STATE GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, said he plans to decline an invitation to join the work groups.
“I don’t want to be brought along as window dressing for an outcome already determined by the Democrats,” Bentz said. He said discussions should center on whether “cap and invest” is right for Oregon. State lawmakers have yet to assess how much existing policies have already reduced CO2, Bentz said. “In its place in the world, has Oregon done its part or not?” he said. “Those are justifiable questions to ask because we are a small state.”
Deciding whether to adopt “cap and invest” should wait until 2019, when the Legislature will have a session of more than five months, Mann said. The session in 2018 lasts only 35 days.
“We are talking about an extremely complicated issue, and a 35-day session we do not think that is appropriate,” Mann said. Opponents also say costs of the program would eventually trickle down to consumers. “We would have a lot of concerns about the way the program is presented so far because the individuals affected by this are in rural and low-income communities who already have taken the brunt of policy changes recently and in the last several decades,” Mann said.
After the August meeting of the task force, Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, wrote an opinion essay for the Eugene Register-Guard saying Brown had failed to lead on reforms.
Richardson said representatives of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity bought the list Sept. 8. The commission had requested the information in June, when commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach sent a letter to states asking for detailed information about voters, some of it personal and outside what most states usually provide.
Oregon’s campaign finance law was built around a trade off. Any donor — whether in-state, out-of-state, special interest or corporate — can give unlimited amounts of cash to any state candidate as long as there is complete transparency. This keeps citizens informed and candidates aware their actions are public. But there’s a hole in the system.
“Where Oregon is in a better position than a lot of states that use HealthCare.gov is that we do have funding here at the state level,” said Elizabeth Cronen, communications and legislative manager for Oregon’s Health Insurance Marketplace, the state agency in charge of ACA outreach. “We have both the funding and the framework to do our own outreach and education to consumers.” The funding in Oregon comes from a $6 per-member, per-month fee on health insurers for every medical policy sold via HealthCare.gov and 57 cents for every dental policy. That’s expected to amount to $9.25 million this year.
But by making those compromises, lawmakers left the state without enough money to pay for all essential road and bridge upgrades, said Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, a co-author of the bill. Without tolling, the carefully-balanced funding plan goes awry. “If we don’t have tolling we will not have the money to replace these essential structures,” he said.
“We said please open the door to negotiation. What she’s done is slam it shut. She needs to be asked: Where’s the money?” Bentz said. “Maybe she has some funding in her back pocket she hasn’t told us about,” he said. “We’ve heard a lot about an infrastructure package. Maybe there’s a big pile of money on its way to Oregon, but I haven’t heard of it.”
“I would certainly argue that the Newberg-Dundee bypass did exactly that,” Brown said. “In terms of full funding for the entire project, I haven’t seen the full numbers, but I think what it says is a commitment to the state to keep this project moving forward and to see it through completion.”
“This is a monster data breach,” Rosenblum said on Saturday. “All of the personal information accessed by the hackers can be used fraudulently to validate the claimed identity of someone trying to open a bank or credit account. I urge Oregonians to assume your personal information has been hacked and take extra precautions to help ensure its safety.”
Upon graduation, 68 percent of Southern Oregon University’s Class of 2016 had student debt, and that debt averaged $27,375, according to a report published in August by LendEDU.
Public officials have thrown more than 7,000 firefighters, 400 fire engines and other pieces of ground equipment, and about 40 helicopters into the fray against the forest fires besieging Western Oregon. Federal agencies alone have spent more than $200 million thus far combating the string of blazes from the Columbia River Gorge to Brookings.
“If we need to use it, we’ll just order it up,” Doug Grafe, fire protection chief for the Oregon Department of Forestry. “But the broken terrain won’t allow it.” Strong and unpredictable winds, abetted by the heat of the fires burning in both ends of the state, also make maneuvering the 747 through the mountainous regions difficult enough.
The past month has been one of the smokiest in Oregon history, but in terms of how much Oregon forest has burned, 2017 is far from being the state’s worst fire season.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Oregon Republican Congressman Greg Walden introduced a bill to Congress Friday to expedite salvage and reforestation projects in the Columbia River Gorge and other National Scenic Areas after catastrophic events like the Eagle Creek Fire. That blaze, which ignited Sept. 2, is now the nation’s top priority wildfire and is burning more than 33,000 acres in the Gorge.
The truth is more complex. With weeks left in the fire season, more than a half-million acres have burned – a little more than the yearly average over the past decade. That total, however, is far less than the devastation of 2012, when nearly 1.3 million acres burned. But the climate is changing and with that, experts warn, comes a “new normal.” The precipitous drop in air quality, a run on face masks and widespread event cancellations may become more commonplace.
“In August, as promised, we provided you with recommendations for two positions: United States Marshal for the District of Oregon and United States Attorney for the District of Oregon,” Merkley and Wyden wrote. “Unfortunately it is now apparent that you never intended to allow our longstanding process to play out. Instead, you have demonstrated that you were only interested in our input if we were willing to preapprove your preferred nominee.”
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., joined a small group of congressional Republicans who voted last week against blocking some federal funds from states and cities that don’t cooperate with immigration enforcement agents.
The Oregonian Editorial Board
Unfortunately, the proponents of the funding package can’t even stomach calling a tax a tax. If they believe the funding plan, inequities and all, is the best way to keep Medicaid going, they should make that case to the public. Disguising the truth never works as long as people hope it will.
Yet as the smoke slowly dissipates this year, we cannot let the memory of yellow haze and choking winds erase what should be very clear now to us all. Wildfires are a constant in our summers and we must do more to help our forests withstand the flames. We can’t control lightning. Or, it seems, the mistakes of adolescents with fireworks. But we can push for better management practices from the federal agency in charge of the forests that blanket a majority of our state.
Attendance trails off badly toward the end of high school, when students should instead be gathering momentum for careers by doing well in classes. More than 28 percent of juniors and seniors at Astoria High School, more than 30 percent at Warrenton High School and 40 percent at Seaside High School are chronically absent. Active intervention is needed well before the final years of K-12 schooling to make sure to minimize the underlying reasons for missing classes.
The anger many Oregonians have expressed toward the careless teenager who allegedly started the Eagle Creek inferno is understandable. But it must be matched by a commitment to make changes that will allow us to minimize the effects of future fires — whatever their cause.
There should be a buffer where federal land managers have the freedom they need to reduce fire danger and fight fires however they see fit. Walden has been working hard to fix that problem for Crooked River Ranch. Congress should take action on his bill to do that, too.
Herald and News
The rationale behind allowing small, supposedly non-threatening fires to burn is that such fires clean out the woody debris and brush that’s often, but not universally, seen as a major contributor to wildfires.
Beyond the consideration of racial and ethnic bigotry, non-unanimous verdicts make it easier for prosecutors to win convictions in Oregon than in other states. A 12-member jury that takes a poll at the beginning of deliberations and comes up 10-2 for conviction is unlikely to take the time to deliberate and persuade the two dissenters to change their minds when that isn’t necessary.
Matthew Jensen, Local 737
As the country’s political landscape has become more and more divided, the kind of leadership shown by Brown is becoming all too rare. The hyper-partisan debate in our nation’s capital certainly isn’t helping the problem. It’s honestly refreshing to see our governor bringing together business and labor leaders and politicians from both sides of the aisle to solve a problem and make things better for everyone.
Luke Ruediger, Applegate Neighborhood Network
For decades, aggressive fire suppression was an unquestioned paradigm with mounting costs to society. Fire-dependent ecosystems such as the forests of Southern Oregon were starved of fire, while at the same time our forests were being logged at an ever-quickening pace. Forests composed of large, fire-resistant trees were replaced with highly flammable plantation stands and logging slash. The effect of logging on the forests of Southern Oregon has been as pronounced as fire suppression, and the compounding effect of both logging and fire suppression has got us where we are today.
Sen. Dennis Linthicum
The overall solution is not complicated — in fact it’s simple. Let’s allow balanced human wisdom, ingenuity, and expertise a voice at the table to bring common sense and local control back to our forest management.