by Pat Hocken, Action Co-chair, League of Women Voters of Lane County
Lane County Jail Levy
At its March board meeting the LWVLC Board approved a contribution of $200 to the Renew the Jail Levy political action committee.
The Board had previously voted to support the Lane County jail levy extension, ballot measure 20-271 on the May 2017 ballot, which will renew for five years the local option levy for jail and critical youth services. The League intends to also submit letters to the editor or op-ed pieces expressing support.
As reported in the March Argus, the existing levy has been highly successful. The increased capacity paid for by the levy has reduced capacity-based releases by more than 63%. As a result, no pre-trial inmates held with Measure 11 charges have been released since July 2013 due to lack of capacity. Similarly the jail has not released, due to capacity, any pre-trial inmates held on violent felony charges. The expansion of detention beds has allowed Youth Services to hold those who are the highest public safety risk and the enhancement of funds has allowed females to be served in residential treatment, formerly a critical gap.
The lack of capacity releases has reduced costs for local law enforcement because police no longer need to find and re-arrest those who fail to appear at court hearings. In addition, according to the executive director of Sponsor’s Inc., the revolving door has been replaced by treatment for inmates, re-entry services, supervision, and prosecution, in short by intervention.
The League submitted testimony to a joint hearing of the Eugene Planning Commission and the Lane County Planning Commission. We supported the adoption of the two ordinances that include a new comprehensive land use plan; expansion of city’s urban growth boundary to accommodate jobs, parks and schools; the Clear Lake overlay zone to protect large lots for industrial development and neighborhood livability near the airport; and adjustments to the R-2 residential zoning to accommodate multi-family housing.
The planning commissions will review the ordinances and the public input in order to provide recommendations to their respective governing bodies about adoption with or without substantial or minor changes. The Eugene City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners are expected to make their final decisions by summer 2017.
Day at the Legislature
The League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR) is sponsoring Day at the Legislature, Room 50 on Friday, April 21, 9am – 3pm at the Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE, Salem. More details will be available on the LWVOR website http://lwvor.org/.
Joint Ways and Means Hearing in Eugene
The League submitted testimony in support of additional state revenue for education and other vital services to the Joint Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature at the time of the committee’s visit to Eugene on Feb. 25. Over 200 people signed up to testify but there was only enough time to hear from 65 individuals during the two-hour hearing. Those who didn’t have the opportunity to speak (including the League) were able to submit testimony in writing or electronically. The uniform message of the speakers was that the legislature needs to find ways to generate additional income for important state services. Individual speakers championed the need for various services, including K-12 education, higher education, social services, public safety, health care, the Junction City hospital, veterans’ services, and environmental protection.