Dear Neighbors and Friends,
Constituent meetings, floor sessions, events, and committees, it is business as usual down at the state capitol for us legislators. All the while, Spring is officially upon us and as a result we are getting some decent rounds of sunshine.
Oregon Justice Resource Center
This week I had the opportunity to sit down with representatives of the Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC) to discuss their legislative agenda for the session. The OJRC works to promote civil rights and improve legal representation for communities that have often been underserved in the past. You can find more information about their efforts here.
Oregon Small Business Development Center
Jason Moon and Paul Vogel from the Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC) stopped by also. The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network provides advising, training, online courses and resources for businesses throughout our state. We had a discussion about their legislative priorities and general updates on economic activity. You can learn more about what they do here.
Baker Web Academy Virtual Schools Day
I also had the opportunity to meet with members of the Baker Web Academy on their Virtual Schools Day and go over concerns regarding online charter schools and enrollment caps. You can learn more about their programs here. Expanding access to education is something that I strongly believe in.
One of the tools available to my colleagues and I is to give a remonstrance on the floor of the Senate. A remonstrance is a protest. It is a Constitutional right of legislators that "any member of either house shall have the right to protest, and have his protest, with his reasons for dissent, entered on the journal." (Oregon Constitution, Article IV, Section 26).
You can look up other terms in our Oregon State Legislative Glossary here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/Legislative-Glossary.aspx#:~:text=Remonstrance%3A%20A%20protest.,Article%20IV%2C%20Section%2026).
This week I used my right to protest to make my colleagues aware of the Habitat Conservation Plan that the Department of Forestry has been considering. The current HCP has a very real chance of becoming reality, despite intense push-back from residents of rural Northwest Oregon. It is a 70-year plan that would cut $1.4 million dollars from law enforcement and justice in Clatsop County alone. Here is what Sheriff Matt Phillips said:
“What’s hard is we can’t make up that kind of money by cutting training or vehicles or things like that because 70% of our budget is just personnel cost. So in order to make up that kind of ground, we’ve got to cut positions.”
There are other HCP options that that are available and accomplish the goal of habitat conservation, but do not decimate our community in the process. You can view my remonstrance on the current HCP here.
With Friday’s work session deadline behind us it is business as usual in the committees I serve on. However, more deadlines are coming. I highly recommend my constituents do a deeper dive into the various committees in order to be sure they don’t miss opportunities to speak out on bills that are important to them. There are committees covering a range of topics from education and healthcare to the environment and finance. It is important to stay informed and there is really no better way to keep up with the actions of your government than to participate.
I often testify in other committees on bills that are important to our district. This week I testified in the Joint Committee on Transportation regarding HB 3382, a bipartisan, bicameral solution to a major problem concerning Oregon's deep draft ports.
Over the last few years, I think we all learned how incredibly important supply chains are. Products that we import and export don’t come in via air. They come in via ship. If we are going to maintain our competitiveness and if we are going to follow Oregon law, something must be done. Indeed, HB 3382 is intended to address this newly created and strict prohibition against new dredging subject to Goal 16 and would only apply when an expansion of a federally approved navigation channel is sought by one of the specific ports named in the proposed legislation. Any dredging that is done would be done by the Army Corp of Engineers, and would follow strict environmental regulations.
You can listen to my testimony here.
Oregon Legislative Information System
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.
Future Farmers of America Annual Convention
Last week, nearly 2,500 students gathered from around the state in Deschutes County for this year’s Future Farmers of America convention.
This year 324 FFA members were to receive the honor of receiving the Oregon FFA State Degree. Of those outstanding young members, I have the honor of sharing with you 12 from our district.
From Astoria: Asher Severson and Emily Rasmussen
From Tillamook: Dannika Goss, Emma Jenck, Logan Lancaster, Maddie Prince, Makinley Nielsen, Maylise Abrogoua, Peyton Rawe, Quincy Bravo Lopez, Trevor Leonnig, Vivian Seaholm
This is the highest degree the state association can bestow on its members. Congratulations to all!
In addition to the state degree, many of our local students earned high honors in other areas.
Asher Severson won the State Proficiency title in Wildlife Production and Management with his Supervised Agricultural Experience in gillnetting! He will move on to represent Oregon at the National Convention in the fall.
Jena Russell was selected to serve on the nomination committee to slate the final ten state officer candidates prior to the vote.
Maevri Bergerson and Sam Moss represented the Astoria chapter as delegates to vote in the new officers.
Ryan Mizee will be the 2023-2024 Oregon FFA State Secretary and was the State Winner in Dairy Production Placement Proficiency moving on to represent Oregon at Nationals in the fall.
Bridget Allen earned 1st Place Creed Speaking and is also going on to Nationals!
Peyton Rawe won 3rd Place in Prepared Public Speaking
Abby Blackburn 4th Place in Sophomore Public Speaking
Maddie Prince participated in Co-op Quiz
Vivian Seaholm won District Sheep Production Proficiency
Along with all the awards and presentations, students also attended workshops over the four days. One of those is an “Ag in the Classroom” workshop so they can present to elementary students this upcoming week. What better way to prepare these young people for life than to educate them in sharing with the younger generation.
Governor adds Malheur and Clatsop Counties to Homelessness State of Emergency
I’d like to commend Clatsop County and their emergency manager for their hard work in getting the proper information filed in a timely manner. In the approval letter from Governor Kotek it was noted that:
The criteria for counties within the Balance of State Continuum of Care to be included in the emergency order are as follows:
- The unsheltered population in 2022 must be greater than 30 households, and
- The community has declared a local state of emergency related to homelessness, and 3. At least one of the following is true:
- Unsheltered homelessness increased by 50% or more between 2017-2022;
- The rate of unsheltered homelessness in 2022 was 80% or greater.
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) reviewed the data and we have determined that Clatsop County does meet the criteria for inclusion:
- On February 23, 2023, the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners declared a local state of emergency related to homelessness;
- The number of unsheltered people in Clatsop County was 529 in 2022, which exceeds the minimum threshold of 30 households experiencing unsheltered homelessness; and
- The share of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Clatsop County is 99%, which exceeds the minimum threshold of a rate of unsheltered homelessness of 80% or greater”
On Friday she publicly announced that Clatsop along with Malheur County will be included in the homeless state of emergency. You can read the full article in the Capital Chronical here:
Astound Broadband enabled by Amazon Web Services Increases Connectivity in Tillamook County
Staying connected has become increasingly more important as time goes on. Technology, with all its benefits, is not very efficient if you can’t use it. Broadband and network issues are highly prevalent in our rural and coastal communities. It appears that recent developments may help deter such issues soon along HWY 6 which is notorious for its lack of internet availability. Astound Broadband and Amazon put out a press release recently outlining their intentions to build a new 100-mile underground fiber route along Highway 6. “We understand the need for connectivity in the Tillamook area and along Highway 6, which is why we are working with local leaders and Astound to bring this project to life over the next year,” said Blair Anderson, Director of Public Policy, AWS. “Connectivity is foundational in the 21st century and this community investment is expected to improve connectivity for local residential communities, including underserved communities, as well as businesses, schools and local government facilities.”
While this won’t directly address the issue of cell phone service gaps along HWY 6, it will be a foundation for such efforts in the future. I am looking forward to seeing improvements in connectivity in our district. This will be beneficial not only to residents along HWY 6 but it will also help our local industries and small businesses connect with consumers.
You can read the entire press release here.
I am so very happy for this project to get moving. The new Highway 6 fiber optic link funded by AWS will also benefit those who live in this more remote part of the county where internet service is often unavailable. As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, when working people and students were asked to stay home and do their work remotely, young students in rural homes were disproportionately disadvantaged.
An independent study conducted for the public-private Tillamook Lightwave consortium found that about one in every 27 people in our county—some 1,000 people in all—lack access to wired internet service. Tillamook Lightwave’s recent broadband study found that three-quarters of survey respondents said their internet service did not meet student needs or did so in only a limited way during the pandemic; only one quarter of respondents who worked from home said their internet service was adequate.
Read my full opinion submission here.
This last Friday was the first deadline for bills to make it passed in order to have a chance at making it through the legislature. Bills assigned to policy committees (such as Education or Housing) had to have a Work Session scheduled by then, otherwise they couldn’t be considered going forward. I’m happy to report that all of the bills that I am chief sponsoring, with the exception of one, are moving forward. That’s a big achievement for me, my team and for Oregonians who will benefit. Some of these bills include:
SB 2 - Creates Oregon personal income tax subtraction for amounts received for renting out room in taxpayer's home. Applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2024, and before January 1, 2030.
SB 127 - Increases exempt amount and filing threshold for purposes of corporate activity tax. Applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2024.
SB 406 - Requires certain cities in Tillamook County to allow middle housing on residentially zoned lands, to adopt housing production strategies and to accommodate estimated housing needs upon lands inventoried as buildable lands.
SB 535 - Creates refundable income tax credit for certain child care workers. Provides for child care worker to elect to deposit refund attributable to credit in Oregon Retirement Savings Plan. Provides for credit to be claimed on personal income tax return for 2024 tax year.
SB 996 - Requires Department of Transportation to conduct review of specified portion of U.S. Highway 30 and present report to Joint Committee on Transportation no later than September 15, 2024.
HB 3037 - Directs Oregon State University Extension Service to collaborate with Department of Education for purpose of identifying and collecting student data relevant for maintenance of outdoor school programs.
HB 3584 - Directs schools or school districts to provide electronic communication to parents and guardians of students attending, and to school district employees employed at, school at which safety threat action occurred.
OCID Webinar Series Invitation - The Oregon Child Integrated Dataset
The Oregon Child Integrated Dataset (OCID) is a nonpartisan and objective data resource for the state’s policymakers and community leaders to have access to the best available data to improve the well-being of all Oregon’s children and families. OCID brings together data from separate public programs and services from 5 state agencies. Their goal is providing an Oregon-specific, cross-program view across childhood, from birth through high school.
Here are a few key findings from OCID’s analysis of the class of 2020:
- More than 11,000 students (36%) changed schools at least once midyear.
- The 4-year graduation rate for students who ever experienced a midyear school transition was nearly 30 points lower than it was for their peers without a midyear transition.
- Many of the students who experienced a midyear transition interacted with other public programs, highlighting potential opportunities to provide support or intervene earlier.
If you find yourself with some time and want to dig into the project further, be sure to visit their website here.
Well-being Grant Deadline Extended for Long Term Care
In support of the RN Well-Being Project, the Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN) has extended a $50,000 grant opportunity for up to 10 long-term care organizations. These Funds must be used to reduce or remove workplace stressors or challenges impacting the organization’s nurse(s) and nurse support staff well-being.
The goal of the project is to ensure all potential applicants can apply for the program and receive the support they need. The modified application eliminates the need for applicants to have grant writing experience. Those new to the field are encouraged to apply! The application cycle is available here and will remain available until April 28, 2023. The application can be found here.
If you are still unsure about your options or just would like to learn more about the program, a technical assistance zoom call will be hosted on March 22 at 9am. Make sure to join the call to learn more information about applying here.
Oregon Secretary of State Audit Report
Often, the biggest complaint by constituents is that they don’t know what is going on and therefore don’t know how to participate. One of the best ways you can keep up is by watching my weekly update interview with my Legislative Director Adam Schwend. We talk about the week’s events. I make sure it gets posted on all my social media platforms or you can skip the video and just listen to it on SoundCloud
The Oregon Secretary of State audit report was recently released for the fiscal year ended on June 30th, 2022. This report goes over various aspects of the Oregon Economy from inflation, interest rates and recession concerns to major initiatives such as attempts to resolve housing instability issues and wildfire mitigation.
According to the report “the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) has identified four main avenues for growth that are important to continue to monitor: the state's dynamic labor supply, the state's industrial structure, productivity, and the current number of start-ups, or new businesses formed.”
You can read the full report for yourself here.
Often, the biggest complaint by constituents is that they don’t know what is going on and therefore don’t know how to participate. One of the best ways you can keep up is by watching my weekly update interview with my Legislative Director Adam Schwend. We spend about an hour going over the last week’s events and chatting about the upcoming bills. I make sure it gets posted for your viewing on all my social media platforms or you can skip the video and just listen to it on SoundCloud.
Don’t forget to follow me on my social media pages! That is one of the best ways to keep up with what I am up to. I post regular updates and commentary about local and statewide issues. Below you will find several links, feel free to follow me on whichever platform you prefer.
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!