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Oregon House Decreases Fines, Jail Time for Public Transportation Interference

File photo of a MAX train in Portland
Steve Morgan
Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/yb7ce685
File photo of a MAX train in Portland

It’s against the law in Oregon to knowingly or intentionally interfere with public transportation. On Monday, the state House passed a bill that would modify the criminal penalty for doing so. Bill supporters say those penalties disproportionately target the homeless and people with mental illness.

Under current state law, you can’t keep trains or buses from moving. You’re not allowed to harass a driver and disorderly conduct is strictly prohibited. 

Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a Democrat from Portland, sponsored the bill. He said it's "primarily about trespassing." 

“Essentially, it’s mentally ill people and minorities and homeless people and there’s been essentially no opposition to this reduction which seems fair and appropriate,” Greenlick said.

Previously, it was a class A misdemeanor to interfere with public transit. That translates to up to one year in prison and more than $6,000 dollars in fines. The bill reduces the charge to a class C misdemeanor—or a month in jail and a fine of $1,250 dollars, unless the offender has three or more prior convictions.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.