GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Many lawmakers remain skeptical of the push to pass the bill next year, including some Democrats concerned the policy is too complex and far-reaching for a six-week legislative session. Those so-called “short sessions,” held in even-numbered years since 2008, were designed for lawmakers to make technical fixes to laws and rebalance budgets. When even-numbered sessions were added, Senate President Peter Courtney and others made it clear the Legislature was supposed to reserve major policy bills for five-month sessions held in odd years.
“I’m not sure we have all the answers on a giant policy like that to act in 30 days,” said Sen. Mark Hass, a Democrat from Beaverton who has led efforts to overhaul and increase corporate taxes in recent legislative sessions.
Some lawmakers are also concerned it could take energy away from work to address other problems, such as school funding, the state’s long-term budget woes and public pension crisis.
“When you talk about $1.4 billion coming out of our little economy, you remove options that are necessary to other discussions and challenges we face,” said Rep. Cliff Bentz, a Republican from Ontario who is working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on solutions to precisely those problems.
Oregon would likely see dramatic effects if any substantial changes are made to federal tax policy, legislative economists said earlier this year. “While the ultimate form of federal tax reform is highly uncertain, Oregon is uniquely positioned to experience significant revenue effects both positive and negative,” they noted in a March report.
A new group that wants to fix Oregon’s abysmal response to addiction will introduce itself to the public at a rally in downtown Portland’s Shemanski Park tomorrow at 10 a.m. Oregon Recovers, a program of Portland’s Alano Club, is a new coalition led by people in recovery and their supporters.
Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCA) has been notified that it will get$10,743 in state lottery money to help Curry and Coos county’s homeless veterans. The money represents 3.7 percent of the $350,000 recently released by the state Housing and Community Services (OHCS) department.
Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, was the bill’s chief sponsor and said it is designed to save lives. “Nationally, 1 in 4 vehicle accidents involve distracted driving,” explained Olson, a retired Oregon State Police officer. “It’s a major concern.” He added that the new law also closes loopholes in the current law by addressing all types of electronic devices, not just cellular phones. “The law doesn’t say you can’t use them, you just can’t have them in your hand,” he said. “You can still swipe something on or off. We just don’t want you holding the device. That’s the key.”
“We actually asked for $69.5 million,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “What we got was $9.5 million.” That’s even less than the amount Gov. Kate Brown recommended. That $9.5 million is enough to prepare the pumice mine site for construction, but not enough to start another building. “That was kind of a surprise and certainly a disappointment,” Ray said. “I mean, we don’t make frivolous requests.”
With some of the Measure 98 money, Bend-La Pine is hiring a few graduation coaches, people who will build relationships with high school students who are struggling. Mathisen said those graduation coaches will do one-to-one mentoring, but also help set up systems to help kids to graduate on time. The district also used some of the money toward staff who can support English language learners in the classroom.
Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney announced Saturday she will seek a fourth four-year term on the board, foregoing a possible run for the Oregon House seat being given up by fellow Republican Knute Buehler as he runs for governor.
Candidates are starting to emerge for the three Lane County commissioner seats up for election next year. Incumbent commissioners Jay Bozievich, Sid Leiken and Gary Williams all filed election paperwork with the county this month or announced their intent to run for re-election in the May 15 primary. The incumbents are all raising money through their campaign committees, state campaign finance records show.
If the measure qualifies for the ballot, timber companies are almost certain to fight back hard. Courts could weigh in, too, if the measure passes and opponents challenge it, or if Lane County determines that Oregon aerial spraying laws pre-empt a county measure.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Brown, who announced this week she plans to run for re-election, said she’s initiating an economic recovery council to assist with efforts in the Gorge. It will be chaired by Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River.
Oregon won’t require day cares to test drinking water for high levels of lead, a state panel decided this week, ending a year-long review spurred by the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan. The action stands in stark contrast to Washington’s approach. State officials there said all licensed day cares must test water for the dangerous neurotoxin before December because fixing lead-tainted plumbing is “critical for the safety of children.”
JOBS & ECONOMY
A unit of Roseburg Forest Products recently bought 158,000 acres of timberland in parts of North Carolina and Virginia. The purchase was the Springfield-based company’s first timberlands acquisition outside of Oregon and California in the firm’s 81-year history, spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor said Friday.
The Oregonian Editorial Board
But Democrats, who undoubtedly want Richardson’s seat back, are willing to exploit any possible weakness, even if it means adopting a discriminatory argument. Atkins pounced the day after his interview saying in a statement that “it is not an Oregon value to pass judgment on thousands of Oregonians whose voting rights are in the Secretary’s hands. And it therefore calls into question his ability to perform his job.” She didn’t offer any examples of how his views have affected his ability to perform his job. Rather, her condemnation rests on the insinuation that a person who holds certain religious beliefs cannot be trusted in positions of power. That is an inherently discriminatory position to take – and one that also seems out of step with what Oregonians value.
Unions are understandably worried what a decision in Janus could mean to their membership, money and influence. But it should be up to unions to convince public employees that union representation is worth paying extra for. No worker should be mandated by the government to pay for political speech they do not want as a condition of employment.
The PERS problem was bad and it’s now worse. The state cannot expect to raise taxes on businesses and individuals enough to correct it without damaging the economy. It must make further reforms to PERS, something the state Democratic leadership has refused to touch.
Washington recently appointed four legislators to a task force seeking interstate transportation solutions and has extended an invitation to Oregon representatives. We again encourage Oregon to join the discussion. And now, Oregon has offered local representatives a seat at the table to discuss tolling plans. That might or might not be an empty gesture, but any discussion between the states is a step in the right direction.