Short Session: Back in the Capitol!

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Short Session: Back in the Capitol!

We’re back in the Capitol for Short Session, and it’s nice to see some people milling around in the hallways. Though we are still under COVID restrictions, THE CAPITOL IS OPEN, and we’d love to see you! If you do plan a visit to the Capitol, please be aware of new security measures in place for entering the building. 

The Short Session is a 35 day session taking place on even-numbered years, and was implemented about a decade ago to give an opportunity for the Legislature to address budget fixes and any technical corrections from the prior year’s Long Session (nearly 6 months every odd-numbered year). But Short Session sees many massive policy concepts introduced—many of which would be devastating for rural Oregon—making it critical to be ready to engage on a moment’s notice

Each Legislator can introduce two bills during Short Session. I’ve introduced: 

HB 4097: Establishing a tax credit for active volunteer firefighters, to aid departments reliant on volunteer fire fighters in recruitment and retention of volunteers, and hopefully easing the staffing concerns in our wildfire impacted regions 

HJR 203: A ballot referral to ask voters if the Oregon State Legislature should join the other 49 states in giving the power of impeachment of elected State officials to the Legislature—providing accountability and an extra tool for “checks and balances” of power between branches of government  

This session is rushed and hectic, but my office is always here to help if you need anything. Please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

Outside of the Capitol


Agriculture Overtime: Why Does It Matter?

Mandating Ag overtime was introduced in the 2021 session, and was one of many threats against agriculture Republicans were able to kill. But it’s back (HB 4002), and the stakes are even higher with a lawsuit trying to bypass the Legislative process and force overtime mandates through Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI). 

This is an incredibly complex issue, made even more challenging by the staggering diversity in Oregon Agriculture (225 different commodities grown!). No two farms are the same, and neither are their staffing requirements—making a one-size-fits-all approach to overtime devastating for most Oregon’s farms. 

Some key points to consider: 

  • Agriculture has seasonality. We’re dependent on weather windows and limited by the perish-ability of our produce. Our job doesn’t get done in a typical 9-5. 
  • Farms can’t pass along added labor costs. Unlike most industries, farms’ prices get set by the commodity market. We can’t raise our price just because our costs go up. 
  • Other states’ mandates led to capped hours and lower paychecks. Farms are forced to invest in mechanization and cap employees’ hours to reduce labor costs. 
  • Farms will be forced to reduce benefits to offset labor cost increases. Most farms provide benefits beyond an hourly wage, but those incentives are not being considered.  
  • 95% of Oregon farms are family-owned businesses. Smaller farms are the least able to absorb added labor costs. 

There is a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, February 8th at 5:30pm! You can submit written testimony or sign up to testify verbally in front of the committee. This hearing is likely to have a many members of the public wishing to testify, so if you sign up to testify verbally please be prepared to keep your remarks brief and personal to how this bill would affect you. You are encouraged to submit written testimony to supplement verbally testimony.

Email Legislators today to help protect Oregon’s farms! 

Rep Cate on the Farm

Representative Cate on her family's grass seed farm in Lebanon.

Remembering Sgt. John Burright

I had the honor and privilege to testify on HCR 202  this week—remembering the life and service of Oregon State Police Sergeant John Burright (1959-2021). Every time I drive to the Capitol, I see 3 crosses along the shoulder of I-5 and am reminded of John and his fellow officers’ ultimate sacrifice. But it wasn’t John’s impact on my life I wanted to share, but that of his Law Enforcement Family. 

From his brother, former Linn County Sheriff Dave Burright: “I can tell you that John was the strongest and most courageous man I’ve ever known. Even though his body was terribly broken, his mind was still there—right up until the end, he was able to smile and endure being trapped inside a body he couldn’t move. I started a timer shortly after the crash, and he spent 19 years, 7 months, 29 days, and 18 hours in a hell that he couldn’t control. All because he was the victim of a horrible accident. An accident that happened while he was doing what a law enforcement officer does—help other people.” 

John Burright

Photo Credit: Lebanon Express

Wildfire Recovery Resource Update

Craft3 has re-started its Oregon Clean Water Loan program. This program provides affordable loans to repair or replace failing on-site septic systems or to connect to sewers, when required. Loans offer reduced rates and flexible repayment options for lower-income households. In some cases, they can also serve commercial properties and manufactured home parks. Information about the loan program, including rates and terms, and how to apply, is available HERE.

The Santiam Canyon Long Term Recovery Group has launched a new website that has consolidated a lot of resources for those looking to Recover, Rebuild, and Rise. For additional information on available services email or call 503-897- 0701. 

OHA Well Testing Graphic

To view previous newsletters, please visit my website.

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1417
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-378, Salem, OR 97301