Letters: State senator fails to convince; yes on Measure 101
In regards to the Dec. 13 Community Soapbox, State Sen. Alan Olsen fails in his posturing that he protects the state from being taxed into oblivion and that he's an environmentalist.
Going fishing doesn't make you an environmentalist, and opposing the adoption of electronic cars doesn't help. Insofar as saving the state from being taxed into oblivion, Olsen is simply babbling the Republican line, which roughly translated is, "Blah-blah-blah-far-less-tax-for-1-percent-is good — blah-blah-blah."
From the last sentence of his column, supposedly a rebuttal of the OLCV revealing that he's not an environmentalist, Sen. Olsen writes clearly, "My job is to protect Oregonians from the zealots who would tax Oregonians into oblivion." Not working for the future, not in new ideas to maintain the present, and no words about Oregon's heritage. And nothing about the environment (but hey, he goes fishing).
Alan Olsen has no real concern for the future of Oregon, our citizens or much of anything else other than his fealty to his GOP overlord.
Sen. Olsen's claims do not match his record
I was surprised to see State Sen. Alan Olsen's op-ed response, and even more so to learn he has "always supported a strong and vibrant environment." He talks about how as an avid fisherman, he especially wants to protect clean air and pristine streams. While I am glad to hear him talk this way, as his constituent, I have been disappointed that his voting record does not match his recent environmental claims.
Earlier this year, he voted against protecting Oregon's rivers and streams from harmful suction dredge mining, putting him in opposition to a broad coalition that included both recreational and commercial fishing. He also chose not to support our state's Clean Fuels Program, a smart program that reduces pollution from cars and trucks. Sen. Olsen also opposed the bipartisan solution passed this year to keep Oregon's first state forest — the Elliott State Forest — in public hands. If it had come down to his vote, this iconic piece of Oregon's heritage would be in the hands of a private timber company right now.
Regardless of whether Sen. Olsen wants clean air and pristine streams, his voting record demonstrates he is unwilling to stand up for the environment. He may claim to support pro-environment regulations, but the reality is he supports President Trump and the interests of Big Oil, which have donated over $20,000 to Olsen's campaigns. It's no wonder Sen. Olsen supports President Trump, since both Sen. Olsen and President Trump are climate-change deniers who reject even the most basic facts.
Despite his voting record, he's welcome to join us now. It's easy. Step one is to reject the interests of Big Oil and start voting in favor of legislation that puts the environment and everyday Oregonians first. He can start with the Clean Energy Jobs bill being introduced in 2018.
Once Sen. Olsen sets aside the talking points manufactured by Big Oil, he will see the reality is that the Clean Energy Jobs bill is all about opportunity for Oregonians. The state's biggest polluters would be held accountable while Oregon would continue leading in the clean energy economy. Should any increases in rates for consumers occur, they will be offset by bill credits that will go directly toward helping, in Sen. Olsen's words, the "lower income families, seniors and minorities," which he purports to be worried about.
Those of us who, like me, are true environmentalists, would love to be able to count on Sen. Olsen as an ally in the legislature. But until he starts supporting smart environmental legislation, he will remain another climate-change denier who is determined to give away our environment and our future to big corporations wanting to make a buck.
Yes on Measure 101
Opponents of Measure 101 claim falsely that Measure 101 is a sales tax.
However, the ballot title states: "Approves temporary assessments to fund health care for low-income individuals and families, and to stabilize health insurance premiums. Temporary assessments on insurance companies, some hospitals, and other providers of insurance or health care coverage. Insurers may not increase rates on health insurance premiums by more than 1.5 percent as a result of these assessments."
If Measure 101 fails, Oregon will lose about $5 billion in matching federal funds that would have been devoted to Medicaid and hundreds of thousands of Oregonians will lose their health care. Past experience shows clearly that uninsured patients are forced into expensive and inefficient emergency room care, the costs of which, as well as their hospital costs, are passed on to those of us who still have insurance. This would lead to annual premium increases far in excess of 1.5 percent. Hence failure of Measure 101 would inevitably cost all of us far more than the 1.5 percent premium increase and would deprive thousands of Oregonians, especially our children, the health care they need. Vote smart, vote yes for 101.