The Legislature’s committee charged with responding to Measure 110′s shortcomings in the short session got two new members Friday, including one who quickly used his appointment as a fundraising strategy.
The announcement of Rep. Greg Smith’s appointment to the Joint Interim Committee on Addiction & Community Safety Response had not even been made public Friday when the Heppner Republican sent an email to his political supporters with an “urgent” plea for contributions.
The committee is reworking key provisions of Oregon’s landmark drug decriminalization law – something most voters have said they view as an urgent priority. But lining up votes to do so — including on the Legislature’s powerful budget-writing committee, of which Smith is a member — has not been sewn up for the five-week session that opens Monday.
Smith, who in the past has broken with his party to vote with Democrats, noted in his email that he learned of his appointment to the Measure 110 committee from House Speaker Dan Rayfield.
“It comes as a shock to me, as I’m sure it does to you,” he wrote to his supporters from his personal email account. “This extra responsibility is going to require additional resources. To manage my regular committee assignments but also to give proper attention to this work, my office will need support. I know it’s the 11th hour, but might I ask for your assistance?”
Under House rules, Smith does not have much time to raise money before the session starts at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Members of the House are barred from raising money for their campaigns while in session, said Timothy Sekerak, chief clerk of the House.
In an email to The Oregonian/OregonLive, Smith referred to his statement to his supporters, declining to answer questions.
Rep. Tawna Sanchez, D-Portland, was also tapped Friday to serve on the committee. Sanchez co-chairs the powerful Joint Committee on Ways and Means, which must approve all spending bills. Nearly any bill coming out of the Measure 110 committee, including any with budgetary implications, would need approval from Ways & Means to advance to a floor vote. Smith serves as co-vice chair of the Joint Ways & Means Committee.
Along with Gov. Tina Kotek’s housing initiative, Measure 110 is expected to dominate the upcoming session. Leading Democratic lawmakers plan to press a proposal to make minor drug possession a crime again as polls show dwindling public support for Measure 110, linking it to a proliferation of fentanyl use and overdoses.
The plan would mean the end of Oregon’s first-in-the-nation drug decriminalization policy, which voters passed in 2020 by a wide margin after supporters made a successful pitch that Measure 110 would provide a more humane public health approach to drug addiction.
Story republished with permission from The Oregonian/OregonLive.