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New Year’s resolutions are a normal part of starting a new year for most people. They make goals to do better or to find new ways to finish or accomplish a task.

In 2015, as a new legislator, my first resolution was to find the best and safest route to Salem for the upcoming legislative session. Should I go south through Newberg, Dayton or McMinnville? Should I just get up and leave by 6 a.m. and use Highway 26, 217, and Interstate 5? Well, I have tried all the routes and have found the route of back roads that gets me to the capital in an hour and 20 minutes! Check!

My next task was to understand the computer systems and structure of the state offices and departments, from Transportation to Human Services. Check!

Finally, I had to be sworn in with my colleagues in the 78th Legislative Assembly. Check!

I was so happy my grandchildren and children and some extended family were able to join me in Salem for the swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 12. My 15-year-old grandson, Ryan, even wore a tie to celebrate the occasion! My 8-year-old grandson, Max, watched the oath being given and asked, “What is Grandma signing up for?” They were so excited for me. It was a big day for the whole family, and it was fun to have them all with me as I was sworn in.

Now, I am working with staff on scheduling, bill concepts and office practices to be responsive to citizens of House District 29. Reviewing the 59 pages of bills that have been introduced and assigned to committees by the Speaker of the House has been both a reading and an organizational challenge. I have not counted, but there must be at least 1,400 pieces of legislation to review.

I have also submitted two of my own bills that deal with education issues.

Every school district in the state has fragile students that have high budget needs. The state is giving back 40 percent of the dollars spent to meet those needs for each district. My concept would have the state provide up to 80 percent for this category of need so the general education dollars that have gone to these students would be available to go toward more resources in all classrooms. Every school in the state will be helped, but Forest Grove and Hillsboro, as well as other Washington County schools, will receive the most assistance from this program.

The second bill would create a task force to look at class-size issues. Parents, teachers, students and other school staff have talked to me about the need to address the class size problems they see, feel or experience. Technology in the classroom also provides another reason why there is a need to review how that changes the classroom experience between the teacher and individual students. The purpose of the task force is to help learn more about what will provide the best possible classroom setting for ongoing excellence and continuing improvement in educational experience and curriculum for all students, at all ages, in our public school system.

I also want to find ways to work on safety issues in the transportation systems in our communities. Safety issues on Highway 47 as it interacts with local streets in Forest Grove and other issues around schools and crosswalks on state roads are at the top of my list.

I will try to help others who are working on supporting small businesses in our area and all around the state, including school-to-work programs and training. We need to make sure schools and businesses get the support they need to have workers available for our local job market, from the trades to high tech.

Other hot issues coming up may include the budget, policies that set out to help working families take care of basic needs, and energy debates and opportunities and how they affect the environment. The marijuana measure passing has also created the need for the state to deal with safety and other issues as they relate to carrying out the will of the voters.

I will be attending local meetings in all three communities, and look forward to hearing from you. I look forward to serving you as your state representative.

State Rep. Susan McLain represents Oregon House District 29, which includes portions of Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Cornelius.

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