An unusually large crop of newbies will be among the senators and representatives gathering in Salem beginning Monday for this year’s six-week legislative session. Seven lawmakers were appointed to vacated seats within the last few months, and only two have prior legislative experience. Given that lawmakers’ terms all run through the end of even-numbered years, that level of change in the lineup is atypical at the start of one.
When President Trump was candidate Trump, he called climate change a hoax. Since taking the Oval Office, he’s said very little about greenhouse gasses and their impact on the planet. But he did issue a statement that he plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to reduce emissions as a way to stop global warming. But West Coast states are driving in the opposite direction, with designs of erecting a green wall built on taxing carbon. “This is both an economic benefit for the state of Washington and a job creator,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat. “Jobs in the clean energy sector are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Republican lawmakers are skeptical about the need to immediately act on the business tax provisions. “I don’t think it’s going to be as severe as what the speaker and others are saying right now,” said House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte. Eventually, he said, the tax cut could generate additional revenue for the state.
The Lund Report
Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, has found bipartisan, bicameral support for legislation to improve the price transparency for pharmaceuticals, giving momentum to passage that eluded advocates last year. The 2018 proposal is heavily scaled back from Nosse’s 2017 legislation, which would have set caps on how much drugmakers could charge or increase prices. House Bill 2387 passed the House Health Committee on a party-line vote, but floundered in the budget committee and never reached the floor.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Oregon legislators will be starting a short session, which is held in even years. We talk about what’s on the agenda in the latest episode of “OPB Politics Now.” OPB’s political team, including Jeff Mapes and Lauren Dake, are joined by Oregonian/OregonLive political reporter Hillary Borrud.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Opponents of Oregon legislation to combat climate change are starting an ad blitz claiming that it would jack up consumer costs. Priority Oregon said Thursday it will spend at least $100,000 on TV, radio and digital ads attacking the bill that would establish a “cap and trade” system aimed at reducing carbon emissions. That bill may come up for debate at the upcoming legislative session in Salem. Scott Bruun, a former Republican legislator who is a spokesman for the group, said that the bill will lead to “cost increases to gasoline and to food and even heating your home.”
Portland Business Journal
Erica Hetfeld, Priority Oregon’s executive director, said that like many other nonprofits, the organization doesn’t reveal its backers. “Our mission is to make Oregon a place where we put more money into the pockets of working people,” she said. “That’s why we’re working on this issue.” Cap and trade would require large polluters to obtain “allowances” — permits, essentially — matching their carbon emissions. The number of those allowances available would decrease over time, forcing emissions reductions. By 2050, reductions would be reduced 80 percent from 1990 levels.
Herald and News
Two new bills sponsored by a Klamath Falls representative could affect late term abortions and labor contractors across the state. Rep. E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls) announced Friday that he plans to use his two allotted bills in the 2018 legislative session to end late term abortions and remedy what he describes as “burdensome and costly” rules for businesses that provide janitorial services, according to a news release.
An uneasy Senate President Peter Courtney told reporters Monday he feels the Kruse hearings will “dominate in ways that we can’t quite understand or know right now.” Courtney, D-Salem, described the allegations against Kruse as “very serious and very disturbing.” He added, “It’s overwhelming. I’m very worried.”
Rep. Sal Esquivel says, “We’re doing real we’ll we’re a little over 80 percent of the way there. We’re in the homestretch, we’ve raised 400,000 for a 500,000 project, just short, 100,000 but we’re making it. Hopefully it will be done by the end of this year.”
Local attorney John Orr has filed for the Democratic primary to replace state Rep. Deborah Boone. Boone, D-Cannon Beach, announced last month she would not run for an eighth two-year term in state House District 32. Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi and local educator and author Melissa Ousley have also filed for the primary. Brian Halvorsen, an Independent from Rockaway Beach, has also filed.
Wilde says among his top priorities if elected is helping better fund state education. “I got ahead and I was able to climb out of poverty because I had great teachers,” Wilde tells KLCC. “They were unionized, they were strong, they were relatively well-paid for what they did. “And they cared about their students. And the public supported them. I think the public still supports them, but we’ve underfunded them to the tune of at least a billion dollars each year.”
La Grande Observer
The need to reform Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System is becoming more desperate by the day. Republican gubernatorial candidates Bruce Cuff, of Marion County, and Knute Buehler, a state representative from Bend, shared this concern Thursday afternoon during presentations at a meeting of the Union County Republican Central Committee at the Flying J Travel Plaza.
Portland resident Greg Wooldridge, a former U.S. Navy pilot and a social conservative, is entering the race for Oregon governor, potentially shaking up the Republican primary election this May. In an interview on Friday, Wooldridge said that, after months of deliberation, he has decided to run because the state needs the leadership skills he acquired during his years commanding the Blue Angels, the Navy’s elite flight demonstration team. “Oregon is headed in the wrong direction,” he said. “I’d led units that needed fixing and I can do it for this state. … I want to make our government as unobstrusive as possible.” Wooldridge, a 70-year-old motivational speaker, will present a challenge from the right to state Rep. Knute Buehler of Bend, the presumed GOP gubernatorial frontrunner.
The top federal prosecutor in Oregon on Friday pressed for data and details about the scope of the state’s role as a source of black market marijuana. U.S. Attorney Billy Williams told a large gathering that included Gov. Kate Brown, law enforcement officials and representatives of the cannabis industry that Oregon has an “identifiable and formidable overproduction and diversion problem.” “That is the fact,” he told the crowd at the U.S. District courthouse. “And my responsibility is to work with our state partners to do something about it.”
Oregon’s top prosecutor highlighted his top concerns about the marijuana industry, while Gov. Kate Brown again voiced her support for the state’s legal industry and its small business owners.
U.S. Attorney Billy Williams Friday convened a closed-door ‘marijuana summit’ of elected officials, law enforcement and other stakeholders.
The petition would amend city code to apply a 1 percent tax to all Portland sales by large corporations except medicine, health care and certain groceries. Companies would be affected if they have at least $1 billion in annual sales and sales of $500,000 within Portland city limits. It’s not clear how much money the surcharge would raise.
Oregonians should be outraged that their government is failing children in this way. Legislators must put aside their bickering and their pie-in-the-sky lawmaking, create a plan and find the money to make certain Oregon’s most endangered children are protected in the way they should be.
The state audit concluded with two dozen recommendations to address the Department of Human Services’ management challenges, foster parent recruitment and retention, and child welfare staffing. Some of these recommendations do not require additional funding or staffing, such as removing unnecessary barriers to recruiting foster families and collecting and using data to improve the foster care system by providing accurate, timely information on the availability and capacity of foster homes. Others would require appropriations from the state Legislature — such as increasing payments to foster families to cover the actual cost of raising a child. These are all recommendations that state officials, elected and appointed, should take very seriously. The cost of doing nothing to improve foster care in Oregon is far too high.
Oregon state Rep. Knute Buehler, the Bend Republican who is running for governor, responded to the audit by calling for a special bipartisan commission to recommend specific reforms that could be implemented within 90 days. That is a good idea, even though Pakseresht has accepted the audit report’s recommendations and vowed to follow through. But during the 35-day legislative session that begins Monday, Oregon lawmakers need not wait — they dare not wait — to add caseworkers and help foster children. This audit report belongs on every legislator’s desk, not on the shelf.
Jon Owens, ESCO & OBI
Oregon must prepare its workforce for the inevitable change in manufacturing technology and methods to retain these jobs and to capitalize on new opportunities that will arise. Helping Oregonians develop the skills to maintain their jobs and thrive in an automated workplace will require increased investment in education and training by both private employers and the government — investment that’s possible only if Oregon corrects its fiscal imbalance.
Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland
As contemplated in the bill, the emissions cap would not take effect until 2021, giving the state Environmental Quality Commission time to develop program details in consultation with stakeholders. The Clean Energy Jobs legislation will provide predictability and certainty for large carbon emitters. And by reducing carbon pollution in our atmosphere, we are protecting our air, water, mountains, forests, deserts, valleys, coasts and rivers — the astounding natural ecosystems that support all life and make Oregon the special place we call home. Inaction now will cost Oregonians. The time for a responsible, economy-wide cap on carbon emissions is now.
Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of House Republicans’ campaign committee, presented the midterm outlook to his colleagues Thursday evening. Speaking to reporters before that briefing, Stivers admitted Democrats are “energized” and said Republicans were prepared for a “battle.” But he cited the tightening generic ballot and slight uptick in Trump’s approval ratings as positive signs. Democrats currently have a 7.3 point advantage in the generic ballot, according to the RealClearPolitics average, but that is down from a 13-point margin at the end of last year.
When asked in mid-September about his handling of the tax issue, the YouGov weekly poll had 70 percent of Republicans saying that they approved of his performance and 34 percent of Independents saying they approved. By early December, the numbers were worse among Independents, with only 30 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving Trump’s performance. But as the bill came closer to passage, his approval rating increased. Our Dec. 25 survey after Trump signed the bill into law, showed an uptick among Independents, and Republican support surpassing 80 percent.
A much-hyped memo that shows alleged government surveillance abuse during the 2016 campaign has been released to the public and cites testimony from a high-ranking government official who says the FBI and DOJ would not have sought surveillance warrants to spy on a member of the Trump team without the infamous, Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier.
The Arizona House kicked out Republican Rep. Don Shooter on Thursday because of a lengthy pattern of sexual misconduct, making him the first state lawmaker in the U.S. to be expelled since the #MeToo movement emerged last year. Other legislators nationwide have resigned or been stripped of their leadership posts after being accused of misconduct. But the expulsion marked a new escalation in handling such cases after a report ordered by the legislative leader of his own party showed Shooter engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment toward women.