Honoring Our Veterans and Legislative Days Review

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Representative Susan McLain
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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I am writing today from Salem, where I have been all week for Legislative Days. It’s been busy, but also great to catch up with colleagues and talk about meaningful policy issues as we prepare for the 2024 Legislative Session. I have provided a review of the committee meetings I attended in the “Legislative Updates” section of this newsletter. I included a review of last Friday’s Bi-State Legislative Committee meeting on the I-5 Bridge Replacement project, which I chaired. The Joint Interim Committee On Addiction and Community Safety Response also met this week and I provide an important update. This is the newly formed Committee that is working on the challenges and opportunities of Measure 110.

Pictures from Legislative Days
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Saturday is Veterans Day, and I want to thank all Veterans for your service to our country. Your commitment and sacrifices do not go unnoticed, and our nation is eternally grateful to you. I honor my husband (Cliff McLain), my Dad (Bud Butcher), my Father-in-law (Jack Hines), and my nephew (Shaman Butcher), who is currently serving in the Navy. Last Session, I sponsored a bill to expand educational benefits for Veterans here in Oregon. The bill passed in committee with strong bi-partisan support but did not receive funding in Ways and Means. I will be working to bring the bill back in 2025 because I strongly believe we must do all we can to support our Veterans and provide them with every opportunity to succeed during and after their military service. 


Veterans Thank You




Statewide Veterans Day Ceremony at Oregon State Capitol Park

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs will honor all veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces on Veterans Day, Nov. 11 at 11:00 a.m. during its Statewide Veterans Day Ceremony this year in view of the Oregon State Capitol Building.

This event will feature remarks by Doug Grafe, Office of Governor Tina Kotek, who will serve as the keynote speaker. Also speaking at the ceremony will be Colonel Russell Gibson, 82 Brigade Commander and Oregon Military Department Legislative Government Affairs Director, Congresswoman Andrea Salinas, the representative for the people of Oregon's sixth congressional district, and Oregon State Senator James Manning, Chair of the Senate Veterans, Emergency Management, Federal and World Affairs Committee.

Other ceremonial elements will include a flyover, color guard, singing of the national anthem, laying of the wreath, and the playing of “Taps.” Serving as the emcee for the ceremony will be ODVA Appeals & Special Advocacy Division Director Joseph Glover.

The celebration will honor Oregon veterans of all eras and will be hosted at the Oregon State Capitol Park located on Court Street Northeast in downtown Salem — directly in front of the Oregon State Capitol Building.

The event is open to the public and uncovered seating will be provided for attendees. Accessible pathways and seating areas for those needing accommodations will also be provided.  Attendees are reminded to plan accordingly for Oregon weather.

For those unable to attend, the event will also be live-streamed on ODVA’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/odvavet.  If you have any questions about this event, please contact ODVA at (800) 692-9666 or visit www.oregon.gov/odva.


Cornelius Veterans Day Ceremony

The public is invited and encouraged to attend to help honor and remember the many veterans who have served our country. The ceremony will take place at Veterans Memorial Park (1251 Baseline) on November 11th at 1:00 PM. 

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During the Interim, Legislative Days provide a key opportunity for Legislators, advocates, and members of the public to connect and stay up-to-date on important policy issues. During Legislative Days, Committees hold informational hearings on topics that may lead to legislation in upcoming sessions, hear updates on previous implementations, hear reports from state agencies and Task Forces, and keep current on the subject areas affecting Oregonians. I have provided a review of each of my committee meetings below, and have also included updates from the Joint Interim Committee On Addiction and Community Safety Response and the I-5 Bridge Committee. If you click on the date listed under each committee name, you will be taken to that committee’s homepage, where you can review a recording of the meeting.


Joint Interim Committee On Ways and Means


The Joint Interim Committee on Ways and Means met Wednesday morning to approve reports and a number of grant applications that will secure critical funding for important projects across Oregon. These grant applications may appear relatively insignificant at first glance, but every dollar that we receive from the federal government means we can augment our own spending and provide more opportunities to improve the lives of Oregonians. I have included some of the most significant reports and grant opportunities below, which I voted YES on, and they are broken down by the following topics: Public Defense, Wildfires/Fire Prevention, Housing, Transportation, and Land Use.


Public Defense:


➧ Report on Public Defense Services Commission Compensation Plan Changes:  We voted to acknowledge the report on Public Defense Services Commission (PDSC) compensation plan changes. PDSC is proposing a one-time cost of living adjustment allowance of $1,500 effective December 1, 2023, a 6.5% COLA effective December 1, 2023, and a 6.55% COLA effective January 1, 2025. The work of the PDSC is critical, as the Commission's primary charge is to establish and maintain a public defense system that ensures the provision of public defense services consistent with the Oregon Constitution, the United States Constitution, and Oregon and national standards of justice.

Criminal Justice Commission Unrepresented Defendant/Persons Crisis Plans: We voted to acknowledge receipt of a report from the Criminal Justice Commission on judicial districts’ coordinated public safety unrepresented defendant crisis plans. At present, the crisis has recently stabilized but is far from abating due to the public defense system continuing to be challenged by the demand for services and supply of public defenders.Senate Bill 337 directed each presiding judge of a judicial district to develop and implement a coordinated public safety unrepresented defendant crisis plan. Each of the 27 judicial districts has submitted a crisis plan in cooperation with local public safety partners. Understanding which crisis team interventions have been implemented and are effective will be essential in determining future courses of action for not only the local crisis teams but also the Legislature. In addition, the impact that the significant amount of General Fund investments and actions identified in the crisis plans will have on the unrepresented crisis will take time to be fully realized. 


Wildfires/Fire Prevention:


Department of the State Fire Marshal 2023 Fire Season Report: We voted to acknowledge receipt of a report on the 2023 fire season by the Department of the State Fire Marshal. The Department of the State Fire Marshal submitted a report on its preliminary expenses for the 2023 fire season. The Department responded to seven conflagrations during the season for an estimated cost of $9.5 million. The Department reports an additional $3 million in expenses for the 20 pre-positioning and immediate response mobilizations, bringing the gross 2023 fire season cost to $12.5 million. The Department anticipates approximately $1.2 million of the cost to be eligible for federal reimbursement. The Department’s costs will also be partially offset by an existing $2 million General Fund appropriated in 2023-25 for wildfire readiness, response, and pre-positioning.

Department of Forestry 2023 Fire Season Report: The Ways and Means Committee voted to acknowledge receipt of a report from the Department of Forestry on the 2023 fire season, and a preliminary report on private losses of timber, building, fencing, livestock, and grazing land capacity. The report provides an overview of the details and progress of the 2023 fire season. Statistics in the report indicate this year’s season aligns very closely to the 10-year average number of fires on Department of Forestry protected lands, while the number of protected acres burned is only 14% of the 10-year average. Gross fire costs are estimated at $73.8 million. After subtracting anticipated federal grants, reimbursements, and local fire district costs, the state’s net emergency fire costs are estimated at $24 million. The agency anticipates requesting additional funding during the 2024 legislative session, and I look forward to having that conversation.




➧ Federal Grant Application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: The Joint Interim Committee on Ways and Means approved, retroactively, the submission of a federal grant application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the amount of $10 million for infrastructure subsidies and technical assistance to local governments. If awarded, $7 million will go to support grant awards to developers seeking to offset site-specific costs associated with affordable housing projects, including sidewalks, streetlights, utility connections, and infrastructure system development charges imposed by local governments. The remaining $3 million will go to the Department of Land Conservation and Development to fund technical assistance grants for local governments and for the development of adoption-ready housing policies and production plans that meet housing production goals.

➧ Housing and Community Services Department Shelter and Rehousing Investments Report: The Ways and Means Committee voted to acknowledge receipt of a report on shelter and rehousing investments. This is the second quarterly report on investments to address homelessness through HB 5019 and HB 2001, which appropriated $158.9 million in General Fund resources for state and local entities. This report includes actual outcomes by Continuum of Care through August 31st. Continuums of Care within the Governor’s designated emergency areas have collectively created 34% of the shelter bed goal, and met 11% of the goal for rehousing. More than 2,700 households have been assisted with eviction prevention services. There is more work ahead in the next two Sessions, but the policies we passed in 2023 are having a real impact on our homelessness crisis.




➧: Department of Transportation Interstate 5 Bridge Replacement Grant: As Co-Chair of the I-5 Bridge Committee, I was very pleased to vote for this significant federal grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation in the amount of $1.2 billion to fund a portion of costs related to the Interstate Bridge Replacement program. If awarded, the grant will be distributed over six years. ODOT's application is one of three federal revenue sources totaling $2.6 billion included in the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program's financial plan. Every dollar in federal funding decreases the burden on taxpayers for the replacement of the Bridge, and this grant is critical to the overall success of the I-5 Bridge replacement plan.The project is currently undergoing federal environmental review, and bridge designs will be adjusted based on public feedback and the review of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the locally preferred alternative bridge design. Once the final environmental impact statement is approved, the program can seek permits, update cost estimates, and establish contracts, with construction currently anticipated to begin in 2026. 

➧  Department of Transportation Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Grant: I was proud to vote in favor of a federal grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation in the amount of $10 million for repairing and replacing existing vehicle chargers that are broken or non-operational. If awarded, the grant will be used by ODOT, in collaboration with one or more private entities, to repair or replace over 100 non-functional charging ports spread across 60 locations. Additionally, the plan includes the installation of approximately 100 new charging ports to fulfill program prerequisites. The grant application is due November 13th. The 20% grant match requirement will be covered by the collaborating private entities. 

➧ Department of Aviation Airport Electrical Infrastructure Grant: It was exciting to vote to approve the submission of a federal grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation in the amount of $2 million for the installation of electrical infrastructure at up to three airports. If awarded, the grant will fund the planning and installation of electrical charging infrastructure at three airports: Hillsboro Airport at the Port of Portland, Olympia Regional Airport, and potentially Hood River Airport. Within one year of grant execution, the Department will gather data and produce a draft report showcasing the potential benefits of this new electrical infrastructure at airports. The report will serve as the foundation for a future U.S. Department of Transportation grant funding request to expand airport electric infrastructure, with the goal of creating a regional mobility network and making aviation greener.


Land Use:


➧ Department of Land Conservation and Development Collins Creek Land Acquisition Partnership Grant: I voted in favor of submitting a federal grant application to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the amount of up to $5 million. The Department of Land Conservation and Development will sub-award this funding to the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians for the purchase of 42 acres of undeveloped coastal land in Lincoln County. The land is an area of historic tribal villages and settlements within the Tribe’s original reservation. If this grant is awarded, the land would be managed in perpetuity for its habitat, cultural, and climate resilience values by the Tribe. 


House Committee On Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, & Water


During our House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water Committee meeting, we had a presentation on the groundwater allocation process from the Oregon Water Resources Department. The problem that Oregon faces is that Groundwater levels are declining because the amount of water taken out of the system is more than what is replaced through natural water cycles. Oregon’s precious groundwater resources are being depleted at a rate that is unsustainable, and climate change exacerbates these water conditions. Some Oregonians are experiencing water scarcity, water shortages, and wells that have gone dry. Groundwater depletion reduces surface water flows in streams, rivers, and lakes affecting fish, aquatic habitats, and recreation. 

This issue impacts all Oregon families, farmers, cities, and industries. Addressing the long-term impact of groundwater depletion requires the modification of longstanding practices and rules for reviewing new water rights applications. With a forward-looking approach that considers the needs of current and future generations, the Oregon Water Resource Department is working to safeguard existing surface water and groundwater users and the livelihoods they support while managing groundwater resources more sustainably. Oregonians must adapt, invest, and innovate to meet the changing realities and address the health and safety, population growth, economic development, and housing needs of the state. Some examples of ways we can improve the situation include: 

  • Efficiency and conservation measures to offset water needs 
  • Transfer of water rights 
  • Water sharing agreements 
  • Market-based solutions 
  • Designing for water reuse and reclamation


Joint Committee On Ways and Means Subcommittee On Education


In our Education Budget Committee, which I am Co-Chair of, we heard an important update from the newly formed Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) regarding the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) program. I am excited that DELC is now operational and focusing on important issues related to early learning. The purpose of the new department is to unify and strengthen Oregon's early learning and child care system so that families with young children have access to early learning services, supports, and the information they need to thrive. 

The ERDC program administered by DELC helps families with the cost of child care by making payments on their behalf to their chosen childcare provider. Payments are made up to state maximum child care rates based on a child’s age, family's eligible hours/provider's billed hours, region of the state, and child care provider type. Since 2022, the ERDC program has grown to cover over 9,000 more children and to serve 6,600 new families in the last year.  DELC launched a waitlist for the very in-demand ERDC on November 3rd as demand has surpassed capacity. You can find out more about the waitlist and the ERDC program here


Joint Committee On Transportation


The Joint Committee on Transportation, which I have the privilege of co-chairing with Senator Gorsek, met on Wednesday to hear updates from ODOT on funding issues and the status of current ODOT projects. ODOT faces very real budgetary challenges that our committee will be working diligently on over the next 24 months. Part of the budget challenges come from the fact that the federal government plays a smaller role in funding Transportation than it used to. In addition, states are highly reliant on the gas tax, and that revenue source is declining because of the explosion of fuel-efficient and electrified cars. All states are currently having to explore new funding sources to diversify revenue and Oregon is no different.

In addition to the presentation on funding, we also heard updates on transportation projects from around the state. One local project that was highlighted was the expansion of the auxiliary lanes on HWY 217. Construction began in 2021, and work is estimated to be completed in 2025. The objective for adding auxiliary lanes to HWY 217 is to improve safety, reduce bottlenecks, and provide bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Map of HWY 217 repairs


Joint Interim Committee On Addiction and Community Safety Response


On Monday, the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response held its second meeting, during which committee members heard from legislative counsel, law enforcement officers, community corrections officials, and a District Attorney. Topics addressed included current drug crime statutes, case law, and public safety responses to the drug crisis. 

The next meeting of the committee will focus on models and policy solutions to address the drug crisis through both a public health and public safety lens – including proven approaches implemented in communities outside of Oregon.

The Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response is the Legislature's hub for the coordination of an urgent public health and safety response to the drug crisis. Through the 2024 session and beyond, this bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators will provide oversight of state programs and funding while seeking short and long-term solutions to keep Oregonians safe and healthy. 

A full recording of the meeting can be found here, and the full agenda can be found here.


Joint Interim Committee On The Interstate 5 Bridge


Last Friday, I chaired a meeting between the Oregon and Washington Legislative Committees charged with the replacement of the I-5 Bridge. We had a robust conversation about the challenges and opportunities we have before us to provide both states with a seismically resilient, safe, and multimodal bridge that can serve generations to come. We received updates from the Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) program team on federal grant opportunities, recent public outreach, and the newly established Community Benefits Advisory Group. We also heard an overview of the design process and the various investments being studied. Our next meeting will be on November 27th.

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SECTION HEADER: Important Resources

My office has compiled a list of resources for our community. You can click on the images below to open a document with the relevant links. If you know of a resource that should be included here, or you need a resource and are having trouble finding the information you need, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at rep.susanmclain@oregonlegislature.gov.


Education-related resources


Click here, or on the image to the right for a list of Education-related resources. This includes links to the Forest Grove and Hillsboro School Districts, the Oregon and US Departments of Education, information on how to pay for college, student lunch programs, and much more!


Wildfire Prevention Logo


Click hereor on the image to the right for important resources related to wildfire prevention and recovery. This list includes links to current fire restrictions and recreation site status maps, the Oregon Department of Forestry's fire prevention tip page, and important resources for wildfire victims. 


Resources for Veterans


Click here, or on the image to the right for a list of important resources for Veterans, including links and phone numbers to the various divisions of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, local Washington County assistance, supportive and community-based groups like the American Legion, and mental health resources.  


State and Local Government Links


Click here, or on the image to the right for links to important local and state government pages, including the Hillsboro, Forest Grove, and Cornelius city government pages. You can also access the Oregon Legislature's page, and other important state agency sites, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Unemployment Department, and the Oregon Health Authority.

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The view from my office this morning as the sun started breaking through the fog.


Sunrise at the Capitol

Yours truly,

McLain Signature

Representative Susan McLain
House District 29

email: Rep.SusanMcLain@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1429
address: 900 Court St NE, H-493, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/mclain