Sine Die and Political Potshots
We are entering the last weeks of the legislative session and sometimes things get pretty politically hard hitting. You may have noted that I have been targeted by a "tough on crime" group with radio ads and robocalls to voters in my district. They are not very specific in their complaint so it is hard for me to respond. It appears, however, that they are objecting to a vote I made two years ago to take some money from the public safety budget in order to support programs for senior citizens which were then on the chopping block. I stand by my vote, and am happy to respond to any questions from constituents about my vote on any issue. Please feel free to contact me any time at: 503 986-1420.
On June 10, 2011, the legislative assembly gave approval to SB 989 redrawing the boundaries of the 60 House and 30 Senate districts to reflect population changes in the 2010 census. The legislatively approved maps can be found online here.
My district remains much the same except that I lose downtown and the Capitol Building. I will miss this section, including Willamette University, but am pleased to retain West Salem as a whole community and to continue representing Monmouth, Independence and the South Salem neighborhoods of Sprague High School and Judson Middle school.
Final budgets are coming up for votes this week. I am carefully reviewing the public safety budget to address the need for beds for youth offenders within the jurisdiction of the Oregon Youth Authority, as well as moving forward with full implementation of Measure 57, and leaving enough money in the base corrections budget to assure proper staffing levels within the Department of Corrections institutions. One of the small, but controversial, budgets is the budget for the Legislature itself. I do not support even the modest increase in this budget because of the drastic cuts we have made to other programs, especially our schools. I will be voting against this budget.
The Estate Tax bill HB 2541 has also come for a final vote. It was been changed in the Senate to bring down the top level rate from 20% to 16% so Oregon will not have the highest rate in the country. The trade off, however is to lower the starting point for estate tax exemption from $1.5 million to $1 million. I want to emphasize again, this bill is not about whether we should have an Estate Tax, this bill is about making our existing statutes work.
Ban on Texting While Driving
I am please to report that HB 3186 passed both the Senate and the House. The bill is now headed to the Governor for his signature.
Thank your for staying in touch and for your support and feedback during this session. I look forward to continuing to serve constituents in House District 20 during the interim. My office will remain open and available to help.