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Capital Chatter: Daylight Saving creates strange bedfellows

Brown and Trump on the same page when it comes to springing forward and falling back.

Are you tired of the semi-annual switch between regular and daylight saving time? Would you prefer to stay on daylight time year-round?

If so, Gov. Kate Brown is on your side.

"Hell, yes!" she responded when a reporter inquired whether she supported Oregon legislation asking Congress to allow states to convert to full-time daylight saving time.

In her media availability on Thursday, Brown also was emphatic that Oregon should eliminate the religious exemption for obtaining childhood vaccinations, that any new tax money approved by the Legislature should go for early childhood through higher education and that the state and federal governments must change how they address wildfires.

Stunning news! Brown and Trump in harmony: Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and the Brown administration have filed numerous lawsuits against the Trump administration.

But a reporter noted that Brown was agreeing with President Donald Trump on daylight saving time. She answered that she also supports the administration's efforts to continue tackling the Portland harbor as a Superfund cleanup site.

"There are now two places where I am in full agreement with the administration," Brown said.

Speaking of vaccinations: House Bill 3063 has emerged as one of the contentious bills of the 2019 Legislature. Oregonians, regardless of their personal views, could learn a lot by listening to the other side instead of pigeon-holing one another as kooks or control freaks.

Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, can be found on both sides of the issue. It pits individual and parental rights against the health of the overall community. Shouldn't parents be allowed to decide their children's health care? Shouldn't the public be protected from serious, even life-threatening diseases that can be spread — especially to people with compromised immune systems — by unvaccinated individuals.

As introduced, the bill would exclude students from attending any public or private school unless their immunizations were up to date or they had a certified medical exemption.

The House Heath Care Committee, which includes Boles, was scheduled on Thursday afternoon to consider changes that would allow students to attend school online despite not being vaccinated. Obviously, students using computers at home are not endangering the physical health of other online students.

But here's the rub. In another contentious debate several years ago, the Legislature capped the allowable number of online students within each school district. If the vaccination legislation becomes law, will districts be overwhelmed by hundreds or thousands of students wanting to study online? If those students are transferring to public online education from private schools, what will be the impact on the state school fund?

Other vaccination news: Another bill would allow dentists, when properly trained, to administer vaccinations. Dentist Cedric Hayden, R-Roseburg, who serves on House Health Care, is a chief sponsor of House Bill 2220.

The measure has bipartisan support but might be only a tad less controversial than HB 3063, which Hayden opposes.

Easier access to cold medicine: Has Oregon's prescription-only law for Sudafed and other pseudoephedrine products reached the end of its useful lifecycle?

That is one more complicated issue before House Health Care. Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, has teamed with Hayden and several Democratic legislators on HB 2303, which would make those cold medicines available over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription. Purchasers would need to provide ID, which would be checked against a national database — the system currently used by most states. (In that sense, it's like background checks on firearms sales, although proponents are not describing in that way.)

Oregon is one of two states requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine, a law enacted because people were buying it in large quantities to produce methamphetamine. These days, home-grown meth labs have largely been eliminated, and meth smuggled from Mexico has cornered the market.

Opposition to the bill centers around "smurfing" — when a person or a group of people visit multiple pharmacies to obtain enough pseudoephedrine to make meth.

Proponents' arguments:

• The current law was effective but is no longer needed.

• Using the national database would be more effective than requiring a prescription, which does not provide an instantaneous check on whether the person is "smurfing."

• The database is free to states for their use.

• In contrast, prescriptions are too easily faked, according to a Marion County pharmacist.

• Anyone can pick up someone's prescription, usually without having to show ID.

• Requiring a prescription drives up the cost for consumers as well as being inconvenient.

Opponents' arguments:

• The current law is working. Why change it?

Rob Bovett, legal counsel for the Association of Oregon Counties, wrote the current law and sees no reason for reworking it. If anything needs to be changed, he said, simply pass legislation allowing pharmacists to write prescriptions so a person does not have to get one from a physician.

• Law enforcement officials fear the proposed changes could increase "smurfing" and bring a resurgence of small-scale meth labs.

As for me, I've switched from behind-the-counter Claritin-D to over-the-counter allergy nasal spray.

More news about daylight saving time: An excellent article in National Geographic includes this quotation from Peggy Boquist, who is the wife of Sen. Brian Boquist and a legislative assistant for him: "Changing the time on our clocks twice a year does only one good thing, in my humble opinion: It reminds me to change the batteries in my smoke alarms."

Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, supports year-round daylight saving time. Also quoted in the article are Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, and Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for several Republican legislators.

Dick Hughes, who writes the weekly Capital Chatter column, has been covering the Oregon political scene since 1976. Contact him at TheHughesisms@Gmail.com, Facebook.com/Hughesisms, YouTube.com/DickHughes or Twitter.com/DickHughes.