GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Oregon may be one of the bluest states in the union, but the long-term Democratic control of nearly all levels of government in this state has done little to combat what a new study from the Oregon Center for Public Policy calls “arguably the greatest challenge facing Oregon today.” Using Oregon income tax data from 2016, the most recent year available, the left-leaning think tank examined the gap between the state’s highest income earners—the top one percent and the top one-tenth of one percent—and average Oregonians.
After four-and-a-half hours of discussion and testimony from parents, community members and students, the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board voted unanimously Feb. 25 to adopt the Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education Plan. The commons area at Meridian Creek Middle School was full of emotion as students and parents shared stories of bullying, harassment and sexual assault to demonstrate their support or opposition of the plan. The effort has been in the works for the past two years, since the state adopted new health and wellness curriculum standards in 2016.
New research shows Douglas fir trees produce more flying embers that can spark new fires compared to Ponderosa pines — bad news for Southern Oregon forests that are losing their pines. Airborne embers can travel more than a mile, jumping wildfire containment lines, highways and rivers to start new spot fires among trees and homes. Most past research has focused on how those embers travel and ignite various types of flammable material, according to Oregon State University scientists. In the new study, OSU scientists looked at the trees that are producing embers.
Last week’s settlement of sexual harassment complaints against the Oregon Legislature won’t magically fix the culture in the Capitol. Some of the same people named in a state Bureau of Labor and Industries investigation as acting inappropriately remain in the building. And even the pain of a $1.1 million payout to nine women won’t necessarily bring the pressure needed for wholesale culture change. After all, it’s taxpayers’ money, not legislators’, at stake.
For the first time in Oregon’s history, women have been voted into a majority of our statewide elected offices. Let’s take a moment to pause and celebrate this historic milestone. We celebrate because women holding more leadership positions across our state means fresh voices and experiences are being brought to the table. Now more than ever, leadership in our state is reflective of Oregon’s people — and that’s a really good thing.
In today’s polarized political climate, the actions and motives of our elected leaders are too often challenged solely on the basis of their partisan label. Charges of partisan bias can be especially problematic for secretaries of state, who are directly elected in a partisan contest in Oregon (and 34 other states) to serve as the chief elections officer.
Gov. Kate Brown wants to give schools an additional $2 billion, but, as things now stand, she and lawmakers must find a new pot of money to fund her dream. Now an alliance of businesses (Nike, a real estate developer and the Oregon Health Care Association) and public employee unions have joined forces to push for a tax. The one they like best is a gross receipts tax on business. It differs in some respects from the similar proposal in Measure 97, which Oregonians defeated by nearly 20 percentage points in November 2016. There are still big problems with the idea.