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06.17.09 HOUSE REP WHO KILLED RECOGNTION AND CHL PRIVACY BLAMES YOU.

You’re The Problem.

We expect politicians to act on self interest. Let’s face it, that’s simply human nature. But we also expect a certain level of slickness in their attempts to con the voting public. They don’t all pull it off. At the bottom of this page you will see the response of one politician to a voter in her district. Her conclusion, it’s the people who are a problem when they don’t go along with the self serving actions of politicians.

As you know, OFF worked for months before the 2009 session to help craft a bill that would protect the privacy of CHL holders from the prying eyes of the media and those seeking that information for commercial profit.  As you also know, certain counties disclosed this info and as a result ,CHL holders in those counties were the recipients of direct mail pitches for utions from a supposed “pro-gun” group. This organization now has the ability to sell those names to whomever they choose.

There is no question that a strongly worded bill was needed to keep this information out of the hands of anti-gun media outlets and others. And that’s exactly what we got when House Rep Kim Thatcher introduced HB 2727. The bill was carefully crafted to provide the maximum amount of protection for license holders. The bill had 44 cosponsors.

Let’s take a look at who they were. We have posted the Republicans in blue and the Democrats in red.

Representatives THATCHER, BARKER,BENTZ, BOONE, BRUUN, CAMERON, CLEM, ESQUIVEL, FREEMAN, GARRARD,GILLIAM, GILMAN, HANNA, HUFFMAN, JENSON, KENNEMER, KRIEGER,MATTHEWS, MAURER, OLSON, RICHARDSON, ROBLAN, SCHAUFLER, GSMITH, J SMITH, SPRENGER, THOMPSON, WEIDNER, WHISNANT, WINGARD,
WITT,

Senators ATKINSON, BOQUIST, FERRIOLI, GEORGE, GIROD,JOHNSON, KRUSE, MORSE, NELSON, PROZANSKI, STARR, TELFER,VERGER, WHITSETT .

The opponents of the bill? Well, the usual suspects. Ginny Burdick, Portland City Council Member Randy Leonard, The Oregonian Newspaper and of course, those guardians of privacy, the ACLU.

It’s important to note that committee chairs have enormous control over bills. A bill like this would surely go to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The chairs of both those committees, Jeff Barker and Floyd Prozanski were cosponsors of the original bill. And both are Democrats.

It’s also important to note that on the Senate Committee (with 5 members), there were three who were cosponsors of the bill. Boquist,Whitsett and Prozanski. On the House Committee there were 6 cosponsors.  Barker, Whisnant,Cameron, Krieger, Olson and Jefferson Smith.

It would be hard to conclude that this bill was anything but a shoe-in to pass.That is, until freshman House Rep Judy Steigler stepped in.

Steigler decided that CHL holders deserved virtually no protections. So she amended the bill in a way that, for all intents and purposes, stripped it of any protections.

Now, we have to give her credit. She did manage to roll the rest of the committee. With the exception of Kevin Cameron, they all agreed to her amendments, caving in to her threats to round up votes against the bill.

It is obviously disappointing that so many people would cave on a bill that had broad bi-partisan support. In that respect, the other members of the committee deserve to share the blame. But Steigler was the mastermind. She also masterminded the amendments to HB 2463, a bill that would have had Oregon recognize other states’ licenses thereby opening the door to having other states recognize ours. Her amendments cost Oregon gun owners the right to carry in many states. It’s important to keep that in mind as you read Steigler’s comments below. You will see that she claims to have “given life” to the CHL privacy bill. One has to wonder if she also believes she “gave life” to the reciprocity bill she killed. What follows is Steigler’s response to a voter who expressed his opposition to her position. Her response to the voter is that HE is the problem. His request for a bill that actually protected CHL holders made him (and of course us) “dogmatic.”

Steigler’s efforts doomed two very positive bills. Because of her, CHL holders will have to rely solely on the sheriffs’ willingness to face lawsuits from the likes of the Mail Tribune and the Register Guard.  Her self-serving comments about the “public records law” are clearly nonsense. Oregon’s public records law was intended to keep the activities of government transparent. Not to expose private citizens to abuse because they were compelled by law to turn over personal information in order to exercise a “right.” Steigler’s agenda is clear. Her attempt to divert attention from it by blaming her constituents for the failure of a bill she personally destroyed is unconscionable.

Judy Steigler.(D. Bend OR)

We will honor your request and remove your name from our e-mail list. I do want to take a moment however, and address your statement about HB2727, with no illusion that I will change your view, as frankly, it is folks such as yourself that have doomed this bill. You take an all or nothing approach, and that is it–end of discussion. Let me be clear–I am not a gun opponent–my husband and son are hunters and guns have been a part of our family’s culture. What I quite frankly did was take a bill that didn’t have a chance of passing even one chamber of the Legislature, and give it some life. There was little hope, as it was originally written, that HB 2727 would have even gotten out of the House Judiciary Committee, let alone the House of Representatives. The idea that these records should be taken out of the public records laws altogether was antithetical to Oregon’s public records laws. With that in mind, I tried to work with others to carefully craft the strongest exemption I could for allowing release of those records. Under the public records exemptions, this was one of the strongest, giving CHL holders the most protection possible. Ultimately, when release would be requested under this version, there would be a very heavy burden on the requesting party to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the release was in the public interest. Usually, if an entity such as a newspaper did not like the denial of this request (the likely result in most cases) it would be the District Attorney and/or a Circuit Court Judge who would make the decision. At the end of the day, those who were staunchly dogmatic about this issue, chose not to join me in this effort, and even spoke against it on the House floor, but most ended-up voting in favor of it, as they like me, knew realistically that it held the best chance of passage in the Senate, and protected legitimate privacy interests of CHL holders. Unfortunately, in the Senate, the bill became the battleground from those on both extremes of the issue–those adamantly in favor of looser standards allowing greater access to these records, and those such as yourself who could not leave well enough alone and tried to move it to an outright exclusion from public records. As a result, the bill is likely going nowhere in the Senate, and instead of gun owners having some common sense privacy protections, you have nothing. Frankly, I suspect this is what you really desired in the end so that it could continue to be used as a political weapon. So, rather than solving a problem, you sacrifice the legitimate concerns of the vast majority of CHL holders to move a political agenda.

I know that this is a lengthy response, and may be unfair in ascribing to you the motives of those in the extreme, but your caustic remarks lead me to believe I may be correct. To me this situation is a classic example of what citizens complain about–the inability of the Legislature to solve problems. Unfortunately, what many do not realize is that it is when real efforts are made to actually solve an issue such as protecting the privacy rights of CHL holders, it is the efforts of citizens themselves which often keep anything from happening. As I said at the beginning of this e-mail, it is the all or nothing attitude on either or both sides of an issue, which often keeps anything from being accomplished. I think this is as much a sad commentary on society as a whole as with the political system.