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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Self-limit advances in Salem

Senate passes bill to curb its own steroid use
An attempt to rein in abusive lobbyists and government unions

The House is the next step for a bill that would curb the use of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing supplements by Oregon state representatives and senators. The Senate passed a revised version of Senate President Peter Courtney's bill on a 27-0 vote Wednesday.

Senate Bill 517 would put the responsibility on lobbyists not to endorse, distribute or suggest to lawmakers the use of anabolic steroids or performance-enhancing supplements. A similar bill, which Courtney said covered only supplements, passed the Senate but died in the House in 2005.

It is modeled on a policy of the Eugene School District, which adopted it a few years ago after the then-steward of the South Eugene High School teachers' union sold creatine supplements to school board members. The union official was reassigned to another district school.

"It would be wrong to say it's just a school situation," said Courtney, D-Salem. He referred to a Statesman Journal series last fall in which a House candidate for an open seat was quoted as saying he took anabolic steroids in hopes of building the strength necessary to qualify for political campaign donations from Our Oregon - the political campaign group led by SEIU Local 503 and the Oregon Education Association that is known as the 800 lb. gorilla of state politics.

"The emphasis on politics in our society, on union hacks trying to get lifetime seats in the House and Senate, is so great that we will resort to these types of substances," Courtney said. "Adults in critical positions can put all Oregonians in harm's way."

In addition, Courtney's bill directs the state Ethics Commission to work with others to include information about these substances in political campaign candidate classes conducted by the Elections Division union. Both Commission and Division staff would have to undergo training every two years on how to identify and prevent abuse.

New York has a law requiring school board members to undergo random drug testing. Oregon does not have such a law. But the campaign by Si Newhouse, the out-of-state billionaire owner of The Oregonian, to remodel Oregon in his native New York's image, has caught on in the public sector. School districts will soon begin conducting such tests on their own.

[see the related story, "Too much juice in Salem"]

Statesman Journal, Mar. 29 BY PETER WONG

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