, the number may actually be down a bit.
Oregonians will find new rules on subjects from birth control medication and devices to voter registration.
As of Friday, women 18 and older can walk into the nearest pharmacy and receive birth control pills or patches without a prescription. Those under 18 will have to show they’ve had a prescription in the past.
The measure was the work of Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, and it was written to make the pharmacist the prescriber of birth control if it is bought without a doctor’s prescription. That’s legal under federal rules, and it ensures women that insurance coverage, which now must include payment for a full year’s prescriptions. It’s a good change.
Oregon’s new motor voter law will essentially register all Oregon residents who are eligible to vote but have yet to register. Registration will be automatic when one gets a driver’s license or has one renewed. The state will then send a postcard that allows the newly registered to choose a party or opt out of the system.
Whether the law will do what its sponsors hoped — increase voter participation in Oregon — remains to be seen. It’s already easy enough to register. Forcing more people to register is not necessarily an improvement.
New laws also include a ban on hunting and fishing assisted by drones and a ban on gun ownership by those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a restraining order. Several other measures also aim to improve things for victims of sex crimes, including additional funding for Bend’s Kids Center and other places like it. Those are good changes.
There is also a new law that will mean paid sick leave for Oregonians working for all but the smallest companies, which we write more about in the editorial below. We believe employers should offer their employees paid sick leave. But it should be up to the employer and not dictated by the state. In the 2016 session, the Legislature should meddle less in how businesses run.