- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Legislature is pressing to adjourn, perhaps as soon as Monday. Here’s a look at the latest developments:

6:00 p.m.

Oregon lawmakers have adjourned the 2015 legislative session.

In the final hours, lawmakers on Monday approved $1.2 billion in construction projects, kept alive several tax credits that were due to expire and approved a hotline for strippers to report workplace violations. They approved funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire someone to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members upgrade their discharge status.

Lawmakers also voted down a two-year moratorium on hemp farming. The bill’s supporters were worried hemp would pollinate a closely related plant, marijuana. Pot farmers fear cross pollination will lower the quality and intoxicating effects of the drug, but it failed after several lawmakers said decisions about crop regulations should be left to the Department of Agriculture.

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5:50 p.m.

A $1.2 billion package of statewide construction projects has passed the Oregon Legislature.

The proposed construction plan, paid for with bonds backed by the general fund and lottery revenue, would earmark $175 million earthquake improvements in schools and $30 million for similar upgrades at emergency-services buildings like police and fire stations. It also funds roadwork, water infrastructure and dozens of other projects.

Some lawmakers argued future legislators would be on the hook for the debt they’re incurring to fund the projects. They said the state should only fund projects they can currently afford.

But most lawmakers agreed the construction proposal should move forward given the likelihood of a major earthquake in the future.

The House passed the bill 53-5. It cleared the Senate 26-4 and heads to the governor.

- HB 5005

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3:15 p.m.

House lawmakers gave final approval to a bill creating the nation’s first veterans affairs coordinator focused on serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans.

Under the bill, the coordinator would be tasked with helping LGBT veterans change their discharge statuses.

Advocates of the measure say gay and lesbian servicemen and women received less than honorable discharges because of their sexual orientation, meaning they were barred from receiving certain federal and state benefits.

Those critical of the measure said it shouldn’t serve just a portion of the veteran population when all service members are in need of support.

The House approved the measure in a 38-21 vote. It goes next to the governor.

- SB 946

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1:10 p.m.

House lawmakers have advanced legislation reducing the amount of time juveniles have to wait to expunge their records of some marijuana-related crimes.

The measure would allow people under 21 who were found guilty of possessing or delivering marijuana to clear their records one year after their conviction. Currently, they have to wait three years.

Other requirements to expunge a record, such as not being convicted of other offenses, would still apply.

The bill also creates a task force charged with researching the medical and health properties of marijuana.

The bill passed the House in a 45-14 vote. It now goes to the governor for her signature or veto.

- SB 844

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12:30 p.m.

Senators have passed legislation requiring state labor officials to create a hotline for strippers to call and report problems.

The legislation also requires strip clubs and other entertainment venues to display a poster outlining the rights of performers.

Performers have said they like the work they do, but sometimes feel they lack options to make changes when their rights are violated.

Many strippers work as independent contractors, instead of as employees. This means they pay a fee to the management, bartenders and other support staff.

It also means they don’t have to pay payroll taxes, and many have said they prefer the freedom of being an independent contractor.

Senators approved the legislation 22-6. It heads to the governor.

- HB 3059

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12:00 p.m.

Oregon senators voted down a bill putting a two-year hold on the development of a hemp industry.

Hemp is a non-intoxicating version of the plant that produces marijuana.

The measure that failed Monday was strongly supported by Oregon’s marijuana industry. Pot farmers who grow their crop outdoors fear that hemp plants will pollinate marijuana plants, reducing the drug’s quality and intoxicating effects.

The bill would have prohibited new hemp licenses for two years and required farmers who’ve already planted to dig up their crops.

- HB 2668

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11:20

The Senate has sent Gov. Kate Brown a bill extending some tax credits for six more years.

The credits benefit film and television producers, lower-income workers and other groups.

The bill passed without discussion and near unanimous support on Monday after House and Senate Democrats resolved an impasse that had held up the bill for weeks.

House Democrats dropped an attempt to offset the tax credits with tax increases on cigars and certain individual taxpayers. They also dropped a push to extend the earned-income tax credit to cover more people.

The bill merges existing tax credits into the Working Family Child and Dependent Care tax credit, which can be claimed by low-income working families to offset child care expenses. A tax credit for film producers also will remain in effect.

But lawmakers opted to provide an early end to a tax credit for people who buy long-term care insurance.

- HB 2171

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10:45

The Senate has revived and passed a bill paying for a study of the best way to finance health care.

The Senate’s move on Monday reverses a vote against the bill on Friday.

The measure’s critics say they’re skeptical the Oregon Health Authority can produce an objective report. They expect the agency to recommend a single-payer health care system.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Portland Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, says the study will look at four options and only one is a single-payer system.

Lawmakers voted two years ago to request the study with private funding, but nobody stepped up to pay for it. The study is expected to cost up to $600,000.

The bill passed in a 16-14 vote and heads to Gov. Kate Brown.

- HB 2828


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