Oregon Department of Transportation
The Oregon Department of Transportation plans to request 153 new positions in February to help deliver $5.3 billion in transportation projects lawmakers agreed to fund earlier this year. The new positions will cost about $15.3 million and equate to nearly 78 full-time employees, said Leah Horner, ODOT government relations manager. The 153 jobs would start in the next two years and would augment 35 new full-time-equivalent positions the state Legislature already approved in July. ODOT is in the midst of hiring for those positions.
Three taxes associated with the $5.3 billion transportation package that was signed into law over the summer will be taking effect Jan. 1, with one more targeting wages coming later in the year. The bipartisan transportation plan will help fund projects across the state. In Salem it will provide $85.7 million over nine years for the expansion of Cherriots bus services and additional money for a seismic retrofit of the Center Street Bridge. But the millions in funding outlined in the law require some way to pay for them, which includes a handful of new taxes.
ODOT estimates the bypass will reduce traffic on Highway 99W and reduce around 60 to 65 percent of the truck traffic that passes through Newberg and Dundee.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Washington state lawmakers are moving ahead with an effort to revive a plan to replace the aging Interstate 5 Bridge. They remain hopeful their counterparts in Oregon will join them.
At the end of 2015, Pendleton City Council instituted a fee that increased the city’s budget for repairing streets by 160 percent and dedicated nearly a third of its revenue toward the towns worst roads. Two years later, Pendleton’s street system is in slightly worse shape than it was before the fee was put in place.
Keny-Guyer stressed the need to build more housing for households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income. But there is also a great need for “workforce housing” affordable to households earning between 60 and 120 percent of area median income, said Jason Lewis-Berry, director of the state’s Regional Solutions program and an economic policy adviser to Gov. Kate Brown.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
After months of back and forth, Oregon’s Public Utility Commission gave its blessing this week to both Portland General Electric’s and PacifiCorp’s plans to acquire more renewable energy, albeit with a variety of conditions designed to protect ratepayers. The companies approached the commission in 2016 and earlier this year seeking acknowledgment of resource plans that included major additions of generating capacity.
Tillamook Headlight Herald
Jerome Rosa, the executive director of the Oregon Cattlemans Association, said that one of the members told him about the problems with tide gates along the coast. “It is a big problem. Our idea (setting up the meeting) is to streamline what is a bureaucratic mess,” he said. “We are here to get solutions.”
In a year when national monuments in Oregon and across the West have come under fire from the federal government, a Bend-based organization has raised more than $270,000 to fight back.
Herald and News
Many Oregonians are unaware of a ballot measure they are expected to vote on come January. Measure 101 is a funding mechanism that would allow the state to impose a tax on health care providers and insurance firms to supplement Medicaid costs for the poor and low-income children. Some worry failure to pass the ballot issue could cost 350,000 residents their medical coverage through the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) or require private insurance holders to pay more. Others fear the additional money will be swept away into the general fund and not be applied to Medicaid at all.
“If (Measure 101) fails, all bets are off,” Steiner Hayward said, speaking to a legislative committee of the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Dec. 7. In fact, she said a “no” vote on Measure 101 means the entire 2018 legislative session — which starts in February — will be about fixing a new budget crisis. “If it fails,” she said of the January vote, “we’ll have no choice … but to cut 350,000 people from the Oregon Health Plan.”
JOBS & ECONOMY
Oregon could shore up its future as a relocation destination by changing the land-use system to allow more housing, McLane said. “Unless you’re going to pay a wage to somebody to show up to work in Bend, they’re going to go somewhere where they can afford to live,” he said. “That is going to hurt us in the long run.”
Ontario Argus Observer
The Oregon Transportation Commission now has the pre-proposal for what is now being called the Treasure Valley Reload Center, and will be deciding on the release of the first installment of the money appropriated for the intermodal facility.
Former state Rep. Denyc Boles announced Thursday her interest in returning to her former seat representing Salem, soon to be vacated by Republican Rep. Jodi Hack. “I believe I can be an effective leader for District 19 on day one,” Boles, also a Republican, said in her announcement. “I hope I can be an advocate and a catalyst for change here at home and in our state government.” Boles is currently a member of the Marion County Budget Committee and Salem Chamber Government Affairs Committee. Were she to receive the appointment, Boles said she would run for the seat in the 2018 election.
A deep-pocketed California group that dislikes the Electoral College system has spent nearly $100,000 this year going after its nemesis: Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney. Since 2007, Courtney has single-handedly killed every attempt to add Oregon to the list of states that have agreed to circumvent the Electoral College system by pledging their delegates to the winner of the national popular vote.
“This is becoming, certainly, a big issue for Portland. So I’ll be speaking about it. It really is a quality of life issue for the people of Portland,” said Buehler. “We have to have safe streets. We have to have a livable city where people feel comfortable coming downtown and going shopping, especially during the holiday season – meeting friends for dinner and not have them worry about crime and your windshield being smashed. Unfortunately, the governor has been silent on this issue.”
Brown’s campaign released a statement to KATU saying in part, “Knute Buehler had an unfortunate experience with vandalism that many Oregonians have been through, but it’s clear from his reaction that he doesn’t understand the experience of everyday Oregonians.” The statement goes on to say, “Next time he’s in Portland, presumably visiting the Arlington Club, we certainly hope he doesn’t experience such a traumatizing inconvenience.”
Buehler, a surgeon and legislator in his second term in the Oregon House, is vying to face off against incumbent Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, in the November 2018 election. Six people have filed for the Republican primary, though Buehler is the presumptive frontrunner. He has raised a sizable $2.1 million this year. Brown has raised $2.3 million.
“It is time, as a female, to stand up and not wait for other people to lead or to expect other people to have my interests in mind,” Goldberg said. She has a master’s degree in social work from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s from Southern Oregon University. She and her husband, Tim, have three grown sons who live in Medford. Goldberg grew up in Bandon and trained to become a clinical social worker and opened a small business as an independent practitioner before joining AllCare in 2016.
Kevin Hoar, the spokesman for Oregon’s Republican Party, said the state has more of a crime problem than a gun problem. “More often than not new gun laws seem to affect people who follow laws, law-abiding citizens, and not the criminals who by definition don’t follow laws,” Hoar said.
The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training wins national praise for holding police officers accountable for bad behavior. Academics, journalists and regulators in other states describe the department as a model. But an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive found that state regulators took no action to sideline dozens of officers fired for chronically inept police work. Or worse.
Oregon rewrote its rules for ending a police officer’s career over the past two years, amid a national movement seeking tougher consequences for brutality and bad police work. But the new rules largely made official what regulators already were doing in practice, instead of converting the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training into a more aggressive watchdog. For example, the old rules said incompetence could be grounds for revoking a fired officer’s certification, but state officials weren’t using that provision. The new rules simply don’t mention it.
A U.S. Bureau of Land Management supervisor assigned in February to examine an agent’s case file from his investigation into how the government handled the 2014 armed standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy found no material deliberately withheld from prosecutors that would help the defense, according to a government memo.
Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, the GOP front-runner for governor, gave opening remarks at the ceremony. Buehler described how the most unifying issue he has encountered traveling across the state is the need for better care for veterans. “I’m fortunate today to be surrounded by so many people who sacrifice so much for our country, for our state, for our community,” Buehler said.
OREGONIANS IN CONGRESS
An advocacy group in Montana is calling on republican representatives Greg Walden of Oregon and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington to protect public lands in the Pacific Northwest after President Donald Trump signed proclamations on Dec. 4 to shrink 2 national monuments in Utah.
Similar programs have been adopted or proposed elsewhere. We have not yet seen proof of how much they are reducing global temperatures, either. In a recent report California determined its “cap and trade” effort had reduced the state’s carbon emissions by 1.5 percent in 2015. The report did not specify how much that will decrease the global temperature. While there are plenty of computer models, there also needs to be hard evidence directly related to these programs. Without such information, we are asking businesses, including agriculture, to pay an unknown price for an unknown outcome.
The Oregonian Editorial Board
Oregon – its leaders, residents and taxpayers – believe in the necessity and importance of a health care safety net for the state’s most vulnerable people. Voters should reject Measure 101 and tell legislators and Gov. Brown to come back with a funding plan that reflects that shared value.
But, if you believe Steiner Hayward, lawmakers won’t have any choice. Every single penny the state spends is spent in just the right place, apparently. Thus, it’s impossible to plug at least some of the hole in the Oregon Health Plan’s financing that defeat of 101 would create. Finding money for health care spending is not easy. But it doesn’t help matters if lawmakers conjure up dire scenarios and ordain them as inescapable fate.
Erik Lukens, Bend Bulletin
Here’s a scenario to consider. A bill will emerge in next year’s short session, or perhaps in 2019, that will make some changes to the scenic waterways act and, in doing so, deliver bad news to supporters of Bend’s proposed bridge. Because it will be championed by environmental groups rather than a Sunriver Republican, it will have greater appeal to Democratic lawmakers, who dominate the Legislature. Meanwhile, odds are local Republicans will either remain silent or support it.
As much as Democrats like to preach the virtue of diversity, you seldom see that coming out of the statehouse on many urban-rural issues.
OHA is right. It is an example of an important partnership. You would think, though, that state government might also be working hard to find ways to do things more efficiently, instead of making more work for itself and all the hands the money passes through.
John Foote, Clackamas County District Attorney
Gov. Brown, we have read in The Oregonian that you are “inviting state employees to share our stories of innovation, cost savings and great customer service” with you. As a state elected official, I would like to share with you the enormous success that our voters, crime victims and elected officials have achieved in the area of public safety. I invite you to read the publication, “The Oregon Criminal Justice System in 2016: A Continuing Success Story.”
Albany Democrat Herald
OSU President Ed Ray said university officials, understanding that the Legislature faced a tight state budget, trimmed their $69.5 million request to $39 million during the course of this year’s session. But, for whatever reason, Ray said it appears that Gov. Brown never saw the reduced request. “She was never unsupportive,” Ray said. “She never had all the information she needed.”
Eric Fruits, Oregon-based economist, adjunct professor at Portland State University, and academic adviser for the Cascade Policy Institute
A recent study of income and cost-of-living data between states concludes: “Cost of living is clearly impacted by state policies [such as those noted above].” Oregon can move from being a poor state to a rich state through straightforward policy reforms. These must address our high cost of living as well as our lower incomes. Reforms to speed up and expand real estate development will relieve housing price pressures and attract employers. Construction to relieve congestion will improve our competitiveness while reducing roadway accidents and alleviating commuter stress. Labor market reforms will increase employment and boost Oregonians’ paychecks.
Stacey McLaughlin, Ron Schaaf and Bob Barker
As landowners threatened by the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline we are elated at Sen. Jeff Merkley’s announcement that he will not support a project dependent on seizing private properties through eminent domain. Merkley’s shift comes as welcome news against this speculative venture already denied twice by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.