OR Lege: Bridges, Budgets and Business

Carla Axtman

Your Oregon Legislature has a lot on tap this week. Highlights are coming up in just a moment, but before I get there, here's a little public service announcement.

I think it's sometimes easy to forget that these folks we've elected to office are there to work for us, the people. And it's up to us, the people, to stay in touch with them and let them know what we want them to do. These little blog missives of mine each Monday are meant to give you a head's up--so that you can contact your peeps in Salem and let them know how you think it should go down.

In that spirit, you can go here to find your legislator and their contact information. Bookmark it and make use of it.

This has been a public service announcement.

And now, on to the legislative business.

Today is a very big day for the Senate. The Columbia River Crossing vote is happening today--on the heels of a scathing weekend of criticism for the project. On Friday, Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland reported on the fact that a lot of the major enviro groups in the state aren't actively lobbying against the bridge due to a sense that the political power behind it is just too much to overcome. This came on the heels of an Oregonian story by Richard Read, reporting that CRC project consultants are claiming that there will be higher tolling revenue, even in the face of significantly lower traffic projections--driving more skepticism for the project. Oregonian columnist Steve Duin penned an homage to former Governor Vic Atiyeh, who took time to eviscerate the CRC:

"We're not in good shape and we're going to build another bridge? It's insane," Atiyeh argues. "And it's a fantasy that they think they're going to take care of the traffic."

Also today, the Ways and Means Co-Chairs will be releasing their budget at an 11AM press conference.

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee will hear a Career and Technical Education Grants bill sponsored by Labor Commissioner Avakian and Senator Rosenbaum. There is a possible Senate Floor vote on Early Discussion and Mediation proposal that will resolve some medical liability claims while protecting individual's right to sue for damages. Wednesday will see the Consumer Protection committee hearing a bill that creates Small Business Assistance office in Secretary of State's office. On Thursday the Business and Transportation Committee will hear a bill that would help start-up companies that work off university research.

On the House side, again, the co-Chairs budget. I think the interesting part here will be to see how close it comes (or not) to what the Governor is proposing, especially around education. Keep an eye out for foreclosure reform this week as well around judicial foreclosures. The House is also taking up the issue of "sham charities" that don't actually use the money they raise for charitable purposes. You may remember Kevin Mannix's "veterans' organization" that actually is a political front--this legislation would work to more tightly regulate this issue.

connect with blueoregon