Do What You Can Do 3/15/2021

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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

Senator Golden gets COVID vaccine

Friday morning I lined up at Asante in Medford with a few dozen other folks waiting for our Moderna Covid shots, smoothly and professionally administered. My arm’s been just a little sore this weekend. Drop down to the COVID resources section below to schedule your vaccination.

The pace and demands of the legislative session, mostly in various committees, has picked up to where I’m starting to slide on a favorite part of the job: writing this newsletter. Between now and June we won’t be sending it out weekly, but I definitely want to keep you in the loop on some of the big current issues, even if it’s not a complete list. Here goes.

Campaign Finance Reform

In the wake of Oregonians’ overwhelming approval last November of Measure 107, a constitutional amendment to authorize regulation of campaign financing, 2021 was to be the session for passing measures that spell out what that regulation will look like. This week the first of several different bills limiting campaign donations was heard by the Senate Rules committee. It happened to be SB 336, the bill I introduced before the session began (and introduced last session before the walkout ended pretty much all legislation).

SB 336 Senator Golden's testimony

Have a few minutes? If so, the best way to understand what I’m proposing is to watch my testimony to the committee this past week. I aimed to be clear and unboring. Let me know if I succeeded.

Forest issues expected, are getting especially interesting. First I’d like you to know about the reform bill that’s getting most of my attention right now (apart and separate from the big wildfire policy bill that we’re still developing).  SB 335 would make changes in who qualifies to serve on the Board of Forestry, and the committees that advise them. Its core principle is that governance of our regulatory agencies should be not be slanted towards the industries they regulate. This one-pager describes the proposal in a more reader-friendly fashion than the bill itself.

I’ll present the bill to the Natural Resources Committee this Wednesday, March 17, at 3:15. If you want to watch or offer your own testimony, this should help.

Multiple bills to reinstate the timber severance tax, discontinued in the 1990s, are facing the expected rough sledding. This coverage of a recent committee hearing laid out the conflict pretty well. And it’s getting more and more testy between the timber industry and the journalists covering the various bills, as detailed in this separate report on timber legislation.

I touched earlier on how the perennial battle over salvage logging was bound to return in the wake of the 2020 Labor Day fires. Here is how that’s beginning to unfold.

Almeda fire photo taken by Christopher Briscoe

Photo taken by Christopher Briscoe

Bringing back affordable housing

This remains a core challenge, perhaps the biggest one of all, in the wake of the Alameda fire. If we can’t meet it, we will lose a critical segment of our economic and social life for a long time to come. A Mail Tribune editorial covered the issue well. The prospect of significant federal dollars is good news as our Senate and House Wildfire Recovery Committees continue to forge a comprehensive bill.

COVID updates

Jackson county COVID vaccine graph

The big news on this front is the Governor’s decision, set up by her earlier elevation of school personnel to top priority for vaccinations, to mandate the opening of public schools, at least in combination with remote learning.  Losing an entire school year of in-person learning to the pandemic was beyond what anyone could accept.

There’s also been positive movement on school athletics, and on limitations for families who want to watch their student athletes. The Medford School District recently put forward a proposal for higher spectator limits at Spiegelberg Stadium, one of the largest high school venues in Oregon. It was creative and intelligent, and could be a model for more productive state/local collaboration going forward.

For a broader look at how COVID is impacting Oregon life these days, the Oregonian offered this recent podcast that covers the ground well.

Drawing the maps

2021 is supposed to be the once-in-a-decade session for redistricting, when the maps for Congressional and state legislative districts are redrawn for the next ten years. The media brims with stories about how pivotal this process is in shaping the future. This year it’s been turned on its head, because the 2020 census data we need won’t be available until AFTER the constitutional deadline for the legislature to complete the maps. Conflicting briefs have gone to the Oregon Supreme Court for settling this first-ever dilemma, and the picture won’t be clear for a while.

Would you like to weigh in on how these maps should be drawn? 
The legislature’s redistricting committee is taking public testimony from every region of the state. The hearing for Jackson County is this Saturday, March 20, at 1:00 pm. Instructions for testifying are here.

How to testify

That catches us on a few of the big things anyway. Take care over the next couple of weeks.

Jeff (Signature)

Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

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COVID resources

COVID-19 vaccine: where to get information and make an appointment

  • The Jackson County Health and Human Services page has the most up to date information about where to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Jackson County.

  • Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection (ADRC) is available to help seniors navigate the process and access the COVID-19 vaccine in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Call ADRC at 541-618-7572. 
  • 211 Information is also available to answer questions about vaccine eligibility and access through phone, text, and email. Wait times vary.
    • Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155 from 6 am – 7 pm daily, including holidays
    • Text ORCOVID to 898211 to get text/SMS updates (English and Spanish only) 
    • Email (All languages) 

General vaccine information:

  • The Oregon Health Authority's page has COVID-19 vaccine information, OHA's recorded press briefings, and COVID-19 graphs.

  • The Oregon Health Authority has created this page specifically for COVID-19 vaccine information.

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, click here to locate a testing site near you.

Wildfire resource:

  • In the next month, the Oregon Department of Human Services will begin a one-on-one assistance program for fire survivors that will be available for 18 months. See this article for details.

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