GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Jennifer Williamson, the Democratic majority leader of the Oregon House for the past four years, announced on Tuesday that she would not seek reelection to that posting, hinting at the same time that she may seek statewide office. Williamson announced the move on Twitter after informing her caucus members, saying she was proud of their “big progressive victories” over her four years in the position. “We’ve made our communities safer, invested in our kids, put more money in the pockets of working people and fought hard to protect our environment,” she said. Williamson added that she hoped to serve “the entire state of Oregon” in another capacity.
Two members of a quickly rising political activist community of loggers have been invited to the White House for an afternoon talk on environmental policy by President Donald Trump. Timber Unity, a group comprised mostly of loggers but also truckers, farmers and other Oregonians opposed to a carbon-regulating program being proposed by Oregon lawmakers, posted the invitation on their Facebook page Tuesday night. Within an hour the post had been shared more than 1,000 times. The Facebook page for the group first posted June 21, and already has more than 47,000 members. It was the chief organizer of a large rally at the Capitol on Thursday, protesting House Bill 2020 which died at the end of the legislative session.
After the final gavels dropped Sunday on the Oregon Legislature, Democratic lawmakers left the Capitol having secured most of their top policy priorities — with one notable exception — delivering on the mandate they received when voters handed them a supermajority in November. But those victories were overshadowed by what it took to get there. Bookended by concerns about safety in the Capitol and packed in the middle with partisan squabbling that exploded into a pair of Senate Republican walkouts, 2019 was one of the most contentious sessions in recent history. There is concern among legislative leaders it could get worse.
Kathryn Schulz is at it again: scaring the you-know-what out of Oregonians. You surely remember the last time The New Yorker staffer wrote about the Beaver State: The Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 article “The Really Big One.” The piece laid out in shocking detail what will happen to Oregon when the inevitable massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake hits. The key quote from one of her expert sources: “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.” Well, now comes Schulz’s sequel: this week’s “Oregon’s Tsunami Risk: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” The new article was prompted by passage of HB 3309, an Oregon law that once again allows constructing “new public facilities” in the state’s tsunami-inundation zone.
Just before adjourning this week, Oregon lawmakers approved a hefty $10 million for a potential new private college dedicated to teaching mental health professionals and other healthcare workers in Roseburg. The goal is to create jobs and train healthcare professionals in rural Oregon, a region with an acute need for such professionals, said Wayne Patterson, executive director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership.
Oregon’s Farm-to-School and School Garden Network is poised to expand after state lawmakers approved a bill tripling the program’s budget. House Bill 2579 passed June 29 as Senate Republicans returned to work from a nine-day walkout in opposition to a controversial carbon pricing scheme known as cap and trade. The senators rushed to vote on numerous bills over two days in order for the Legislature to adjourn by June 30. That included HB 2579, which cleared both the House and Senate unanimously.
A clash with demonstrators Saturday left conservative writer Andy Ngo with a brain hemorrhage, he wrote in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. Ngo — who described himself as a gay journalist of color — said he could have up to six months of memory loss from the hemorrhage, after he was beaten at an event for antifa, a left-leaning militant group. He said he also suffered a ripped earlobe. He described being punched and kicked by about a dozen people dressed all in black, which he said was typical clothing for members of antifa.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is urging Nike to reverse its decision to cancel production of shoes featuring the Betsy Ross flag and has promised that if the company does so, he will make the first order. McConnell weighed in on the controversy over the Fourth-of-July-themed shoes at an event celebrating hemp in Lexington, Kentucky. “If we’re in a political environment where the American flag has become controversial to Americans, I think we’ve got a problem,” McConnell told reporters, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Albany Democrat Herald
Close to 100 people gathered outside the Benton County Courthouse in downtown Corvallis over the lunch hour Tuesday to protest the treatment of migrant children being held in federal detention camps along the U.S.-Mexican border. The protesters briefly blocked traffic on Northwest Fourth Street and added fuel to rumors of immigration raids in the mid-valley that could not be substantiated. The local demonstration was one of numerous protests around the country organized by a coalition of progressive groups to call attention to conditions in the camps, which have been described by activists and Democrats in Congress as inhumane, unsanitary and unsafe.
The Register Guard
Recent smoky summers in the southern Willamette Valley due to wildfires have increased public interest in more specific air quality information. Eugene, Springfield and other Lane County residents want to quickly check the air where they live and work and in areas their children play. So, the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency has invested in a growing network of small air sensors. “We want more information,” said LRAPA spokeswoman Jo Niehaus, “and it’s the accessibility of the information.”