Timber voices resounded in Carbon Tax debate

The protest against Oregon’s Carbon Tax bill HB 2020 (also called climate bill, carbon cap and trade) went national this month and has led to its own collapsing. One of the loudest voices in the debate has been the community most endangered by the carbon tax — which is timber industry and the small towns that depend on them.

One of the most profound statements to come out of the debate has been the closing of Stimson lumber. This cherished lumber mill began in Oregon in 1880. Stimson lumber sent shock-waves throughout Oregon by declaring that they were closing their Oregon locations and moving to Idaho in order to survive as a company. They cited the Carbon Tax (HB 2020) and the new $2.6 billion business sales tax as the answer (read entire press release here).

Then came more voices from the timber community through a group called TimberUnity. A parade of logging trucks surrounded the capitol in protest. Those images went viral on the internet. One agriculture website saw 90,000 views on their Facebook post on the timber rally.

The more controversial and complicated the carbon tax became, the more calls came to let Oregon voters have an up-or-down vote on HB 2020. Not only was it decided to withhold a statewide public vote but an emergency clause was attached to the tax making it impossible for voters to the issue to the ballot using the referendum petition process.

This is the point when the Oregon State Republican Senators staged a walk-out which made national news including the front page of the Wall Street Journal. As media coverage intensified, it was the reoccurring symbol of Oregon’s endangered mill workers and families on Oregon’s Capitol steps that became the recurring images of the debate.

The debate over the HB 2020 carbon tax and of climate change in general has brought out the participation and voice of rural Oregon and timber communities who have often been ignored in the past — yet they are the ones impacted more by new carbon taxes.

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Senator Bentz: Balancing mass events and neighbor rights

Oregon Capitol Update Series:

In August 2017, hordes of stargazers inundated Central Oregon to watch the total eclipse, but the experience left those living in the region less than happy.

To better control such an event, the Oregon Legislature is considering House Bill 2790, which would let counties require permits for outdoor mass gatherings.

Senator Cliff Bentz, an Ontario Republican, supports the measure after experiencing what happened during the eclipse, according to the Beaverton Valley Times.

“One of the results was tens of thousands of people from the Willamette Valley flooding into the previously pristine lands of Eastern Oregon, wreaking havoc and worse,” Bentz said on the Senate floor. “This bill is an attempt to give the counties the authority to manage these gatherings better and collect adequate permitting fees.”

Salem Democrat Rep. Brian Clem sponsored the outdoor festival permit bill, which the Legislature passed and sent to the governor. Under the bill, organizers of music festivals and other large outdoor events must obtain a conditional use permit from the county first. That gives local regulators the opportunity to review the effect of such an event on neighbors and traffic and the need for water, fire, and safety resources.

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Senator Hansell: On protecting our state seal

Capitol Update series:  People are selling T-shirts, key chains, mugs, and other items bearing the state seal of Oregon, but the state isn’t making any money from those sales.

However, that could change under a bill cosponsored by Sen. Bill Hansell, an Athena Republican. If approved, the state would license the seal and earn revenue from those who wish to sell merchandise bearing the Oregon logo—a shield supported by 33 stars depicting an American bald eagle, wagon train pulled by oxen, elk with antlers, British and American ships, mountains, and forests with the state’s motto “The Union.”

Vendors would be prohibited from selling merchandise bearing the seal without a license from the Oregon Secretary of State. Companies would pay a fee and royalties from the sale of such products, thereby generating revenue for state coffers.

In neighboring Washington, the Secretary of State’s Office allows only the Legislative Gift Center in the Capitol at Olympia to use the seal for commercial purposes, a spokesman said. Violators using the seal are ordered to cease and desist.

However, it’s possible Senate Bill 803 could face a challenge claiming such prohibitions violate Oregon’s liberal free speech protections.

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Rep. Bonham: Family Leave Bill that stays with the worker

Most of the proposed paid family leave bills died midway through the Oregon Legislature, but one remains—and it’s likely to hurt small businesses.

Many lawmakers have been making a promise to provide workers with paid family leave for births, adoptions, and other medically necessary time off, and introduced legislation to do so. Under current law, employees working for companies with 25 or more workers can receive up to 12 weeks off for military or family leave, but under the new legislation, they would be paid. Continue reading

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Rep Post: Improving access to cold medicine

Capitol update series,

In 2005, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill that made pseudoephedrine products like Sudafed available by prescription only.   There was a good reason for it back then, as pseudoephedrine was a key ingredient in the methamphetamine that was being produced in home labs and frequently resulted in explosions.   This new prescription law created long lines, delays and people who would even travel out of state just to get their simple cold medicine.

However, times have changed since the passage of House Bill 2485. And now, Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer) has introduced legislation to delete the requirement that pseudoephedrine be classified as a Schedule III controlled substance. Continue reading

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Rep. Stark: Helping retired law enforcement officers protect our schools

A 2018 Oregon Report on school safety by the University of Oregon shows that students are feeling less safe in our schools. Rep. Duane Stark (R-Grants Pass) has been trying to work on solutions in our education system. One simple idea that would help has been brought to his attention by the City of Grants Pass. Continue reading

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Rep. Sprenger: A way to restore steelhead fish

Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R. HD 17, currently serves on eight, count them, eight committees this during the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session – almost as many committees as years she’s been an elected legislator. Continue reading

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Rep. Zika’s affordable housing solution

The Oregon Legislature looks poised to approve a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Jack Zika enabling construction of 485 new housing units—half of those for people with below-average incomes—on land outside of Redmond.

Zika, R-Redmond, is optimistic for passage of House Bill 2336, which sailed through the House unanimously. Continue reading

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Will Oregonians have vote in death penalty debate?

A bill in the Oregon House of Representatives (HB 3268) would essentially abolish the death penalty in the state with only one exception—for terrorists who kill two or more people.  At the same time a major Oregon newspaper is asking lawmakers to send the issue to voters who twice reaffirmed the state’s death penalty laws. Continue reading

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How trade war is hurting Oregon

An escalating trade war between the United States and China, along with tit-for-tat tariffs on imported goods, may curtail business in West Coast ports, reducing labor hours and creating a ripple effect throughout the Pacific Northwest economy.

The latest volley in the trade war brings the battle to the Pacific Northwest home front, especially its ports. Continue reading

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