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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (July 9, 2019)
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
KATHRYN B. BROWN
WYATT HAUPT JR.
Founded October 16, 1875
Legislature, marred by turmoil,
actually did some good work
he partisan excesses and polit-
ical turmoil of the 2019 Ore-
gon Legislature have been
well-documented. But the now-fin-
ished legislative session also should be
remembered for some good work on
behalf of the entire state.
Much of that work was bipartisan.
Much of it drew little public attention.
Much of it would help rural Oregon.
There are many examples. Here are
The Legislature fulfilled its consti-
tutional mandate to write a balanced
state budget for 2019-21, while also
building up a healthy rainy-day fund.
By the way, Oregonians will get to
keep their “kicker” tax refund next
year, although the amount won’t be
known until next month.
Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose,
was a constant voice for fiscal san-
ity — and understanding the needs of
rural Oregon — in her role as a Senate
co-chair of the budget-writing Ways
& Means Committee. Her reputation
for holding state officials accountable
She and other lawmakers chal-
lenged public universities to learn
from community colleges by collab-
orating on their building needs and
addressing their deferred maintenance
instead of constantly seeking state
money for new buildings.
A proposed university center
to train rural health care workers
received $10 million. The proposed
Southern Oregon Medical Workforce
Center in Roseburg would be a collab-
The partisan excesses and political turmoil of the 2019 Oregon Legislature have been
well-documented. But the now-finished legislative session also should be remembered
for some good work on behalf of the entire state.
oration with Newberg-based George
Fox University. It would offer bach-
elor’s and graduate degrees in allied
health professions, such as physical
therapy and mental health. The con-
cept is that people trained in rural
Oregon are more likely to take health
care jobs in rural Oregon.
An increased 911 tax will help
emergency dispatch centers hire more
staff and modernize their technology.
Although call volumes have increase
dramatically, the emergency com-
munication tax had not increased in
nearly 25 years, according to the legis-
lation’s tenacious sponsor, Rep. Lynn
Findley, R-Vale. The monthly tax will
rise over a two-year period from the
current 75 cents to $1.25 per phone
line. That measure, House Bill 2449,
passed the Senate in the Legislature’s
final hours. It was an illustration that
even the best ideas needed constant
attention and unending advocacy to
survive the legislative process.
Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, and
Johnson sponsored SB 290 that pro-
tects farmers, ranchers and volun-
teers from civil liability for helping
fight wildfires. The legislation, which
passed unanimously in both cham-
bers, stemmed from the Substation
Fire that burned more than 78,000
acres of crop and range land in Wasco
and Sherman counties.
Another bipartisan bill success-
fully sponsored by Hansell and John-
son aims to increase student achieve-
ment and improve graduation rates
through state coordination with FFA
Among major issues on lawmak-
ers’ agenda, they did a little bit to pay
down the Public Employees Retire-
ment System’s unfunded liability,
although public-employee unions
howled that it was too much and
Republicans said that it was too lit-
tle. In one little-noticed but import-
ant move, the Legislature also allowed
the Harney District Hospital in Burns
to offer a retirement program other
than PERS and to fill job vacancies by
rehiring PERS retirees without affect-
ing those retirees’ pensions.
Oregon’s beleaguered child wel-
fare system gained the money and
program changes to add 347 front-
line workers. Oregon State Police can
hire 40 troopers. Oregon State Univer-
sity Extension Service — one of the
most popular programs among legis-
lators — gained new investments for
fire resilience, water basin research,
organic farming and berry research.
The Legislature appropriated $14 mil-
lion to rehabilitate the Wallowa Lake
Dam after Gov. Kate Brown visited
the area and learned the potential for a
High-profile items, such as fam-
ily leave, education funding, climate
change, gun control and rent control,
dominated the news at various times
during the past five months. Amid
dealing with those controversial issues
— for good or bad — legislators col-
laborated on a lot of good work.
Walden should check his
facts on border crisis
fueled by fear
While attending Representative Greg
Walden’s recent town hall, I was somewhat
perplexed by Mr.Walden’s response to my
question. Like many Americans, I am con-
cerned about the treatment of immigrants,
particularly women and children, in the
detention facilities near the southern bor-
der. When I asked Mr. Walden about his
knowledge of these facilities and how the
detainees were being treated,he gave me
an answer that was completely contradic-
tory to current published information on
Mr. Walden claimed that he visited one
of these border facilities in July of 2018.
He claimed that he was able to see first-
hand a facility where children were receiv-
ing excellent care. He said that the children
were well fed, attended school and even
had a student council. The fact that Mr.
Walden claimed that he visited and viewed
the inside of one of these facilities almost
one year ago, when just recently members
of Congress were allowed to enter these
facilities, seems odd.
His description of these facilities also
contradicts reports from a congressional
delegation, as well as the Inspector Gen-
eral of the Department of Homeland Secu-
rity, indicating that these facilities were
substandard and that the detainees were
not treated well.
I would hope that our government
would see fit to treat the detainees at the
border with respect and provide for their
fundamental needs. I challenge Repre-
sentative Walden to study the facts of this
matter and to work in a bipartisan fashion
to explore humane and realistic solutions
to the immigration problems on our south-
The recent debate over cap and trade in
Oregon was intensely emotional, causing
some senators to actually go into hiding
to avoid voting on it. I suspect the emotion
driving both sides was fear.
Those promoting cap and trade fear
the long-term consequences of a warming
planet. Those opposing cap and trade fear
the more immediate losses of their constit-
uents’ jobs, income, and way of life. Their
fear is not surprising, given that people
tend to worry more about losing something
they already have than what they might not
have in the future.
The irony is that none of us will live
to see the long-term consequences of our
actions, so we don’t really know for sure
how they will impact the future. We are
the ancestors of the people who will have
to live in the world we leave them.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of
the East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and not
necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
Young people must carry
the torch for a better world
Last month the East Oregonian did a
story about some young folks from Hep-
pner who were trying to raise awareness
and have a conversation about climate
change. I applaud them for their efforts.
My generation came of age during the
1960s and 1970s. We were going to change
the world, and in some ways we collec-
tively did. Major legislation was passed
aimed at cleaning up our air and water,
protecting endangered species, and bring-
ing more transparency to government.
Along with this, the powerful fossil fuel
industries and large corporations bought
their way into politics. We went on to raise
families and have careers as our economy
developed around consumption and hav-
ing the latest and greatest things. Some
of what we developed was fantastic and
useful; some set us on the path to climate
change, bolstered by an exploding world
Now, most agree that climate change is
happening, and there is overwhelming sci-
entific agreement that humans are respon-
sible for part of this.
Although there is general agreement in
recognizing that we have a problem, we
seem to lack the will to make the personal
and organizational sacrifices needed to
mitigate and adapt to a changing future. As
long as we use the excuse that what we do
will not make that much difference, or that
someone else needs to take a hit — not me,
nothing will change. Climate change will
not discriminate — conservative or liberal,
rich or poor — we will all be affected. We
will continue to see hotter and drier sum-
mers, larger wildfires, more invasive spe-
cies, earlier spring runoff and lower sum-
mer streamflows. June was the hottest
month ever recorded worldwide.
My generation is aging out. It is time
and it is so appropriate for the younger
generations to take the reins for their
future. We can learn from them and they
will live in a different world than the one
we grew up in. I applaud the young folks
who are insightful and courageous enough
to get involved with their future. Hats off
to them for raising our consciousness, and
along with others, pressing us into action
wherever that may lead.
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for publication in the newspaper and on our website. The newspaper reserves the right to withhold
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Pendleton, OR 97801