A few years ago, Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, had to call the Gresham Fire Department when his house went up in flames.
It was an emergency, and it was only because of the efforts of the firefighters that the home was saved — at least the bottom half, the representative joked during a panel discussion Thursday afternoon, Jan. 3. According to Gorsek, Oregon now faces a similar problem when it comes to protecting the environment.
"We have been arguing for too long whether the house is on fire — believe me, it is," Gorsek said. "We need to deal with the environment now."
Coming up with solutions, from eliminating the usage of plastic grocery bags at the state level to implementing clean fuels, are some of Gorsek's priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
"Oregon creates more greenhouse gas than many countries do," Gorsek said. "I believe in the idea that incrementally we can repair things."
Gorsek joined a 2019 Legislative Preview hosted by the East County Caring Community at Gresham City Hall. On the panel was Gorsek, Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-District 48, and staff for Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-District 51, and Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-District 46.
Gorsek is working to pass bills on public safety and education.
Last year Gorsek passed a juvenile recording bill, which he plans on trying to expand in the upcoming session.
He wants to find more funding for 2-1-1, which connects Oregonians to local community resources and support organizations.
"They can even do things like tell people where they can purchase firewood when they have no other way to heat their homes," Gorsek said.
The goal is to have the 2-1-1 lines open 24/7 across the state.
His final safety focus is to address the work conditions and pay structure for Oregon correctional officers, who he characterized as overworked and underpaid.
"When we have correctional officers worked like that, the potential for them to act inappropriately goes up," Gorsek said.
During the panel, Gorsek reaffirmed his commitment to Community Colleges and finding more funding to support their programs. He also spoke on looking into early childhood development programs as well.
The East County Caring Community is a monthly forum to engage individuals and organizations serving the needs of residents in East Multnomah County. The meetings are open to everyone, and held from 3-5 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Gresham City Hall.
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