10-26-2016  2:14 pm      •     
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Gov. Kate Brown signs a bill expanding access to contraception

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Here's a look at highlights of the past week in the Oregon Legislature.


Oregon became the first state in the nation requiring health insurance providers to cover up to 12 months of birth control at a time. Gov. Kate Brown signed the first-of-its-kind insurance bill into law, saying it would increase access and decrease barriers to contraception. Advocates of the measure say it will also reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and promote consistent birth control use. Some critics said it could increase health care costs and might cause wastage if a full year's worth of pills is dispensed and then thrown out if a woman decides to stop taking them or switches prescriptions. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.



Over the objections of Republicans, the Oregon Legislature advanced a bill requiring many businesses to give their employees paid sick leave days. Only Democrats backed the bill, arguing that workers shouldn't have to choose between recovering from an illness and preserving their paycheck. The bill requires that employers with at least 10 workers provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year, which can be used to take care of their own illnesses or a family member's. Businesses smaller than that would have to offer unpaid leave. But Republican said the bill could lead to higher costs for businesses and paperwork challenges.



The Legislature gave bipartisan support to a bill making it easier for local law enforcement officials to confiscate the firearms of convicted domestic abusers and some people who are under a restraining order. The bill lines up Oregon state policies with a federal law barring people from keeping guns if they've been found guilty of domestic abuse or are under a restraining order that was upheld after a hearing. Backers of the bill say there aren't enough agents to effectively enforce the federal version of the law, and the measure gives local officers more authority to implement that ban. Opponents argued it could put the lives of police in danger if they're sent to collect a firearm from someone. They also said the bill is unnecessary because of the existing federal law.



Senators backed a proposal making it illegal for potential employers to ask about criminal records on job applications. The so-called "ban the box" bill would prohibit that question on job applications, but an employer could still ask about convictions during an interview. Supporters said it's very difficult for people with a criminal record to find employment because of a previous conviction. They argued it gives job-seekers a chance to explain their conviction, their more recent conduct and their qualifications. Critics said they were worried it would increase lawsuit risk for businesses.



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