2016 End of Session Newsletter

Deborah Boone

Greetings from the Beautiful North Oregon Coast!

The 78th Legislative Assembly adjourned sine die on March 3rd, finishing the short session in just 32 days.  It was a hectic and busy month as we focused on growing Oregon’s economy, making government more accountable and efficient and supporting the education, health and safety of rural and urban Oregonians. I was happy to work across the aisle to deliver key priorities for our district, including support for dairy farmers and a loan program to help with septic system repairs. We balanced the state’s budget and protected the services that our coastal communities rely on, including services for seniors, public safety investments and support for small business.

As your State Representative,  I worked closely with my Legislative Coastal Caucus colleagues to represent our coastal communities while rebalancing the budget. These budget investments include funds to boost Oregon seafood businesses and support research at the Pacific Marine Energy Center.

Over the session, we created a pilot project in Tillamook County to establish a more collaborative review process for wetland restoration projects. SB 1517 will provide relief for local dairy farmers who have seen adverse impacts on their properties from neighboring wetland restoration efforts. It also has tremendous potential to provide a template for collaborative success in many of the wetter areas of Oregon.

SB 1507 the tax credit package, decreased the manure digester tax credit from $5 per wet ton to $3.50 per wet ton, but extended the tax credits to 2022.  This is important to digester operators in Tillamook County, and may make construction of additional manure digesters more feasible throughout Oregon.

Another win for House District 32 was a $3 million dollar set aside for the City of Warrenton to rebuild a fish processing dock that was destroyed by fire in June of 2013.   This site is leased to Pacific Seafood a company that employs hundreds of local workers.

As Vice Chair of the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness committee, I was happy to see the approval of House Joint Resolution 202.  This legislation refers a proposal to the November ballot that would set aside 2% of lottery revenues (estimated at $25 million) for Veterans outreach and programing per biennium.  Statistics show that every dollar that Oregon invests at the state level for veterans’ services brings in $77 from the federal government in education, healthcare, housing and transportation benefits.  We have an estimated 350,000 veterans living in Oregon, and fewer than 100,000 are currently receiving support from the federal government.  This initial investment at the state level will help unlock federal funding and keep faith with the men and women who served in the military, often in combat zones.

One of the most contentious, and in fact, the only measure that was approved strictly along party line votes, was SB 1532 the Minimum Wage package.  This legislation creates a three-tiered, regional system for wage increases over the next six years.   The first increase takes effect July first, where Oregon’s current $9.25 wage will climb to $9.50 in rural areas and $9.75 everywhere else.  As currently written, wages will raise over time and in 2022 the rate will be $14.75 inside Portland’s urban growth boundary, $13.50 in midsized counties and $12.50 in rural “frontier” areas.   I have joined a bicameral, bipartisan “Oregon Caucus” of moderate legislators and we will introduce in the 2017 Legislative Session alternatives to this minimum wage package with the goal of helping rural and agricultural employers.

Finding solutions to Oregon’s affordable housing crisis was a top priority this session, and two measures were approved and signed by Governor Brown.  SB 1533 ends a statewide ban on inclusionary zoning and construction excise taxes. These are not mandatory, but gives local governments additional tools to address housing needs. HB 4143 is aimed at spiraling rent increases, and bans rent increases in the first year of a month-to-month tenancy, and increases the notice of rent increases from 60 to 90 days.

The 2016 session was marred by partisan tensions, which seemed to be exacerbated by the current election cycle.  I was gratified to see my colleagues work through their differences and achieve consensus and cooperation to approve many important bills.  As the session drew to a close all 60 House members walked together across the Rotunda to the Senate requesting they approve HB 4004, a bill to place statues of former US Senator Mark Hatfield and Nez Perce Chief Joseph in the US Capitol’s Statuary Hall.   This bill was championed by Rep. Vic Gilliam R-Silverton, who is currently struggling with ALS (known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).   Although the Senate did not consider this legislation, I was extremely honored and moved to be a part of this heart-felt unifying effort. 

It is great to be back in the district meeting with constituents.   Senator Betsy Johnson and I will hold a Town Hall this Saturday March 19 at the Warrenton City Council Chambers from 2:00 to 3:00pm.   We met last weekend in Manzanita and had a lively discussion with those in attendance.   I hope you will join us this Saturday, hear a legislative report, after which we’ll answer your questions.

Coming up in two weeks is the 31st annual Solve Spring Beach Cleanup.   Saturday, March 26th from 10:00 am to 1:00pm volunteers will join together to clean Oregon’s beaches from Astoria to Brookings.  You can register at one of 45 beach cleanup locations at solveoregon.org or by calling 503 844-9571 x332.

Even when the Legislature is not in session, we still check our messages regularly, so if you do have a concern or comment or need help regarding a state issue or agency, please contact my office.   It is my privilege to represent you in the Oregon House of Representatives and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Representative Deborah Boone

House District 32

email: Rep.DeborahBoone@state.or.us I phone: 503-986-1432
address: 900 Court St NE, H-481, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/boone