September 9, 2017 Newsletter

Rich Vial

September 9, 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

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

In the Capitol

On August 4th, I attended a meeting of the Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC). I was honored to receive Speaker Tina Kotek’s appointment to serve as a member of Oregon InC last March.  As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, Oregon InC is a public-private partnership that was created by the Governor and the Legislature in 2005.  Overseen by Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, Oregon InC’s purpose is to facilitate the development of industry clusters around certain fields in which Oregon holds a distinct national advantage.  One of the items on the agenda for this particular meeting was an update on the new Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), a collaborative research and training facility that has been established through partnerships with Boeing, Intel, the Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland State University, Portland Community College, as well as other public and private entities and institutions of higher education.

On August 23rd, the Legislative Revenue Office released its latest Revenue Forecast. One of the most notable aspects of this forecast was state economists’ prediction that $463.5 million will be returned to Oregon taxpayers through the state’s “kicker” refund.  This is an increase from the $408 million that was predicted in the May Revenue Forecast.  Individual taxpayers who claim the kicker as a credit on their 2017 state taxes, due next April, will receive an average of $227.  Corporations in Oregon will trigger a kicker of their own, as well, which is expected to reach $111 million.  That money, however, will be diverted to schools in our K-12 education system due to a ballot measure that voters passed in 2012.  Even with the kicker refund, Oregon’s state government is expected to receive $109 million more for the 2017-19 budget than it did during the previous biennium.  You can read an executive summary of the forecast by clicking here.  I remain among those who are convinced that we need to ensure the efficiency of our government agencies before considering additional tax increases.


On August 31st, Paula and I joined the Oregon SenateAires Chorus for their “Harmony on the Water” cruise on the Willamette Queen Sternwheeler at Wallace Marine Park in Salem.  The Oregon SenateAires Chorus is a nationally acclaimed barbershop chorus located in Salem, and it has been ranked the 5th best chorus in the world.  The cruise featured a Native American-style salmon bake as well as expert Native American interpretation, performances from numerous quartet singing groups, and presentations from several historically accurate reenactors.  For the event, I was asked to portray one of Oregon’s forefathers, Jason Lee, who served as a missionary in the Oregon Territory and eventually founded Willamette University in 1842. As an alumnus of the Willamette University College of Law, I appreciated being reminded of the contributions that pioneers like Jason Lee made to the early development of our state.  It was a beautiful night to be out on the Willamette River, and Paula and I enjoyed ourselves very much.

Goat Milking Showdown

On September 2nd, I visited the Oregon State Fair to participate in the Oregon Leaders’ Annual Goat Milking Showdown.  Although I did not win the competition, I would like to congratulate Representative Greg Barreto for taking home the prestigious Golden Goat Award for the third year in a row, and I would like to thank Senate President Peter Courtney and Representative Janeen Sollman for joining us.  You can watch a video of the event on the Oregon State Fair’s Facebook page.  I am planning on breaking Representative Barretto’s winning streak next year!

In the District


On August 24th, I toured the McKesson Distribution Center in Wilsonville.  The McKesson Corporation provides health care systems, professional services, medical equipment, and pharmaceutical distribution for hospitals, health plans, and pharmacies.  It is the oldest and largest health care company in the nation, serving more than half of all hospitals in the United States and delivering more than one third of all medications used daily in North America.  One of the primary reasons I decided to run for State Representative is because I think it should be easier for businesses like McKesson to open their doors right here in Oregon, bringing good jobs and economic growth with them.  It was a treat to be able to see some of McKesson’s operations in person, and to learn more about what we can do at the state level to keep theirs and other businesses growing.

Later, on August 24th, members of the Oregon Association of Nurseries gave me a tour of the Farwest Nursery Trade Show at the Oregon Convention Center.  As the largest green industry show in the western United States, the Farwest Show attracts growers, retailers, greenhouse operators, and suppliers from across the country.  House District 26 and rural Washington County are full of nurseries and other agricultural operations, many of whom I spoke with while travelling the district last year.  I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this important industry, and I would like to extend a special thank you to the Oregon Association of Nurseries for having me.

HB 2017 Memorial Signing

On August 27th, Governor Kate Brown visited Portland Community College’s Southeast Campus for her ceremonial signing of HB 2017, the Transportation Package passed by the legislature this year.  At the event, Governor Brown recognized that Portland-area traffic affects the entire state and that, given the number of people who are expected to move to Oregon in the coming years, the situation will likely continue to worsen.  The Transportation Package will inject $5.3 billion into several highway improvement projects in the metro region, as well as expanded transit service, bike lanes, and sidewalks near schools.  Some of these funds will also be distributed to local city and county governments to use as they see fit.  I was proud to cast my vote in favor of this package and, although it is an important first step in addressing Oregon’s congestion issues, I will continue to advocate for local governments’ abilities to make substantial, long-term investments in their own infrastructure needs when the state will not.

Personal Reflections


Harvest season has already begun at Vial Family Farms.  Earlier this month, my neighbor, Jay Hoffman, helped us to harvest and bail our hay fields.  Now, we are waiting for our delicious Jupiter grapes to ripen, so they can be harvested and shipped to nearby schools for children’s lunches. For the last several years, our farm has participated in Oregon’s Farm to School program, through which we have provided grapes to school cafeterias in the Hillsboro, Beaverton, Sherwood, Tigard-Tualatin, West Linn-Wilsonville and Portland public school districts.  This year, the legislature passed HB 2038, relating to school food programs, which will preserve funding during the 2017-19 biennium for this and other programs that provide kids with access to locally grown and processed foods as well as agriculture and garden-based educational activities.  We can’t wait to deliver this year’s crop!

For the recent Solar Eclipse, our family gathered on a school playground in Salem to experience "totality".  The entire experience was surreal, but I was especially amazed by the sheer power of the sun to light our planet, even when nearly all of it was covered up.  I tried to take a few photographs through my long, birding lens, but I kept overexposing the shots by not realizing just how much light was still reaching us.  It was awe inspiring.


Last month, I traveled to South America to spend two weeks photographing birds in Bolivia.  This, too, was an amazing experience. My guides and I saw some of the most magnificent and rarest birds in the region, not to mention some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever been in.  I was disheartened, however, by the extreme and widespread poverty that exists there.  Trash lay in the streets and many of the major roads were in remarkable disrepair.  The experience was actually very humbling.  Even with all of the challenges that our state and national governments face, they still provide us with one of the highest standards of living that exists anywhere in the world.  For that, I am enormously grateful.

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