GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Former Republican Rep. Denyc Boles was unanimously selected Wednesday to fill the vacant District 19 seat in the Oregon House of Representatives by the Marion County Board of Commissioners. Boles will serve the remainder of former Rep. Jodi Hack’s term and has already filed to run for re-election in November. “I’m excited to be an advocate for my community, to let them know that they have someone accessible to help, maybe, get their belief back in government,” Boles said.
House minority leader Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, said he is still studying the overall effect of the federal tax code on Oregon. He suggested, though, that he’s inclined to expand Oregon’s tax breaks to families with kids in private K-12 schools. “House Republicans are generally in favor of any measure that would allow parents to pursue an education that best fits with the needs of their children,” McLane said in a written statement. “If we can achieve this goal by clarifying or expanding 529 plan tax benefits here in Oregon, I think that is something legislators should strongly consider.”
Linn County argues in the lawsuit that the state violated a contract with the county to manage state forest trust lands with an eye toward the “greatest permanent value.” At the time these lands were conveyed to the state, the county argues, it was assumed that “greatest permanent value” entailed maximizing timber harvests, and earmarking money from those harvests to the counties and other government entities.
But the state’s attorneys argued that the term “greatest permanent value,” is ambiguous and also applies to other goals in managing the land, such as clean water and recreation. As the state began to manage the land with those other goals in mind, timber harvests declined, and so did the payments to the counties. Linn County’s suit argues that represents a breach of contract.
The increases are designed to add about $100,000 to the forest’s nearly $200,000 recreation budget and allow forest managers to better maintain and enhance the sites amid cost increases during years of flat or reduced recreation budgets, said Julie Martin, the forest recreation program manager.
A high-level U.S. Department of Justice official sent a threatening letter to Oregon criminal justice officials Wednesday, demanding documents about the state’s compliance with a federal immigration law and saying they “will subpoena” the records if Oregon fails to give them over by deadline. Oregon could be forced to pay back several million dollars in federal grants if it is found to violate federal law, the Justice Department letter said. It’s unclear whether federal officials will back up the threats with action.
In a letter sent to 23 jurisdictions nationwide, DOJ officials threatened to confiscate federal criminal justice funding from cities, counties and states that refuse to assist federal authorities in enforcing U.S. immigration law.
Bend Source Weekly
he fight over the proposed Deschutes River pedestrian bridge south of Bend may suffer a knockout blow if a new bill passes in the upcoming short legislative session.
Herald and News
“I am honored to have the opportunity to increase my involvement in shaping policy in the upcoming session,” said Reschke. “As a member of the Revenue committee, I will be an advocate for tax reforms that benefit Oregon families and will work with my colleagues to oppose unnecessary tax increases. As the Vice-Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, my top priority will be defending our rural communities from the cap and trade bill currently being pushed by Democratic leaders. I look forward to serving on both of these committees, in addition to my other committee assignments, in the February legislative session.”
Oregon has moved aggressively to raise its minimum wage, but some of the highest-profile performers in this city don’t get paid at all. Those performers, mostly teenagers, play ice hockey for the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League. The team sold about 6,000 tickets per game last season and also profits from food, drink and merchandise sales at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Moda Center, the team’s home rinks.
“Surely, forgoing the daily distraction of fundraising from governing for just 35 days, nearly nine months before the general election, is possible for you and your campaign staff,” Buehler wrote. “Particularly during this time of excessive and unnecessary partisanship and division in our national politics, this voluntary action on your part will send a message that here in Oregon, we value good government and governance over partisan and political advantage.”
Portland Business Journal
As federal funds continue to dwindle, the fiscal challenge will grow even greater in 2020.
The big difference, and the reason the number of registered voters has increased so sharply, is the “Motor Voter” law, which went into effect in 2016. The latest figures from the elections division show that the law has added 390,000 new voters to the rolls (88 percent of them unaffiliated with any party).
But one of the people who forced the measure to the ballot, Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, thinks the effort was worth it. “I think the people of Oregon need to weigh in on these issues,” he said Wednesday. Ballot Measure 101 passed 57.9 percent to 42.1 percent in Jackson County — and by a higher margin statewide. Esquivel said he was surprised that 60 percent of Oregon voters said “yes” to raising taxes on hospitals and insurance companies to avoid cuts to the Oregon Health Plan, this state’s version of Medicaid. “I thought it would be closer,” he said.
It wasn’t only Democratic-leaning counties in Oregon that voted to impose a tax on hospitals and health insurers to pay for Medicaid for low-income residents. Several counties that voted for Donald Trump also helped propel the measure to a resounding yes vote. As president, Trump endorsed Republican bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. Oregon did the opposite on Tuesday when it expanded funding of Medicaid, making up for a drop in the federal government’s share and covering more children.
The head of Oregon’s pot regulatory agency on Wednesday blasted retailers who got caught selling marijuana to minors in a series of late-2017 sting operations. “There is nothing more damaging than that,” Steve Marks, executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told audience members at the fourth annual Cannabis Collaborative Conference at the Portland Expo Center. “Your friends in government are really, really disappointed.”
What Measure 101 meant was spun so hard it was like the head spin in “The Exorcist.” The taxes were not taxes. They were called “assessments” to muddy public understanding. Democrats in the Legislature even concocted a scheme to have a Democrat-controlled committee write the ballot title for Measure 101, so they could further spin what it was about.
More broadly, Tuesday’s election offered voters a chance to cast a vote of no-confidence in the Legislature, Gov. Kate Brown and state government in general. Oregonians did not take that opportunity. Voters understood that jamming a stick in the spokes of the Medicaid program would be a poor way of lodging a political protest. While the state’s leaders can draw encouragement from having prevailed in the Measure 101 campaign, hard work lies ahead. The problem of creating a fair and sustainable Medicaid finance system remains.
What should legislators do with that additional time? Here’s our first suggestion: Nothing. Instead, tackle the relatively minor work of tying up loose ends from the 2017 session, fine-tune the state’s budget and then go home. In other words, deliver a short session that’s in line with what voters expected when they approved annual sessions in 2010.
Federal policy — and Congress’ willingness to continue matching state expenditures for Medicaid — are factors beyond the control of state lawmakers. But the Legislature does have to come up with the state’s share of Medicaid funding. Voters have said loud and clear that the state should live up to that responsibility. Legislators should listen — and start now to secure long-term funding when the two-year plan voters just affirmed runs out.
If its anonymous advocates really want to improve civics education, they need to engage with the education department and educators. They need to understand what might be an effective method to enhance civics education in a context that gives it meaning. The goal of SB 1513 is good. The method is a foolish shortcut. It deserves swift defeat.
Herald and News
Along with extra funds that come in from the tax should come a higher level of commitment that crosses partisan lines and also includes higher level of professionalism both by elected officials and state administrators. Is that too much to ask of Oregon’s political leaders?
Shelly Boshart Davis, Boshart Trucking
Oregon is already one of the lowest greenhouse-gas emitters in the country, and we’re getting lower. In fact, while our state’s economy and population have grown considerably since 2000, our state’s greenhouse-gass emissions have declined by 13 percent. Oregon is responsible for a meager .7 percent of emissions in the United States, and .1 percent of global emissions. You could eliminate the Oregon economy entirely and not make a dent in global greenhouse-gas emissions.
Diane Nunez, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber
There’s no reason for Oregon to wait. Our Latino business community has grown by 250 percent since 2000. Oregon has the workforce and the desire to build new, sustainable jobs and businesses now — and we’re hungry for opportunities to grow. Clean Energy Jobs will create those opportunities, and we will all benefit. I work every day to create opportunities for growth in our business community, and I’m excited by the prospects this bill offers our state. We shouldn’t let this opportunity pass by.