Moving quickly, but maybe not quickly enough

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Rep. Mark Owens


We’re at the halfway point through the short legislative session and it’s moving quickly, maybe not quickly enough.

The short session was originally created to address only budget bills and revenue fixes. Since voters approved annual sessions over a decade ago, they’ve strayed far from the original purpose. Policy bills are being introduced under the guise of budget bills to try to advance agendas, and not all of it is good.

I’m often asked what the most challenging part is in being a legislator, particularly during such a highly political time in our state and country. The politics outside the building and the diversity of our district and our state aren’t a problem. In fact, I’m eager and honored to serve and represent every constituent, every voice, and every viewpoint and I respect all—it is more important for me to be your voice in theses politically charged times.

The challenging part is when the politics inside the building prevent the ability to move good policy forward or stop bad policy from having long term unintended consequences on our livelihoods.    

The roadblocks are real.

Things like bringing simple checks and balances to the governor’s authority, local control for school boards, listening to actual farmers regarding farm policy, overturning regressive taxes on prescription drugs…these are basic concepts you’ve asked me to advocate for and that we’re doing our best to bring to the table. Below are updates on the bills you’ve asked the most about so far this session and that impact House District 60 significantly.

It's not all bad news. Being in a legislative session also allows an opportunity to formally honor and recognize a Medal of Honor recipient from Baker County and highlight some incredible students in our communities. Read more about all of them below.

Thank you for all you do and for entrusting me to represent your voice and your values in the building.

Be safe.


Legislation Update

HJR 206: Would give voters the opportunity to vote for checks and balances to the governor’s emergency powers.
Status:  In House Rules; Chair has said we will not get a hearing.
Where I stand: I introduced and sponsored this bill, so I’m disappointed it didn’t move forward this session. Until there’s a change from the top-down, I will continue to pursue legislation that brings accountability to our government.

HB 4079: Imposes 3% sales tax on certain goods.
Where I stand: I would have been a strong NO on this bill had it moved forward, and I’m glad for all of us it did not.

HB 4029: Would direct the state Education Department to mandate and provide training for new school board members.
Status: In Ways & Means; likely to move forward.
Where I stand: I voted NO on this bill, I proposed several amendments on this bill none of which we could get enough votes to be adopted. As a school board member, I support school boards getting mandatory training, but allow them to have a choice in how that training is going to occur. We don’t need another one-size-fits-all mandate telling local school boards how to conduct their own training.

HB 4127: Would provide a $1 million increase for a state fund that reimburses farmers and ranchers for livestock lost to wolves.
Status: Effectively dead; received a public hearing but no work session.
Where I stand: I sponsored this bill and am disappointed it will not move forward.

HB 4080: Authorizes landowners who meet certain criteria to petition for formation of predator damage control district as funding mechanism to pay actual costs to county of preventing, reducing and mitigating damage to property from predatory animals.
Status: Effectively dead; received a public hearing but no work session.
Where I stand: I sponsored this bill and am disappointed it won’t go forward.

Both HB 4127 and HB 4080 are critical pieces of legislation for our farmers and ranchers and are examples of good and important policy we can’t get through the political roadblocks.  

If you’re wondering about a particular bill, reach out and we’ll get you an update.

Medal of Honor

Sgt. John Noble Holcomb

I am honored to bring forward a resolution (HCR 204) to recognize and honor Sergeant John Noble Holcomb (1946-1968) for his service to his country. Sergeant Holcomb is one of only 13 Oregonians to ever receive the Medal of Honor and the only recipient from Baker County. The Medal of Honor is the highest honor that can be given to someone who has served in military.

Sergeant Holcomb, thank you for your service and your ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Read more about Sgt. Holcomb here

Ag Overtime Bill

One of the most controversial bills this session, House Bill 4002, is the bill that would upend how our small farms and farmers run their businesses.

I started working on farms in Harney County when I was in high school and now, I'm fortunate enough to run my own when I’m not here in the Capitol. I can tell you firsthand farm work often cannot be scheduled in eight-hour days and 40-hour work weeks. This is not how agriculture works because it’s not how nature works.

Even after receiving hundreds of pieces of testimony regarding negative impacts of the bill and despite acknowledgement on both sides of the aisle that the bill would result in lost jobs, the bill continues to move forward. We’ve introduced thoughtful amendments to try to lessen the harsh impact this would have, but they’ve gone ignored.

Simply put, this bill is out of touch with agriculture and natural resources. If this bill in its current form comes to my desk for a vote, I will be a HARD NO.

You can read more about the bill and why I'm opposed to it here.

HD 60 Student Spotlights

Each legislative session, we ask educators and community leaders in House District 60 to nominate students who stand out for their accomplishments, character and service, and commitment to personal excellence. We are highlighting them each week with a courtesy on the House floor, in our newsletters and on social media. You can watch the House Floor courtesies by clicking their photo below.

Here are this week's outstanding students, Conley Martin and Brady Otley. Keep up the great work gentlemen, we're excited to follow your bright futures.

Conley Martin

Conley Martin, a senior at Adrian high school, is an all around accomplished student. Conley is an outstanding athlete, a four time letterman in 3 sports; football, basketball, and track and field. He is a two time state champion in football, winning state player of the year in 2019 and 2021. At the 2020 1A state track championships, he was the champion in the 100m, the 400m, and the 4x100m relay. His athletic career is just beginning.

He is very active in FFA, serving as an officer, and is also currently a representative in the Adrian Student Body Association. On top of this, he has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA and is on track to be a co-valedictorian. He furthers his academic capacity by taking dual credit courses such as Writing 121/122 and Math 111/112. He has also taken some classes such as Engineering in our Computer Science program. 

Outside of school Conley is a great family member. He supports his younger siblings and their ventures, while also maintaining demands of running a farm with his father. He is an avid hunter and true conservationist. Conley's ability to lead and succeed are an outstanding representation of what Eastern Oregon values are.

Brady Otley

Brady Otley is a freshman from Crane High School located in Harney County. He is an intelligent, and hardworking student with a great attitude. Brady strives to get straight A’s, and even goes as far to tutor other students in his classes. One of his skills is creative writing in English.

Brady is an active member in his family, helping to  ranch his family's fifth generation cow/calf operation. He’s been a past member of junior 4-H, which includes hands-on projects of science, health, agriculture and civic engagement. 

This year he hopes to focus on leather craft and livestock in 4-H. He also plans to do a cow calf breeding project for their local county fair as a current member of FFA. He participates in trapshooting, which can be described as a competitive clay pigeon shooting competition to further his hunting skills. He keeps a balanced lifestyle by being involved in football and wrestling and is also involved in church activities. Samantha Hauser, one of his past teachers said, “He is definitely a star student with a bright future ahead of him.”

Have a student you’d like to nominate? Let us know by emailing our student director Ella Draper at

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1460
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-475, Salem, OR 97301
Capitol Email:
Capitol Website:

District Phone: 503-413-2482
District Address: 85 W. Washington St., Burns, OR 97720