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ORP Daily Clips

HOUSE REPUBLICAN OFFICE

MAY 10, 2017 DAILY CLIPS

STATE GOVERNMENT & POLICY

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

Transportation plan calls for $1.1B to reduce Portland-area traffic

The Oregonian

But Republicans warn that the myriad tax increases included in the plan will not be popular among voters, and say an overhaul of the low-carbon fuel standard is critical in gaining GOP support for the plan.

 

Because it includes tax hikes, the proposal will need a three-fifths approval in both chambers of the statehouse. That means Democrats will need to get at least two Republicans on their side. The last transportation package passed in 2009, funded partially by increased gas taxes. A proposal failed in 2015 when a bid to trade Oregon’s new clean fuels law for new carbon cuts fell apart at the end of session. This proposal is about 20 times larger than 2015’s.

 

TAXES

 

OPB Think Out Loud: Rep. Bentz Talks Taxes

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Democratic lawmakers have a plan to change the way businesses are taxed in Oregon. They say they need bold action to provide money for schools. Republicans say this is the return of Measure 97 —  another attempt at a sales tax. Yesterday, we got the Democratic perspective from Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton. Today, we hear a response from Republican Rep. Cliff Bentz of Ontario.

 

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Portland Advocates Prepare to Launch a Climate-Change Tax on Corporations

Willamette Week

The key debate in the Oregon Legislature this year is whether to impose a tax on businesses, months after voters rejected a similar idea at the ballot box. But WW has learned that state lawmakers aren’t the only ones who want to hike business taxes.In Portland, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has joined forces with environmental and social-justice advocates on a potential 2018 ballot measure: a 1 percent city tax on the local gross receipts of businesses with national sales over $1 billion, if those businesses do at least $500,000 in annual sales in the city of Portland.

 

Ryan Deckert, a former Democratic lawmaker and now the president of the Oregon Business Association, expressed concern. “That just makes zero sense,” Deckert says. “This would be a total sideshow to a really important conversation that’s happening in the Capitol right now.”

 

Businesses outside Oregon would be taxed under commercial activity tax proposal

Portland Tribune

A proposed statewide tax on businesses’ sales would for the first time bring in revenue from out-of-state companies that sell goods in Oregon but have no physical address here, according to the Legislative Revenue Office. The .95 percent rate would apply to businesses with Oregon sales exceeding $5 million.

 

PRISONS & PUBLIC SAFETY

 

The Feds Persuaded Oregon to Scrap Its Exploitive Prison Phone Contract—Until the State Decided It Needed the Money

Willamette Week

The Department of Corrections budget is nearly $900 million a year, so the loss of the phone contract would be a relatively small hit. But it’s significant for the inmate welfare fund, which gets nearly 70 percent of its funding from phone commissions. The first draft of Gov. Kate Brown’s budget, released late last year, originally proposed to shift general fund dollars to replace about half the phone commissions. But Craig says that’s no longer in the works. Instead, state officials decided to extend the Telmate contract, which was set to expire June 30, 2017. Craig says her agency was preparing to put the contract out for bid in early March when responsibility for the contract shifted to the Department of Administrative Services.

 

Inmate who died in jail tried to get help 19 times over five hours

The Oregonian

For more than five hours, a Yamhill County Jail inmate writhed in pain on his mattress, clutched his side, walked 19 times to the door to press an intercom button for help and urinated blood in the toilet inside his cell, but no one came to help Jed Hawk Myers, according to jail records, video and police investigative reports.

 

ELLIOTT STATE FOREST

 

State Land Board votes 3-0 to keep Elliott State Forest publicly owned

Register Guard

Following the vote, Brown directed the ­Department of State Lands to come up with a plan for preserving public ownership of the Elliott while separating it from the school fund, either through land transfer or other options. Previously, Brown has called for spending $100 million in bonds to remove some of the forest from the school fund. She added that the plan must continue ­habitat conservation.

 

Oregon State Land Board: Elliott State Forest to stay public

The Associated Press

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, another board member, said he regretted the sale didn’t go through in February but recognized the forest would inevitably stay in public hands even if he voted against it. He apologized to Lone Rock and to Michael Rondeau, chief executive officer of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Brown told Rondeau tribes could still have a role in managing forests. The Department of State Lands was directed to “continue working with sovereign tribal governments to explore ownership or additional forest management opportunities.”

 

It’s unanimous: Elliott State Forest will remain publicly owned

The Oregonian

Under Brown’s proposal, decisions about the rest of the land would be entrusted to what’s called a habitat conservation plan, a blueprint that would dictate where logging could occur and where habitat for threatened species like the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl would be protected. It would need federal approval, something that federal agencies withheld the last time Oregon tried to draft such a plan for the Elliott. Liz Dent, a state department of forestry official, said the expected timber harvest under Brown’s plan would be about 20 million board feet each year – roughly half as much as the state’s aggressive 2011 plan that led to the situation today.

 

EDUCATION & HIGHER EDUCATION

 

State may hold off on spending spree for college buildings

Statesman Journal

A graph of the growing debt so impressed House Speaker Tina Kotek, she warned school officials that rapid increases can’t continue. The proposed projects are nice, she said, but “we end up paying a long-term debt that I don’t think we can afford,” she said. The lawmakers also wanted to see that the colleges and universities are taking care of the buildings they’ve got. Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, said that session after session the deferred maintenance on college campuses have mounted — and yet the state keeps adding new construction. “I know that new buildings sparkle and glitter, but, at some point, I want to make sure we’re getting control of our deferred maintenance,” he said.

 

OTHER STORIES

 

Senate takes up Deschutes bridge ban

Bend Bulletin

Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, said the bridge just south of the city limits in the Deschutes National Forest would have to be built without condemnation of private property and only after an environmental impact study is done to ensure no negative impact. A bill currently before the Senate would ban bridges in the that location. “I will support a bridge on Forest Service property,” Knopp said. “I will likely seek an amendment to the bill to do that.”

 

Oregon may allow drivers to choose nonbinary, rather than male or female, for licenses

The Oregonian

Officials will host a public hearing on the proposed change Wednesday in Portland. If approved, Oregonians could change their licenses and identification cards beginning this summer. Instead of “F” or “M,” their licenses would display “X” under sex. “Some people don’t identify as male or female,” said Amy Herzfeld-Copple, the co-executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. “We’re excited by the DMV proposal because it’s an important step in recognizing what we already know to be true. Gender is a spectrum.”

 

LOCAL/REGIONAL NEWS

 

With a Week to Go Before Election Day, Portland Public Schools Can’t Stop Hitting Itself

Willamette Week

The School Board is asking voters to trust the district’s ability to execute a risky, complex, multiyear construction program. Officials handled a previous bond effectively, but poor management decisions about personnel and policy, and a continuing aversion to transparency, threaten to undermine voters’ confidence.

 

Tunnel collapses at Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state

Washington Post

Hundreds of workers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford nuclear site in Washington state had to “take cover” Tuesday morning after the collapse of 20-foot-long portion of a tunnel used to store contaminated radioactive materials. The Energy Department said it activated its emergency operations protocol after reports of a “cave-in” at the 200 East Area in Hanford, a sprawling complex about 200 miles from Seattle where the government has been working to clean up radioactive materials left over from the country’s nuclear weapons program.

 

OPINION

 

Editorial: A big transportation plan

Register Guard

Taken together, the committee’s recommendations would raise an additional $1 billion a year by the time they were fully phased in, allowing a substantial increase in the $2 billion a year the state, cities and counties currently spend on transportation. According to a 2014 study by the Portland Business Alliance, a failure to relieve congestion on Oregon highways will cost the average Oregon household $788 a year by 2040 due to higher prices and lost competitiveness related to transportation delays. There will be arguments over many details of the committee’s plan. There should be little debate, however, over the need for a response on the scale the committee has proposed.

 

Editorial: Some good and bad in state transportation plan

Bend Bulletin

Perhaps the worst proposal in the package is for a new statewide payroll tax for public transportation. It would be one-tenth of 1 percent, so a person making $50,000 a year would pay about $50 a year. Not every community in Oregon has a public transit system. It’s not at all fair to tax all Oregonians to pay for something they may not have. If a local community has a system, the voters there should decide for themselves how much they want to tax themselves to pay for it.

 

Guest: Oregon’s transportation crossroads: Creating options for the future

John D. Miller of Salem is president of the Salem-based Wildwood/Mahonia family of companies.

How we power our vehicles also needs to change. Transportation is the biggest source of climate pollution in Oregon. Alternative fuels, like the biodiesel produced right here in Salem from used cooking oil and waste grease, and electric cars and buses, are key to reducing that pollution. This conversion to clean fuels also creates jobs. For example, building electric vehicle infrastructure supports local electricians and other contractors. Lawmakers have a historic opportunity before them: To fund a modern transportation system that will provide tangible benefits for today’s communities while creating an environmentally sustainable system for generations to come.

 

Guest: Reducing Oregon’s diesel emissions should be a priority

Alan Sprott is the Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Vigor, which operates shipyards and manufacturing facilities throughout Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.    

Oregon now has an opportunity to begin implementing DEQ’s strategy to reduce diesel soot. Senate Bill 1008 would create a program to phase out or retrofit older diesel engines for cleaner engines used on roads, create an inventory of off-road diesel equipment, and create a fund from public improvement projects to repower or retrofit diesel powered equipment. The program also uses money from the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement to provide grants for reducing diesel emissions. These steps hit the core of DEQ’s strategy to reduce emissions by accelerating the replacement of older engines, and providing financial support for clean diesel projects.

 

OREGONIANS IN CONGRESS

 

Wyden renews call for special prosecutor after Comey firing

Portland Tribune

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said Tuesday that it was “outrageous” for President Donald Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey in the middle of an investigation into Russian links with people close to the president. “At this point, no one in Trump’s chain of command can be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation,” Wyden said in a statement, adding, “The president would do well to remember that in America, the truth always comes out.”

 

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