My View: Make sure you vote, keep up with legislative process
I don't know about you, but I think January news should be about college football playoffs, not special elections. But we have a very important election coming up on the 23rd and there is a lot of information swirling around out there about Measure 101.
Health care policy can be really wonky and I don't claim to be an expert on this issue. What I do know something about, however, is the legislative process and it's because of something the Legislature did that you have a ballot sitting on your kitchen counter right now that needs to be filled out (unless you're obsessive-compulsive like me and filled it out and returned it the same day it arrived).
Back in the 2017 legislative session, the majority of members voted to increase the tax on your health care. One important thing to note is that legislators and staff are exempt from this tax, as are most public employees. No matter how you choose to vote, I think it's extremely important that you DO vote. Oregon is one of a few states that offers this referendum option for citizens to hold their government accountable.
In passage or defeat, this election will dramatically change the work that we do in the Legislature during the short session starting in February.
I am working on a few bills for the February session. The one that's gotten the most news coverage is one I am co-sponsoring with Senator Sara Gelser. It is to help provide clarity for the Salem-Keizer School District in how they implement their mandatory reporting rules. I've heard from tons of constituents about this, and I am so glad to announce that the bill number to fix this problem is Senate Bill 1540.
The two other bills I am co-sponsoring are agriculture related. One aligns all seed law under the same contracting statutes, protecting family farmers. This bill insures that small family farmers get paid for what they grow in a timely manner. Further, the bill gives the Department of Agriculture the power to enforce contract violations, protecting farmers.
My Rural Investment Bill clarifies rules around rural property tax exemptions. It allows some cities and counties to incentivize rural investment by implementing a phased in property tax liability program for newly constructed or installed industrial improvements. I am looking forward to the impact this will have in rural Oregon for agriculture investment and job creation.
I always love hearing from you and especially love welcoming constituents to the Capitol. This past week I had a group of high school students come by for a tour. I always remind people that the Capitol building is their building; I may work there, but it is the People's Building, and it is a beautiful testament to our democratic-republic form of government at work.
Don't forget to turn in that ballot!