Rural Northwest Oregon Capitol Updates Vol 9

Senator Suzanne Weber

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

We are already almost a month into the 2023 legislative session and it feels like it just began. The weeks are flying by having so much work to do. The following months will be no exception, with numerous committee meetings, hearings and floor sessions to look forward to. You can expect that I will have no shortage of tasks to attend to. Having experience on the House side of things, I had an idea as to what I was getting myself into.

Constituent Meetings


Meeting with citizens of our district allows me to stay informed on the issues that matter most to our communities. This week I had nearly 20 meetings discussing a range of issues. One of the groups that I met with was the Oregon Fairs Association, who invited me to a convention that was taking place later that evening. Unfortunately, Committee schedules kept me from attending. Despite that I was able to have a thorough discussion with them and learn about the various matters that are of concern to the OFA. 

I am currently sponsoring a bill in the house that would help increase the amount of funding that fairs would receive through the Oregon lottery. Currently there is a cap to the amount of funds that can be allocated to fairs, we are trying to remove that cap. You can find more information about that bill here

OFA Reception

OFA President

While I was unable to attend this year's Oregon Fairs Association Convention, my Chief of Staff Katy Pritchard was able to go on my behalf. The OFA oversees our fairs and fairgrounds and provides educational opportunities for youth, economic development, entertainment and meeting venues/events, and dedicated emergency facilities in the case of disasters.

The OFA convention provides legislators and staff an opportunity to learn about what they do. She also got a chance to see the OFAs’ new president Geoff Hinds talk about some of their priorities. 

Oregon Coastal Caucus

Each week members of the Coastal Caucus meet to discuss concerns that pertain to some of the more overlooked areas of the state, the rural coastal communities. This week we held discussions over matters such as funding for the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Domoic Acid levels off the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a well known source of education and fun for citizens of all ages and certainly serves an important role in our community. Domoic Acid levels impact our very important local crabbing industries.  

Coastal Caucus

Floor Sessions

I had the opportunity to carry my first bill as a State Senator this week. It is tradition to tease the member on their first carry speech. This week we did not depart from tradition. I am glad my colleagues and I are able to enjoy a good laugh together. You can watch the speech and subsequent razzing here.

Floor Session - Carry Speech


Committee meetings are in full swing with a significant amount of public testimonies and work sessions filling up the schedule. In this week’s education committee meetings many important topics were discussed.  One bill that I’d like to draw your attention to, would encourage schools to participate in the wellbeing of military affiliated children. SB 183 would establish the Purple Star Schools Program within the Department of Education to recognize schools that provide certain support services to military connected students.  

Purple Star

A Purple Star School designation lets military parents know, whether they are on active duty, in the National Guard and Reserves, or veterans, that a school is dedicated to helping their child gain the educational skills necessary to be college, workforce and life-ready. Additionally, it signals that a school supports the social and emotional wellbeing of military kids adjusting to new schools and the absence of a parent during deployment.  To learn more about the Purple Star Schools Program check out this webpage:  Purple Star Schools - Military Child Education Coalition

In this weeks’ human services committee meetings we went over bills pertaining to reducing barriers to healthcare access for employees with disabilities indifferent to their income or employment status to a bill requiring closed captioning be made available to consumers with hearing disabilities. 

As always, I encourage all my constituents to follow your legislature and to be informed of what goes on every day. You can watch committee hearings and floor proceedings. You can track bills and be notified when they are up for a hearing. I encourage you to visit and spend some time getting to know it. I have attached links that bring you directly to the tutorial video's on each of the "How To" lines below.

Bills of note

HB 2902 would require that our schools provide instruction on preparing for, and recovering from, fires, earthquakes, safety threats and natural disasters. Oregon is a state that is constantly under threat of natural disasters. Unfortunately, many students don’t know what to do to prevent or respond to them. I’ve long believed that we need to be educating children in more than just theory and ideas, but in practical life skills. This bill would do that. The bill is up for a public hearing this week, so I encourage you to submit testimony in support.

Speaking of avoiding disasters, I’m also sponsoring two bills that would help address the massive issue of wildfires. Because of either our inability or unwillingness to manage our state forests, many of them have become tinderboxes just waiting for a spark to turn into a millions-of-acres wildfire. SB 653 would appropriate funds to the Forestry Department to do forest thinning to prevent wildfires. SB 665 would require the State Forester to actively manage state forestlands to achieve and maintain low forest fuel load levels. Unfortunately, both are currently in the Senate Natural Resources committee with no public hearing scheduled. I’d encourage you to contact the committee chair, Senator Jeff Golden, and politely ask him to schedule a public hearing and work session for these two bills.

Another bill that I’ve sponsored that I believe is incredibly important (and, unfortunately also is still awaiting a public hearing to be scheduled is SB 735. This bill would give the people of Oregon another opportunity to vote on what was called “Measure 110”. Measure 110 was approved by voters in 2020 and decriminalized possession of hard drugs. Voters were told that large amounts of money would be spent on addressing drug addiction as a public health issue, rather than a law enforcement issue, and law enforcement could focus on busting drug dealers rather than small-time drug users. Unfortunately, the voters were not told the truth. Drug use has sky-rocketed, with crime accompanying it. Funding for recovery hasn’t materialized, and drug users aren’t taking advantage of even what is available to them. Voters deserve a chance to reconsider their decision now that they’ve seen what Measure 110 has wrought. As I mentioned, there’s no action scheduled for this bill at this moment. Please consider politely contacting Senate Judiciary Chair Senator Floyd Prozanski and ask him to schedule a public hearing and work session on SB 735.

Finally, I’m proud to co-chief sponsor SB 127. I’ve made it pretty clear that I believe that the Gross Receipts Tax that we have in Oregon was inappropriate. Voters shot the idea in spectacular fashion in 2016, but the legislature turned around and did it anyway. Instead of being taxes on profits, businesses would be taxed on how much money they brought in - their gross receipts. That’s an incredible tax increase on small businesses with tiny margins like hardware stores, car dealerships, medical practices, pharmacies, etc. The original legislation that passed in 2019 exempted gross receipts $1 million and under. That might sound like a lot, but to a retail business that deals in bulk sales, it isn’t. Add on record-breaking inflation, and we have an even bigger problem. SB 127 would raise that exemption from $1 million to $5 million with the hope of saving small businesses at least some pain. It isn’t enough, but it’s a step in the right direction. SB 127 is scheduled for a public hearing this week, so I encourage you to submit testimony in support.

VA now allows veterans in suicidal crisis to go to any VA or non-VA healthcare facility for free emergency healthcare

Veterans in acute suicidal crisis can now go to any VA or non-VA healthcare facility for emergency health care at no cost — including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.

Veterans do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to use this benefit. This expansion will increase access to acute suicide care for up to 9 million veterans who are not currently enrolled in the VA system.

The final policy, which took effect on Jan. 17, allows the VA to:

  • Provide, pay for, or reimburse for treatment of eligible individuals’ emergency suicide care, transportation costs, and follow-up care at a VA or non-VA facility for up to 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care.
  • Make appropriate referrals for care following the period of emergency suicide care.
  • Determine eligibility for other VA services and benefits.
  • Refer eligible individuals for appropriate VA programs and benefits following the period of emergency suicide care.

Eligible individuals, regardless of VA enrollment status, are:

  • Veterans who were discharged or released from active duty after more than 24 months of active service under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former members of the armed forces, including reserve service members, who served more than 100 days under a combat exclusion or in support of a contingency operation either directly or by operating an unmanned aerial vehicle from another location who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former members of the armed forces who were the victim of a physical assault of a sexual nature, a battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment while serving in the armed forces.

If you or someone you know is struggling: Don’t wait. Reach out. Visit for resources and information, or call 988 (then press 1) to quickly connect with caring, qualified crisis support 24/7.

Local Matters

In the office

It isn't often I get to do the Tuesday morning Tillamook County call-in during the legislative session. But I really enjoy when I am able to participate and share what is going on in Salem that impacts our community. Tune in at KTIL to listen to the recorded content.

Jail openning

I was fortunate to be able to celebrate the opening of the Clatsop County Jail with so many that have worked hard to make this happen. This is a testament to the power and perseverance of the people of Clatsop county. You can watch the festivities here


Oregon Hwy 6 Safety Study updates! Please join us for an in-person open house on February 16th at Port of Tillamook Bay from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. If you can't get there in person please visit the online Open House. You can explore the study and make sure to leave feedback.

Coast Guard rescues mariner in distress as a wave capsizes vessel near mouth of Columbia River.

Rescue in Columbia River

What a graduation day to remember!!  I do hope this swimmer was recognized as a distinguished honor graduate!  In case you missed it, here is the video from the motor lifeboats as well as the helicopter. What an amazing job our Coast Guard does. As a rescue swimmer, this was Aviation Survival Technician 3rd Class John "Branch" Walton's first life saved. Hours later, he and his classmates graduated from the Advanced Rescue Helicopter School.

Rescue on Columbia River 2

From the District

From parking debacles and gross receipt sales tax issues, to constitutional amendments and school programs for military affiliated students. Join Adam and I for this episode of From the District.

From the District

Better late than never

I had meant to share this with you last week, better late than never. I was interviewed by Patrick Seing and Richard Angstrom on Oregon Capitol Catholic Connection a week ago Friday.  You can listen to that interview here:

From the District

We’re here for YOU!

As per usual our floor schedule is beyond our control.  But we will make time for you. Please email or call and my staff will get you on my calendar. My staff and I are here to help you! If you have a problem, question or comment, please feel free to email me at or

I do ask you to PLEASE include your phone number and your address. This allows me to call you to follow up or ask any questions I might have. Your address lets me know that you’re a constituent. I get thousands of emails every week, but I always make sure that constituents get top priority. If you’d prefer, you can also call us at 503.300.4493.

If you’d like to visit me in Salem, you’re always welcome to come by! If you drop by without an appointment, I’ll do my best to meet with you, but to ensure that I don’t have any other commitments, please call or email first for an appointment. That way I can make sure to give you my undivided attention.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to be your State Senator. It truly is the honor of my life, and I look forward to being your voice in the Senate for the next four years!

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1716  District Phone: 503-300-4493
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-405, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Sen​
Website:  ​​