July 2014
Squirrel enjoying the bird bath
in my backyard
The summer is moving right along, and with all of the warm weather we've been having, fire season is upon us. More on that below.

On Monday I look forward to co-hosting a town hall meeting focused on small business, with my colleagues Rep. Val Hoyle and Sen. Chris Edwards. The announcement and details are included in this newsletter. I hope to see some of you there!

In This Issue
Town hall on Monday
Port of Coos Bay and saving the rail line
Fire season
Bees: now what?
Little neighborhood library boxes
Health of Delta Ponds
Ballot measure review
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Small business Town Hall
Please join me next Monday, July 28, at 7:00 pm, at the River Road Parks & Recreation Multi-Purpose Room (1400 Lake Drive, Eugene), for a Town Hall, centered around the topic of small business.  Invitation.

I'm co-hosting this with Rep. Hoyle and Sen. Edwards. Joining us will be an excellent panel of state and local experts on small business: Ruth Miles, Small Business Advocate, Oregon Secretary of State's Office of Small Business Assistance; Jim Lindly, Director, Lane Small Business Development Center; and Shula Jaron, Executive Director of Fertilab Thinkubator. Shula will tell us about some cool new business startups in our area, and will give us an overview of what Fertilab does to help new entrepreneurs.
Port of Coos Bay, and saving a freight rail link between Coos Bay and Lane County
On the rail bridge, Coos Bay
The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay organized a fact-finding tour for legislators earlier this month. We viewed port facilities, rode on the Coos Bay Rail Line, and listened to briefings on proposed changes to the port's navigation channel, and energy initiatives such as the off shore wind farm, or floating wind turbines.

The Coos Bay Rail Link-CBR is owned by the Port of Coos Bay, and was named the nation's "2014 Short Line of the Year" by the leading railroad transportation industry trade publication, Railway Age.

I attended the tour along with several of my colleagues, including a few on the Transportation and Economic Development Committee (Representatives Caddy McKeown, Cliff Bentz, Tobias Read, Margaret Doherty, Paul Holvey, and Senators Lee Beyer and Arnie Roblan).

High rail vehicle
From the high-rail vehicles we looked at repaired and upgraded rail track, bridges and tunnels. In upgrading 134 miles of track and adding 4.5 miles of new rail, the port used local companies to mill and treat 100,000 ties and purchased ballast from Lane and Curry county quarries. Manufacturing and other jobs are returning to coastal communities since the rail line was reinstated, along with railroad jobs. I'm so glad this important economic link has been saved for Coos, Douglas, and western Lane County.
Fire season
Governor Kitzhaber declared a state of emergency last week, in response to the number of wildfires across the state. The declaration allows the Oregon National Guard to mobilize and assist the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Department of Forestry with firefighting efforts. Currently, firefighters are battling at least ten large fires, and several more fires were ignited by lightning strikes July 13-14.

The costs so far are approaching the maximum threshold for the state's large-fire insurance policy, $25 million. The Federal Emergency Managment Agency (FEMA) may reimburse the state for some costs, and Senators Merkely and Wyden are requesting additional federal help. As with last year's budget, the state general fund may need to fill in for additional costs.

For the most up-to-date wildland fire information, including maps of active fires, visit the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center website
Bees: yes, someone is doing something about it
In June, Eugene celebrated being voted America's "most bee-friendly city," due in large part to the City Council's ban on neonicotinoid pesticides on city property. I've heard from many of you how important it is to protect our pollinators and our food supply.

Then that news was dampened by the bee die-off at an apartment complex in North Eugene where neonicotinoids were sprayed on Linden trees. The Oregon Department of Agriculture launched an investigation into the incident, and suspended the pesticide license for the company involved.

Also in June, the Task Force on Pollinator Health (established during the 2014 legislative session) held its first meeting. The Task Force will study several issues related to pollinator health, and report findings to the Legislature by October 1. Meetings are open to the public; the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 31. Find more information here.

In other related news, Oregon State University's National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) recently received a $5 million grant from the EPA-which will be "used to create new mobile apps, video tutorials, and more to support the NPIC's mission of limiting the misuse of pesticides. These resources will contribute to the NPIC's growing presence that received 32 million website hits and 17,000 phone calls and emails last year alone."
Neighborhood book exchange: little library boxes
As some of you may have seen, if we are connected on Facebook, I was delighted to see neighborhood book exchange boxes on a spring trip to Portland, and started asking about availability in Eugene. Since then, the newspaper has written a story about them and several of you are letting me know about new ones springing up.

My neighbor was kind enough to build some of these boxes, and I was so pleased to present the first one to the River Road Community Organization (RRCO) at their July monthly meeting. RRCO will determine a good location to install the book exchange box.

If your neighborhood organization would like one, let me know and we'll see if we can get another one made.

The health of Delta Ponds: summer update
I've been following the restoration efforts at Delta Ponds quite closely for the last several years, and have even organized a couple of guided tours of the ponds. I recently asked Eric Wold, Natural Areas and Urban Forestry Manager for the City, for an update, and he let us know that the efforts at controlling the non-native, invasive species (Ludwigia) have been extremely successful. There is very little of it at Delta Ponds now, and they will continue to make efforts to ensure it stays that way. He also let us know that the aquatic plants currently growing at Delta Ponds are almost entirely native species: Water shield (Brasenia), Pondweed (Potamogeton) and Yellow Pond Lily (Nuphar).

The City of Eugene has done an excellent job of rehabilitating Delta Ponds, and creating an outdoor recreation site for all to enjoy.
Ballot measure review: GMOs and Open Primary
Some of you may have read about the Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR) in my previous newsletter. CIR organizes an unbiased panel of citizens with diverse political viewpoints to come together for several days to hear from experts and advocates for and against a ballot measure. After deliberation, they publish their findings in the state Voters' Guide. This year, CIR will make recommendations for two of the most contentious issues on the upcoming November ballot: Mandatory Labeling of GMOs, and the Open Primary.

GMO labeling has been gaining widespread support, and in May, a measure to ban GMO crops was approved by voters in Jackson and Josephine counties. The rest of Oregon will get to weigh-in on GMOs in November.

The Open Primary would change voting in Oregon as we know it, by providing voters one ballot with a list of primary candidates from all political parties. The top two would then advance to the general election.

Stay tuned!
IAAF World Junior Championships, and statewide TrackTown Youth League
The International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) selected Eugene as the first North American city to host the World Junior Track & Field Championships!  The last one was held in Barcelona, Spain. This is certainly a great honor for Oregon. Competitors are here from about 170 countries. The events have been taking place this week, July 22-July 27. This also marks the 6th consecutive year Hayward Field will host international and national events since hosting the 2008 Olympic Trials.

Statewide youth track meets! In conjunction with this remarkable event, the Oregon Sports Authority and TrackTown USA kicked off their inaugural season of the Run TrackTown Youth League, a series of seven track meets for youth across Oregon this summer. The top finishers will be competing in the Run TrackTown Youth League Championship meet this Saturday, July 26, at Hayward Field. This will take place as part of the festivities surrounding the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships.