The Bend Bulletin
Yes, new PERS members have a 401(k), but that isn’t all. Not only will public employees in the newest tier, Tier 3, receive a defined-contribution plan akin to a 401(k), but they also will receive a defined-benefit retirement plan. The defined-contribution component is funded by a mandatory contribution amounting to 6 percent of an employee’s earnings. This money, as in a 401(k), is invested and grows during an employee’s working life and is paid out in retirement. There’s a catch, however. For some 60 to 65 percent of Oregon’s public employees, that 6 percent contribution actually is paid by their employers — taxpayers.
“We have a simple message: When you see orange signs, barrels, cones, and barricades, slow down and watch for road construction workers,” ODOT said in a news release encouraging drivers to take their foot off the gas.
The Washington Post
“This pattern of calling the police on black people going about their business and participating in the life of our country has to stop,” he said in a statement. “From a student taking a break at Yale, to a student eating lunch at Smith College, to a child selling lemonade, to a person having a barbecue in Oakland, to an Oregon state legislator knocking on doors – the list goes on and on.” “That’s gonna be a hate crime,” Mr. Hamilton said.
OREGON GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
The two things guaranteed to be discussed during the 2019 Oregon legislative session will cap-and-trade and the state budget — at least according to the policy experts who met with East Multnomah County business leaders and elected officials Thursday afternoon, Aug. 9. Another topic expected to be debated in 2019 by Oregon politicians is a potential 60-hour cap on the work week for manufacturing businesses.
The Argus Observer
Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, will be taking two Oregon lawmakers from the other side of the state on a tour of House District 60, which he serves. This includes Malheur, Baker, Grant and Harney counties, as well as part of Lake County. Reps. Margaret Doherty, D-District 35, and Andrea Salinas, D-District 38, will be making their way from Portland and Lake Oswego, respectively, to tour Findley’s district from Monday to Wednesday.
OREGON & THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
It may be an age of apps and emails, but Oregon lawmakers say only one technology can truly keep U.S. elections safe and secure: paper. The Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act was introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, among others Democrats, in June. It would require every state to use printed ballots and conduct rigorous audits from a smaller sample after each vote. The bill would require “hand-to-eye” recounts of every vote cast if the audit finds anything fishy. That includes human error and sloppy recordkeeping — though the legislators clearly have their eyes peeled for threats of foreign interference.
Brown said in an opinion article on InStyle.com earlier this year that she supports a ban on “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” However, when asked for details about her position, Brown said she’s looking to Washington to pass the ban. “If Congress doesn’t take action, then Oregon does, it needs to,” Brown said. She would not say how long she’s willing to wait. So, if lawmakers were to pass an assault weapons sales ban in 2019 that mirrors this year’s failed initiative, would Brown sign it into law? “I’d have to review the language but probably I would, yes,” Brown said.
EDUCATION & SCHOOL SAFETY
The Bend Bulletin
When a visitor walks in the main door, the only part of the school they have access to is the front office. Anywhere beyond that is protected by a second, locked doorway. To get past that second doorway, a front office receptionist will have to buzz the visitor in. At the beginning and end of the school day, the doors will be unlocked so students can easily enter and leave.“It’s just an additional layer of security,” Bend-La Pine Schools Safety Coordinator Scott Bojanowski said of the lobbies. “It doesn’t allow unfettered access into the building by people just walking in any entrance.”
In a long-running controversy involving several current school board members, Portland Public Schools’ board voted Tuesday night to ask the state to exempt more than 7,200 high school students from new instructional hour requirements. The rule required that by 2018-19, 92 percent of district students — and at least 80 percent at each school — receive the minimum instructional hours. For grades 9-11, that’s 990 hours. For seniors, it’s 966 hours. That’s already lower than most other states. Three of the proposed exemptions to the rule target high-achieving students, such as those taking Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes; other unique instructional situations, such as college credits and apprenticeships; and most high school seniors. The fourth exemption would be for the 15 percent of district students who are in alternative education programs, such as Alliance High School or Metropolitan Learning Center.
BUSINESS & LABOR
Oregon Public Broadcasting
His PayActiv company lets workers get access to that money they’ve already earned. So at many companies now – including Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken and the country’s biggest private-sector employer Walmart — workers download an app to their phone. It’s linked to PayActiv and to the payroll system of the employer. “So let’s say they’ve already earned $900” by earning $100 a day for nine days, says Shah. But payroll is still five days away and they need the money right away. Shaw says they open the app and “they will see a number which is half of the amount they have earned that is accessible to them.”
The Bend Bulletin
Because of the federal 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there is now a larger difference between withholding calculations for federal and Oregon income tax. What’s more, Oregon depends on the federal form to determine state withholding, so taxpayers might not be holding back enough taxes to cover their state income tax liability, the department said.
The Bend Bulletin
Under two administrations, Trump’s and Obama’s, citizenship applications have piled up, creating a massive backlog. Since President Donald Trump announced his candidacy by denouncing illegal immigration and vowing to close off the southern border, there’s been a sharp spike in the number of permanent U.S. residents applying for naturalization. But application forms doubled in length during President Barack Obama’s tenure, with dozens of new questions about “good moral character,” and the Trump administration has been scrutinizing those documents more closely, advocates say. The result is a growing backlog of citizenship applications at a time when Trump’s immigration crackdown has made even permanent residents feel like they may be at risk.
DROUGHT & WILDFIRES
Drought, hot summer weather and continued draw-down for irrigation needs have Emigrant, Hyatt and Howard Prairie lakes headed toward their lowest levels since 2014, leading to recreation closures and threatening to inflict future water headaches. Emigrant and Hyatt lakes — which like Howard Prairie are actually reservoirs — are forecast to drop below 10 percent of capacity by the time the Talent Irrigation District halts its irrigation season in mid September. That’s at least two weeks earlier than a normal water year, TID Manager Jim Pendleton said.
“If we get any significant rainfall, that might push it out a week, but anything past Sept. 15 will be a gift for us,” Pendleton said.
Two massive wildfires that merged west of Grants Pass have been split into two management zones – one to protect inland towns like Merlin, Grants Pass and Cave Junction, and the other to slow the spread of the fires toward the Oregon coast.
Twitter has been famously trying to clean hate speech and abuse its accounts, dumping bots and white supremacists. One week ago, for instance, the social-media giant suspended the accounts of dozens of people affiliated with the Proud Boys. It also locked down a seemingly uncontroversial account from East Portland—@eastpdx.Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson tweeted the news out on Thursday. “It wasn’t technical—I was barred for 12 hours, but I haven’t the faintest as to what the reason could be,” emails Vega Pederson. “Too many cute pictures? East Portland bias? Your guess is as good as mine.”
Mary Kyle McCurdy, the group’s deputy director, said Metro’s report emphasizes a need for neighborhoods with services in centrally located areas, not on the region’s fringe. “No matter what we do with the urban growth boundary, the real way we address affordability for middle- and low-income people is through the existing urban growth boundary, and how we use the land within the urban growth boundary more efficiently.”
Two competing companies that handle hazardous waste are arguing over how much toxic pollution is being dumped into the Columbia River Gorge’s air by a hazardous waste operation in Eastern Oregon. One of the companies, TDX, claims that the other company, Chemical Waste Management of the Northwest Inc., is emitting more than 2 tons of mercury per year into the air from its operations in Arlington, Ore., some 50 miles east of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
One thing is clear, however: without PERS reform, public services in the state will continue to spiral downwards, in the classrooms, on the streets, in the parks, as tax dollars continue to be channeled into PERS when they could be better spent hiring more teachers and police. GOP gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler has already issued an ambitious PERS reform plan. Incumbent Gov. Kate Brown has, predictably, pooh-poohed it. Her own PERS plans amount to minor tweaks.
Oregon’s economy, the department reported, is growing faster than previously thought: In June and July, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment rose by 12,000 jobs. Employment is up 2.4 percent in the last 12 months. Brown has other advantages as well as she seeks re-election. The biggest one: She’s a Democrat in a state where Democrats holds a substantial advantage in registered voters. So, you would think, the conventional wisdom would have her hitting the campaign trail after Labor Day with a substantial lead over her Republican opponent, Knute Buehler, and the Independent Party nominee, Patrick Starnes. But that’s not what some of the early polls suggest.
More than 20 years ago, Oregonians passed an amendment to the state constitution to prevent politicians from raising revenue without support from a three-fifths supermajority, as opposed to a simple majority. The intent was to prevent either party from passing highly partisan back-room deals by razor-thin margins. This seemed like plain language to voters, but then politicians and lawyers got involved and began parsing terms and weakening the will of the people. Now, politicians in Salem are working to raise taxes by taking away important deductions — and doing it without the three-fifths supermajority that Oregon voters enacted. Measure 104 would clarify – once again – that politicians can’t raise revenue without a supermajority vote. So, in addition to raising tax rates, they also can’t eliminate tax deductions or create and increase fees and assessments without demonstrating broad support. This will ensure that balanced, bipartisan agreements are struck before struggling Oregonians are asked to pay more, particularly at a time when our state is becoming less affordable.
The La Grande Observer
Comments that Republicans are not willing to discuss issues are laughable. All legislators should follow their sworn duty to vote independently on what is good for the country, not just listen to their party leader. “Ignoring Oregonians” does not describe our representative Greg Walden or our state representative Greg Barreto. Please get informed.
Wildfires are part of nature. What’s unnatural is our increasing wildfire season. Our congressional representative, Greg Walden, has developed a recent fascination with these fires. A little over a month ago, he ran radio ads essentially declaring “Mission Accomplished” on wildfires. His solution has been to promote clearcutting and limit our public review process. But anything less than a comprehensive solution is just blowing smoke. Representative Walden blames red tape, litigation, and outside interest groups for Oregon’s fires. But the Endangered Species Act didn’t cause beetle infestation or the invasion of highly combustible grass species. Judges didn’t raise average summer temperatures. And conservation groups didn’t extend the average fire season from 30 to 60 days.