June 21, 2017 Newsletter

Rich Vial

June 21, 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

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

Bill Report

On June 19th, the Joint Committee on Tax Reform held a work session on HB 2830 relating to state finance.  This bill would create what is called a corporate activities tax—similar to the gross receipts tax from Measure 97 that was defeated by voters in November.  Earlier this session, the Legislative Revenue Office told lawmakers that such a policy would affect lower-income Oregonians the most.  Although it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats come together to balance our budget, this should not be done at the expense of our children’s education or on the backs of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.  HB 2830 could also potentially result in double taxation, having a dramatic effect on what we call “pass through” entities, such as LLCs and S Corporations, where a tax on sales would apply to the the entity itself and the owner would also pay personal income tax.  This would be a particular burden on our small business community.  In the coming weeks, I am hopeful that these discussions will focus more on cost containment measures that will prevent us from having to make difficult financial decisions during future sessions.

Committee Report

Marion County Circuit Court Annex

On June 6th, the Association of Oregon Counties organized tours of the Marion County Jail and Circuit Court Annex for members of both the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary. Throughout our visit, I was extraordinarily impressed by how organized and efficient the facility operates, and heard nothing but praise from staff regarding the institution’s administration. In particular, I would like to recognize Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers for his hard work during these financially challenging times. Opportunities like these remind me of the importance of strong leadership to the success of our local governments.  I would like to see more of this kind of strong leadership applied to our state agencies.

On June 8th, the Committees on Judiciary also toured Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, a minimum and medium security prison accommodating all the State of Oregon’s female inmates and providing intake and evaluation of all female and male inmates committed to state custody by the courts.  For me, both this tour and the tour of the Marion County Jail reinforced the extraordinary amount of coordination and effort that are required to ensure public safety in our state.  Another thing that I appreciated about the tour of Coffee Creek was the emphasis that the institution places on skills training, education, and treatment programs.  I was particularly impressed by the welding and woodshop programs that are offered there.

In addition, Earth Island Institute recently published an article on the facility’s efforts to teach environmental conservation to inmates, which you can read here.  Specifically, inmates at Coffee Creek have the option of participating in the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly Project.  Established in 2013, this program gives inmates the opportunity to grow and harvest Viola leaves which are then sent to the Oregon Zoo and fed to Silverspot Butterflies, a threatened species.  The success of this program at Coffee Creek has inspired other correctional facilities in Oregon and around the country to invest in similar programs for their inmates, not only teaching them about endangered species and habitat restoration, but helping them to find new purpose in life.  Programs like these are important as we strive to increase inmate opportunities after they have served their time, breaking the cycle of recidivism and reducing the likelihood that they will revert to criminal behavior once more.

In the Capitol

Each day as we begin our floor sessions, we have some type of opening ceremony.  This may be a prayer, a poem, a musical presentation, and occasionally a moment of silence.  I am grateful to those who are willing to give of their time to come to the capitol and participate, and encourage you to let us know if you would like to be considered for an opening ceremony.  

David and Marcie Lake

On June 14th, the President of the Lake Oswego Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, David Lake, came to the State Capitol to deliver a prayer as part of our Opening Ceremony on the Floor of the House. One of my constituents, David is a resident of Wilsonville and has been active in his community for many years, serving on the Wilsonville Development Review Board and both the Long-Range Planning and Bond Oversight Committees of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. I appreciated his words of support for those injured during this month’s shooting in our nation’s capital, and it was an honor to introduce him and his wife, Marcie, to my legislative colleagues. You can watch a video of his prayer and my introduction here.

In the District

Career and technical education programs are making waves among youth in the district. On May 22nd, the Sherwood Gazette published a story about the Bowmen House program at Sherwood High School (SHS), which you can read here.  I mentioned this program in an earlier edition of my newsletter, and how meaningful it is for members of my family who have had the honor of sponsoring it in the past.  Just last month, the program completed construction of its third home.  Students involved in this program helped to put in the wood floor and the siding inside the house, as well as the doors, closet shelves, cabinetry, and tile.  They even constructed an outdoor fireplace on the property.  Thanks to those involved in the program for their hard work over the past year and thanks to their instructor, SHS woodshop teacher Jon Dickover, for his commitment to our students.  Stories like this make me even more proud to represent the communities of House District 26 in Salem.

Fran Warren

On June 13th, my family hosted a meeting of the 175th Neighborhood Association at our home in Scholls. Dozens of people from Cooper Mountain, Aloha, and the outskirts of Beaverton turned out to discuss the development that has been taking place in and around their communities. Specifically, they are concerned that these new populations will place too much strain on already-congested, residential streets like 175th Avenue, and they recognize the urgent need for our government to invest in infrastructure that will provide commuters and freight with safer north-south routes through Washington County. I would like to thank the organization’s members for their activism, and I would like to recognize their, Fran Warren, for her dedication and leadership on these important issues.

On June 14th, I attended a meeting of the Clean Water Services Advisory Commission (CWAC), which I have served on since 2013.  During our meeting, the commission heard a report on the 2017-18 budget for the Clean Water Services (CWS) special district in urban Washington County.  The most striking part of this presentation was the fact that, while the population within the district has grown by nearly 200,000 in the last twenty years, the number of CWS employees has decreased from nine per 10,000 residents to fewer than six per 10,000 residents.  In other words, CWS has provided almost a third more of the services at almost a third less of the cost.  CWS has achieved this remarkable efficiency in no small part due to the work of Bill Gaffi, who has served as General Manager of the district since 1994.  Bill, who has been recognized for his leadership in both competitive business practices and technical excellence, has guided CWS to become internationally regarded as a leader in watershed management. I extend a special thank you to Bill for his efforts and expertise regarding issues affecting Oregon’s rivers. His fiscal responsibility and strong leadership are examples of what I would like to see replicated at the state level.

Personal Reflections

Mini Trackhoe

Over time, the legislative session has become more and more of a grind.  Back-to-back 15-minute meetings with lobbyists, caucus meetings, floor sessions, evening hearings, and early-morning meetings leave little room for breaks of any kind.  I have found that the intensity and pace of our work in the State Capitol makes working outside on the weekends all the more enjoyable.  This past Saturday, I got behind the controls of our Mini Trackhoe as our family cleared away several dead trees, regraded one of our properties, and tended to some of the other chores that Summer brings.  Without a doubt, these activities help me to get through each new week of the legislature.

Crawdad Feed

On Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day.  I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world to have so many children and grandchildren to give me hugs—not just on Father’s Day, but throughout the whole year.  This year, we gathered as a family for a crawdad feed using fresh crawdads straight from the Tualatin River, which surrounds one of our farms.  Sitting amidst the swirling mass of grandchildren and pets was a delight in and of itself.  It is difficult for me to think of anything more important than spending time with family.  By doing so, I find that I learn more about myself and cannot help but feel a greater sense of purpose in this journey of life.  I hope you were able to enjoy time with your own family and loved ones this weekend, as well.

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