Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, September 02, 2022, Page 9, Image 9

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    Friday, September 2, 2022 9
The Oregon Capitol
Continued from Page 8
we should continue to
invest in that. (The pro-
gram allows states, coun-
ties or tribes to do forest,
rangeland and watershed
restoration projects on fed-
eral lands.)
“I think we should make
more of our forestlands
available for logging.
We’re either gonna man-
age (our forests) or we’re
gonna watch (them) burn.”
Kotek: “My baseline is:
Talk to the experts. OSU
(Oregon State University)
is a huge resource for us,
understanding what the
experts at OSU think we
should be doing.
“I believe we do need
some level of prescribed
burning, and it has to be
done safely.
“In terms of overall for-
est practices, the Private
Forest Accord is a template
of how we can improve for-
est practices.” (The accord
was a deal that timber
and conservation groups
reached last fall.)
Where does Kotek stand
on logging and grazing?
“I don’t have a particular
agenda on either of those
issues because I’m not an
expert,” she said.
Kotek says solving Ore-
gon’s housing crisis is a
top priority. Does she sup-
port using timber harvested
from Oregon’s forests to
build houses?
“We’re gonna have to
build 36,000 housing units
per year for the next decade
to actually meet our gap
and get ahead of it,” she
said. “I love the cycle of
using Oregon-based mass
timber to construct homes.
Mass timber is a very via-
ble product that we have to
CP: Many family farm-
ers say the farmworker
overtime pay rule, which
passed during the 2022
legislative session, will
hurt their businesses. Do
you have plans to amend
the law?
Johnson: “Let’s start
from the premise of:
Increasing the safety and
JOHNSON: “Hell yes.”
DRAZON: “It was absolutely a mistake to keep schools closed as long as they were.”
KOTEK: “I think it was important that we instituted public health requirements that kept
people safe, and frankly, alive. There are a lot of people walking around today because we
tried to do the right thing.”
wages and working condi-
tions of low-income work-
ers is a laudable goal. OK.
This bill, I think, was an
overly simple solution to a
really complicated issue.
“My concern is that
good intentions can’t man-
date good jobs. I think
we’re gonna have all sorts
of work-around schemes,
(employees’) hours, or it
will create a highly tran-
sient workforce. I’m just
not sure that it was thought
out as carefully as it should
have been for a policy
change of this magnitude.”
Does she plan to change
the law?
Johnson did not name
specific plans but said
amendments might relate to
“highly perishable crops”
such as grapes.
Drazan: “Yeah, abso-
lutely. I look forward to the
opportunity to find a more
balanced approach to that
issue. With single-party
control, the needs of all
stakeholders were not taken
into consideration with the
passage of that legislation.
It does need to be reworked
and amended.”
Does Drazan have spe-
cific amendments planned?
Drazan did not outline a
plan, but said: “I look for-
ward to having the con-
versation and proposing a
more responsive piece of
legislation that allows Ore-
gon ag to continue to be
Oregon ag.”
Kotek: “Before I left the
Legislature, we were gear-
ing up for this conversa-
tion in last year’s session.
I had dairy farmers calling
me up saying, ‘This isn’t
working for us.’ I listened
hard. Before I left the Leg-
islature, I said, ‘Look, we
have to transition this in a
way that helps farmers to
do their business.’
“It was very important
to me to have a reasonable
transition (timeframe) plus
resources to support farm-
ers — the tax (credit). I am
definitely open to main-
taining the (tax credit).
(The law includes tempo-
rary tax credits for employ-
ers to cushion costs.) But it
would be nice if the federal
government solved this.
From a competitive stand-
point, it would be good if
every state was doing this.
It’s the right thing to do.”
CP: Was it a mistake
to shut down schools and
businesses during the
COVID-19 pandemic?
Johnson: “Hell, yes.
“I think we did enor-
mous damage. I don’t
think we’ve measured the
social, emotional, mental
health and academic dam-
age that we’ve done to our
“A lot of the hospital-
ity industry is not going to
recover. We’ve dissipated
the workforce. And our
response to the distribution
of money was not consis-
tent or objective.”
What would she have
done differently?
approached the issue with
more humility,” she said.
“I would have talked to
county commissioners and
city councilors and may-
ors. If you don’t have the
affected people’s opin-
ion(s), you just have what
emanates out of Salem.
“My reaction to what
happened was that the
agencies were punitive
(and) retaliatory. They
didn’t work with business
to try to prescribe the safest
conditions for patrons and
workers. Rather, they just
had their little regulatory
Bigger Book of Bureau-
cracy out, running around
trying to tell people what
they were doing wrong.”
What if there’s another
Johnson said she plans
to be better prepared with
personal protective equip-
ment on hand and “clearer
lines of communication.”
Drazan: “I’m a mom
of three kiddos. I had my
daughter at home online
trying to teach herself
algebra in middle school.
It was absolutely a mistake
to keep schools closed as
long as they were.
“Those first days where
we did not fully understand
how to navigate COVID,
who was at risk, how this
was going to move through
our communities. … As
House Republican leader,
I sent a letter to the gov-
ernor on behalf of our cau-
cus saying: Whatever you
need, however we can
work with you, we need
to do everything we can to
protect public health.
“And that suddenly
became: She did what-
ever she wanted. And she
mandated everything. I
think that the duration of
that shutdown was heavy-
handed and was an abso-
lute abysmal failure.”
What will Drazan do
differently if there’s a
future pandemic?
“I’d give more local
control to our school
boards with recommenda-
tions,” she said.
And businesses?
“And businesses,” she
said. “You can trust Orego-
nians with the best infor-
mation and the most sup-
port possible to make the
right choices for them-
ers, their clients and their
Kotek: “There was cer-
tainly disagreement across
the state on how best to do
“I think it was import-
ant that we instituted pub-
lic health requirements
that kept people safe, and
frankly, alive. There are
a lot of people walking
around today because we
tried to do the right thing.”
Will Kotek keep schools
and businesses open mov-
ing forward?
“The number one pri-
ority to me is, no matter
what, we have to keep our
schools open. We have to
have students in person,”
said Kotek.
What about businesses?
“I think one of the things
(that) didn’t go well is you
can’t tell businesses they
are open and give them
48 hours and say, ‘Oh,
and you’re closing in two
days.’ You have to give
people advance warning,”
said Kotek. “It’s import-
ant to have businesses part
of the conversation and
give them adequate notice
whenever you’re gonna
do something that could
impact their business.”
CP: Rural econo-
mies are largely based
on agriculture and nat-
ural resource industries.
What do you see as the
ideal jobs of the future in
rural Oregon?
Johnson: “I think
that industry in rural
places is doing it. Walk-
ing through the plywood
mill in Elgin, realizing
how much of that is now
“We’re innovating new
products we had never
even dreamed of. Oregon
is uniquely positioned to
do the things we’ve already
talked about — thinning,
logging — but also, I think
we’re uniquely positioned
to innovate.”
Drazan: “Across every
generation, you see the
evolution of community.
What we have to continue
to protect and preserve,
though, is the autonomy of
local communities.
“We live in a free soci-
ety. That is the beauty of
our nation — its indepen-
dence. Oregonians should
have the right to choose for
themselves and their fami-
lies their best lives.
“And I frankly don’t
believe there is a future
for our state and nation
without rural communi-
ties that continue to pro-
vide the values and ben-
efits that our agricultural
community has provided
for centuries.”
Kotek: “I’m super
bullish about the strides
we’re making on broad-
band infrastructure. The
other issue for me is clean
energy jobs.
“We have to produce
more clean energy in our
state. That is jobs for rural
Oregonians. That is large-
scale solar. It’s offshore
wind. It’s the pumped stor-
age (hydropower) facility
down in Klamath.
“One of the things about
large-scale solar in partic-
ular (is) finding proper-
ties that are on low-grade
or low-value farmland. We
have to protect the land use
“So, clean energy jobs
and broadband (are) very
important and supporting
our traditional industries
as well.”