June 7, 2017 Newsletter

Rich Vial

June 7, 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

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

In the Capitol

June 2nd was the legislature’s Second Chamber Deadline.  Any policy bills that did not receive a work session in their second chamber by that date are ineligible to move forward this session, except for those that have been assigned to the House Committee on Rules, the Senate Committee on Rules, or the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.  Now, there is just over one month before July 10th, when legislature is Constitutionally required to adjourn the 2017 Regular Session.

2017 Prayer Breakfast

On May 25th, I attended the 2017 Oregon Legislative Prayer Breakfast at the Salem Convention Center. Both the Democratic Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, and the Republican House Minority Leader, Mike McLane, as well as numerous other state legislators and leaders from the faith community, offered remarks for the purpose of celebrating our shared values and fellowship with one another—a message I found particularly meaningful as issues like the state budget and the transportation package become more contentious every day.  During the event, Senate President Peter Courtney and I were each asked to read passages from scripture that guide our work in the legislature.  For my reading, I chose passages in Mosiah Chapter 4 and 1st Corinthians Chapter 13 from the Book of Mormon and the Bible, respectively, which remind us of the importance of humility and charity as we work to pass laws that will affect our fellow Oregonians.  It was an honor to participate in this event, and the experience was made even more rewarding by the fact that several of my constituents were able to attend, as well.  You can watch a video of the breakfast here, using the password "OREGON".  Can't wait for next session's breakfast!


On May 31st, the House Committee on Transportation Policy held an informational hearing regarding the recently-completed Washington County Transportation Futures Study.  During the 2013 Regular Session, the City of Hillsboro requested over $1 million from the State on behalf of Washington County to conduct a study identifying several transportation strategies that the county can choose to invest in as it grows over the next 50 years.  I would like to thank City of Hillsboro and Washington County’s staff for providing the committee with background as to why the study was needed and an overview of what was learned from it.  I would also like to thank former State Senator Bruce Starr and the President of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, Deanna Palm, for underscoring the need for improved freight mobility and north-south connectors within the county.  Lastly, I would like to thank Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten for making the trip down to Salem to be present during the presentation.  I asked Chair McKeown to hold this hearing because I believe it is an important step in holding local governments accountable for money that they receive from the state, and because it is my hope that the results of this study will provide the legislature with a sense of urgency regarding Washington County’s need for large-scale transportation investments going forward.  You can watch a video of the hearing here.

Also on May 31st, the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization released a first draft of the official transportation package bill.  HB 2017, relating to transportation, incorporates many of the concepts that the committee has discussed and debated up until this point, including widening several traffic congestion bottlenecks in the Portland metropolitan area by creating a tax on new vehicles as well as implementing tolling and congestion-pricing mechanisms; funding a number of preservation, maintenance, and seismic upgrade projects around the state by increasing the gas tax as well as title, registration, and licensing fees; and investing in bicycle lanes, pedestrian projects, and public transportation through a tax on new bicycles and a payroll tax.  In total, the bill in its current form would raise approximately $8 billion dollars over the next ten years.  I am hopeful that my colleagues will do what they can to help us pass some form of a transportation package this session.  I fear kicking the can down the road even just once more would have disastrous results.

In the District

Transportation Package Update

On May 30th, the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce met to discuss HB 2017.  Members received an update from representatives of the City of Hillsboro, Washington County, and TriMet about what is currently in the bill and what it will mean for the business community.  I also had the opportunity to address the group regarding my personal thoughts on the package, including where it can be improved and where I feel it is headed in the right direction.  Special thanks to the chamber’s leadership for hosting the meeting and for having me.

Memorial Day

During Memorial Day weekend, a large portion of our family went camping near Barview on the coast. That Friday night, we crammed everyone into a couple of cabins, made s’mores, and played games until bed time. On Saturday, a group of us went clam digging and fishing, and brought back fresh seafood that we prepared for dinner that evening. The entire weekend was a great way for our family to spend time together and reflect on what’s important in life this Memorial Day.

Memorial Day

For those of you who do not know, Paula and I have been blessed with a uniquely large family. In addition to six biological children, we have welcomed dozens of children of all ages into our home, including seven who joined our family permanently as refugees from Vietnam. Weekends like this one, when I get to observe people from different cultures playing and working together, are extraordinarily meaningful for me. The opportunity for Paula and me to join our family with those from Vietnam has been one of the most pivotal experiences of our lives. We have been lucky to find ourselves united with people from halfway around the world, whose values and work ethic have provided us with such an example. To say I am proud of our family and what it has become is actually inaccurate. In truth, the emotion I am feeling on this Memorial Day is gratitude—not just for my family, but for my country, and for the men and women in uniform who have fought and died to protect it.

Thinking of the Vietnam War—which ended just weeks before I was required to report for duty—the 60,000 Americans and more than 2,000,000 Vietnamese brothers and sisters who died, as well as the many who continue to suffer from physical and mental ailments as a result of it, causes me to long for a day when people can live together without the need to kill, steal, and lie to one another. Until then, the willingness of one person to lay down their life for someone else is something that I cannot ignore. Politics aside, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms, in all conflicts, deserve our thanks and appreciation.  I hope you and your family have an opportunity to engage in this kind of reflection, as well.

Personal Reflections

This past Saturday, our neighbors, the Hoffman family, hosted the annual Scholls Country Festival at their historic Butler farm facility on Scholls Ferry Road.  Hundreds of people from around the Tualatin Valley and the region came out to enjoy the sun and spend time with family, friends, and the community.  I was tasked with monitoring fire safety and helping to manage overflow parking for the event, which gave me plenty of time to chat with my neighbors and constituents over a hamburger on a bale of hay.  In my opinion, there is no better way to spend a day in the country.

Scholls Country Festival

A number of these individuals asked me about my experience in Salem.  I was happy to tell them how impressed I am by the caliber of my legislative colleagues, and how much I have enjoyed being called a “freshman” at 62 years old.  I explained how much I am learning, and how fortunate I am to be able to participate in discussions around transportation issues in our area.  Frequently, these conversations morphed into discussions about the state budget and taxes and, in nearly every case, I was surprised by what I heard.  While the folks I spoke with were anxious about the potential for higher taxes, the idea of instituting some sort of a sales tax in exchange for lowering personal income taxes was met with nothing but support.  Although they were concerned with government waste and inefficiency, they seemed more than willing to pay for better roads and better education as long as the government demonstrated efforts to contain costs and spend its money responsibly.  Although I am certain that some members of the community are more adamantly opposed to the idea of a sales tax or a gross receipts tax, I did not hear from any that afternoon.

Eventually, I will be asked to press either a green button or a red button on the floor of the House as it relates to the budget and increasing revenue.  Quite frankly, if a bill that comes to the floor does not address government efficiency, I will likely be voting “No.”  If a bill comes to the floor that does not provide our children with a decent education, I will likely be voting “No.”  If a bill comes to the floor that increases taxes in one area without providing relief somewhere else, I will likely be voting “No.”  However, our society does rely on some amount of government.  Finding a fair and balanced way to fund that government is one of the most important roles of the legislature, and I intend to be a part of those discussions when the time comes.

Rebecca Luedloff

On a happier note, one of our other neighbors, Rebecca Luedloff, sent me an email after my last newsletter about how disappointed she was that I did not include another photograph of my grandchildren.  Rebecca has been a dear friend of our family for many years.  Some days, when Paula is teaching the grandchildren preschool, Rebecca will pay us a visit and spend some time reading to them.  Moments like these, and the spirit of community that they attest to, are one of the things that I love most about Oregon and House District 26.  Indeed, they are one of the main reasons why I decided to run for office in the first place.  As always, it is a privilege to serve 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