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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FROM REPRESENTATIVE GREG BARRETO

 

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Update from the State Legislature

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I attended a Memorial Day service at Valley View Cemetery in Salem last week.  What a humbling privilege to sit in attendance as they honored the fallen from the past to present.  The keynote speaker at this event was Stu Webber from Boring Oregon.  Stu was an Army Ranger in Viet Nam and then returned to Pastor a church for 30 years before retiring.  He started by stating how powerful the word “remember” is.  Remembering can bring about a plethora of different feelings and emotions both good and bad; as well as the danger of living in the past without an eye on the present and another on the future.  He spoke of his training and how it was important for a soldier to be not only physically and tactically fit, but also to be spiritually fit, that the soul, heart and spirit of the soldier is everything.  It’s not the size of the weapon or the strategic air support, but the size of the heart.

 

He spoke of personal responsibility in leadership and made the point that if we can’t govern ourselves responsibly, how is it possible to govern a nation?  I won’t give the whole message, but he traveled through history starting 3500 years ago in the book of Joshua and taking it to the present giving examples of men and women with great hearts.   Caleb and Joshua and 10 other men who came back from Canaan with differing perspectives, but it was Joshua who basically said, we can take the land and he spoke this because it was “in his heart”.

 

Toward the end of his speech, He spoke from the true soldiers’ heart:  “If I thought this body was my own, I couldn’t engage in combat.  But it is not my own, it belongs to God, my wife, my children and to a nation and its future, that in order to provide that future, today must be a part of something much larger than yourself”.

 

It was refreshing and encouraging to hear these words as we wind down a legislative session that will continue to form the future of Oregon. And although some days seem bleak the duty is still ours and we must keep the heart attitude to continue the fight for our future.

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 State Outline PERS Logo There has been legislation this year that will, in my opinion, not be healthy for the state.  There has been a Supreme Court decision on PERS that will continue to cost the state future dollars.  Also looming will be another Federal Supreme Court decision announced in June or July that will potentially throw our health care into more disarray as if there has not been enough of that over the last 6 years.  As if that were not enough, there is also the potential cost of Obamacare’s Cadillac tax that could cost the state 500,000 to a billion dollars in taxes to the Federal Government.Click Here to read more
 taxcredit_crop On a more local level, there is a bill in Revenue, House Bill 3034 that will be worked next week that will start charging our local hospitals for property tax.  In an era when we should be doing everything we can to reduce health care, the state cannot help itself from reaching into your pockets for more.On top of that, also in Revenue Committee, all of the tax credit bills are being piled into one omnibus bill, along with tax bills, with the idea of keeping the omnibus bill revenue neutral, so it won’t come across as a tax bill that would require a three fifths majority to pass.  It could be passed on simply a majority.  There are some simple tax credit bills, that will not even get a hearing.Click Here to read more
 oregonhouseofreps_crop Early in the Session I proposed a simple bill, HB 3403, that would reduce by percentage on state income tax for an increase of employees hired, so if a business increases their full time employment by 20%, they would receive a 40% discount on state income tax.  The idea would really help small businesses that were just starting up to increase their working capital that is needed in the early years.I signed on to a bill introduced by Representative Jodi Hack, HB 3189, that would give rural fire department volunteers a 250 dollar a year tax credit for the time and training they  put in every year.  Volunteer firefighters need to put in 70 hours of training each year to stay current according to state standards.This was a very simple and low cost incentive that made sense and was not even given a hearing. So, what was the reason for these actions by the chair of Revenue?  The state needs more money!!!  We can’t be giving more away!!  So any small encouragement to the communities and their volunteer fire fighters is too much for the state to consider? Any incentives to promote businesses today in order to grow the economy for the future are dead in their tracks.Taking people off of unemployment and placing them in jobs is too much to ask?With all these decisions, I feel like, to quote an old Kris Kristofferson song,  “we’re trading in tomorrow for today”.
 highway_crop Another revelation this year has been HB 3402, a speed limit increase bill that passed through committee unanimously and was then sent down to Ways and Means.  It was given a fiscal from ODOT of $700,000.00 for highway signs and a study.  125 of those signs were quoted at $3500.00 each for replacing them on rural highways.I am trying to get a breakdown on those sign costs in order to argue the issue.  100,000.00 of the cost was for a study, which recently another Representative said was done just 3 years ago.  I need to get details on the study, but if it pertains to speed on corners and the grade of those corners, I would think that information would be logged in a data spread sheet with ODOT.When it comes to spending state dollars(the taxpayers money), I would agree with commissioner Susan Roberts who said the money would be spent more wisely elsewhere, like increasing compensation for wolf predation when the ranchers are only seeing on average a 25% recoup on their wolf kill losses.

email: [email protected] I phone: 503-986-1458
address: 900 Court St NE, H-384, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/barreto

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