Mid-Session Legislative Update.

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Senator Alan Olsen

Hello Friends.

End of April Newsletter. 

We have now passed the half-way point in the 2017 legislative session with no substantive legislation being passed.  Minor pieces of legislation have passed both houses, but nothing to really “hang your hat on”.  Many of the bills passed out of the Senate are either bad public policy or don’t pass the common-sense test.  As an example, we recently passed a budget bill, SB 5513.  It combined two small agencies into one.  Both agencies were deficient on their key performance measures so one would assume that combining these agencies, with some sanctions for their poor performance, would bring about cost savings.  Instead, this new combined agency was rewarded with a 19.1% increase and substantial fee increases.  This is typical of the legislation moving through the Legislature.

Deadlines have passed for bills to be heard in their originating chamber.  But much of the legislation still in play has been moved to either Rules, Revenue, or Ways and Means which are not affected by deadlines.  This will allow these bills to be heard later, or in most cases, become bills to trade for special interest projects.


Kraxburger Middle School Kids

Education bills that I sponsored died without any hearings, including SB 671, which would have dedicated $9.523B to K-12 education.  Not a single school board member, the OEA, or even a single teacher came to me and said what can we do to help pass this legislation.  So, when someone states that we need more money for schools, one can ask “where were you?”  

A transportation package, a very important issue, is still in the “closet” as to what it will look like and how much it will cost.  I have not even heard a dollar amount that will be needed to fix roads and bridges, or to even fill potholes.  It appears that the end of this session will be very, very busy.

And then there is the budget.  Predicted $2B more in revenue.  Absolutely amazing.  $1.6B in spending above income, unconscionable.  Cost controls must be put in place to retard this spending spree.  The Legislature knew we would have rising costs related to Medicaid, or Obamacare, but we did nothing to plan for the inevitable.  This inept budgeting process will either bankrupt the state, or make taxes so high that we, the people, will not be able to afford to live here.  I know the question will of course turn to taxing corporations so they can pay their fair share.  Some don’t believe this, but the prices for goods and services provided by these corporations will be increased, and we will pay more.

On the lighter side, I do have several bills that are still in play, including providing a larger property tax exemption for those veterans who are disabled SB 694.  Also in play is a bill that gives a tax deduction for the adoption of shelter animals SB 1035.  The most important bill still in play, SB 952 A, is the reconstruction of the Department of Energy(DOE), which has been mismanaged resulting in wasting millions of taxpayer dollars. It was amended, per my request, and sent to Rules Committee. This legislation could make a significant change to the operation of the DOE.  I look forward to continued work on this legislation hopefully to final passage.

Until next month,

Yours truly,

Senator Alan Olsen
Senate District 20

Email: Sen.AlanOlsen@oregonlegislature.gov
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1720
District Phone: 503-266-4599
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, S-425, Salem, OR 97301
District Address: 675 Northwest 2nd St., Canby, OR 97013
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/olsen


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Senator Olsen's Committees:

Vice Chair of Senate Committee Environment & Natural Resources
Vice Chair of Senate Committee Human Services & Early Childhood
Senate Committee on Veterans & Emergency Preparedness