Greetings NWVA Members,

A lot has gone on since our last update. I’ll try to cover it all here. On Monday, March 23, there was a hearing on HB 2546 (underage sales ban, includion in Clean Air Act), SB 415 (the flavors bill), and SB 416 (requires licensing of Smoke Shops, but we’re concerned that they will try to include Vape Shops in this bill also.) We had an outstanding turnout and a lot of people were allowed to give testimony. Thank you to all of you who came to testify and everyone who came in support of those testifying.

 

HB 2546 – Currently in Senate Healthcare Committee

Since the hearing we have met with several legislators to ensure that we get a vape shop exclusion in this bill. Senator Steiner-Hayward will not support an exclusion in this bill (nor will Senator Monnes-Anderson), but Steiner-Hayward claims that she is trying to get our exclusion included in SB 416. The problem with this is that it would be part of the legislation that requires all vape shops to be licensed under the OLCC. That is a bad idea. This Healthcare Committee is composed of Monnes-Anderson (Chair – D), Kruse (Vice-chair – R), Steiner-Hayward (D), Shields (D), and Knopp (R). Both Steiner-Hayward and Monnes-Anderson are against any amendments to HB 2546 and both Kruse and Knopp are firmly in support of an amendment to give vape shops an exclusion from the Clean Air Act. We have been having ongoing discussions with Shields and he currently supports us having the exclusion with a two year sunset. Meaning, that in two years we will have to have additional legislation passed to extend the exclusion. It’s still possible, however, that Shields will support our exclusion without a sunset. This bill has been put on hold temporarily and we believe it is because they intend to trade support for other legislation in order to get their necessary support for this bill without any exclusions.

 

SB 415 – The flavors bill

After the hearing Matt met with Monnes-Anderson, Steiner-Hayward, and Kruse and finally convinced them to take e-liquids out of this bill. The amendment was approved in a working session, so this bill will go to the hearing without including e-liquids. (This is a HUGE win for NWVA and the vaping industry). This bill will get a hearing tomorrow (April 7, 2015) at 8:30 AM in Hearing Room A.

 

SB 416

No further updates at this point in time

 

SB 190 – Prohibits internet sales of cigarettes, tobacco products, and e-cigarettes

After the Senate Hearing on this bill (March 9), Matt and I were invited to meet with the Department of Justice to discuss our concerns with this bill. We met with them on March 24th and again on March 31 th. By the end of the second meeting they agreed to take e-cigarettes (vaping) out of this bill. (This is another HUGE win for NWVA and the vaping industry).

 

HB 2074 & HB 2134 – Taxation of e-cigarettes as tobacco products

These bills had a hearing today (April 6th) that was well attended and many people spoke in opposition to these bills. Since these two bills are literally identical, they are being treated as one. These bills are in the House Revenue committee. Members include: Barnhart (Chair – D), Bentz (Vice-Chair – R), Vega-Pederson (Vice-Chair – D), Davis (R), Johnson (R), Lininger (D), Read (D), Smith-Warner (D), & Whitsett (R). We put up good opposition in the form of well thought-out arguments, but Chair Barnhart really wants the tax to discourage young people from purchasing e-cigarette products and several other members are looking at a way to replace lost cigarette tax revenue for the state. Matt and I will be circling back around with the committee members to get a sense of how much committee support there is for this bill. If it does clear the committee, we will have a showdown on the House floor and we are within 1 or 2 votes of defeating it on the floor, with two or three members that may very well be persuaded to our position.

 

SB 417 – Requires cigarette shops and e-cigarette shops to obtain permits from OLCC

We just learned today that there will be a hearing on this bill on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, at 1:00. It is important that we have a good representation at this hearing in opposition to this bill. Please get the word out to all vapers in Oregon. This will be before the Senate Business & Transportation Committee. Members include: Beyer (Chair – D), Girod (Vice-Chair – R), Monroe (D), Riley (D), and Thompsen (R). Matt and I met with Girod today and got permission to write an amendment to exclude vaping from this bill. We will be meeting with several other committee members tomorrow to bolster support for that amendment.

 

That’s our update for now. Remember, if your Senator or Representative is listed in one of the committees above, please call their office and urge them to support the vaping industry on each one of these bills.

Will Krause
President, Northwest Vapor Association