Rep. Kim Thatcher (File Photo)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Rep. Kim Thatcher’s bill restricting disclosure of concealed handgun license holders’ information now awaits the governor’s signature after passing both chambers of the Oregon Legislature.

Even more restrictive legislation passed the House last year, but didn’t get through the Senate. This year’s version, House Bill 4045, adds exemptions to the law: For example, information could be released under a court order, if the license holder allows for it, or a public body determines a “compelling need” to disclose. Several criminal justice exemptions also are in the proposed law; for example, a crime victim could find out if the perpetrator had a license, and news organizations could learn if a person convicted of certain crimes had a concealed carry license.

Thatcher admits the “compelling need” passage gave her heartburn, but was pleased to see the bill make it to the Senate floor.

“I want to make it very clear that that is a very high threshold meant to cover rare circumstances not contemplated in the other exemptions,” Thatcher said.

The bill got broad support in both chambers, passing the House 44-14 on initial hearing and 54-6 on concurrence. The Senate passed legislation 24-5.

“People in the community around Oregon rose up and said, ‘Hey Senate! Hear this!’” Thatcher said. “Finally we’re starting to get some movement.”

On the House floor last week, Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, said the compromises led him to switch his vote from a no on the original version to a yes on the amended bill.

“This is one of those situations where private information, for the most part, should be kept private,” Barnhart said.

And Rep. Jeff Barker, D–Aloha, added that a CHL doesn’t necessarily even mean the holder has a gun.

“It’s about records, and it’s a good bill,” Barker said.