Do What You Can Do 3/8/19

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Senator Jeff Golden

 *  “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” 
—Helen Keller

Welcome to the fifth edition of Do What You Can Do.

What's Up

Honoring Secretary of State Dennis Richardson:

Yesterday, Wednesday, March 6, the entire legislature was joined by several hundred people honoring the life of Secretary of State, attorney and longtime Central Point resident Dennis Richardson, who passed away on February 26.

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson

While it can be easy to get cynical about praise you hear at an event like this, the affection for Dennis and appreciation for his whole-hearted public service was deep and clearly genuine. Over the years I frequently crossed paths with him at events in the Rogue Valley. I never once felt anything but courteous respect from him no matter how big the gap between our political views.  The need for more of that these days is just one of the many reasons Dennis will be missed.

Climate Action:

HB2020 Hearing Photo Courtesy of Allen Hallmark

Photo courtesy of Allen Hallmark

The conversation continues on this session's central environmental bill, HB2020. The Joint Committee on which I serve is about to dig into a pile of proposed amendments. I'm still committed to passing the best possible bill, measured by 1) aggressive, sustained reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; 2) expanded opportunities for family-wage jobs; and 3) protection of the most economically vulnerable communities and people as we shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Striking the right balance with legislation this complex is a huge challenge. Now's the time to send in proposed amendments that could help do that, the more clear and concise the better. If dense and complicated material doesn't faze you, you can work straight off the bill itself, HB2020. If you're looking for more information, two groups you can contact are Rogue Climate and SOCAN.

Mandatory Vaccinations:

My testimony last week on HB3063, suggesting that it was too sweeping and across-the-board dismissive of vaccination concerns, set off a firestorm of intense cheers and jeers. The House Health Care Committee is still debating the bill. I hope they find a better balance between two conflicting principles that deeply divide the people of District 3: the primacy of informed parental consent and the conviction that specific vaccinations are vital to protect schoolchildren (especially those who are immuno-compromised) from serious harm. This will never be an easy conversation. Our job as legislators is to listen with open minds and flexible thinking to craft policy that addresses the needs of different-thinking citizens--not perfectly, but as well as we can.

Campaign Finance Reform:

As The Oregonian continues its "Polluted By Money" series, my Senate Campaign Finance Committee, in tandem with the House Rules Committee, is working on a constitutional amendment that would end Oregon's status as virtually the only state that imposes no contribution limits or other key regulation on political campaigns. Because it amends the state constitution, it would first have to come to the voters for approval.

There's nervousness among diverse groups in the Capitol about how this kind of change would play out, which leads to jockeying over exactly what the new constitutional wording would say. My view is that the constitutional language should be short and sweet, simply making it clear that regulating campaign finance is not a violation of free-speech rights, and that either the legislature or the people through initiative process has that power. Others want to include more details--for example, specific dollar numbers for maximum contributions--in the constitution, details that couldn't be changed without another vote of the people.

The backstory of all of this is the jockeying of different groups to avoid losing influence if we start regulating money in politics, and it all gets tangled up very fast. I came into this thinking it would be a straightforward matter to simply ask Oregonians if they wanted to make it possible to regulate that money (and fairly confident that they'd say "yes"). But to paraphrase what Donald Trump said about healthcare, "Who knew campaign finance would be complicated?"

Oregon State Capitol

What Do You Think?

Our last newsletter asked what you thought about the proposal to lower the voting age to 16. 6 of you thought it was a good idea, 18 said no, and 1 person wasn't sure yet. I appreciate your feedback on this.

This time I'd like your thinking on an issue that Uber is bringing to the Capitol. They want us to make sure their drivers can keep their status as independent contractors; classifying them as employees would saddle the company with more rules and payroll costs. What do you think?

The Last Word

SOU Town Hall March 3, Courtesy of Rogue Action Center

Photo courtesy of the Rogue Action Center

Our thanks to everyone who came out to our town hall last Sunday, and thank you in particular to the Associated Students of SOU for helping to put this together. Stay tuned for more information regarding future town halls!

Do you know other people in the Rogue Valley who might want to know about the issues we’ll be tackling this session, including climate, wildfires and smoke, affordable housing, education (pre-K through higher ed), health care, economic fairness and campaign finance reform?  Please invite them to sign up for this newsletter at We will not share contact information with anyone else for any reason.

And if you like Twitter, follow @SenatorGolden for more frequent and impulsive updates.

Our best to you for now. Please remember to do what you can do.


Senator Jeff Golden
Chair, Campaign Finance Committee 
Senate District 3 (Rogue Valley)

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, S-421, Salem, OR, 97301
Twitter: @SenatorGolden