Rural Northwest Oregon Capitol Updates Vol 11

Senator Suzanne Weber

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

It is now almost March and the days keep marching along. Committee meetings, hearings and events filled my calendar this week. Made more interesting with the recent "snow-pocalypse". Here are some updates about what I am up to in Salem as well as some local happenings. 

Happy President's Day!

Last Monday we celebrated Presidents Day. Originally known as President and Founding Father George Washington’s birthday, we now recognize the third Monday each February as a day to honor all past and current presidents. 

President Martin

Martin would like to wish you a happy Presidents Day!

More Snow!

Snowy Mountains

We were visited by the snow again this week and it put on quite the show for us, especially for those on the coastal and mountainous areas of our state. Some areas of Tillamook County saw nearly 18 inches of snow overnight on Wednesday into Thursday. Clatsop County had a decent covering of snow occur as well. Here are several photos of beautifully snow covered areas in our district.


The valley also had its fair share of snow. Traffic up in Portland came to a standstill, with some people being stuck on I-5 for over 7 hours. Portland had the second biggest snowfall on record overnight, the largest having occurred in 1943. 

Snow Map

The snow cleared the halls of the State Capitol on Thursday and shut down committee meetings and hearings due to constituents and legislators alike being unable to make it into Salem. Despite this, I was still in my office getting work done for our community.

Salem Snow

Other Matters

OLCC Resignation
Recently, the director of the Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission (OLCC) has resigned as a result of corruption allegations that he and top officials were improperly diverting rare liquor to themselves and legislators over the last few years. The Attorney General has opened an investigation. I have never requested or received alcohol from the OLCC. More details about the resignation can be found here.

Measure 114
I am sure many of you are aware of the recently passed gun control initiative known as measure 114. As such, you may also be aware of the multiple legal challenges that have taken place in regards to the measure’s constitutionality. Per the decision of the Oregon Supreme Court earlier in February, the measure is unable to go into effect until the dust settles on the legal battles. I for one am glad that our judicial branch is vetting this issue thoroughly. I expect these battles to continue as the Department of Justice has spent nearly a quarter million dollars to defend Measure 114 thus far. Here is an article regarding the ongoing legal battle. 

Mask Mandates Persist In Healthcare Settings
I have been made aware of concerns recently about continued mask mandates that are still present in our healthcare settings. In regard to these matters, just last week, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have signaled that they are considering reversing the policies “in the coming months”. Read more about the the mandates and potential reversal here

Housing Assistance Fund Updates
The Oregon Housing and Community Services will be planning to reopen the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Program by March 8, 2023. This federal program offers funds to homeowners who have experienced severe financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the ways this program assists homeowners is by providing funds for past-due mortgages, housing expenses, and ongoing payment assistance. This program is available to a limited number of homeowners with low to moderate incomes. Although the portal is currently unavailable, homeowners who have received foreclosure sale notices are able to still apply through their local housing counseling center. Here is a full list of certified housing counselors by county

Tax Season Begins
Tax season is upon us and the Department of Revenue has started turning its gears. The fastest and most efficient method of obtaining service and potential refunds is to file electronically. There are a number of helpful resources available on the DOR’s webpage including an interactive map that displays locations where free tax help is available as well as ways to file taxes for free through tax preparation software. Low- to moderate-income Oregonians can claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other state and federal refundable tax credits by filing a tax return. 

The EITC is available for people making less than $59,187 in 2022. Families may be eligible for a maximum EITC benefit of $6935 on their federal tax return, and a maximum Oregon Earned Income Credit of $807 on their state tax return. Certain taxpayers without children may also be eligible for these credits.

Individuals may qualify for the EITC and the Oregon EIC even if they are not required to file. To receive the refundable credits, however, they must file a federal and state tax return. More information about EITC, Oregon EIC, and other refundable credits is available on the Tax benefits for families page of the Department of Revenue website.

Small Businesses Survey Results Prompt Concern
A new survey regarding small businesses has been released by the Oregon Business & Industry in partnership with the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce. According to the survey small businesses in Oregon are increasingly feeling “overtaxed and overwhelmed”. Significantly, 74% of respondents to the survey say that regulations affecting business change so frequently that it is hard to keep up with what they’re supposed to do. You can read more about the survey here.

Shelter pets 
Big news for rescue dogs and cats this week in Oregon. House Concurrent Resolution 8 passed in the house this week and is on its way over to the Senate. HCR 8 designates rescued shelter dogs and cats as Oregon’s official state pet. As a result of this, Senator Janeen Sollman of Senate District 15 has decided to host a competition for TOP Dog and Cat. They began collecting photos for the competition and have placed them on the wall in her office as seen below. I am looking forward to the results! 

Shelter Pets

Constituent Meetings
This week State Representative Cyrus Javadi and I had the pleasure of meeting with Rachael Aldridge who is on the board for the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. We discussed matters of importance to their rail system and the various conditions they are currently facing. The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is a well known tourist attraction in Tillamook County and is a unique heritage railroading museum. The OCSR focuses on education, restoration and preservation of the logging history of the Pacific Northwest. 

Railroad Snow

Snow covered the tracks of the OCSR this week in an impressive display.

Committee Meetings

In this week's Education Committee meeting we went over bills pertaining to pest management and grants for school district facilities that fall under certain programs. We also discussed bills regarding abbreviated school day program requirements. In the Human Services Committee this week we discussed matters related to foster care and the centralized reporting system being proposed for the Department of Human Services to create for incidents of child abuse. This week in the Subcommittee on Education we held public hearings discussing HB 5011 which is relating to the financial administration of the Oregon Board of Dentistry. And finally, the Senate Conduct Committee held its first meeting Friday morning to discuss general matters and rules pertaining to the committee and its functions. 

Conduct Committee

The Conduct Committee was hosted virtually due to the snowy weather

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

Bills are beginning to get through committees and on to the floor, but unfortunately there are many common-sense bills that are languishing in committee. There are also some bills that should not only not receive a hearing, but really should be withdrawn altogether. As you may know, it is the prerogative of the chair to set committee agendas. That means that a committee chair can choose whether or not a bill even gets a public hearing. I hope you will join me in encouraging committee chairs to schedule good bills for hearings and stopping bad bills from coming forward. Here are a few:

SB 990 would change state practice around what is colloquially called the “Kicker”. Meaning, that money that is returned to taxpayers if revenue collected exceeds 102% of what was budgeted. If you’ve been an Oregonian for awhile like me, you remember getting kicker checks during the good years. A number of years ago, the law was changed to make it so that, instead of receiving a kicker check, taxpayers would receive the money as a tax credit on the following year’s taxes. That might have been all fine and good when we were talking about $100 kicker checks, but now we’re talking about an average of $5,800 per person! That’s more than a full month’s salary for a lot of people in rural Oregon. The government shouldn’t be holding onto that money for a year for convenience. That money belongs to the taxpayers and it should be returned ASAP. Unfortunately, SB 990 hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing. I encourage you to contact Senator Mark Meek, the chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue in the Senate and ask him to schedule a public hearing and a work session ASAP.

HJR 8 would propose a constitutional amendment that would require that only citizens be allowed to vote in elections in Oregon. I know what you’re thinking…isn’t that already a requirement? Well, yes. However, just last year Multnomah County proposed an amendment to their governing documents to let non-citizens vote in their elections. It’s not an idea that’s going to go away. We should give the people of Oregon a voice in whether or not non-citizens should have the ability to vote in Oregon. I believe they will respond in the negative, but in any case, Oregonians should decide. This bill is currently in the House Committee on Rules with no public hearing scheduled. I encourage you to contact Rules Committee chair Representative Julie Fahey and ask that a public hearing and work session be scheduled.

HB 2593 actually DOES have a public hearing scheduled (yay!). Did you know that, whether you are caught throwing a soda can out of your car window, or if you dump a truck bed full of garbage in a forest, the punishment is the same? It’s a Class C misdemeanor. HB 2593 would change that. It would make leaving less than 1 cubic foot of garbage a Class B violation (like a traffic ticket). There’s still a substantial fine attached to that violation ($1,000!), but I think justice demands that those who throw their fast food bag out their car window deserves less of a punishment than someone who dumps a set of used tires.  HB 2593 is up for a public hearing on March 1 at 8 a.m. That means you have until March 2 at 8 a.m. to submit testimony.

SB 605 is a bill and an idea that needs to go, frankly, go away very, very fast and never come back again. This ill-thought-out bill would make it an affirmative defense to the crime of possessing, creating and distributing child pornography if the perpetrator is under the age of 18 and the victim is over the age of 12, and there are no more than 3 years separating them in age. “Affirmative Defense”, according the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, is “a defense in which the defendant introduces evidence, which, if found to be credible, will negate criminal liability or civil liability, even if it is proven that the defendant committed the alleged acts.” Probably the most common affirmative defense is Insanity. So, if this law passed, it means a 16 year-old could take naked pictures of a 13 year old, pass them along to his friends, even post them on the internet, and could very well not be punished at all. This is, without a doubt, the most offensive, terrible, misguided piece of legislation I have seen in nearly 25 years of public service. While I understand the intent of the sponsors, the unintended consequences and lack of consideration of how victims’ lives could be destroyed is unconscionable. Fortunately, a previously scheduled public hearing was canceled. However, as long as the bill is there and until the committee hearing deadline, a public hearing could be scheduled. I encourage you to contact the bill’s chief sponsor, Senator WLnsvey Campos, and ask her to withdraw SB 605 immediately. Please do so respectfully and professionally, but with clear resolution.

Great Job Tillamook High School!

I want to congratulate Tillamook High School on another wildly successful charity drive! This year marks the 70th Anniversary since they began running such fundraisers. The first fundraiser back in the 60s. The amount raised back then was a total of $600. This year, in just a matter of 10 days, our students were able to bring in $187,959.91! This money is to be split evenly between Doernbecher Hospital and the local community in grant form for scholarships and non-profits. 

The Freshmen brought in the largest amount, totaling $49,283.24. The Seniors came in second with a grand total of $47,416.54. The Sophomores followed close behind with $47,062.30. And the Juniors made an impressive effort bringing in $44,197.83. This is beyond impressive, as our students worked very hard to achieve their goals. Some of their efforts included participating in bake sales, hosting bottle drives, cornhole tournaments, running silent auctions and restaurant takeovers. You didn’t have to cook for those 10 days as you could stack up on lasagnas, chicken pot pies and cinnamon rolls all made by the incredibly enthusiastic students.

I also want to give a special shout out to the Tillamook High School Princes and Princesses!
Freshman Prince & Princess – Chantale Kahaleua & Lakota Navarre
Sophomore Prince & Princess – Stella Hurliman & Allen Ramirez Castillo
Junior Prince & Princess – Naomi Travis & Henry Thenell
Senior Prince & Princess – Riley Fleming & Ryan Mizee

The success of this year's fundraiser is a boon to our community and our students who worked so hard to bring in the funds. Over the last 70 years these fundraisers have brought in a total of $4,173,139.06! That is no small feat! I am very proud of our students and our local community for supporting their efforts. Be on the lookout for more incredible fundraising efforts being done by our students.

THS Fundraiser

Picture above: Totals from each grade in the fundraising efforts.
Pictured below: The princes and princesses from each grade.

Local Matters

This year's Oregon Hunters Association Columbia County Chapter banquet was, by all accounts, an excellent event!  I wasn’t able to attend in person due to the road conditions but my Chief of Staff Katy Pritchard was able to participate. The Rainier Trap Team was there in force to help everyone enjoy the evening. I appreciate that these young people have a wide range of opportunities to enjoy this team sport. And I appreciate all the members of OHA that mentor young hunters. If you would like to get involved please look for your local chapter here


2023 Oregon Tourism Industry Stakeholder Survey

Please take a few minutes to participate in this survey that will close March 2nd.  We encourage anyone that interacts with the tourism industry — business owners, staff, destination management and marketing organizations, public land managers, policymakers, organizational partners, tribal representatives, and others — to complete this survey. In addition to participating in the survey, please feel free to share the survey opportunity with your networks 

This is your chance to tell us what matter to you: - economic growth & business resources; - destination management & stewardship messaging; - workforce investments & training; - the environment & climate resiliency; - tourism infrastructure (signage, hike/bike trails, kayak launches, etc.) maintenance & investment; - increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in our industry; + more.

Tourism Survey

From the District!

This week's episode of From The District includes our most recent Oregon snow-pocalypse to bills I'd like you to consider supporting and those bills that will have ludicrous unintended consequences and should not see the light of day.

From The District with SW State Senator

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:  ​​