February 23, 2017 Newsletter

Rich Vial

February 23, 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Here is an update on my work as your State Representative.

Bill Report

SB 754, known as “Tobacco 21,” of which I am a chief sponsor, received a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care on February 14.  The committee heard broad support from the Oregon National Guard, the Oregon Military Department, the Children’s Health Alliance, public health organizations, and high school students.  Testimony from the hearing can be viewed on OLIS here.  I anticipate the bill to be scheduled for a work session, then move to the Senate floor for a vote. 

HB 2211, which I have also sponsored, changes Oregon elections to an “open primary” system whereby the top two vote recipients in a primary election, regardless of political party, win the primary and move on to the general election. I have received a great deal of feedback and questions about this bill.  To explain my position, more and more every day, I am sensing that that Oregonians are closer to the middle of the political spectrum than they are to its extremes.  In spite of that, often only highly partisan candidates win their parties’ primaries.  It is my observation that voters in other states that have adopted open primaries have elected candidates that are more willing to reach across the aisle to find solutions to the challenges they face.  If passed, HB 2211 would be referred to the people for approval by a popular vote.  While I support an open primary system, Oregonians should decide how to choose their representatives—not politicians or political parties.

HB 2877 has also been on my radar.  Thank you to those who have contacted my office to express your concerns about this bill, which I share.  If passed, HB 2877 would place a $1,000 tax on vehicles more than 20 years old.  I do not support this bill or the process by which it was introduced.  The bill was introduced as a “committee bill,” a process that does not require the individual legislators or interest groups who are responsible for them to be publicly identified.  I support legislation to increase transparency and accountability by eliminating this practice, and stand with House Minority Leader, Mike McLane, who called for the Oregon Legislature to prohibit anonymous committee bills.

How to Get Involved

Throughout the session, you may feel strongly about one or more bills.  I encourage you to share your views by contacting your legislator directly.  To find out who represents you, click here.

The Oregon State Legislature’s Citizen Engagement webpage also provides a great deal of information to help you track a bill, provide testimony, e-Subscribe to Alerts and more.

I value your views.  If you ever have questions about how you can participate in the legislative process, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Career and Technical Education Programs

Last month, I visited Sherwood High School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.  I was struck by program’s effectiveness in engaging students in vocational training opportunities not offered through a traditional education curriculum.  During my visit, a student shared that, had it not been for the CTE program, he may have dropped out of high school.  Another student in the program took it upon himself to create custom name tags for my office.  These examples help me explain to others how effective CTE programs are at preparing a talented and diverse workforce in advanced manufacturing and other skilled trades to anchor Oregon’s economic future.  More information about Sherwood’s program can be found here.

Sherwood CTE Nametag

Vocational training is important to me on a personal level.  Two of my sons own a company that sponsors Sherwood High School’s Bowmen House construction program.  Each year, this program offers over 150 students an opportunity to apply the skills that they learn in the classroom by building houses from the ground up.  Architecture students design the blueprints, construction students implement them, interior design students perform the finish work, and environmental science students conduct the landscaping.  To date, the program has built two homes and construction is currently underway for two more.

As a member of the House Education Committee, I am working to expand vocational learning programs statewide, because programs like CTE and Bowman House push resources closer to the classroom and meet the individual needs of students.

Transportation Maintenance and Congestion Relief

This winter has drawn particular attention to the fact that our roads and bridges are in much need of repair.  However, transportation investments are needed for more than maintenance alone.  My constituents and residents of the Portland Metropolitan Area know all too well that the current level of traffic congestion has made our communities less livable and stifles our economic growth.  As Vice Chair of the House Transportation Policy Committee, I am advocating for maintenance and modernization efforts to develop some means of funding projects that relieve these traffic congestion problems.

Personal Reflections as a Freshman Legislator

Although I have been in the State Capitol many times over the years, testifying in committees and meeting with legislators, one of the things that I failed to appreciate is just how full the daily schedule of a Representative really is.  Commuting from our farm in Scholls, my days typically start around 5:30 a.m. and end around 9:00 p.m. or later.  My days are full of back-to-back, 15-minute meetings with constituents, advocates, and other interest groups, interspersed with committee meetings in which we hear testimony and vote on various bills. The pace of this job is intense and exciting to say the least.

Jiu Jitsu

Last Tuesday evening, I found time to attend my regular Jiu Jitsu session at Ito Dojo in Beaverton.  This particular session was special because it marked my achievement of the rank of Brown Belt with my sparring partner, Hamza El Hadj Ali.  Hamza and I have been practicing Jiu Jitsu together for two years.  As I was receiving my Brown Belt alongside him, I thought about how blessed I am that my family and I have the opportunity both to participate in and give back to the communities that mean so much to us.  As always, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to do this by serving as your State Representative.




Capitol Phone: 503-986-1426
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.RichVial@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/vial