Oregon legislature

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Large parts of rural Josephine County do not have fire districts in the local government sense.  They are instead protected by private businesses that perform fire and medical emergency services for fees. 

An advisory vote last spring showed strong support for the formation of a rural fire district, and the legislature allocated some money for the project in an appropriations bill late in the session.

State Senator Herman Baertschiger of Grants Pass is the Republican leader in the senate. 

Oregonlegislature.gov

Having the Senate Republicans walk out of the Capitol--twice--took up a lot of headlines.  But there was more to this year's session of the Oregon Legislature than that. 

Legislators have now had two weeks to sleep off the effects of the session, and we want to catch up with them about accomplishments and missteps.  Democrats from both houses join us here, when Sen. Jeff Golden and Rep. Pam Marsh, both of Ashland, visit. 

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It is a rare bill that passes either house of the Oregon legislature without a single no vote.  Senate bill 576 is such a bill. 

"Kaylee's Law," as it is known, is a memorial to Kaylee Sawyer, a Central Oregon Community College student murdered by a campus security officer.  SB 576 would require non-police officers to be clearly identified as such. 

It passed the house 29 to 0, with Senator Floyd Prozanski of Eugene acting as co-sponsor. 

Sebastian Ballard, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13145840

The Oregon Legislature is just getting down to business, and Ashland Rep. Pam Marsh is determined for that business to include manufactured housing. 

Several issues face the people who live in such homes, aside from the basic fact that they own their homes, but seldom do they own the land under them. 

The Oregon Law Center assists mobile home owners on several points of law.  John VanLandingham is well-versed on the law as it exists, and as he would like to see it changed. 

They had to work hard to get elected, but new Oregon legislators face plenty more work once they take office.

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Alan DeBoer never really planned on becoming an Oregon state senator.  But Sen. Alan Bates died suddenly in the summer of 2016, leaving a big hole and a seat to fill in a special election. 

DeBoer, the former mayor of Ashland and a wealthy car dealer, won a two-year term in the senate.  He opted not to run for a full term this year, expressing some frustrations with people and processes in the Oregon legislature. 

Casey Minter/Oregon Public Broadcasting

Southern Oregon stood to lose some clout in the state legislature when Mike McLane opted not to run again for his position as House Republican leader. 

But the loss of regional clout didn't happen because another southern Oregonian stepped up.  Rep. Carl Wilson of Grants Pass is another legislative veteran, and he will lead his party in the House in the next session. 

Oregonlegislature.gov

Oregon legislators caught a break this week with the passage of Measure 101 (January 23). 

It ratified an earlier legislative decision on new taxes to fund the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon's form of Medicaid for people living on lower incomes.

If the vote had been No, legislators would have had to come up with roughly $300 Million in funding, or accept program cuts somewhere. 

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State Senator Alan DeBoer arrived in Oregon's capitol along with a big issue: not enough money to keep state services at their current levels. 

So much for a gentle introduction to legislating.  DeBoer gets to share, with 89 other legislators, the headache of either cutting $1.6 Billion or raising more revenue, or both. 

He joins us with his impressions of his first months in the legislature, and the daunting task ahead.  Senator DeBoer says his previous experience in business and government makes him a natural for budget tasks.

Oregonlegislature.gov

Odd-numbered years are the ones that require more work of Oregon legislators

Those are the years in which the two-year state budget is prepared and passed, and it has to balance.  This year, balancing will either mean cuts to programs of roughly $1.6 Billion or new revenue, or a combination. 

And that's just the money part of the state's business. 

Chris Lehman covers the session for JPR and other organizations. 

Oregon Legislature Seeks Budget Input

Feb 16, 2017
Deviant Art/Wikimedia

Oregon legislators are a bit stumped by the budget realities facing them. 

State income is up, but preserving state services at current levels over the next two-year budget period will take nearly two billion dollars more than the state expects to take in. 

One major culprit: increased payments to retired worker pensions through the PERS system. 

Budget writers are taking the show on the road, asking for input in meetings across Oregon.  Ashland gets one on Friday, February 24th; Eugene gets a meeting the next day. 

Housing Problems On House Agenda

Jan 27, 2017
Photos Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

If finding a home to rent has you pulling your hair out, you aren't alone. Oregon has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country.

For those that do find a place, rent costs are high and rising. We unpack housing issues with Speaker of THE House in Oregon, Tina Kotek. Kotek is a Democrat from Portland, where the problems with affordable housing are stark.

The NEXT Idea For Raising Oregon Revenue

Jan 2, 2017
Wikimedia

The State of Oregon will have to scramble for funding again in the coming legislative session. 

Revenue projections are not keeping up with the cost estimates, to no one's surprise.  Measure 97 in the November election was supposed to address the systemic issue by taxing corporations more.  But voters rejected it, leading to the obvious question: what next? 

A Better Oregon is already on it, floating an idea for a new corporate tax and a health care provider tax. 

Examining Oregon's Money Measure: 97

Aug 30, 2016
Deviant Art/Wikimedia

The November election season figured to be anything but dull, but Oregon offers a few extra bits of excitement. 

The vote on Ballot Measure 97 is already heating up... Oregon voters will decide on a tax on business income, one that could boost state government revenue substantially. 

Which thrills people who want more money spent on schools and other programs (Yes on 97), but leaves many members of the business community cold (No on 97). 

We begin our examination of issues and candidates in the November election with a roundtable on 97. 

Remembering The Late Senator Bates

Aug 6, 2016
Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

Oregon State Senator Alan Bates (D-Medford) died suddenly on Friday, August 5th. 

He served Southern Oregon in the legislature for 16 years, first in the House, then in the Senate.  And it's not like he didn't already have a full-time job; Dr. Bates--"Doc" to his legislative colleagues--saw and healed patients out of a practice in Medford. 

He brought his medical knowledge to bear on his legislative work, helping shape Oregon's innovative approach to Medicaid. 

We invited some of the people who worked with Sen. Bates and knew him best to join us. 

The Person Who RECEIVES Calls To Legislators

Mar 11, 2016
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Oregon's election-year legislative sessions are supposed to be short (five weeks), affairs aimed at general housekeeping. 

But this year's just-completed session got a bit more ambitious, in part because of pressure to produce legislation before ballot measures could force the state's hand in November's election. 

What do people contact their legislators about, in this or any session?  Tiffany Telfer Edwards is Communications Director for her husband, Sen. Chris Edwards of Eugene. 

acroprint.com

Normally, if you do a job, you expect to be properly paid for it. But many workers aren’t given the compensation they’re legally due. One study estimated more than a quarter of low-wage workers were paid less than the legal minimum wage. Another found nearly 90 percent of fast food employees weren’t paid what they were entitled to.

Now, workers’ advocates and Democratic lawmakers in Oregon are pushing to crack down on what they call wage theft.

Oregon Secretary of State

On Monday, Oregon’s legislature reconvenes. Democratic lawmakers see the five-week-long  “short session” as a chance to wrap up unfinished business left over from last year’s full-length session.

But Republicans, who are in the minority, say the Dems are abusing their control of the legislature to push through a liberal agenda.

JPR’s Liam Moriarty talks with statehouse correspondent Chris Lehman to get a sense of what we can expect in the upcoming session.  

Oregon Rep. Peter Buckley Retires

Oct 9, 2015
Oregon Public Broadcasting

For years, he's been one of the major shapers of the budget for state government in Oregon, a budget affecting millions of people and guiding billions of dollars. 

During that time, he has earned less than $30,000 a year from being a state legislator. 

That's not the only reason Rep. Peter Buckley recently announced his retirement from the legislature with the 2016 election. 

Buckley represents a diverse district from the California line to Medford, including Ashland liberals and rural conservatives. 

Speaker Kotek Reflects On The Session

Jul 22, 2015
Oregon Health Authority

The Oregon Legislature's session was bound to have a few wobbles this year.

Having the governor resign a month into his term shook up state government at many levels. 

The legislature got back on track and completed its work on a two-year budget for schools, prisons, police, and all of the responsibilities of state government. 

But it left some business unfinished, too, like a major bill to fix up Oregon's transportation infrastructure. 

House Speaker Tina Kotek presided over half of the legislative apparatus.  

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