December 30, 2014
From smoking marijuana to buying a home, Oregonians are set to start living with a slew of new laws in 2015.
Here’s a roundup of the notable new rules and how they could affect you and your family:
Marijuana aficionados: The consumption and cultivation of marijuana is set to become legal in Oregon July 1.
The new law will allow a household to have up to 8 ounces of marijuana and to cultivate up to four plants. A person could legally carry up to 1 ounce with them.
However, the sale of marijuana will remain illegal until early 2016 when Oregon Liquor Control Commission begins issuing licenses to retailers.
Home buyers: The principle of buyer beware will no longer apply to foreclosed homes that may have been used to manufacture methamphetamine.
Starting Jan. 1, sellers of foreclosed homes will have to inform buyers that the property could contain toxic residue from a meth lab prior to sale.
Rep. Gail Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, sponsored the bill after the Hankins family’s young son fell ill from a home the couple bought in her district.
The previous occupants used the home to manufacture drugs, and the levels of methamphetime residue found inside were well above what’s considered acceptable by the Oregon Health Authority.
Teenagers: People who consume alcohol under the age of 21 will no longer be prosecuted for possession if they seek medical attention for themselves or others.
HB 4094 offers immunity starting Jan. 1 from a minor-in-possession charge only. It does not shield minors from other offenses like driving under the influence or possessing illegal drugs.
“The fact is these young people are making a lot of bad decisions,” said Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, the bill’s chief sponsor, during the 2014 legislative session. “These choices are awful, but they shouldn’t merit a death sentence.”
Minimum wage workers: Oregon is one of 21 states nationwide where the minimum wage is set to rise Jan. 1.
For Oregonians, the minimum wage is set to go up 15 cents to $9.25 an hour, which will put $312 additional dollars into the pockets of full-time workers.
Gun owners: Oregon residents who were convicted of minor marijuana offenses in other states will be able to obtain concealed carry permits starting Jan. 1.
The law “cleans up” a disparity in current regulations that has allowed residents with minor, in-state convictions to obtain permits but not those whose convictions occurred in another state.
Charitable organizations: Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum will have new tools Jan. 1 to wrangle charities that willfully disregard reporting rules.
Nonprofit organizations engaged in charitable activities have to file annual disclosure reports with the Oregon Department of Justice, but the agency previously lacked a clear way to punish those caught submitting false information.
House Bill 4081 increased the amount of civil penalties the DOJ can levy from $1,000 to $2,000 and expanded the reach of those penalties to include the submission of falsified documents.
The DOJ also plans to finish writing its rules for a bill passed in 2013 that allows it to disqualify charities (i.e. prohibit them from soliciting donations) if they spend less than 30 percent of their donations on their stated cause.
Children of volunteers: If emergency reserve or volunteer personnel are killed or disabled in the line of duty, their children will be eligible for college scholarships starting Jan. 1.
The bill, called the Rob Libke Scholarship Act, provides a four-year scholarship to a public university, or an equivalent amount to a private university through the Oregon Student Access Commission’s deceased or disabled public-safety officer grant program.
Similar scholarships have long been available to the kids of killed or disabled police officers and firefighters.