Committee advances Ore. special session bills

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 2, 2013 at 1:32 am •  Published: October 2, 2013

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — After a day of repeated delays, an Oregon legislative committee advanced a series of bills late Tuesday tackling changes to pensions, taxes and agricultural regulations.

The final bill cleared the committee just after 11 p.m., setting the stage for votes in the full House and Senate on Wednesday, although more postponements are possible in a special session that's been marked by delays.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and senior legislators spent much of Monday and Tuesday ironing out details and lining up votes for a deal they say would deliver badly needed money for education and other services.

The plan is projected to save millions of dollars in employee retirement costs for state and local governments and generate about $200 million in new revenue over the next two years. Most of the money would go to primary and secondary schools, but some would go to higher education, services for seniors and mental health care.

Kitzhaber reached an agreement with legislative leaders on Sept. 18 and called lawmakers into special session starting Monday. The governor had hoped to work out the kinks and line up votes ahead of time, but the quick time frame left several key sticking points needing to be bridged.

In private meetings, Republicans and Democrats debated largely technical points, such as how to ensure that a tax break for small businesses doesn't become too costly and how to define which businesses should qualify.

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