10-22-2016  4:43 am      •     
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SALEM, Ore. Oregon lawmakers completed action Saturday on a measure to suspend most provisions of a voter-approved measure requiring longer sentences for repeat property and drug offenders.
The Senate's 22-8 vote to send the bill to Gov. Ted Kulongoski came as lawmakers continued their push to wrap up the 2009 Legislature by Tuesday's adjournment deadline.
In a rare Saturday gathering, the Senate acted on dozens of other measures, including a two-year moratorium on growth of new online charter schools that allows existing schools to keep operating at their current sizes during that time.
Both the House and Senate still have budgets and other bills to act on, but Saturday's vote to suspend the get-tough-on-crime sentencing measure cleared away one of the last major issues of the session.
Under the bill, Measure 57's longer sentences for people convicted of drug and property crime will continue through next February, then will be suspended until January 2012.
Supporters say the state can't afford Measure 57 now and that the suspension will protect the Oregon State Police and other public safety programs from budget cuts.
It was a difficult vote, though, with many Republicans opposing House Bill 3508 as ignoring the will of voters who approved Measure 57 in November 2008.
The moratorium on growth of online charter schools is intended to give state officials time to write regulations governing publicly funded online schools, which allow students to learn at home using online curriculum.
Republican opponents said no moratorium is needed and that proponents of Senate Bill 767 are trying to squeeze online charter schools out of existence. Oregon has about 4,000 students enrolled in virtual charter schools.
The Senate approved the measure 16-14 Saturday Saturday. It still needs approval from the House.
In other action Saturday, the Senate approved a bill to bring back, on a limited basis, the popular ``Pacific Wonderland'' license plates issued for Oregon vehicles from 1959 to 1963.
Under the bill, 40,000 sets of the plate will be issued _ at $100 a pop _ to raise money for the Oregon Historical Society and the Oregon State Capitol Foundation.
The original ``Pacific Wonderland'' plates were issued for Oregon's 100th birthday, and the new version would help the state celebrate its sesquicentennial this year, backers say. Senate Bill 961 now goes to the House.
Two environment-related bills were passed by the Senate on Saturday.
One allows the State Marine Board to impose a $5 fee on motorboats to help pay for programs aimed at keeping invasive species such as zebra mussels out of Oregon waters. The other expands a state loan program to encourage property owners to invest in energy efficiency upgrades _ both as a way to create jobs and to combat climate change.
The measures, House Bill 2220 and House Bill 2626, both go to the governor.

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