Daily Clips

HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE

STATE GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

 

Gresham baker discriminated against gay couple by refusing to make wedding cake, Oregon Appeals Court rules

Register-Guard

“The Kleins seek an exemption based on their sincere religious opposition to same-sex marriage,” Judge Chris Garrett wrote in the opinion. “But those with sincere religious objections to marriage between people of different races, ethnicities, or faiths could just as readily demand the same exemption.”

 

Court says Sweet Cakes must pay fine for refusing to bake wedding cake

Portland Tribune

Oregon’s Court of Appeals has upheld a decision to require the owners of a Gresham bakery to pay a lesbian couple $135,000 in damages for refusing to make them a wedding cake.

 

Oregon voters now have 6 languages available for registration

The Associated Press

Reflecting increasing diversity in Oregon, voter registration forms have been expanded to six languages, including Somali, a language from one of the nations targeted by the Trump administration’s travel ban. The Elections Division made the announcement on Twitter, using letters and characters from the six languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Somali and Russian.

 

Bottle bill expanding to include kombucha, tea, sports drinks and more

Portland Business Journal

The expansion is the result of a 2011 amendment to the first-in-the-nation bottle bill that Oregon passed in 1971. It puts the law “in line with the kinds of products that are out there today,” Jules Bailey, chief stewardship officer for the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which manages logistics for the bottle bill, said in a news release.

 

HOUSING

Despite new programs and money, county homeless tide still growing

Portland Tribune

But as winter approached, officials called attention to the lack of emergency shelter space and pushed to open new shelters, sometimes in the face of public opposition. The drive for more shelters reflects what Oregon Gov. Kate Brown described as an “unprecedented increase” in demand for such services in a Dec. 4 letter to the Oregon Legislature seeking more than $2.5 million for additional homeless family assistance in Multnomah County.  “Due to these unprecedented numbers, the family shelter system is at a breaking point,” Brown wrote to the co-chairs of the Legislature’s Interim Ways & Means Committee.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

Supporters, opponents of Oregon Measure 101 sharpen their pitches a month before health care taxes go up for vote

Register-Guard

With Voters’ Pamphlets arriving in homes this week before the Jan. 23 special election, backers of the taxes are scrambling to convince voters they’re necessary to keep vulnerable Oregonians insured.

 

Oregon ABLE Program Enrolls More than 1,000 People with Disabilities

The Lund Report

Modeled on the popular 529 college savings accounts, the program allows people with disabilities and their families to save money and receive a debit card without losing their benefits.

 

ELECTIONS

 

Richardson, county lawyers disagree on campaign filings

Portland Tribune

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has contradicted an opinion by the Multnomah County counsel, which commissioners Jules Bailey and Loretta Smith relied on to run for another office without resigning from their county seats.

 

Bend Democrat eyeing Greg Walden challenge

Portland Tribune

Jennifer ‘Jenni’ Neahring, a Bend resident who works as a physician in Salem and Portland, would be one of two women in the pool of several Democrats lining up to try to unseat the 10-term U.S. representative.

 

OPINION

 

Editorial: Sex harassment dialogue overdue

Portland Tribune

It’s now clear that for men who work in the public eye, a credible allegation of sexual harassment, backed up by solid reporting, is now enough to derail a career.

 

Editorial: A more crowded state

Register-Guard

But unless growth is managed and prepared for, it degrades all that draws new residents to Oregon in the first place, including functioning public services, an accessible and clean natural environment and a strong sense of community. Oregonians have long been divided on the question of whether growth is desirable, with one faction preferring to keep things as they are and another seeing growth as an essential alternative to economic and social stagnation. Both groups’ interests are best served by public policies that seek to accommodate new residents without sacrificing the attributes that make Oregon a desirable place to live.

 

 

Daily Clips

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

 

12 new laws to keep in mind for the new year

East Oregonian

You can pump your own gas 24 hours a day in Boardman starting in January — due to a law that will change with the new year. Thanks to one of more than 850 laws passed during the 2017 Oregon Legislature, fuel stations in counties east of Portland with fewer than 40,000 residents (including all of the counties surrounding Umatilla County but not Umatilla County itself) can allow self-service fueling 24 hours a day. A few other interesting laws to keep in mind as Jan. 1 rolls around:

 

Four laws that made an impact in 2017

Portland Tribune

Many of the hundreds of laws Oregon legislators pass each year may go largely unnoticed by the public. Several laws, however, left a palpable mark on the lives of Oregonians in 2017. The Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau has highlighted four recent laws that made an impact in the past year.

 

Oregon Democrats outline 2018 carbon pricing plan

The Oregonian

Oregon lawmakers this week released an overview of a carbon cap and pricing plan they want the Legislature to pass during the six-week session that starts in February. It’s based on a bill that Democrats introduced the day before wrapping up a longer session earlier this year. Sen. Michael Dembrow of Portland and Rep. Ken Helm of Beaverton oversaw work groups that refined the concept in recent months. The two Democrats outlined features that they say are in two drafts of the bill, one to be introduced in the House and one in the Senate. They expect to make the bills public on Jan. 8.

 

A Deeper Dive Into Oregon’s Landmark Pay Equity Law

JD Supra

Oregon’s Equal Pay Act of 2017 is arguably the most all-encompassing, and, strangely, most quietly passed employment law in the United States in 2017. It makes every other equal pay law, at the state or federal level, pale in comparison. Let’s take a closer look at how life will change for Oregon employers given this new statute.

 

Brown to ask Oregon Legislature for $5 million more to shelter homeless families

Portland Tribune

Governor Kate Brown announced Thursday she will ask the legislature to approve $5 million in new state funding to provide shelter for homeless families. The governor’s request comes on top of a record $40 million in funding for homeless services approved by the legislature in 2017.

 

Kate Brown asks for extra $5 million to shelter homeless families

The Oregonian

Gov. Kate Brown requested $5 million from the Oregon Legislature for homeless families ahead of the February short session. She announced her desire to help Multnomah County and other hard-hit areas get through the winter Thursday during a visit to the overflowing Human Solutions shelter in Southeast Portland.

 

State extends deadline for comment on proposed Cleaner Air Oregon rules

Register-Guard

Oregon air regulators have extended the deadline for public comment on proposed stricter air pollution rules. The state Department of Environmental Quality ­announced this week that it will take comment on its Cleaner Air Oregon plan ­until Jan. 22, a month past the original deadline.

 

Oregon’s Greg Walden Gains Power While Dodging Trump Criticism

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Walden has long been known as smart, even-tempered — and cautious. He is well-liked among colleagues of both parties. Now 60, he’s spent nearly three decades in the Oregon Legislature and then Congress. His father was a legislator and he’s been around politics literally since he was a kid.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

Lawmakers call for emergency special session to keep FamilyCare in business

Portland Business Journal

Oregon state Reps. Julie Parrish and Cedric Hayden are calling for an emergency special session of the legislature before the end of the year to keep FamilyCare Health in business and end its long-running dispute with the Oregon Health Authority.

 

FamilyCare: Will stay extra month in low-income Oregon Health Plan

Portland Tribune

FamilyCare, the nonprofit care organization for 115,000 Portland-area low-income Oregon Health Plan members, says it is ready to extend its contract with the state to the end of January to minimize harmful disruptions to patient care.

 

Voters to decide Medicare fate

Curry Pilot

Voters will be asked to approve a measure next month that could slightly increase their health insurance costs but keep Medicaid dollars available for a quarter of the state’s population. Voters are urged to register or ensure their voter information is updated before the Jan. 2 registration deadline so they can cast ballots in the Jan. 23 special election.

 

Gov. Brown’s new health policy adviser was key in securing $2B federal windfall

Portland Business Journal

Gov. Kate Brown appointed Tina Edlund, an Oregon health policy veteran, as senior policy adviser, the governor announced Friday. Edlund led Oregon’s negotiations with the federal government that led to $1.9 billion in grants that paved the way for the creation of the state’s coordinated care organizations to deliver Medicaid services. She also helped create the metrics by which the CCOs are measured in terms of quality and financial performance.

 

LAND MANAGEMENT

 

Here Are All The Times The Feds Have Tried And Failed To Convict The Bundys

The Daily Caller

U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial Wednesday in case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, marking the fourth time in the past two years the federal government has failed to convict a member of the Bundy family or their compatriots.

 

OPINION

Editorial: We know too little about governor’s tax, spending plans

Daily Astorian

In contrast, the 2018 Legislature is only weeks away and Oregonians know little about the governor’s and legislative leaders’ plans for genuine tax and spending reforms. We are not filled with hope.

 

Editorial: Oregonians need time to evaluate cap and invest bill

Bend Bulletin

Oregon Business & Industry, with 1,700 members around the state, noted it continues to support efforts to reduce carbon emissions. But, it said, this bill makes such a big change that it should be handled, as all major measures are supposed to be, in the next full session of the Legislature, in 2019. The group is right.

 

Editorial: A higher standard for Oregon’s police

The Oregonian Editorial Board

So far, such leadership does not seem to be coming from Gov. Kate Brown, who failed to respond to repeated requests from Brosseau and Woolington about the agency’s troubling record. Considering that the governor appoints the director and board, Brown is in prime position to insist on greater accountability by the agency — if she chooses.

 

Guest: Homeless shelter plan ignores neighborhood concerns

Addy Rutter, SE Portland resident

As a neighborhood and as a city, we deserve more from our elected officials and those in positions of power. We deserve communication. We deserve decision-makers who go beyond cheap rent and the local bus schedule to research their choices. We deserve to be involved in decisions that will directly affect us. We deserve to walk out of a meeting knowing that we have been heard rather than asking ourselves “Is this even legal?”

First Year Trump Administration Accomplishments

Jobs and the economy

  • Passage of the tax reform bill providing $5.5 billion in cuts and repealing the Obamacare mandate.
  • Increase of the GDP above 3 percent.
  • Creation of 1.7 million new jobs, cutting unemployment to 4.1 percent.
  • Saw the Dow Jones reach record highs.
  • A rebound in economic confidence to a 17-year high.
  • A new executive order to boost apprenticeships.
  • A move to boost computer sciences in Education Department programs.
  • Prioritizing women-owned businesses for some $500 million in SBA loans.

Killing job-stifling regulations

  • Signed an Executive Order demanding that two regulations be killed for every new one creates. He beat that big and cut 16 rules and regulations for every one created, saving $8.1 billion.
  • Signed 15 congressional regulatory cuts.
  • Withdrew from the Obama-era Paris Climate Agreement, ending the threat of environmental regulations.
  • Signed an Executive Order cutting the time for infrastructure permit approvals.
  • Eliminated an Obama rule on streams that Trump felt unfairly targeted the coal industry.

Fair trade

  • Made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Opened up the North American Free Trade Agreement for talks to better the deal for the U.S.
  • Worked to bring companies back to the U.S., and companies like Toyota, Mazda, Broadcom Limited, and Foxconn announced plans to open U.S. plants.
  • Worked to promote the sale of U.S products abroad.
  • Made enforcement of U.S. trade laws, especially those that involve national security, a priority.
  • Ended Obama’s deal with Cuba.

Boosting U.S. energy dominance

  • The Department of Interior, which has led the way in cutting regulations, opened plans to lease 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling.
  • Trump traveled the world to promote the sale and use of U.S. energy.
  • Expanded energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline snubbed by Obama.
  • Ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
  • EPA is reconsidering Obama rules on methane emissions.

Protecting the U.S. homeland

  • Laid out new principles for reforming immigration and announced plan to end “chain migration,” which lets one legal immigrant to bring in dozens of family members.
  • Made progress to build the border wall with Mexico.
  • Ended the Obama-era “catch and release” of illegal immigrants.
  • Boosted the arrests of illegals inside the U.S.
  • Doubled the number of counties participating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement charged with deporting illegals.
  • Removed 36 percent more criminal gang members than in fiscal 2016.
  • Started the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program.
  • Ditto for other amnesty programs like Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.
  • Cracking down on some 300 sanctuary cities that defy ICE but still get federal dollars.
  • Added some 100 new immigration judges.

Protecting communities

  • Justice announced grants of $98 million to fund 802 new cops.
  • Justice worked with Central American nations to arrest and charge 4,000 MS-13 members.
  • Homeland rounded up nearly 800 MS-13 members, an 83 percent one-year increase.
  • Signed three executive orders aimed at cracking down on international criminal organizations.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions created new National Public Safety Partnership, a cooperative initiative with cities to reduce violent crimes.

Accountability

  • Trump has nominated 73 federal judges and won his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • Ordered ethical standards including a lobbying ban.
  • Called for a comprehensive plan to reorganize the executive branch.
  • Ordered an overhaul to modernize the digital government.
  • Called for a full audit of the Pentagon and its spending.

Combatting opioids

  • First, the president declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency on opioids.
  • His Council of Economic Advisors played a role in determining that overdoses are underreported by as much as 24 percent.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services laid out a new five-point strategy to fight the crisis.
  • Justice announced it was scheduling fentanyl substances as a drug class under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Justice started a fraud crackdown, arresting more than 400.
  • The administration added $500 million to fight the crisis.
  • On National Drug Take Back Day, the Drug Enforcement Agency collected 456 tons.

Protecting life

  • In his first week, Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy that blocks some $9 billion in foreign aid being used for abortions.
  • Worked with Congress on a bill overturning an Obama regulation that blocked states from defunding abortion providers.
  • Published guidance to block Obamacare money from supporting abortion.

Helping veterans

  • Signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to allow senior officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire failing employees and establish safeguards to protect whistleblowers.
  • Signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act.
  • Signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, to provide support.
  • Signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 to authorize $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program.
  • Created a VA hotline.
  • Had the VA launch an online “Access and Quality Tool,” providing veterans with a way to access wait time and quality of care data.
  • With VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, announced three initiatives to expand access to healthcare for veterans using telehealth technology.

Promoting peace through strength

  • Directed the rebuilding of the military and ordered a new national strategy and nuclear posture review.
  • Worked to increase defense spending.
  • Empowered military leaders to “seize the initiative and win,” reducing the need for a White House sign off on every mission.
  • Directed the revival of the National Space Council to develop space war strategies.
  • Elevated U.S. Cyber Command into a major warfighting command.
  • Withdrew from the U.N. Global Compact on Migration, which Trump saw as a threat to borders.
  • Imposed a travel ban on nations that lack border and anti-terrorism security.
  • Saw ISIS lose virtually all of its territory.
  • Pushed for strong action against global outlaw North Korea and its development of nuclear weapons.
  • Announced a new Afghanistan strategy that strengthens support for U.S. forces at war with terrorism.
  • NATO increased support for the war in Afghanistan.
  • Approved a new Iran strategy plan focused on neutralizing the country’s influence in the region.
  • Ordered missile strikes against a Syrian airbase used in a chemical weapons attack.
  • Prevented subsequent chemical attacks by announcing a plan to detect them better and warned of future strikes if they were used.
  • Ordered new sanctions on the dictatorship in Venezuela.

Restoring confidence in and respect for America

  • Trump won the release of Americans held abroad, often using his personal relationships with world leaders.
  • Made good on a campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • Conducted a historic 12-day trip through Asia, winning new cooperative deals. On the trip, he attended three regional summits to promote American interests.
  • He traveled to the Middle East and Europe to build new relationships with leaders.
  • Traveled to Poland and on to German for the G-20 meeting where he pushed again for funding of women entrepreneurs.

WE WIN AGAIN!

Congress Passes Tax Cuts and Jobs Act! http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/20/historic-congress-passes-tax-cuts-jobs-act-sends-president-trump-sign/

 

TAX CUT WIN: AT&T Announces $1 Billion in Capital Spending and $1000 Bonuses for More Than 200,000 U.S. Employees: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/20/tax-cut-win-att-announces-1-billion-capital-spending-1000-bonuses-200000-u-s-employees/

 

ANOTHER TAX WIN: Boeing to Spend $300M on Workers and Charity:

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/20/another-tax-win-boeing-spend-300m-workers-charity/

 

More Tax Winning: Comcast Announces Employee Bonuses, $50 Billion in Investment: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/20/more-tax-winning-comcast-announces-employee-bonuses-50-billion-in-investment/

 

Big Banks Also Join The Tax Party with Bonuses, Raises, and Charity: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/20/big-banks-also-join-the-trumpmas-tax-party-with-bonuses-raises-and-charity/

 

7 Amazing Facts About Trump’s Economy Media Don’t Want You to Know: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/19/nolte-7-facts-trumps-economy-media-dont-want-know/

 

Cartoons

Tax Cuts: http://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2017/12/05

Demagogues: http://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2017/12/02

Turkeys: http://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2017/11/19

Californication: http://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2017/11/06

Buddies at Last: http://www.gocomics.com/michaelramirez/2017/10/23

 

BIAS MEDIA, ESTABLISHMENT REPUBLICANS, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS AND NEVER-TRUMPERS GET IT WRONG-ENJOY! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhjmOATje_U

 

Americans for Liberty PAC

A Political Action Committee for Conservatives who uphold the US Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers

Lanny Hildebrandt MBA CPA

1615 4th Street

La Grande OR  97850

(541) 963-7930

Fax (541) 963-7750

Email hilde@eoni.com

 

DAILY CLIPS

STATE GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

 

‘Cap and invest’ bill takes shape

Portland Tribune

A bill summary released Wednesday outlines changes to the proposal that address some of those concerns. “We have two competing needs: We want to reduce emissions, but we don’t want to put businesses out of business so their progress is light in the early years,” Dembrow said. “Heavy emitters that are at risk of competition from other states or countries that don’t have high standards they are going to be given allowances in early years to help them transition into the program. We want to keep it predictable and not have rate shocks.” The bill is scheduled to be drafted by Jan. 8 and released to the public that same week. Some of the highlights of the changes are:

 

More Details Emerge In Oregon’s Cap-And-Trade Climate Program

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Lawmakers envision a 21-member board made up of citizens from a wide range of backgrounds. The proposal specifies it should include someone with an expertise in climate science, tribal representatives, and business people, among others. This committee would advise a newly created Joint Legislative Committee on Climate.

The revenue generated from the program was at one time estimated to be $1.4 billion every two-year budget cycle. The latest proposal doesn’t give a specific number, but includes more insight into how the money would be spent. The first 15 percent would be dedicated to a transition fund, which would help industries affected by the new regulations.

 

Lane County nonprofit leaders say GOP tax reform could make residents less charitable

Register-Guard

Indeed, donating to charities and itemizing the deductions on tax returns is a century-old tradition in the United States. But with Congress this week approving the Republican tax overhaul package, the changes it could usher in worry Potter and others who fear nonprofit organizations and charities could be among the bill’s biggest losers. That’s because under the GOP bill, far fewer people are likely to itemize deductions. Those people, thus, would lack a tax incentive to give.

 

Dime deposit coming for coffee, sports drinks

Portland Tribune

Starting Jan. 1, consumers can expect to pay an extra 10 cents upfront whenever they glug down Gatorade, sip from glass bottles of Starbucks coffee or kibitz over kombucha. The mandate affects most containers of sealed glass, plastic or metal — including coffee, tea, kombucha, energy and sports drinks, hard cider, juice and protein drinks — reports the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. “It’s the kind of beverage that’s inside the container that’s changing,” explained OLCC Spokeswoman Christie Scott.

 

New Census Figures Show Oregon Still On Track For 6th Congressional Seat

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon continues to have a strong prospect of gaining a sixth congressional seat after the 2020 Census, according to new population estimates released Wednesday. Oregon came close to picking up another seat after the last Census in 2010. Since then, strong population growth has solidified Oregon’s chances. The new estimates show that in the last year, it was the 10th-fastest growing state in the country.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

Low-income health provider FamilyCare really closing

Portland Tribune

While a shut-down had been threatened, the nonprofit’s CEO Jeff Heatherington says he held out hope until he met with Gov. Kate Brown in a conference room in the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. But Brown and other state officials seemed intransigent. “They basically said either you sign this contract, or you go to hell,” Heatherington said. “I have never been more disappointed in government in my life.”

 

Oregon’s second largest Medicaid carrier will shut down after impasse with the state

The Oregonian

The state must now transfer more than 100,000 children and adults in the Portland area who are currently served by FamilyCare to other Medicaid administrators. Earlier Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority gave the company just over 24 hours to decide whether to accept the state’s 2018 contract proposal.

 

Greenlick Wants Oregon to Step into Void on Healthcare Improvement

The Lund Report

With the federal government in retreat, a new task force of insurers, healthcare providers and single-payer activists will debate ways Oregon can take the lead toward universal healthcare and a more equitable system of providing quality care to all Oregonians, regardless of income or employment status.

 

OSU requires vaccine amid meningococcal outbreak

Bend Bulletin

“If you are not vaccinated against this disease and you are a student on that campus, you are at risk for meningococcal infection,” said Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. “We do feel that now, because there is a break between classes, that this is the best time for students to get vaccinated.”

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

 

Multnomah County jails review report notes issues with staffing, inmate resources

The Oregonian

Multnomah County needs to increase jail staffing and workplace diversity, curtail its reliance on deputy overtime and stop reducing the number of inmate beds, according to the annual citizens review of the county’s correctional facilities.

 

MARIJUANA

 

OLCC conducts first pot decoy operation

Bend Bulletin

Retail dispensaries in Bend and La Pine passed the first-ever marijuana minor-decoy operation by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. OLCC inspectors on Tuesday checked 20 retail dispensaries in the two cities, according to an OLCC news release Wednesday. Inspectors check that retailers are complying with state laws that prohibit minors from entering the stores by attempting to send a minor volunteer inside.

 

OPINION

 

Guest column: Tax reform for Oregon’s middle class

Greg Walden, represents Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District.

These tax reforms are boosting confidence in our economy. Last month, the National Federation of Independent Business confidence index hit an all-time high. Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter, optimism among manufacturers also reached a new high. While the stock market will ebb and flow, a 5,000-point gain in the last year is both historic and welcome news to those with savings and retirement accounts, especially after the last eight years of slow growth.

Many factors affect the strength of the economy, including an available and trained workforce, international incidents and more. Congress and the president need to focus on rebuilding America’s infrastructure next.

 

Editorial: Listen to the legislative experts

East Oregonian

Their collaborative success might provide a guide for handling revenue and budget reform, which is why the summit’s organizers asked them to speak. Yet the lawmakers warned that financial reform would be far more complicated, difficult and potentially divisive than the state’s transportation package, far-reaching as it was. In contrast, the 2018 Legislature is only weeks away and Oregonians know little about the governor’s and legislative leaders’ plans for genuine tax and spending reforms. We are not filled with hope.

 

Editorial: Oregonians must demand improvement in high school graduation

Bend Bulletin

Meanwhile, parents and others who believe a high school diploma is critical in this era of declining skilled labor jobs can help; parents that can do everything they can to assure their own children finish high school. They, and non- parents, can show up at school board meetings in Bend, Redmond — around the state — and demand results, not once, but over and over again. School boards will listen if parents show up, but they must show up. Education reforms come and go. Unless parents get involved, get vocal and stay that way, the system won’t improve.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

 

What the largest tax overhaul in 30 years means for companies

Wire Reports

The impact of the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in three decades will spread far and wide starting next year, highlighted by a cut in the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, fully allowable deductions for capital expenses and lower levies on repatriating overseas profits.

Here’s how the law will most likely affect various industries:

 

DAILY CLIPS

 

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

The Hill

“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

The Hill

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

The Register-Guard

“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

Statesman Journal

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

Portland Tribune

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

The Oregonian

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

KATU

Video: Oregon State Treasurer, Tobias Read stopped by to tell us how Oregon Saves is helping Oregonians save for retirement.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

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

Portland Tribune

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

Portland Tribune

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.”

 

OPINION

 

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

Register-Guard

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

Bend Bulletin

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’

Bend Bulletin

“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

The Oregonian

“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

The Oregonian

“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.

 

 

Tax reform for Oregon’s middle class

News from Representative Walden
Pro-growth tax reform is on its way to hardworking, middle-class Americans.  And it’s about time.

The biggest percentage of tax reductions next year will go to those earning between $20,000 and $50,000 a year.  That’s according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.  An eastern Oregon family earning the median income of approximately $50,000 a year will pay about $1,300 less next year.  Over the next eight years that’s a savings of $10,400 for that family.

What does that mean across the country? A typical American family of four earning $73,000 a year, will see a 58% reduction in their federal taxes. That’s real relief.

Moreover, by nearly doubling the standard deduction, even fewer Oregonians will have to hire an accountant to search the 73,954 pages of the federal tax code only to discover darn few of the special interest loopholes apply to them.  We’re closing the loopholes and making filing your taxes as easy as filling out a postcard.

For those who choose to itemize their taxes, I worked with my colleagues to maintain provisions important to Oregonians such as preserving the ability to deduct medical expenses, and a combination of both property and state income taxes up to $10,000 — helpful in our high-tax state. For students and teachers, I also successfully fought to maintain the deductions for student loans and teaching expenses.

The IRS should have new tax withholding tables in employers’ hands before February.  Once that happens, taxpayers will begin to see more going into their pockets, and less going to the Washington, D.C. bureaucracy.

In addition to providing historic and meaningful individual tax relief to Oregon families, this measure is also designed to rekindle job growth.  Few in Congress were job creators.  My wife and I spent more than 20 years as small business owners in the Columbia Gorge.  I can tell you from first-hand experience of growing a business and meeting a payroll, passage of this Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help small businesses, family farms and ranches, and those contractors with a truck and backhoe expand and grow.

Oregon’s breweries and wineries get substantial relief from the beer and wine excise taxes thanks to Republican Senate provisions I fought to include in the final bill. These savings will our let our craft brewers and winemakers reinvest more money locally in their businesses and our communities.

Globally, we’ll finally see American-based companies bring money home and invest it here, rather than look for ways to shelter earnings overseas. America had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, resulting in lost jobs and American companies moving abroad. That all changes under this legislation.

Our plan makes the American economy more competitive, which will lead to more job growth and economic expansion. We’re finally giving American companies a better place to do business.

A spokesman for Intel, one of Oregon biggest employers, told the Oregonian newspaper that these changes “…can help level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers and make us more competitive in today’s global economy.  The bill should also spur further investment in American manufacturing and (research and development).”

These tax reforms are boosting confidence in our economy.  Last month, the National Federation of Independent Business confidence index hit an all-time high.  Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter, optimism among manufactures also reached a new high. While the stock market will ebb and flow, a 5,000-point gain in the last year is both historic and welcome news to those with savings and retirement accounts, especially after the last eight years of slow growth.

Many factors affect the strength of the economy, including an available and trained workforce, international incidents and more. Congress and the President need to focus on rebuilding America’s infrastructure next.  But after waiting 31 years for real tax reform, finally we have a law that brings tax savings to hard working Americans and makes us competitive again overseas.

It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.

Best regards,

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District


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Democrats Exclude Home School Children from Tax-Advantaged Saving Plans

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., center, is flanked by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., left rear, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as the Senate Budget Committee met to work on the Republican tax bill.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate used a last-minute procedural protest to attack homeschool families. Their petty complaint struck the short title of the tax reform bill, one provision of the endowment tax, and the extension of college savings plans to homeschool expenses.

The homeschool attack proved particularly revealing. The Republican tax bill would extend the use of 529 tax-advantaged saving plans — originally intended to foster saving for college tuition — to K-12 public and private schools, as well as homeschooling. Rather than complaining that 529s should only be for college, the Democrats struck the homeschool provision, leaving the K-12 school extension in place.

This was an attack on the families of approximately 1.5 million American children who are educated at home.

Greg Walden: Middle-class tax relief

News from Representative Walden

Click here or on the image above to view my remarks

I want to thank the nearly 2,000 Oregonians who called and wrote to me over the last month with suggestions on how we could improve the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to better fit our needs in Oregon.

The measure Congress will send to the President this week means that a hardworking family of four in eastern Oregon that earns about $50,000 a year — which is the median household income in my district — will receive a tax break of about $1,300 compared to the existing law.  Instead of a bloated federal government taking and spending your money, I want families to keep more of what they earn.  That’s $10,400 in lower federal income taxes over the next eight years for that one family.

Moreover, by nearly doubling the standard deduction, even fewer Oregonians will have to hire an accountant to search the 73,954 pages of the federal tax code only to discover darn few of the special interest loopholes apply to them.  We’re closing the loopholes and making filing your taxes as easy as filling out a postcard.

Nearly 70% of taxpayers in my district already take the standard deduction and don’t itemize.  Now, even more Oregonians can realize greater tax savings by simply taking the standard deduction, rather than itemizing.  These are the hard-working Oregonians that really could use a tax cut.

Wealthier taxpayers will get relief from the punitive alternative minimum tax, receive rate reductions in every tax bracket–like everyone else–and be able to deduct state income and property taxes up to $10,000 a year.

What does that mean across the country? A typical American family of four earning $73,000 a year, will see a 58% reduction in their federal taxes.

I listened to Oregonians who said how important the medical tax deduction is for them.  We changed the measure to actually increase the medical deduction from this year and next year for expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, and rising to 10 percent beginning in 2019.  More relief right away; continued medical deductibility going forward.

We preserved the mortgage interest deduction.  There’s NO change for existing mortgages holders, and going forward homeowners can deduct interest on mortgages up to $750,000 on first or second homes.  According to Zillow, the median home value in Oregon this year is $312,500.

When it comes to education and tax policy, I heard from many Oregon students and families about a number of provisions in the original measure. In the final version of the measure we got to a much better place by dropping the repeal of the student-loan interest deduction and dropping the taxation on graduate-school tuition waivers.

As we all know in Oregon, affordable housing is an ever-increasing problem, that’s why I opposed provisions to drop the housing tax credit and end private activity bonds.  Both of these are powerful tools used by communities across our state to help develop homes for families.  In the end, this measure preserves the low income housing tax credit and the tax-preferred status of private activity bonds.  These are big wins for Oregon.

In addition to providing historic and meaningful individual tax relief to Oregon families, this measure is also designed to rekindle job growth.  Few of us in Congress were job creators.  My wife and I spent more than 20 years as small business owners in the Columbia Gorge.  I can tell you from first-hand experience of growing a business and meeting a payroll, passage of this Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will help small businesses, family farms and ranches and those contractors with a truck and backhoe expand and grow.  I don’t need 100 economists to tell me that—even though they agree we’ll see a big economic gain.

Not only will the reduced tax rates help make more money available for wages and hiring, but also being able to fully expense the purchase of new equipment will really make a positive difference.

Globally, we’ll finally see American based companies bring money home and invest it here, rather than look for ways to shelter wealth overseas. America had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  That all changes under this legislation.  That’s why companies such as Intel now support passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  I worked closely with Intel and Nike, two of Oregon largest employers, to help get this final measure in a good place.  We got results that make a difference for them and for all of us.

Let me close by noting two other provisions in the bill.  One doubles the amount of the current exemption from the death tax.  Time and again I’ve heard from Oregon farmers and ranchers and small business owners about their fears of what would happen to their life’s work when they die.  A family shouldn’t have to sell off part of the ranch or liquidate a family business just to pay the taxman.  With an exemption of $11.2 million, that problem just went away for most.

Finally, I heard a lot from Oregon’s craft beer and wine makers about their support for a tax reform provision that reduces the federal excise tax for both beer and wine.  Given the growth and importance of both industries in Oregon, I successfully advocated for keeping the Republican Senate provision in the final package.

Like a good wine, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act got better as provisions from both houses were blended together over time.  The long and public process allowed people from across the country, and especially here at home in Oregon, to help shape and improve this historic legislation.

Today, the Washington special interest lobbyists lost, and the hard-working American taxpayers and job creators won.

To read more about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, please click here.

It is an honor to represent you in Congress.

Best regards,

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District


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