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Our readers also think the Oregon Legislature should solve problems and not make things worse.

Your editorial of June 11 is correct. We need to do away with the Arts Tax.

However, you suggest a new tax. A new tax isn't necessary. Most of the money for schools is provided by the state. You say the state needs to pony up. You are right. But right now the state does not have the money to provide additional funds to schools.

Why doesn't the state have enough money, you ask? The answer is simple: The state does not properly enforce tax law. The Department of Revenue is understaffed by more than 700 people. Policies and procedures have changed over the last 20 years to make tax law enforcement more difficult.

I have been saying this to you for more than 15 years. Isn't it time you did some real investigating into the lack of tax law enforcement and expose the people who are really responsible?

Gordon Hillesland

Southeast Portland

Time to get serious about climate fight

As a baby boomer in my 70s, I've had the good fortune to live during a mostly prosperous and peaceful period in U.S. history.

I didn't know that during this time of affordable college and so many benefits due to feminism and tech advances that the balance on our planet was faltering due to fossil fuel development and use.

Climate change was intentionally hidden from us by oil company leaders and hired scientists. We thought reduce, reuse and recycle was enough.

Now I have about a decade more to live and we have about a decade left to halt carbon emissions to let our planet rebalance and heal. It seems fitting that people who have benefited so much since WWII could do some serious payback.

There's much work to do in this hurting world and none more important than a decade of climate change activism. I hope you'll join me.

Sarah McKenzie

Southeast Portland

Cap-and-trade could keep money in state

There are a few things at issue with House Bill 2020 that are beneficial for Oregon that are over and above environmental concerns. The first is that we don't produce or refine oil in Oregon, so by improving efficiency we will keep hard currency in Oregon for additional transactions in our businesses.

So HB 2020 addresses both balance of payments (sending cash to other states and countries) and velocity of money (the wealth created as money changes hands) concerns.

The problem with the popular argument against Oregon's implementation of cap-and-trade is that it focuses only on environmental impacts. The debate has avoided how the cost of oil is manipulated by OPEC; with pricing based less on supply-and-demand curves and more on how much the oil-producing countries can charge at any given moment.

There is no real competition because price controls undermine the market efficiency of this particular commodity. That's why with some of the regional premiums placed on fuel, we're likely to see costs absorbed in the cyclical fluctuations OPEC uses to measure our willingness to pay more for oil at any given time.

That's why we'll see as much as 30-50% fluctuation in gas prices in any given calendar year. More likely than not, the cost of gas for Oregon has to do with its proximity to refinement as it would with charging for the cost of cleaning up the waste (CO2) created by using fossil fuels.

Rather than speculating on what cap-and-trade might cost ratepayers, we need to address the socialized costs of petroleum price manipulation and focus on how capturing the cost of waste cleanup can benefit Oregonians.

Cap-and-trade will result in more cash staying in the state to be spent over and over with our stores and our merchants. The profits that are generated will go toward wages and taxes to benefit Oregon families and institutions.

We have to look to where the growth is. Continuing to privilege out-of-state mature businesses that invest little to no money in Oregon over local firms is bad economics and will not provide growth.

Retaining cash in Oregon, participating in a burgeoning commodities market that charges for CO2 emissions and ensuring a more efficient way to capture value is the way to a better and even more robust future.

Jason Hitzert


Legislation could help allergy sufferers

I recently moved myself and my record store business from Seattle to Portland. There have been a great number of changes I've had to adjust to, from the lack of sales tax to different regulations around signage and licensing. But I wasn't expecting the many hoops I now have to jump through just to get my allergy medication.

I've suffered from seasonal allergies ever since I was a kid back on the East Coast, but I've never been restricted from going into a corner drugstore and grabbing the medication I need without a prescription until I came to Oregon.

As a small-business owner, I provide my own health insurance. And since I predominantly staff my shop myself, my time is the most valuable thing I have. I don't know how I'm going to juggle the added cost and time commitment of having to go to a doctor and get a prescription for the medication I used to easily get behind the counter just across the river.

Thankfully, I was able to stock up for the next month before I moved, but I worry about what will happen when I finally run out of my medication.

I recently heard about House Bill 2303, which would allow for people like me to get the relief that we need without a doctor's prescription.

I hope the Legislature will pass HB 2303 without any prescription requirements, joining 48 other states which have sensible and effective laws that allow small business owners like me to conveniently get the medications we need most during allergy season.

Chris McFarlane

Southeast Portland

Medical leave bill helps working families

Families make hard decisions every day. Whether it's about financial well-being, child care or housing, we are constantly assessing what's best for our families.

That's why I was shocked to learn that the United States is one of the only industrialized countries in the world that doesn't offer paid leave for workers. Isn't a paid leave policy a no-brainer?

Right now, over 80% of Oregon families can't afford to take paid leave when a family medical crisis occurs. We need a better solution. Our state Legislature is considering the passage of House Bill 2005, which would create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program for all workers. Every worker in Oregon, especially women of color, transgender and gender-nonconforming people and their loved ones will benefit from a paid family and medical leave policy. This is important because we have over 64 million Americans who live in a multi-generational household where care-taking extends beyond biological relatives.

This is especially important to me, not only as a resident of Scappoose, but as a queer woman of color who has worked — sometimes at two jobs — to make ends meet. A paid family leave policy, like the one in HB 2005, would mean that families like mine, especially in rural communities, don't have to choose between our financial security and our loved ones.

By passing HB 2005 our legislature has the opportunity to make life better for each of us. I urge the Legislature to pass paid family and medical leave (HB 2005).

Michele Ruffin

Forward Together


Lawmakers are gambling with our lives

Recently, it was allowing and taxing marijuana, now its sports betting. This is just another unending, almost fanatical quest to grab more money from Oregonians.

Gambling is a terrible addiction that slowly creeps up on someone almost the same as any drug. The Oregon Lottery and our state congressmen know this but they keep silent as the problem worsens.

In part, why do you think our homeless numbers keep climbing? Is it possible that many individuals cannot control this habit and are losing all they own and are ending up on the street?

The state asks us to look at all the good the lottery does but do you think they would ever say look at all the bad it does, of course not. Gambling is not a good thing, but the state has become so dependent upon it they are now "hooked" and is hungry for more.

How in the world did Oregon ever survive before we had gambling?

My disgust lies with our state legislators and the Oregon Lottery Commission. Just wait, in a year or two they will find something else to gamble on. You can bet on it.

Jerry Schneider


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