HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE
STATE GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
That’s the bare-bones concept. In practice, such a program would be far more complicated, involving carve-outs and free allowances for various industry sectors, possible linkage with allowance markets in California and Canada, and a complex prescription for the use of the auction proceeds. In fact, opponents contend the legislation is so complicated that it can’t possibly be adequately vetted in a 35-day session and should wait for next year’s regular legislative session.
Mark Johnson, OBI president and CEO, said the program would drive up prices on consumers and drive away businesses from the state. “Unfortunately, the legislation introduced (Monday) is an example of misplaced priorities,” Johnson said. “Greenhouse gas emissions are decreasing, while Oregon’s fiscal crisis is worsening. Rather than pushing a complex, costly program to address an issue that businesses already are making progress on, legislators need to focus on a problem only they can fix — Oregon’s fiscal instability.”
Portland Business Journal
In their critiques, the Oregon Farm Bureau and Northwest Food Processors Association focused on cost. Here’s the full text of all three groups’ statements:
Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and Rep. Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, have worked for more than a year to develop the legislation, convening work groups that met last fall to refine a bill introduced during the last week of the 2017 session. “The administration in Washington, D.C., has made no secret of a purposeful shift in policy to prop up fossil fuels and abdicate America’s leadership in a 21st Century economy,” Dembrow said in a statement. “That’s the wrong approach. In Oregon, we see the huge opportunity before us, both economically and in a leadership role. We’re going to take it.”
Gov. Kate Brown’s priorities for the 2018 legislative session include efforts to pay down the state’s public pension liability and tighten restrictions on gun ownership. Brown, who is running for reelection in November, released five proposals Wednesday, ahead of the short session that begins Feb. 5 and will last up to 35 days. Here are the governor’s proposals:
Carrying out a new state law, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has appointed a statewide committee to review and make recommendations on Oregon’s public records laws. HB 2101 requires committee members to represent a variety of sectors or interest groups. The members, appointed this month, are:
Commissioners voted to move forward with fining Hayes for 22 of the 23 violations Scheffers cited in her report. (They decided an allegation that she’d misused the Oregon State Police security detail fell into a gray area.) It remains to be seen whether Hayes will contest the proposed fines of up to $110,000 and the possible forfeiture of her contract earnings, and how a pending ethics commission complaint against Kitzhaber will be resolved in February.
Farmers are adapting to rising minimum wages around the Northwest through new technology and more efficient cropping systems, according to industry groups and economists.
Parrish claims she’s fighting for the little guy, who she says would pay a disproportionate share of the new Medicaid taxes. Measure 101 demonstrates how effective her outsider appeal can be. Yet observers are puzzled this is the fight Parrish chose. The issue is confusing and could backfire on her. A loss won’t burnish her brand. And if Parrish wins, she creates a budget crisis and deprives tens of thousands of the people she professes to cherish of their health insurance.
“Either way,” says Kevin Mannix, the state’s longtime conservative ballot-measure king, “it’s a big risk.”
On Jan. 23, Oregonians will decide the outcome of a rare, single-issue ballot. Let’s walk through the key questions surrounding your vote.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Measure 101 has its roots back in the era of former Gov. John Kitzhaber, the emergency room doctor who wanted to remake the way Oregon handles health care. Kitzhaber’s main legacy, beyond the scandal that ended his tenure as governor, is the expansion of health insurance for poor Oregonians in the form of the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid.
Financial staffers at Portland Public Schools could not manage to keep accurate tabs on tens of millions the district had on hand and millions more it owed, a new audit has found. As a result, the Portland school board Tuesday unanimously approved new training and procedures designed to correct the big flaws in its money monitoring system.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“We strongly oppose any action from the Justice Department on cannabis enforcement that would subvert the will of voters in Oregon and other states,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the other city commissioners wrote in their letter to Williams. They argued that “cannabis prohibition has failed” and should be left in the past. “It has especially failed communities of color disproportionately targeted and prosecuted for low-level drug offenses,” the council wrote.
Twice in the last two years, the Legislature’s Republicans have sought to end the use of committee bills, with limited success. In 2016 the House approved a rule change that bans anonymous committee amendments, but efforts last year to end the secrecy altogether stalled.
Oregonians deserve better.
We might be considered old-fashioned, but before the Legislature passes a climate change bill, it should be clear which businesses will have to pay up and which get a pass. The major climate change bill scheduled for the February session doesn’t do that. It doesn’t matter if you believe climate change is happening or not. It doesn’t matter if you believe this bill will affect the climate or not. The bill is not ready.
If the Legislature really wants to sink its teeth into some tough issues this session, allow us to suggest a couple of alternatives: Perhaps legislators could make some headway at easing the problems posed by the unfunded liability in the state’s public pension system. Any progress at all on that issue — even a small step or two — would be welcome. And if voters reject Measure 101 in a couple of weeks, legislators may find their time occupied with efforts to fill a $300 million hole in the state’s Medicaid budget. Overall, legislators would do well to remember the promises made to voters in Ballot Measure 71 and keep these short sessions as quick and to-the-point as possible.
There are plenty of reasons to vote “no” on Measure 101, the referendum on new taxes to fund Oregon’s Medicaid program. The sheer inequity of asking college students, K-12 school districts and small businesses to shoulder the cost of an essential program while exempting others is one of the biggest reasons The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board recommended that Oregonians vote “no” and demand that the Legislature deliver a better solution. (Readers can find our full editorial at www.oregonlive.com/opinion).
The Legislature must address this problem with increased funding — and it shouldn’t wait until the main budget-writing session in 2019 to get started. The DEQ should be given added support in the short legislative session that convenes next month, particularly if the department is expected to implement the Cleaner Air Oregon program later this year. Leaving air quality rules unenforced is not much different than having no rules at all.