Dear Neighbors and Friends,
It is officially March and that means that we are a quarter of the way through the 82nd legislative session. Things are starting to ramp up with committee meetings and floor sessions lasting longer. The amount of bills being worked on by us Senators and Representatives is growing exponentially. I have been working hard to ensure that our rural communities aren’t being left behind in the flurry.
Even more snow!
Despite a good portion of the valley thawing out and returning to normal this week, it appears that the snow wasn’t quite finished with the Capitol. A thorough covering of snow and slush fell upon the area between Keizer and Albany earlier in the week causing traffic congestion and multiple cars to slide off the roads. I found myself traveling at only 45 mph through certain portions of I-5 on my way into the Capitol. Interestingly enough, the snow thawed around midday only to fall again shortly before I was set to depart making for another slow drive.
The snow was heavy enough to bring down a street light outside my office window!
Construction continues at the capitol even when the weather isn’t optimal. Certain portions of the Capitol remain closed off to the public and legislators alike as a result. I am looking forward to seeing the project completed and being able to visit those portions as my ability to explore the Capitol as a legislator has been in large part limited by the construction and Covid-19 restrictions from the previous years.
One of the ways I stay informed of issues in our district is by meeting with constituents from our local communities. These folks are often everyday citizens or small businesses owners concerned with the legislation that gets passed in the Capitol. The impacts of legislation are felt throughout the state, and it is important that those affected make their voices heard. Each week, I have over 20 meetings with constituents, or as much as my schedule permits. I appreciate getting the opportunity to listen to the concerns of my constituents directly.
Floor Sessions are lasting longer than they have in previous weeks. As we get further into the 82nd legislative session I expect to be seeing the Senate Chamber much more frequently and for much longer durations. Remonstrances, or presentations of grievances, appear to be increasing in number and length as legislators are becoming more vocal about their concerns with various pieces of legislation.
Courtesies are also increasing in duration as positive things are occurring in our state as well. I had the opportunity to give courtesies last week to the annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria that brought nearly 1700 fans of fisherpoetry to visit their little port town. This event wouldn’t be possible without the 100 participating fisherpoets and the 50 volunteers that make it happen each year. Giving courtesy on the senate floor is just one small way I can show my appreciation for their efforts.
I highly recommend my constituents to watch some of these floor sessions, especially if they would like to be up to date with legislation that passes in Salem.
This week we covered another diverse range of important topics in the various committees that I am a part of. Committees are an important part of the legislative process. It gives citizens, organizations and businesses the opportunity to weigh in on important issues that are being addressed with legislation. Without their input, legislators like myself would be likely less equipped to work on issues of importance to our state and to our constituents.
In the Education Committee we discussed important legislation such as Senate Bill 183, which Establishes a Purple Star School Program within the Department of Education. This would ensure that our military-connected students have access to resources and support when navigating their unique education experience.
In this week’s Human Services committee meetings we held several work sessions and public hearings about bills covering topics ranging from closed-captioning requirements in public spaces to various proposals for reporting requirements for the Department of Human Services.
And finally, we continued covering matters related to funding for the Department of Early Learning and Care in this week’s Subcommittee on Education.
As always, I encourage all my constituents to follow your legislature and to be informed of what goes on every day. You can watch committee hearings and floor proceedings. You can track bills and be notified when they are up for a hearing. I encourage you to visit www.olis.oregonlegislature.gov and spend some time getting to know it. I have attached links that bring you directly to the tutorial video’s on each of the “How To” lines below.
- How to find a committee agenda on OLIS
- How to sign up to testify on a bill
- How to submit written testimony on a bill
- How to join a Microsoft Teams meeting and functions within Microsoft Teams
The Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) recently released Implementation Plans are a clear indication that the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for State Forests is turning out to be a bad deal for Oregon.
I am hearing from people throughout the district. Schools, colleges, teachers, public safety officials, mill workers, loggers, healthcare providers, business associations, restaurant owners – all are chiming in. They’re deeply concerned about the impact harvest reductions under the proposed HCP will have on their communities. As a former teacher and mayor in Tillamook County, I share those concerns.
The Astoria district alone will see harvests reduced from 73 million board feet (MMBF) to 48-52 MMBF a year. The Forest Grove district harvest levels drop from 61 MMBF to 43-47 MMBF annually. This represents a 30-34 percent decrease in revenue and economic opportunity for our communities. In Clatsop County, the Sheriff’s office is facing an annual budget decrease of about $1.4 million under this HCP, which will likely result in the loss of a dozen employees and 24-hour coverage in local communities. The counties and the taxing districts know that demand for public services will only increase in the coming years and that timber dollars will be needed more than ever.
The people who live and work in our district also know very well that the problem with this HCP isn’t just the detrimental impact to ODF timber revenues and county distributions. Schools that receive timber dollars also have students who are supported by parents and family members who work in the forest sector. ODF timber harvests support working families. State Forests provide a source of logs that are prohibited from export, which means they are critical to maintaining sawmill infrastructure. ODF timber harvests support our local wood manufacturing sector. Businesses from equipment outfitters to coffee shops know many of their customers work in the woods and in the mills. ODF timber harvests support our small businesses. We only have to look to our neighbors in Southern Oregon who are still reeling from the shutdown of harvests on federal forests 30 years ago to see what hardships lay ahead for us if this plan moves forward as is.
I have no doubt that ODF staff have toiled long and faithfully on this HCP. But they have the facts now. This is not the plan that was proposed two years ago.
I have urged the Board to direct ODF staff to take what they have learned and assemble an amended HCP that increases harvest levels to the original target range of 250 MMBF annually. Have them examine various scenarios and harvest levels and resubmit these amended plans to the agencies for analysis. Give us some options. Give all Oregonians a chance for a more balanced plan. Current and future generations of Oregonians shouldn’t get stuck with a bad plan just because the agency didn’t have the foresight to examine a full range of options when it had the chance.
JEWELL Ore. (KPTV) – School leaders in rural northwest Oregon are worried about big budget cuts. The Oregon Department of Forestry is working on a plan to protect habitats for endangered species across 640,000 acres of state forest. The loss of timber revenue will affect local schools. See KPTV news story here:
Small Business Matters
The Office of Small Business Assistance is going to be at two public events in our district soon!
Please share this information with your friends and neighbors.
Connect 2 Oregon – Astoria
3/8/2023, 7:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Clatsop Community College – Columbia Hall Room 219
1651 Lexington Avenue, Astoria, OR 97103
Connect 2 Oregon – Tillamook
3/9/2023, 7:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Tillamook Bay Community College – Main Campus Building
4301 Third St, Tillamook, OR 97141
The statewide ombudsman for Oregon’s small businesses. Businesses and nonprofits with 100 or fewer employees turn to us when they need help interacting with state and local government agencies. OSBA works collaboratively with small businesses, government agencies, and technical assistance providers to make navigating state and local government easier.
Although it’s short notice, they hope to engage with our district constituents and let you all know that there’s free and confidential support for their small businesses. You can view the OSBA’s latest report on small businesses at https://www.oregon.gov/smallbusiness/Documents/2022-small-business-annual-report.pdf.
Oregon Coast Aquarium‘s New And Very Rare Crustacean
While “Sour Cream” is missing his pincers, there is a chance he could regrow them if he were to molt.
To cool for Dinner! A rare all white Dungeness crab was caught off our coast. Spared from the dinner plate he was donated to the Seaside Aquarium, and is going by the name Sour Cream. Stop in at the Seaside Aquarium and check him out. http://www.seasideaquarium.com/
Read the full article here: White Dungeness crab caught near Seaside is a 1 in 2 million find
From the District
This week on From The District we discuss a wide range of issues:
- Capital construction request from all over our district
- The invasive green crab and collaborating with my colleague to the north to tackle issues we have in common.
- The bills that I support, as well as those I am opposed to.
- The Governor installing a 300K natural gas generator while some legislators seek to ban new natural gas lines.
Please have a listen to catch up on all these things and more.
If you prefer, you can also listen to the audio on SoundCloud!
Bills of Note
HB 2305 is up for a work session (meaning a vote will be taken) in House Committee on Emergency Management, General Government and Veterans. It would exempt pay to Oregon National Guard members from Oregon income tax while they are being deployed. Our National Guard members give a lot, and they get very little in return. With Oregon having one of the highest income taxes in the nation, what little they do get is diminished quickly. While it isn’t nearly enough compared to what they are sacrificing, my hope is that this bill will give a net salary bump to Guardsmen and women who are putting themselves in harms way for us. I’m proud to be a sponsor of this legislation.
It boggles my mind that we even need legislation for this, but HB 2638 would require school districts to ensure that school buildings have proper heating, cooling and ventilation. The state requires schools to do a lot of things. Too many things. Unfortunately, that means some things fall by the wayside. When the legislature has to pass a bill to mandate schools are properly heated and ventilated, we’ve got a real problem. It’s time to take stock of what the state is requiring of school districts. Students should be kept safe and physically comfortable when they are at school. If we are mandating schools do things beyond that and educating students, and those other requirements are distracting districts from the basics, we need to begin to reconsider some of the superfluous requirements. If you’d like to submit testimony for the record for HB 2638, you have until March 7 at 3 p.m. to do so.
SB 649 creates the new crime (not something we often celebrate, but sometimes necessary) of “controlled substance homicide”. If dealer sells drugs to a person, and that person overdoses on them, that dealer can be charged with controlled substance homicide. Since it has prove difficult to secure murder convictions (or even charges) for drug dealers whose wares kill our community members, this new law would be specifically aimed at dealers. This is, unfortunately, what we need to do in the aftermath of Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of hard drugs. The state has failed us in providing the assistance they promised, so now it is time for the legislature to act. Unfortunately SB 649 has not been scheduled for a public hearing, and the deadline is fast approaching. Please consider contacting Senator Floyd Prozanski and asking him to schedule a public hearing and work session in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Infrastructure has been a huge part of my work in Salem since I got here. While the metropolitan areas of our state have social spending programs and pet projects, we often are just fighting to have our basic infrastructure maintained and built out. Our highways, especially, are in desperate need of repair and safety upgrades. That’s why I introduced SB 996. Highway 30 is a major arterial from the metro area to Astoria, and it has also been the scene of far too many deadly accidents in recent years. SB 996 would direct ODOT to study the highway and present solutions to the deficiencies that it finds. Now, I’m not usually a huge fan of study bills unless those studies are meant to lead to action. SB 996 is absolutely meant for action. Once we have a list of the highway’s deficiencies and proposed solutions, we can begin the process of making repairs and upgrades to make it more resilient and more safe for residents and visitors. SB 996 is currently in the Joint Committee on Transportation. Please consider reaching out to Senator Chris Gorsek and Representative Susan McClain and asking them to schedule a public hearing and work session for SB 996
A quick reminder that you can always send your feedback on bills, even when a hearing is not scheduled, or the deadline is passed by simply sending an email to members of the committee to which a bill has been referred. While this sort of input would not be on the public record, it is still useful and still makes a difference.
Health regulators announced Friday that the mask requirement for workers, patients and visitors to health care settings such as hospitals, dentist’s offices, urgent care centers and school nurses offices, will expire April 3. Oregon will lift mask mandate in early April for health care settings – OPB
What is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is any asset being held by a business, nonprofit, or government entity for which the owner cannot be found. When there is no owner-generated activity, property must be reported and remitted to Treasury, generally within 1 to 3 years.
- Intangible: uncashed checks, bank accounts, securities, refunds and overpayments, etc.
- Tangible: safety deposit box contents (banks, hospitals, law offices, etc.) and military medals and insignia
How it Works
- Holders (an entity that is holding unclaimed funds on behalf of others) report annually by November 1 People can search and file a claim 24 hours a day at unclaimed.oregon.gov
- Staff verify connection to funds and pay claims
- Some claims are auto-approved through a system-run data match
- Consumer protection: the funds belong to owners forever
- Centralized place to search for assets and claim them
- Public benefit: funds are held in trust and transferred to the Common School Fund every year. Treasury invests the funds, and interest earnings are distributed to Oregon’s school districts at the direction of the Land Board
Follow this link to find out if you have any unclaimed property:
We are here for YOU!!
As per usual our floor schedule is beyond our control. But we will make time for you. Please email or call and my staff will get you on my calendar. My staff and I are here to help you! If you have a problem, question or comment, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
I do ask you to PLEASE include your phone number and your address. This allows me to call you to follow up or ask any questions I might have. Your address lets me know that you’re a constituent. I get thousands of emails every week, but I always make sure that constituents get top priority. If you’d prefer, you can also call us at 503.300.4493.
If you’d like to visit me in Salem, you’re always welcome to come by! If you drop by without an appointment, I’ll do my best to meet with you, but to ensure that I don’t have any other commitments, please call or email first for an appointment. That way I can make sure to give you my undivided attention.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to be your State Senator. It truly is the honor of my life, and I look forward to being your voice in the Senate for the next four years!
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1716 District Phone: 503-300-4493
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-405, Salem, Oregon 97301