The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, April 16, 2018, Page 3A, Image 3

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Brown wants assurances for Oregon’s pot industry
Trump cut deal
with senator
from Colorado
Capital Bureau
Mateusz Perkowski/Capital Press
President Donald Trump
reportedly made a deal
with a Colorado senator to
protect the legal cannabis
industry there, but it’s not
clear whether it extends to
SALEM — Gov. Kate
Brown wants President Don-
ald Trump to assure her that
Oregon’s legal cannabis
industry is safe from federal
The president reportedly
made a deal last week with a
Republican senator from Col-
orado to protect the legal can-
nabis industry there, but it’s
not clear whether it extends to
Trump told U.S. Sen. Cory
Gardner that he would support
“a federalism-based legisla-
tive solution to fix this states’
rights issue once and for all,”
according to Gardner’s office.
In return, Gardner prom-
ised to stop blocking the
White House’s Department of
Justice nominees.
There’s long been disso-
nance between federal drug
laws and those of states that
have legalized marijuana, but
the withdrawal of previous
Justice Department guidance
on the issue — known as the
Cole memo — has prompted
more uncertainty around the
issue in recent months.
That memo from the
Obama administration set out
guidelines for federal prose-
cutors in states that had legal-
ized marijuana to focus their
resources on larger-scale con-
cerns such as trafficking as
long as states met certain con-
ditions regarding their regu-
lation of the industry. Attor-
ney General Jeff Sessions
rescinded the Cole memo,
giving federal prosecutors
discretion in pursuing drug
According to Gardner, the
president said that the rescis-
sion of the Cole memo “will
not impact Colorado’s legal
marijuana industry.”
White House Press Secre-
tary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
said during a press conference
Friday that Gardner’s state-
ment was “accurate” and that
Trump was a “firm believer”
in states’ rights.
The White House press
office did not respond to a
request for clarification on the
matter late Friday.
Brown, a Democrat who
has been vocal in her oppo-
sition to many of the Trump
administration’s policies, said
in a written statement Friday
that she would “appreciate”
assurances from the president.
“We have not had similar
negotiations, but would appre-
ciate President Trump extend-
ing his assurances to all states
that he respects their rights to
decide how to approach this
issue, not just to Colorado,”
Brown said. “I remain com-
mitted to keeping cannabis in
the state of Oregon, but out of
the hands of children, while
protecting the will of Orego-
nian voters, who overwhelm-
ingly support the legal can-
nabis industry and the jobs it
Members of Oregon’s con-
gressional delegation took to
Twitter on Friday to call for
addressing the issue in Con-
gress, including Democratic
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and
Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl
“The federal government
must respect the decision Ore-
gonians made at the polls,”
Wyden wrote on Twitter. “I’m
going to keep fighting to pro-
tect Oregon’s legal marijuana
program and pushing for
national reform.”
“We can’t take anything
for granted,” Blumenauer
said in a Twitter post. “Trump
changes with the wind & GOP
leadership is still in our way.
We need to protect the integ-
rity of state-legal marijuana
programs by acting NOW.”
The Capital Bureau is a
collaboration between EO
Media Group and Pamplin
Media Group.
Study: PERS better Buehler in hot seat over skipping debates
funded than most,
but still short
Capital Bureau
Capital Bureau
SALEM — A new study
from the Pew Charitable
Trusts finds Oregon’s pub-
lic pension system might be
better funded than those of
most other states, but is not
doing enough to pay down
its unfunded liabilities.
The country’s state pen-
sion funds reported a $1.4
trillion deficit in 2016, up
$295 billion from 2015,
according to a study released
Thursday by Pew’s Public
Sector Retirement Systems
Project. Oregon’s unfunded
liability, the amount by
which the system’s obliga-
tions to retirees exceed what
its assets can cover, is $25.3
“Many state retirement
systems are on an unsus-
tainable course, coming up
short on their investment tar-
gets and having failed to set
aside enough money to fund
the pension promises made
to public employees,” the
study states. “Even as contri-
butions from taxpayers over
the past decade doubled as
a share of state revenue, the
total still fell short of what is
needed to improve the fund-
ing situation.”
In 2016, Oregon’s Public
Employees Retirement Sys-
tem was 81 percent funded
— compared to a national
average of 66 percent —
according to the study.
An actuarial analy-
sis released in September,
though, indicates that the
funded status of the state’s
system, including side
accounts that allow certain
employers to offset payroll
rates, has since declined to
75 percent.
Oregon took an incre-
mental step toward paying
down some of the system’s
unfunded liability this past
legislative session. Senate
Bill 1566 sets up an incentive
system for public employers
that set extra money aside to
pay their PERS bills.
In Oregon’s system, state
and local public employers
that are PERS members con-
tribute funds. That money is
invested, and the returns on
those investments constitute
most of the benefits paid out
to employees.
Although 2017 was a year
of strong investment returns,
the same volatility that can
bring high returns one year
can bring harsh losses the
next, the study noted.
Last year, the PERS board
lowered its assumptions
about how much the state’s
investments would earn from
7.5 percent to 7.2 percent.
The study found that from
2014 to 2016, many states,
including Oregon, did not
contribute enough money
each year to pay down the
“There is no one-size-
fits-all solution to the pen-
sion funding shortfall and the
budgetary challenges facing
individual states,” the anal-
ysis states, “but without new
policies that commit states to
fully funding retirement sys-
tems, the impact on other
essential services — and the
potential for unpaid pension
promises — will increase.”
However, Pew’s analy-
sis did not account for Ore-
gon’s use of what’s called
a rate collar, a method the
state uses to stave off dra-
matic increases in how much
employers are paying toward
The study also looked at
an indicator called “operating
cash flow ratio,” which mea-
sures the difference between
money flowing out (essen-
tially, benefit payments)
and cash before investments
(essentially, employer and
divided by the level of assets
at the beginning of the year.
The Capital Bureau is a
collaboration between EO
Media Group and Pamplin
Media Group.
SALEM — Knute Bue-
hler’s absence at county-level
forums and debates for the
GOP nomination for gover-
nor has alienated some of the
most politically active mem-
bers of his party, some Repub-
licans say.
The Bend orthopedic sur-
geon and state representa-
tive must edge out nine oppo-
nents in the May 15 primary
to win the nomination. The
winner will challenge Gov.
Kate Brown, a Democrat, in
Yet he has largely declined
to face off in public with the
front-runners in the race,
including retired naval aviator
Greg Wooldridge of Portland
and Bend businessman Sam
“We believe Knute con-
siders himself the presumed
nominee, therefore he does
not feel the need to meet with
his Republican Party vot-
ers. I guess we’ll see how that
strategy works out for him in
a month,” said David Gulli-
ver, campaign manager for
Rebecca Tweed, Buehler’s
campaign manager, said Fri-
day that Buehler is “focused
on defeating Gov. Brown and
is meeting voters every day all
across Oregon at community,
business and political party
events. … He will continue
this schedule now through
November and after the elec-
tion, as governor, when he
defeats Kate Brown.”
Buehler was scheduled to
attend a candidates forum with
Washington County Republi-
cans Saturday, during which
party members planned to
question the candidates and
vote for whom to endorse in
the gubernatorial primary. But
as an editorial endorsement
forum, the event is closed to
the public, said Tracy Honl,
chairwoman of Washington
County Republicans.
declined an invitation to attend
a public gubernatorial forum
organized by the Hood River
Republicans later that day,
State Rep. Knute Buehler has declined invitations for
most county-level public forums and debates for the GOP
nomination for governor.
“He is ignoring his oppo-
said Lauren Ales, a forum
nents in the ad in the way he
Susan Dawson, past presi- is ignoring voters in the pri-
dent of Yamhill County Repub- mary,” said Jonathan Lock-
lican Women, said she was wood, a communications con-
disappointed that both Bue- sultant for Wooldridge.
hler and Wooldridge missed
While Buehler has declined
that organization’s public can- most public faceoffs with his
didate forum in McMinnville opponents, he does meet with
Thursday. Both candidates voters in more intimate set-
sent stand-ins from their cam- tings. For instance, Buehler
paigns to answer questions, attended a Washington County
Dawson said. Wooldridge has Republicans meetup in Febru-
attended several other pub- ary where he introduced him-
lic forums and
self, met face to
debates with
face with par-
‘If your
ticipants and
his opponents
in March and
candidate answered
stand you can’t
go to every-
quite a bit of
thing, but it
him in Wash-
good at
ington County,”
really does help
to see the candi-
forums and she P said.
dates in person
answering ques-
consultant Russ
tions and being
Walker, who
you avoid also works for
able to talk,”
Dawson said. “I
Wo o l d r i d g e ,
them at all said avoiding
think it makes a
big difference.”
debates is an
B u e h l e r ’s
old strategy.
television ads
“If your can-
Russ Walker
didate doesn’t
political consultant
look good at
only why he is
a better choice
than Brown, the sitting gov- debates, you avoid them at all
ernor. He makes no men- costs,” unless the host of the
tion of his opponents, includ- forum or debate plans to issue
ing Wooldridge, who won a an endorsement at the end of
Republican straw poll for gov- the event, Walker said.
ernor at the Dorchester Con-
Jim Moore, political sci-
ference in Salem in March.
ence professor at Pacific Uni-
versity and director of the
Tom McCall Center for Pol-
icy Innovation, said Buehler
is using a strategy that worked
for Brown when Buehler
attempted to unseat her as sec-
retary of state six years ago.
“It’s an incumbent strat-
egy: I am the strong front-run-
ner so I will go to closed meet-
ings, but I am not going to go
to ones that are open and give
free advertising or coverage
to my opponents to advance
themselves at my expense,”
Moore said.
“It’s a strategy that works if
you make the assumption that
you are so far ahead that you
don’t want to give your oppo-
nents any facetime so they
appear equal to you in the pub-
lic’s eye. It’s better if the oppo-
nents complain that the candi-
date wouldn’t come here and
talk to us, because it looks like
little kids who are not allowed
at the big people’s table.”
There haven’t been any
publicly released scientific
polls since the March pri-
mary election filing deadline
that show whether Buehler is
safe to make that assumption,
Moore said.
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Buehler narrowly wins straw poll in GOP race for governor
Oregon Public Broadcasting
State Rep. Knute Buehler
eked out a narrow win in a
gubernatorial straw poll held
Saturday by the Washington
County Republican Party.
Buehler beat retired naval
aviator Greg Wooldridge by
just one vote while Bend busi-
nessman Sam Carpenter was
Buehler, an orthopedic sur-
geon from Bend, has been the
establishment favorite to win
the primary and take on Dem-
ocratic Gov. Kate Brown in the
general election.
But he’s been struggling to
win over Republican activists
upset that he’s criticized Presi-
dent Donald Trump, described
himself as pro-choice on abor-
tion — and has not opposed
every gun-control measure that’s
come before the Legislature.
Wooldridge defeated Bue-
hler at another straw poll held
at the annual Dorchester Con-
ference last month. Buehler
has downplayed the impor-
tance of these straw polls but
his supporters were pleased
that he was able to win Satur-
day’s vote.
State Rep. Richard Vial,
R-Scholls, said he thought
some conservative activists
predisposed to vote against
Buehler changed their minds
after hearing him speak.
“I sat next to a few who
said, ‘Gee, I didn’t think I was
going to, but I’m voting for
Knute,’” Vial said.
Wooldridge said he was
pleased to come so close to
Buehler despite the fact the
latter has been far out-spend-
ing the other Republican
“I think it shows a surge on
my part,” he said.
Washington County Repub-
lican Chairwoman Tracy Honl
said her group decided to
hold an unusual pre-primary
endorsement meeting. Usually,
official GOP organizations
stay neutral before primaries.
But Honl said local officials
saw it as a good way to get pre-
cinct committee workers more
excited about their work.
In any case, the party fell a
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