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Politics

Oregon Legislature: 5 things to watch this week

Oregon Legislature: 5 things to watch this week
Oregon Representatives are sworn in as the 77th Oregon Legislature convenes in Salem, Ore., Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Here are five things to keep an eye on at the Oregon Legislature this week:

IMMIGRANT TUITION

After an emotional debate last week, a House committee is expected to advance a bill allowing illegal immigrants who graduate from Oregon high schools to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Similar measures have failed in the House twice before after passing the Senate, but the effort seems likely to succeed this year. It has support from many Democrats and some Republicans.

Proponents say young people shouldn't be priced out of higher education because their parents made a decision to immigrate illegally. Critics say the state shouldn't subsidize tuition for people who can't legally work in the United States.

COLUMBIA RIVER BRIDGE

The long effort to build a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River accelerates as a legislative committee nears a vote.

Oregon has to chip in $450 million for the project, which would also get money from Washington state, the federal government and tolls paid by motorists. Legislative leaders want Oregon to act quickly to give Washington lawmakers time to figure out their own funding plans.

Legislators heard many hours of testimony on the issue last week — from critics who say it's a waste of money, and from proponents who think it will ease bottlenecks while creating quite a few construction jobs.

The most recent proposal would allow the state to sell bonds for the project. They'd be repaid initially from existing funds at the Department of Transportation, but there could be a new tax or fee created in the future.

SMOKING

Lighting a cigarette with a kid in the car could get far more expensive than the price of a pack of smokes.

A Senate committee on Thursday takes up a bill making it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor. A first offense would land a ticket for up to $250. A third could cost $1,000.

Proponents say children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and shouldn't be exposed to it when they're trapped in a car.

CHILD PROSTITUTION

In the battle against child prostitution, police and child-welfare advocates are shifting toward treating underage prostitutes as victims rather than criminals while cracking down on pimps.

The House Judiciary Committee looks at three bills Monday that would move the state further in that direction.

One measure would require pimps — people who recruit children to work as prostitutes — to spend more time on parole after they get out of prison. Another would allow the state to take child prostitutes into protective custody while allowing the minor to use their age as a defense to prostitution charges.

FACEBOOK

A House committee will consider making it illegal for your boss to force you to become Facebook friends or a Twitter follower.

The measure would also make it illegal for employers to require workers or job applicants to provide the company access to social media accounts.

The Associated Press reported last year that some companies and government agencies were going beyond merely glancing at a person's public social media profiles, asking instead to log in as the job applicant and have a look around.

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