This man wants YOU to stop smoking and to stop drinking sugary drinks…..yes THIS man…you know the one who’s so slim and trim and healthy!
Ok, enough of that, let’s get to the bottom of this story: Rep. Mitch Greenlick lives in some kind of world that I’m not sure if anyone else lives in it with him. It’s a Wacky World and makes zero sense. Read the email to his “fans” from earlier today:
A Message from Mitch
February 18, 2013
The first two weeks of the session flashed by as we got organized and got back to work with a running start. Because of the way the session was organized, meeting one day in January to introduce bills, we had a full committee agenda when we got back on Feb. 4. I am pleased to return as chair of the House Health Care Committee with two terrific vice-chairs, Republican Jim Thompson and Democrat Alissa Keny-Guyer. Jim and I were co-chairs last session and we have a great working relationship. I have a new committee administrator this year, which was a bit of a shock after working with the same one for several sessions. But she was moved to the Senate health committee this year. However, Tyler Larson, the new administrator, and my two co-chairs are quickly becoming the nucleus of a great team.
We have already had more than 80 bills assigned to our committee and we passed the first two bills out of any committee this session. I carried one of them on the floor and Rep. John Lively, a freshman, carried the other one. Since he was the first freshman to carry a bill to the floor he was the victim of a friendly hazing ritual, in which he was bombarded with questions from members of both parties. Rep. Lively, an experienced politician from Springfield, handled himself admirably and upheld the honor of the rather large freshman class.
In addition to hearing and working bills for the first month of the session I have scheduled a series of informational hearings to help new members of the committee catch up with what has been happening in health care and health reform during the last couple of years. We have reviewed the health care transformation process and the development of the health insurance exchange (Cover Oregon) and several other critical health policy issues.
In addition to my role as health committee chair I am a member of the House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. Rep. Michael Dembrow, the higher education chair, has scheduled a similar informational process to which he refers as “Higher Ed 101”. The higher ed committee got into a real issue this week by working HB 2787, a bill to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students who have attended high school in Oregon for three years, graduated from an Oregon high school, and had applied to get on a path to permanent residence or citizenship. You cannot imagine what a fuss such a modest bill caused. This bill is projected to serve less than 40 students in the first year and perhaps 80 during the second year. And it would bring in an additional $400,000 a year to the university budgets. But the hearing was filled with xenophobic testimony warning that passing the bill would signal the end of modern civilization, as we know it. (NOTE: YOU are all “xenophobic” if you for some crazy reason think that giving a tuition break to illegal immigrants is wrong!) But this testimony was balanced by some powerful supporting testimony pointing out the inherent fairness of the proposal and enumerating the potential benefits to Oregon of encouraging these students to get a higher education in Oregon. I expect the bill will pass out of the committee this coming week and pass a floor vote. The tuition equity bill was one of several that caused large crowds to pack the halls of the Capitol. We were particularly worried when we were made aware that a very large rally was planned in opposition to proposed legislation restricting firearms, such as a bill restricting the sale of assault weapons that I am planning on introducing. We were told by our security team that as many as two thousand people, each with a concealed carry permit and carrying weapons, would descend on the Capitol. We were also told that with a concealed carry permit they would be permitted to enter the Capitol. I, for one, am very proud that “the peoples’ building” is wide open, with no security lines to go through and nothing that restricts citizens from wandering the halls. And I love that. But the possible scenarios that we all could imagine were pretty daunting. (Oh the horror! Guns in the Capitol?)
The building is usually guarded by a small state police contingent and by a few retired state troopers who monitor the hearing rooms. We were briefed on the security procedures, and most carried on with business as usual, with extra troopers in the building and in full sight. And what happened was nothing at all out of the ordinary. Two to three hundred peaceful demonstrators were out on the mall making their political statement. (Actually it was closer to 1,500 according to the State Police and The Capitol is very well protected, and with far more police than any kids in our schools get.) I am sure several visited the building without incident and mixed with several other demonstrations going on in the building, including a large contingent of Oregon Public Health Association members, whom I assume were armed only with the justice of their causes.
I have been getting a bunch of static because of a few of my bills. The one that caused the most noise is a bill I introduced last session and nobody noticed, even though it had a hearing. The bill is HB 2077, a bill to make tobacco products a class III drug, for sale only on a physician’s prescription. This bill went viral, with a long rant by Rush Limbaugh and lots of coverage on conservative blogs. I was interviewed by the Toronto Star on the bill, on drive-time radio in Los Angeles and Seattle, and on several programs in Portland. I was invited on Fox and Friends, but Harriet put her foot down. The bill is one of a series of three anti-smoking bills I have introduced, including one that would raise the tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack and is intended to point out that nicotine is more addictive than heroin. I have received hundreds of emails on the topic, most providing a coherent argument, such as “You suck, you liberal moron.” (Of course he chooses the crazy ones, why not the thousands who asked legitimate questions?) Other bills that are causing a great deal of commotion include a bill to require a paid permit for the use of studded snow tires, and my proposal to refer a constitutional amendment to the voters to abolish the death penalty.
I was asked by interviewers whether I expect the cigarette bill to pass. I answered no, but the bill was a part of a package, and was designed to change the conversation on smoking, and perhaps to pave the way for the passage of the tax bill. I was asked, in several interviews, whether I thought that was a legitimate function for a legislator. My answer was that I did not think a legislator is doing the job without raising, for discussion, important public policy questions. And I certainly view that function as central to my job as a legislator.
We are beginning to settle into a routine in Salem. We have taken a room in a suites motel and will have the same room for the next five months. It is a home away from home. We tend to stay in Salem on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, which allows us to drive only one way per day. We have our scoreboard up in our office and have begun to follow which committee has which of our bills. And I have begun to testify on behalf of the bills I have sponsored.
We have received notice that a hearing has been scheduled on Feb.26 for HJR 1, the death penalty abolition referral. My legislative assistant, Autumn Shreve, has been as busy as I have become, but she remains available if you need help from our office. Stop by if you are in the building and keep the email coming.
So, Mitch is a left wing “I want to control your life” kind a guy, I get that. Can’t someone, anyone help him with his many issues? I mean Mitch, buddy, Gold’s Gym maybe?