Legislative Days brings the opportunity to learn more
Every few months, all the legislators and lobbyists come back to the Capitol and participate in what is called "Legislative Days." We have committee hearings which mostly are "informational" - we hear from agencies on how they are doing on implementing bills, and sometimes discuss ideas for bills to introduce in the next session.
This week the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee met. We heard from the state forester on how the department did during the recent fire season. The information was incredible to hear and I am so proud of our forestry department. They did a tremendous job fighting the hundreds of fires scattered across our state. From the report, it looks like the fires were managed well on state and private lands, but the ones on the federal lands were the ones that went crazy.
Some of the other issues being heard in the building this week are:
• Carbon cap and trade
• Equifax data breach
• Moving election dates
• Approving Governor appointees (Senate)
Oregon is unique in many ways, and one important thing we do that not every state does is allow for citizens to repeal laws that the legislature has already passed, or put in place laws that the legislature refused to deal with. I think it's indicative of the disconnect of this particular group of legislators that there are already 32 different petitions being circulated this fall. If you would like to see a full list, you can Google the Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Education Project.
A couple of the petitions garnering the most news coverage and speculation are the petition to repeal Senate Bill 719 (sometimes called the extreme risk protection order), the petition to repeal a recently instituted tax on hospitals and a petition to prevent a sales tax on groceries. There are multiple petitions around vaccinations, getting big money out of elections and school access. If you have a few minutes, it's fascinating to read about the issues that could be on our ballots in November 2018.
Switching gears, it's exciting to see the progress on the bypass. although it's causing headaches right now with traffic issues, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I recently hosted a meeting with ODOT, Marion County and the City of St Paul on traffic issues in St Paul. I'm happy to report that ODOT has added another $118,000 in "fast fix" funds to the upcoming sidewalk project on Main street, from the High school to the flashing light. We hope the project starts next spring. That money is in addition to the original grant of about $175,000 previously dedicated to the project.
Bill Post is the state representative for House District 25, which encompasses Keizer, Newberg and rural northwest Marion County, including St. Paul.