HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE
GOP tax bill passes Congress
The Washington Post
The plan would permanently drop the corporate tax from 35 percent to 21 percent, while also rewriting the individual tax rules to lower rates and restructure deductions. The plan would cut taxes in 2018 for the vast majority of households, with by far the largest benefits going to the wealthy. Many of the tax breaks are set to expire at the end of 2025, leaving a large section of the middle class to pay more in taxes. But Republicans promise a future Congress will intervene to prevent that tax hike from happening.
Congress repeals ObamaCare mandate, fulfilling longtime GOP goal
“We have essentially repealed ObamaCare, and we will come up with something much better,” Trump added, saying block grants might be one approach. During a House floor speech Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) cast the mandate repeal as “finally restoring the freedom to make your own health-care choices.” “By repealing the individual mandate at the heart of ObamaCare, we are giving back the freedom and the flexibility to buy the health care that’s right for you and your family,” he said.
The Hill Interview: McConnell: 2017 a great year for GOP
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is hailing 2017 as a year of major Republican accomplishments, dismissing the unpopularity of the Republican tax bill as the influence of “left of center” press coverage. “If you look at 12 circuit judges, a new Supreme Court justice, the regulatory relief and now comprehensive tax reform for the first time in three decades, by any objective standard it’s been one heck of a good year for us,” McConnell told The Hill in an interview Tuesday.
STATE GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Audit: Oregon Department of Education’s high school graduation push leaving certain students and schools behind
“We need Oregon’s Department of Education to step up its game and assume its leadership role to make Oregon a leader in education,” Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said in a prepared statement. “Oregon students deserve a world-class education, and it’s ODE’s job to show how to get there.” The audit acknowledges that ODE would need additional money from the Legislature for some of the proposed fixes. And it notes that per-student funding for Oregon’s public schools has remained virtually flat, when adjusted for inflation, since the 1990s. That funding has not kept pace with rising education expenses, auditors wrote.
Oregon needs to do more for mobile, middle school and low-income students, audit says
Colt Gill, acting deputy superintendent for the state, told the Statesman Journal the department agrees with the recommendations overall and that some of the program recommendations had already been implemented. But he said there is more work to be done, especially concerning students of color, tribal students and English language learners. “Oregon’s high school graduation rate is absolutely unacceptable,” Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday. “The audit’s findings confirm the needs and opportunities that (Gill) and his team are pushing forward through their strategic plan.
Audit critical of ODE’s efforts to boost graduation
Auditors said the state could improve graduation rates by identifying specific groups of students who are struggling and targeting programs toward them. The education department’s plans have focused on students of color, migrants and English language learners. But auditors found that the agency could yield better results if it also tracked and used improvement tools among pupils who transfer between districts, live in low-income households, and those enrolled in middle school. “The ODE must aggressively assess and assist school districts if they are to provide the help students need to be successful in school and graduate on-time,” Richardson said.
Oregon points $18M in Volkswagen fund money at dirty diesel school buses
Portland Business Journal
Oregon environmental regulators are taking public comment on a plan to spend around $18 million in Volkswagen diesel scandal settlement money to help replace or retrofit 450 dirty school buses. That will leave 70,000 or so high-polluting diesel vehicles or engines still operating in the state, but with studies showing young people particularly vulnerable to diesel emissions, lawmakers directed the Department of Environmental Quality to tackle the lingering school bus issue first.
Tina Kotek to rally with unionizing New Seasons workers
Rep. Tina Kotek, one of the highest ranked members of Oregon’s Legislature, will throw her support behind an effort by some New Seasons workers to unionize. She is scheduled to speak at a pro-union rally Tuesday afternoon. The Portland Democrat’s appearance is the first by a politician in the debate.
Oregon State Treasurer, Tobias Read, for Oregon Saves
Video: Oregon State Treasurer, Tobias Read stopped by to tell us how Oregon Saves is helping Oregonians save for retirement.
Measure 101 leads in new poll, while first editorials urge ‘no’ vote
Portland Business Journal
“It’s still a tossup,” said Rick Lindholm, president of Lindholm Research. “It’s very early.”
Neither the “yes” nor the “no” sides have shared any poll results thus far. Lindholm, which conducted the poll independently, found Democrats were more supportive. The Lindholm poll showed that voters are less aware of the measure than they were in 2010, when two taxes measures passed. Measures 66 and 67 raised taxes on businesses and wealthy Oregonians.
Oregon officials hope to avert FamilyCare shut-down
Negotiations are “absolutely” still underway. said OHA Director Pat Allen, adding that the rates the state has offered FamilyCare have been certified as fair and objective. “We’re working as fast as we can with them together in partnership” to explore options to keep FamilyCare in the Medicaid business, he said. “It would be a shame if they shut down and that’s why we’re working so hard to avert it,” he added, but said if there is a transition, OHA wants to ensure it is “as smooth as possible.”
AMTRAK TRAIN ACCIDENT
Official: Train brake automatically activated before crash
The Associated Press
Investigators are looking into whether the Amtrak engineer whose speeding train plunged off an overpass, killing at least three people, was distracted by the presence of an employee-in-training next to him in the locomotive, a federal official said Tuesday. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators want to know whether the engineer lost “situational awareness” because of the second person in the cab.
Amtrak train was traveling faster than speed limit when it derailed
The Amtrak Cascades 501 train that derailed Monday morning near DuPont, Washington, probably was traveling more than 50 miles per hour over the posted speed limit for that stretch of track at the time of the derailment. now said ODOT Rail Safety Manager John Johnson was in DuPont assisting teams investigating the derailment. “Like everyone, we’re anxious to get the final results of the (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation so we can work with everyone involved to make sure this kind of thing never happens again,” Snow said.
NTSB: Amtrak Train Going 80 MPH In 30 MPH Zone When It Derailed
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Christine Kilduff is a state lawmaker who represents the community where the train derailed. It’s the second Amtrak train to go off the tracks in her district within the last year. She says the derailments raise real safety concerns. Kilduff said she believes the state should have more control over the trains that travel through the state. “When accidents like this happen and tragedies like this happen — there is a local impact,” she said. “We have a number of people dead. We have people who have been severely injured. We have the closure of Interstate 5.”
Guest: Tax Reform Means Your Paycheck Will Grow
Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House
After years of stagnation and division, we are firmly and finally choosing the path of growth. These ideas will pave the way for an economic renaissance, as Americans once again feel confident in their future, and the country’s too. Economic growth will not solve all our problems, but it will make our problems much easier to solve.
Moments like this come along once in a generation. This is conservative reform at its best: applying our founding principles of liberty, limited government and free markets to the most pressing challenge of the day. We are delivering relief to those who have struggled for too long under an antiquated system. And we are keeping our promise to the American people by giving them the tax cut—and tax code—they need and deserve.
Editorial: Raising graduation rates
The good news is initiatives already underway within Oregon should help improve graduation rates, including recent increases in funding for Career and Technical Education. But it’s going to require building a partnership between the Department of Education, local school districts and community members to improve graduation rates in the face of these new challenges.
Editorial: Courtney has been right to fight voting change
So far, the popular vote group has spent its money on consultants and by taking out ads that have appeared in Courtney’s district. However, they’ve failed to recruit a candidate to run against him in the May primary election, and the chairwoman of the Marion County Democratic Party says the party will support Courtney in any event. Courtney has said he’s willing to let Oregon voters decide if they wish to join the national popular vote movement. If it comes to that, voters must recognize that change is not always good, and this is a change that would not necessarily improve the current system.
Editorial: Separate PERS decision-makers from recipients
Herald and News
An Oregon legislator wants to break the link that gives public-pension beneficiaries undue potential influence over their pensions and remove the suspicion of state government that goes along with it. Good idea, and overdue. The legislator, State Rep. Ron Noble, R-McMinneville, intends to work in the 2018 Legislature on a measure to remove from the public pension system run by the state such public officials as the governor and judges, along with legislators.
Opinion: Automation doesn’t necessarily mean service jobs will disappear in Oregon
Greg Astley, Lobbyist for Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association
For every kiosk or tablet used, there will need to be someone to manufacture new ones, repair existing ones and write the software for the programs. Robots may be used to deliver towels, but someone will still need to put the towels in the robot’s “hands” and keep up the maintenance. Many of these technological solutions will still need human interaction. Customers will still want to talk with the person in charge when they have a complaint or personally pass along a compliment to the chef.
Guest: Clean Energy Jobs bill does the right thing
Daniel Nguyen is CEO and founder of Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen
We should make it easy for more Oregonians to do the right thing. Let’s prioritize our state’s transition away from polluting energy and toward embracing a cleaner, more just, more sustainable economy. Let’s pass Clean Energy Jobs.
Guest: A FamilyCare closure would devastate Oregon’s most vulnerable
Jacob Aiello, accounts manager for Hands On Medicine
To force out the only other coordinated care organization in the Portland metro area is to take away that vote for Portland’s Medicaid population. It is to pronounce with resignation that the Medicaid population does not deserve primary care services or adequate mental health services, and that the emergency room is good enough for them. Not only would that have dire economic consequences for the state and OHA, it is fundamentally contrary to the equity that is central to the Hippocratic oath.
Guest: Use tax deduction to help homeless kids
Juan Carlos Ordóñez is communications director for the Oregon Center for Public Policy
A common-sense reform of the mortgage-interest deduction would yield significant resources for Oregon to address the crisis of housing affordability. The funds would go a long way in ensuring all Oregon schoolchildren have a place to call home.
OREGONIANS IN CONGRESS
Walden: GOP tax bill provides ‘real relief’
“I believe the proposal and the changes herein will really benefit our farmers and ranchers, small business owners and the guy with a backhoe and a truck,” Walden said.
Oregon House Members Divide Along Partisan Lines On Tax Vote
Oregon Public Broadcasting
All four of the Oregon’s Democrats voted Tuesday against a measure they complain is weighed too heavily in favor of large corporations and the wealthy. Republican Rep. Greg Walden countered that a large majority of Oregonians would get a tax cut and that it would also spur business investment. “I can tell you, having met a payroll and owned a business, this is how you grow the economy,” Walden said in a telephone call with reporters.
Greg Walden defends Republican tax plan, says he protected Oregonians
“I talked to company heads not only in Oregon, but around the country that tell me they will bring that money back, they will invest it here in America,” Walden said. “I’m not going to get into naming every business I’ve talked with. But I can tell you that when you make more money available, as a former small business owner, you want to grow your business, you want to invest.”
Jeff Merkley says someone impersonated him to weigh in against net neutrality
“Turns out someone impersonated me during the … comment period – further proof of forged comments in this process,” Merkley wrote in a tweet. “We need to get to the bottom of this and demand justice for those who sought to be heard.” The comments falsely attributed to Merkley stated the FFC should repeal the net neutrality rules, which prohibited Internet service providers from slowing connection speeds, charging more for faster content delivery and blocking websites. In reality, Merkley has been an outspoken supporter of net neutrality.