Deschutes County Town Halls – State Edition

 

Are you ready for a town hall? Two state legislators are holding joint town halls across Deschutes County this Friday!

These are just as critical as anything at the federal level – if not moreso. Politics is local. If you really want to fight the Trump agenda, then let’s lead the way here in Oregon.

Check out the helpful backgrounder provided by our friends at Indivisible Bend below:

 

Hello everyone,

This is a reminder that two of our State Representatives are co-hosting Town Halls this Friday, March 31, Tim Knopp and Gene Whisnant. Below are the details for the Town Halls and their respective contact information.

I also gathered together some information on the 2017 legislative session that you may find useful. I found this exercise to be useful in understanding some of the state-level issues since my focus of late has been on national-level politics. Hopefully this information can help you prepare questions for Friday’s Town Hall assuming that they will have a Q&A session.

I hope that many of you will be able to make one of these town halls. It’s important for our State Legislators to see that there are concerned progressives amongst their constituents and that we are watching them.

Town Hall Details:

Sunriver
10-11 a.m. public meeting at the Sunriver Library at 56855 Venture Lane in the Sunriver Business Park

Bend
1-2 p.m. at the Christian Life Center Church at 21720 E. Highway 20

Redmond
3:30-4:30 p.m at the new Redmond City Hall, 411 SW Ninth Street

Contact Details:

Tim Knopp (R) – State Senator District 27 (Bend, Redmond, Sunriver)
Contact: 503-986-1727 or 541-389-7008
sen.timknopp@state.or.us
PO Box 6145, Bend, OR 97708
www.oregonlegislature.gv/knopp

Gene Whisnant (R) – State Representative District 53 (includes Redmond, Tumalo, Sunriver, Deschutes River Woods, northern Bend and other parts of Deschutes County)

Contact: 503-986-1453 or 503-986-1453
rep.genewhisnant@state.or.us
PO Box 3565, Sunriver, OR 97707

Legislative Information

This is not meant to be a comprehensive legislative summary. It is just a summary based off of emails, meetings and a cursory web search on Oregon State politics.

Equal Pay for Women

House Bill 2005 passed 36-24 This is a bill that would make sure women are paid the same rate as men for the same work passed the Oregon House on Tuesday after hours of contentious debate. It now goes to the Senate: would expand upon existing federal law, which provides protections explicitly for women. (Source Statesman Journal Article)
Families

Child care plan (Senate Bill 594) – Senator Knopp, in your Feb. 16, 2017 press release of Senate Bill 594 which expands child care affordability in Oregon, you indicate that Governor Kate Brown recognizes that Oregon “has among the least affordable child care in the nation” with relative high costs and relatively low median state income yet the plan only addresses tax credits for corporate child care programs. How do you plan to make child care affordable to all Oregonians?
Healthcare

Cover All Kids (SB 558 & HB 2726) Requires Oregon Health Authority to convene study on Health Care for All Oregon Children – has bi-partisan support and is and HCAO priority Bill for 2017 legislative session — More information in this Article from BendSource.

HB 3391, sponsored by 30 House and Senate lawmakers, would strengthen those existing policies by mandating Oregon health plans to cover abortion procedures, birth control, pap smears and other reproductive health services at no additional out-of-pocket cost to the consumer. The bill, which is awaiting referral to a House committee, could be up for a floor vote sometime next month.

Providence, a Catholic-sponsored healthcare provider, is threatening to pull out of the Oregon Insurance market if language isn’t tweaked for stronger religious exemptions although the bill does cover religious exemptions per the federal interpretation of religious protections. Source (Statesman Journal Article)
House Bill 2232, which proponents are calling the Reproductive Health Equity Act, would protect free birth control and require health insurers to cover other reproductive health services, including well-woman care, prenatal care, breastfeeding support and testing for sexually transmitted infections.

HB 2232 would also cover abortions, which the Bend Bulletin reports are not currently covered by state or federal law. Source: Oregon Live article.
Environment

Senate Bill 847: Protecting the Elliot State Forest – Ask Knopp to support the Trust Lands Transfer bill

This transfers the linkage of the sales proceeds of our state forests to fund our public schools. We need to break this linkage to protect our forests. There are other ways for us to fund our public schools. Read Judy Steigler’s article, “The Debate Over The Elliot” in the BendSource for an overview of this issue.
SB 557 and SB 748: The Oregon State Legislature has recently formed a work group on Clean Energy Jobs legislation. Now is the time to make sure that lawmakers create an effective and equitable bill that reduces pollution, invests in communities and in a clean energy transition, and ensures no one is left with an unfair burden of pollution or cost. – Source: Sierra Club

SB1008 – Ask for support of this bill which implements a program to retire dirty diesel and requires safer standards so everyone has clean air – source OLCV website

SB3 – Support this bill which provides permanent protection for aquatic wildlife from suction dredging mining, a form of recreational gold mining. Suction dredge mining can smother critical spawning gravel for salmon; kill aquatic insects, fish eggs and young fish; degrade stream habitats; and mobilize legacy mercury. source OLCV website
PROPOSED PERS CUTS – Extreme, Unfair, Illegal

Vote NO ON SB 559, 560 & 913 (Knopp is a sponsor on all three)

Some of the most powerful corporations in Oregon want to force public employees to make up for the PERS fund investment losses that happened in the recession. Meanwhile, these same corporations pay the lowest corporate tax rate in the country.

Here’s what the bills would do:
TAKE 6% OF SALARY AWAY FROM THE INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT PROGRAM TO PAY PERS FUND INVESTMENT LOSSES

• Eliminates the IAP program for new hires and reduces their retirement benefit by 31%.
• Cuts retirement benefits for public employees working today and changes the rules under which they were hired.
• Cuts compensation by 6 percent.
• Will face a lengthy and expensive court challenge. Taking public employee IAP account contributions to pay the state’s investment losses is the equivalent of taking personal property for public purpose without just compensation.
• Breaks the promises made in 2003 when the IAP accounts were created. Rep. Knopp said at the time that those changes would be “fair, affordable and sustainable.” He also said he would protect employee accounts.
• Will increase salary costs as employers scramble to try to hire qualified teachers, police, firefighters,nurses and other essential staff.

CALCULATE RETIREMENT BENEITS BASED ON AN ANNUAL SALARY OF $100,000, REGARDLESS HOW MUCH ACTUAL SALARY IS
• Breaks the deal made when people were hired.

• Reduces retirement benefits for current and future public employees

• Isn’t indexed. In less than 20 years, $100,000 salary will be worth about $55,000 in today’s dollars.

• It’s illegal. The Supreme Court (Moro, 2015) has said that benefits already earned cannot be taken. This will not withstand court challenge.

• Hurts state’s ability to attract and retain high-quality workers.

• Does not reduce the PERS unfunded liability

CHANGES FINAL SALARY CALCULATION FROM A THREE -YEAR AVERAGE TO A FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE

• Breaks the deal made when people were hired.

• Reduces retirement benefits for current and future public employees because people generally earn more the longer they are employed.

• It’s illegal. The Supreme Court (Moro, 2015) has said that benefits already earned cannot be taken. This will not withstand court challenge.

• Hurts state’s ability to attract and retain high-quality workers.

• Does not reduce the PERS unfunded liability

Source: AFL-CIO
From Friends of Family Farmers Lobby Day initiatives email:

Several issues of concern for Family Farmers which will be discussed at the April 4 Family Farms Mean Business Day in Salem:

1) increasing support for new and beginning farmers through a proposed beginning farmer tax credit and increased access to lower-interest lending

2) addressing economic risks to farmers from poorly regulated genetically engineered crops

3) addressing problems associated with factory-scale livestock operations, including a controversial 30,000-cow dairy proposed for eastern Oregon

4) stopping proposed funding cuts to Oregon’s Farm-to-School program
General State Legislative News Bits From Oregon Statesman Article

BUDGET

Oregon is facing a $1.7 billion budget deficit for 2017-19. Lawmakers will have to either raise revenue or make cuts to education, health care, public safety and more.

TRANSPORTATION

Negotiations over funding a transportation package failed in the last days of the 2015 session. Republicans again want to roll back the state’s clean fuel standard in exchange for their support.

HOUSING

Rents have been increasing exponentially and vacancy rates are tight in many cities across Oregon. Legislators will consider lifting a local ban on rent controls, eliminating no-cause evictions and other measures to help.

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