Do What You Can Do 3/29/19

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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 seventh edition of Do What You Can Do.

First a reminder: I hope you’ll check out Capitolizing, the weekly podcast where Senator Shemia Fagan and I answer two questions every week: just what do we do here in the Capitol, and why the hell should you care? It’s on iTunes and other podcast networks.

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What's Up

Campaign Finance

On Wednesday, March 27, my Campaign Finance Committee passed SJR 18, which would ask voters to amend Oregon’s constitution to make it clear that campaign contributions can be limited and regulated. OPB’s report lays out the details.

This is a big step, but there are others to take before we actually see this measure on the ballot. Before the session’s over I expect to see bills passed that set specific dollar limits and spell out other requirements; these would take effect when and if voters pass the constitutional amendment.

All the same, the day was one to remember for all of us who see special-interest campaign money as the biggest hurdle in the way of solving Oregon’s biggest challenges. More news to come.

Senator Golden Thinking

Photo Courtesy of OPB

Youth Justice

Many of us think the current system of juvenile justice leans toward permanently criminalizing young offenders, wasting lives and laying a needless burden on taxpayers. This session could change that. 

  • SB 966 would provide a “conditional release hearing” before the age of 25 for youth who commit serious crimes before the age of 18.
  • SB 968 ends life sentences without possibility of parole for crimes committed before the age of 18.
  • SB 969 ends the requirement that those committing certain crimes at the age of 15-17 be tried as adults, giving judges more case-by-case authority.
  • SB 1008 mandates a “second-look” hearing halfway through long sentences where judges could decided if young people could serve the remainder of their sentences under community-based supervision.

Since the cluster of tough-on-crime laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s, research on brain development suggests that permanent imprisonment of youngsters who’ve committed serious crime is often misguided. These measures give the courts more discretion to look at the circumstances of individual cases, with an eye towards the possibility of eventually returning young offenders back into society.  As you’ll see below, I’d like to know what you think of this shift.  

Climate Action

The Climate Committee’s still reviewing the big package of new amendments to HB 2020.  

Your emails have been overwhelmingly in favor of this bill.  Whether or not it raises some costs of living, many of you write, we can’t afford to kick this problem down the road anymore. One district resident wrote me this week on the legislation to ask “What do you think we should be worrying about or be happy about?”  This bill’s unusual complexity makes that a tough question to answer. In general, the amendments reduce exemptions and “carve-outs” for particular industries; I put that in the “happy” category, because making sure that all emitters do what they can is the path to reducing overall GHG emissions as rapidly as we can.

On the flip side is the reality that the more the cost of doing business rises, the more challenges we’re likely to have in the short-term economic picture. Part of any transition on this scale—really, part of the definitions of “transition”—is that old ways of doing business give way to new. We’re working on ways to reduce the burden of change, especially on economically vulnerable communities and people, through utility rate relief and considerations for people who have to drive long distances, farmers, ranchers and others. And new renewable-energy opportunities, the “happier” part of transition, are definitely going to help balance the equation,

As with any historic transition, nobody can say how all of this will shake out. But for those of us accepting the IPCC consensus that we’re on the verge of irreversible climate chaos, the alternative—doing little or nothing, waiting for someone else somewhere else to lead the way—would be abandoning a fundamental human responsibility to our children and their children.

Young Climate Activists Visit

All of this would have been simpler and easier if we had begun 30+ years ago (when oil companies were writing internal memos clearly predicting problems to come) or even ten or twenty.  We didn’t. So now it’s up to us to create the very best system we can to dramatically reduce emissions, develop new economic opportunities and minimize economic hardship. We’ll keep working HB 2020 to achieve those ends.

Yesterday we received a useful 18-page summary of the whole picture...not exactly light reading, but much less daunting than the original 55-page bill, or the 129-page package of current amendments. If you have any revisions to suggest, please email them to me not later than Tuesday, April 2.

What Do You Think?

A while back in this space we asked what you thought of Uber and Lyft’s efforts to keep their drivers classified as independent contractors rather than employees. One response included a recent article that lays out why this really matters.

This week I’d like your views on some big proposed changes to laws on prison sentencing for people who commit serious crimes before the age of 18 (see “Youth Justice” above). Is it time to move away from mandatory sentencing requirements, and put these decisions back in the hands of judges on a case-by-case basis?

What do you think? Write

The Last Word

Talent Town Hall Promo

Coming soon to a Talent Town Hall near you...

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.

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
Podcast: Capitolizing