HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE
STATE GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Jeff Helfrich, 49, will finish out the House term of Mark Johnson, who resigned this month to be chief executive of Oregon Business and Industry, the state’s largest business lobbying group. In a news release, Helfrich said he is “incredibly humbled” to have been appointed and will aim to continue pushing policies that Johnson did, such as improvements to education, the economy and the environment in the Columbia River Gorge area.
Financially strapped counties in Western Oregon that rely on logging revenue will receive nearly $1.4 million that had been withheld by the federal government due to budget caps, authorities said Thursday. The Association of O&C Counties — commonly called the “timber counties” — said Thursday the counties will see the funds soon.
The Associated Press
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Thursday the BLM will issue payments totaling $19.5 million to the 18 counties, including the $1.4 million. “My next priority is ensuring that these lands continue to provide sustainable timber harvests that support the community and strengthen the health of the forest,” Zinke said.
The new draft of the plan builds off an earlier draft written in April, with a particular focus on how wolves fit into Oregon’s ecosystem, and their special status in the state, according to Michelle Dennehy, wildlife communications coordinator for ODFW. Dennehy added that the new draft includes information and comments from the previous plan, so readers can see what’s changed since the April draft.
More than 350 local PeaceHealth technical unit workers, including respiratory therapists and pharmacy technicians, have voted to unionize. They voted to join the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the union said Thursday. With the addition of the 350 technical unit workers, about half of PeaceHealth’s workforce of 6,000 part- and full-time employees are covered by a union.
Portland Business Journal
Not a huge news flash, given the volume of problems the agency itself has revealed in recent weeks — $74 million in overpayments to coordinated care organizations and a host of other issues for which the agency could be dinged nearly $60 million. But the audit did contain a detailed analysis of the lapses in the system and recommendations for improvement. Here are some key takeaways:
Sen. Sara Gelser, a Democrat representing Senate District 8, and Rep. Bill Post, representing House District 25, are co-sponsoring a bill they plan to introduce during the legislative
session in February. “I am a Democratic female senator from Corvallis, the Republican is from Keizer with a conservative talk show and we’re co-sponsoring a bill about teen sex,” said Gelser.
CAP AND TRADE
Portland Business Journal
While many Oregon businesses are fearful of cap and trade — a subject explored in our new cover story — there are more than a few who are eager to see the climate policy implemented. “It’s a misnomer to simply say ‘business is opposed,’” said Nancy Hamilton of the Oregon Business Alliance for Climate. “We’re seeing businesses that recognize the big risk isn’t in moving forward, but is in doing nothing.”
Portland Business Journal
Oregon lawmakers will take up cap-and-trade legislation during the short session that begins in February. As proponents and opponents line up for what will likely be one of the session’s most hotly debated topics, we put together this primer on how cap and trade works, why supporters say it’s needed to battle climate change and why opponents fear it will dampen Oregon’s economy.
But Craig Smith, director of government affairs for the Northwest Food Processors Association, said those companies face another layer of burdensome regulations under the Cleaner Air Oregon rules, spearheaded by Gov. Kate Brown to lower health risks posed by industrial air emissions. “We don’t like this rule at all,” Smith said. “It’s way too broad, and the cost of the program will be enormous for very little benefit.”
Following a Wednesday morning vote by city commissioners, Portland’s inventory of affordable housing is officially on track to get a historic boost in 2019, with the scheduled completion of Block 45 in the heart of Portland’s Lloyd District. The 240-unit, 12-story complex will be built on an already city-owned vacant lot at Northeast Grand Avenue and Hassalo Street, and it marks Portland’s largest investment in affordable housing landscape in the last 50 years, said Michael Cox, spokesman for Mayor Ted Wheeler.
EDUCATION & HIGHER EDUCATION
Oregon’s latest annual report card, released Thursday by the state’s Department of Education, shows the state is excelling at certain indicators and falling behind in others.
The university would get more than $88 million in cash and apparel and shoes over 11 years under the deal proposed by Nike, more than double the current contract. The Oregon Board of Trustees will consider renewing the school’s “multi-sport apparel agreement” with Nike next Thursday.
Ashland Daily Tidings
Former Jackson County Commissioner Jeff Golden is the second Democrat to announce his candidacy for Senate District 3, currently held by Republican Alan DeBoer. “I’m really unhappy with the country’s political direction,” the 67-year-old Ashland resident said.
Nonaffiliated voters now make up the second largest voting bloc in Oregon, yet they are disempowered from selecting officeholders by closed primaries, political districting.
Even though Oregon’s 1 million-plus Medicaid enrollees are of ever-changing ages, incomes, addresses and medical conditions, zero errors in payments should be the goal — particularly as the state picks up an increasing share of the cost of the program. The audit is a helpful guide in pursuit of that goal‚ even though it comes at a time when the OHA was already making progress toward it.
How much evidence should Oregon prosecutors need? In many states, it’s enough for prosecutors to have found a defendant in a stolen vehicle along with other evidence, such as a wrong key or a torn-up steering column. The Legislature rejected a bill in 2017 that would have tightened up Oregon law. It needs to look at it again.
Tom Christ is a Portland lawyer who lives in Eastmoreland.
One way to increase the amount of low-income housing in Portland is to increase the amount of housing generally. That means housing all along the price scale. At the low end, of course, and in the middle too, but also even at the high end, because new housing anywhere increases the supply everywhere.
National Public Radio
But in a statement sent by his lawyers, Flynn said he recognizes that the he has made mistakes. “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right,” he said. “My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
The Associated Press
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is to plead guilty Friday to making false statements to the FBI, becoming the fourth person charged in a wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors.