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Our readers sound off on ending the filibuster, medical research, vaccines, Portland-area highway tolls and child care concerns.

It really does feel like we are close to that other end of the COVID-19 tunnel, doesn't it?

COVID cases and related hospitalizations continue to fall and it seems like a full reopening of our state might not be far away.

I know pandemic time is fuzzy but it is worth remembering how far we have come in such a short amount of time and how much we owe our positive trajectory to biopharmaceutical innovation. The vaccines have been the game changer that were promised and we have to give credit where credit is due and I hope that we, as a society, remember what medical innovation has done for us.

The vaccine did not start from scratch. It was made possible by cutting-edge research started years before.

Most people know that Penicillin was an accidental discovery. People in the future may know this vaccine was made possible by messenger-RNA research.

You never know what possibilities medical innovation may unlock, which is why we must ensure continued investment into biopharmaceutical research. However, there are proposals being considered by Congress that may hamper medical innovation and we should take a hard look at those.

One bill, H.R. 3, could result fewer cures being developed.

While these bills may be well intentioned, everybody wants to lower health care costs, we have to consider the long-term costs of putting roadblocks up that could prevent the development of the next lifesaving drug or the next vaccine.

Long story short, we seem to be turning the corner on COVID-19 thanks to medical innovation. There are so many diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, MS and more, where we also need to turn that corner. Let's continue to prioritize medical innovation.

Matt Ragan

Happy Valley

End filibuster to protect nation's voting rights

American voting rights are under attack, and communities of color are being targeted.

Our democracy is in crisis and needs urgent, immediate repair. We have a historic opportunity to bring about real, transformative change with the For The People Act. But we must act now.

The For The People Act would restore the Voting Rights Act, make it easier to vote in federal elections, end congressional gerrymandering, and much more. Most of these reforms would be implemented for the crucial 2022 elections, and the U.S. House of Representatives has already passed its version. It's time for the U.S. Senate to pass S.1, the For The People Act.

I ask Oregon U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to work hard to defeat the filibuster. There are many Republicans and a few Democrats who would use the filibuster to block the For The People Act. The filibuster must end.

When I was 18 that was not legal voting age. But I worked on the John F. Kennedy campaign, and met a women in her 70s who told me she had voted in every election since she reached voting age.

I vowed to do the same, and have done that, and I am 79 years old now. But I am extremely concerned and terrified of the filibuster.

Marian Drake

Northeast Portland

Tolls will only increase our traffic troubles

Oregon Department of Transportation's plan to add tolls on all of Interstate 205 and metro area's Interstate 5, Wilsonville almost to Columbia River, will hurt us a lot.

The state won't provide much information on this critical issue. After four years of planning, there are few details.

The tolling set-up expense will be huge. Tolls waste more than 30% to 40% on daily expenses. Taxpayers have no say in what or where tolls go to.

Most middle- or low-income families can't afford more transportation costs. Poverty-level drivers will probably get a free pass.

Diversion traffic to non-freeways to avoid tolls will be a huge issue. We already paid for the freeways. We did not get a chance to vote and ODOT is ignoring its own survey that shows overwhelming opposition.

Hackers will get another chance to access your bank account.

There has been little coordination with the state of Washington, which was a big part of $195 million wasted on planning for the Columbia River Crossing (Interstate Bridge on I-5 between Portland and Vancouver, Washington).

Please email your federal, state and local government about your opinion on this plan.

Dave Farmer

West Linn

I'm not a parent, why should I care about child care?

As a young professional, I am watching my friends begin to form families and embark on their childrearing adventures. It's harrowing to watch them panic as they realize that child care options here in Multnomah County are few and far between.

It's demoralizing to watch ambitious women step back from their careers because it simply "doesn't pencil" to both work and have a child in care outside the home.

Given the volatile employment trends, my friends are working with some serious unpredictability. It is a scary time for parents. Ultimately, we all need options.

Oregon's House Bill 3073 gives us options. This bill will ensure that Oregon families can know that whatever happens, they will have a safety net that ensures their children will be in safe, loving spaces, should they choose to have their children in care.

HB 3073 gives women freedom. HB 3073 ensures that our care providers are treated with respect and given fair compensation for the enormous efforts they put forth in shaping our next generations.

Children are, quite simply, the future of our state, and they should be our priority. That is why I strongly urge Oregon lawmakers to give HB 3073 their support, so that our communities' children have their best shot at their future fulfillment and successes.

Hannah Silver

Southeast Portland

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