Do What You Can Do 08/20/19

View Online
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 August 20 edition of Do What You Can Do.

What's Up

Campaign Finance Reform

I begin with Campaign Finance Reform (CFR) because an opportunity is coming for you to weigh in personally and meaningfully on legislation that will set the limits on campaign contributions for legislative and statewide elections.

You might remember that during the 2019 session we passed SJR 18, which places on the November 2020 ballot a proposed constitutional amendment clarifying that the legislature, local governments and the people through the initiative process have the power to limit campaign financing. But that still leaves the task of actually setting what those limits will be. We're aiming to pass a limits bill in the 2020 session that would take effect if and when the voters approve the constitutional amendment in November of 2020.

How much should an individual or group be able to donate to a candidate for the legislature, and for the statewide offices of Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General and BOLI Commissioner? We're launching a 7-city listening tour to find out what Oregonians think.

The first stop is Medford Central Library, 205 South Central, Medford, OR, on Wednesday, September 4, from 7:00-8:30pm.

The following evening, September 5, we'll be at the University of Oregon, Global Scholars Hall, Room 123, at 1710 E 15th Ave, Eugene, OR, from 7:00-8:30pm. The rest of the meetings, farther from the Rogue Valley, are listed below.

If overcoming the power of massive concentrated money in Oregon politics is important to you, please come. Comments will probably be limited to two or three minutes per person, depending on the crowd size, so please be prepared to be concise. And if you can't make it, I'd like to get your perspective just the same by email or letter.

We're not going to make serious progress on any of the issues we most care about if we don't clean up Oregon's campaign finance system.

Jeff and Dan - Campaign Finance

Senator Golden and Representative Rayfield discussing campaign finance reform with community members


I write this on my back porch, enjoying a beautiful smoke-free summer afternoon in Southern Oregon. Like most of you, I keep my fingers crossed day-to-day that we can get through the season without devastating wildfires and the smoke they pour into our Valley.

Crossed fingers is not an acceptable wildfire strategy. This past session our requests to beef up forest health and fire suppression resources just weren't met; lots of good wishes our way, but not much else.

There are promising signs for the session ahead. I've been appointed chair of a brand-new Senate Wildfire Prevention & Recovery Committee, with Republican Senator and Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger of Grants Pass as Vice-Chair. I'm assembling a work group to bring to the 2020 session a bill to expand funding possibilities for on-the-ground fuel reduction, and to make sure that it's directed at the Wildland-Urban Interface -- lands closest to human development -- rather than more remote, relatively undisturbed forestlands that are not aggravating our wildfire problem; in those areas, fires are generally a healthy part of the long-term forest cycle.

This work is bound to fan old, unresolved flames (so to speak) from the timber battles of the 1980s and 1990s. Some believe today's wildfires would be much less severe if we'd logged and salvaged timber much more intensively in the intervening years, and believe we could pay for thinning and fuel-reduction projects mostly with expanded commercial timber sales today. Others are dubious, to put it mildly. They especially thing they call to salvage most burned trees in the wake of fires ignores the basics of what forests need to regenerate. I expect we'll revisit all these old arguments as my committee shapes legislation, with well-credentialed people lining up on both sides. I'm committed to keeping our eye on the ball -- reducing megafires and their human health, economic, and environmental damage to our communities, with sound legislation and investment. If in the process we narrow the gap that divided us so painfully for so many years, that would be a fine bonus.

2019 fire season

Burning underbrush of the Milepost 97 Fire July 29, 2019

Climate Action

With the 2019 session now seven weeks behind us, the frustration of watching the landmark climate bill, HB 2020, brought down by the minority-rules walkout has faded. We're organizing to do a better and more successful job in the coming session. I believe as strongly as ever that bold carbon-pricing action, not delay, is the right thing to do. So, in the majority, does my district; constituents who've contacted me support this legislation by a 3-1 margin.

We now know we weren't clear or persistent enough in countering the drumbeat of opposition claims that this "Portland scheme" would damage-devastate-decimate rural Oregon. People naturally want to know how the money raised by selling pollution allowances will be spent. We'll be spelling that out more specifically, and I expect water delivery and conservation projects, forest health projects, weatherization services across the state, and climate-related support for farmers and ranchers will be high on the list. Two reasons for that: we want rural Oregonians to know they won't be left behind, and those areas really are among the best ways to invest the dollars that will come from greenhouse gas polluters. We're also encouraging people across the state who can plainly see the effects of changing climate over the last several years to tell their story, to make plain that the cost of inaction on this issue is too high to pay.

So look for climate action again on the Legislature's agenda next year. We are in fact listening to what rural Oregon has to say. But that doesn't mean accepting the distortions of some of their representatives about what this legislation will do, claims that the problem really isn't that severe, or positioning along the lines of "it may be true that we have a problem, but we have to wait for better approaches than this to solve it." As most young people paying attention to this issue will tell you, we've waited much too long already.

Young climate activists

Young climate activists visit with Senator Golden during the 2020 session.


I don't know whether the coming session will bring back something like HB3063, the hugely controversial bill that would have removed most exemptions for a list of mandatory vaccines for children. I DO know that the bill touched off a highly emotional fight where very few were willing to listen carefully to people on the other side. So I'm glad to see some conversations taking place now, outside of the pressure-cooker of the Capitol, for people who want to better understand the issue, and understand that the central question is not really whether you're for or against vaccinations.

One of these is a public event sponsored by Oregon Vaccine Education Seminars at the Medford Public Library, 205 S. Central Ave, Medford, OR, on Saturday, September 14, 5:00-7:30pm.

This isn't a "point/counter-point" event. It features medical critics of HB3063 whose work seems carefully researched and, in my view, deserved more attention than it got from some legislators who were quick to dismiss all opposition to the bill as ignorant and "anti-science." If you have time and interest, I invite you to come judge for yourself.

flu vaccine

"Administering Flu Vaccine" by Government of Prince Edward Island is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I'll check in with you again in a few weeks. In the meantime, make the most of the rest of the summer -- smoke-free, thank goodness, as I write -- and do what you can do.


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

If you find this newsletter interesting or useful, I hope you’ll forward it to friends and invite them to subscribe. Anyone can sign up here,

We will not share contact information with anyone else for any reason.

Campaign Finance Public Meetings

Here's the complete schedule for public meetings that invite your comments on campaign contribution limits for legislative and statewide office in Oregon.

  • Medford
    • September 4th from 7:00-8:30pm
    • Medford Library - 205 S Central Ave, Medford, OR 97501
  • Eugene
    • September 5th from 7:00-8:30pm
    • University of Oregon, Global Scholars Hall Room 123 - 1710 E 15th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403
  • Hillsboro
    • September 9th from 7:00-8:30pm
    • Shute Park Library - 775 SE 10th Ave, Hillsboro, OR 97123
  • Milwaukie
    • September 10th from 7:00-8:30pm
    • Clackamas Community College, Harmony Community Room - 7738 SE Harmony Rd, Milwaukie, OR 97222
  • Portland
    • September 17th from 6:00-7:45pm
    • Midland Library - 805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97233
  • Salem
    • September 17th from 6:30-8:00pm
    • Oregon State Capitol, Room 50 - 900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301
  • Bend
    • September 23rd from 7:00-8:30pm
    • East Bend Library - 62080 Dean Swift Rd, Bend, OR 97701

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, S-421, Salem, OR, 97301
Podcast: Capitolizing