Do What You Can Do 6/14/19

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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 June 14 edition of Do What You Can Do.

Ashland Town Hall

Thank you to everyone who came to our town hall last weekend. It was great to speak with constituents and to hear their stories and input on what's going on in Salem 

What's Up

Campaign Finance Reform:

With the session nearing its end, focus is back on the issue that (along with climate action) inspired me to run for the legislature: campaign finance reform.  The Senate Rules committee will soon take up SJR 18, which would ask voters to amend Oregon’s constitution to make it clear that campaign money can be regulated. They’re also considering bills that would require clear, meaningful “paid for by” messages on all political ads: ”XYZ Corporation,” not “The Committee to Make Oregon More Wonderful.” I’m hopeful these bills will pass.

What probably won’t get done in the next two weeks is a bill to spell out what the dollar limits on contributions will be, and who can make them. We have two different proposals in the legislature; the one that’s moving through the House, per my comments in last Sunday’s Oregonian editorial, doesn’t achieve the kind of reform I think we need. We’re not close to bridging this big difference of opinion, so I’ll work with others in the interim to bring a limits bill to the 2020 session in February.  I’ll want your ideas before then. 


Photo courtesy of Benton County

The Trickster Comes to Salem:

Some Indigenous cultures see the coyote as the Trickster, the figure that stirs up trouble and makes things more difficult. Things were definitely more difficult during the debate last week over SB 723, which would ban coyote-killing contests that take place periodically in eastern Oregon. Cash prizes go to whoever piles up the heaviest mound of carcasses in a short period of time. Testimony on the bill included this session’s grisliest pictures and stories of youngsters cheered on by their fathers to kill faster.

I received hundreds of emails on the bill. Some opposed it, saying either that we were sticking our noses where they didn’t belong, or that this was Step 1 of our “real agenda” to ban hunting.  But I heard from many more who identified themselves as hunters and had no use for what they saw as glorifying killing for killing’s sake. “This isn’t us,” wrote one, asking me to vote yes to make the point that “this isn’t who we are and what we believe in.” Those letters, and testimony from wildlife biologists that these contests might make predation on livestock worse, because coyotes amplify their reproduction in response to this kind of threat, locked in my support.

The debate on the Senate floor was long and emotional, the most personal of the session. Rural senators called the bill proof that liberal Portlanders know and care nothing about what their realities of their way of life. "This is an assault on us,” Douglas County Senator Dallas Heard said, “We don't want this. Please don't do this to us. I am so sick and tired of national politics tearing us apart, and it has bled into our state politics."

Senator Lew Frederick (D-22)

Senator Lew Frederick

We passed it 17-12. Senator Lew Frederick from Portland rose to say he wanted to speak “to the bill. Not to the culture war, Mr. President. To. The. Bill.” Along with others he rejected the notion we were doing something to our rural colleagues. “We’re not banning hunting. We’re not telling anyone not to kill coyotes [currently legal to kill anytime with a permit]. We’re not taking away any legitimate tools to deal with predation of cattle.” The bill bans only contests that reward killing as many coyotes as possible.

But it felt precisely like a culture war to the Republicans who spoke. No other debate this session laid bare the Oregon’s deep divisions as this one did. Whatever the literal text of the bill did or didn’t say, some opponents read it as repudiation of who they are. Some Democrats showed sympathy for that and a couple pointedly didn’t, seeing the complaint as a purposefully cynical way to take the debate off course.

That’s not how I heard it. I heard a group of men who genuinely feel unheard and frustrated, and a textual analysis of the bill wasn’t going to change that. What we had on the floor that day was a pretty accurate synopsis of our country’s larger political drama. It’s now up to the House whether this Tricky bill becomes law.


Photo courtesy of USFWS

HB 2020: The Climate Bill

Passed out of the Climate Committee weeks ago, HB 2020 has had a rocky week in the Ways and Means Committee. It seems some powerful segments of the cap-and-trade plan's opponents have been biding their time these past few months, preparing for last-minute introduction of a package of amendments that would gut the bill. That plan didn't succeed, but a few very minor changes were adopted to ease a couple of Senator's concerns. 

The bill passed through Ways and Means on Wednesday on a very close vote, with comments from members making it unclear how it will fare on the House and Senate floors next week. A behind-the-curtain struggle will continue between now and then. My guess for the fate of this monumental legislation is... let's go with "cautiously optimistic."

In the meantime I want to offer something most of you have wanted: a thorough, accurate, highly readable description of what HB 2020 does and how it works, accessible even to liberal arts majors like me who tend to glaze over when the science and economics start to get thick. Try out this Vox Magazine article.

Officer Malcus Williams

Officer Malcus Williams. Photo courtesy of Ashland Police

Thank You, Officer Williams

This week I was privileged to carry to the Senate floor House Concurrent Resolution 24, honoring the life and service of Ashland Police Officer Malcus Williams II. Malcus died suddenly in the line of duty on March 2, 2018, after more than 20 years in the force.

Ashland loved Malcus. His wisdom, sense of humor and genuine respect and compassion for everyone he came across made him a magnificent cop, and his off-duty committment to the activities of kids, his own and others, was prodigious. My Senate floor speech (penned and delivered in the House by Rep. Pam Marsh) read in part:

His affection for the youngest members of our community made Officer Williams an obvious choice to address an incident in our public library a few years ago. Due to a lack of funding, the library was about to close up shop, and a group of children staged a sit-in to protest. Officer Williams arrived on the scene, read everyone Leonardo the Terrible Monster, and then gently escorted the children out. When the library reopened six months later, Officer Williams lead a parade of little ones back in.

I remember that day. I remember Malcus, a huge man in a crisp uniform, mounting the library steps flanked by two small kids whose hands completely disappeared in his, a huge smile on his face. I'm happy Pam and I got to share the memory with the state legislature, and was delighted to have next to me for the occasion Malcus' wife, Ona, and his daughter, Brooklyn, who sang the Senate invocation beautifully that day.

What Do You Think?

Last week I asked if you thought it was worthwhile to ask voters to approve the principle of campaign finance limitations in the state constitution, even if we can't yet say what those limitations will be. We got a mixed response. Here's what some of you wrote in:

  • "I support putting the measure that you proposed on the ballot for a vote for all Oregonians. The details can be worked out later after the measure has passed."
  • "Should Oregon be able to limit and regulate campaign finances? Yes, but without specifically stating what the limits are, it becomes a meaningless open-ended statement which will require additional effort and another ballot issue."
  • "I fully support anything Oregon can do to regulate the financing of campaigns. I do not think it is necessary to be too specific about the way they would do it, because things need to be hammered out in legislative negotiations."

Thank you for your input.

Southern Oregon University

Photo courtesy of SOU

This week: It's been a session-long struggle to secure enough funding for Higher Education to keep tuition increases from shooting through the roof. A few days ago $100 million was added to the university system's allocation, but that will still leave SOU students with tuition increases around 10%. Some think that any revenue left over in the session's final days should help reduce that increase. Others would rather use those funds for programs for mental health, foster care, helping seniors stay in their homes and other human service needs. Others would put it towards the PERS debt or in a rainy day fund for tougher economic times ahead. Where should we allocate any remaining funds?

What do you think? Send your thoughts to 

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Have you checked out Capitolizing? It's the weekly podcast where Senator Shemia Fagan and I answer two questions every week: What do we do here in the Capitol, and Why the hell should you care?

Find Capitolizing on iTunes and other podcast networks.

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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
Podcast: Capitolizing