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    Starting Strong in the New School Year

    As a family with kids in school, our New Year begins in September. Every fall, each member of our family identifies key priorities for the coming year. As your state representative, I am doing the same thing.

    This year, I will continue to work hard, as I always have, to defend reproductive freedom, prevent gun violence and protect our clean air and water. I will also emphasize three key goals: increasing economic opportunity, strengthening our public schools and forging bipartisan solutions.

    Today I published a guest opinion about these goals in the Lake Oswego Review. Please read it and then get in touch with your ideas about how we can work together to make our state as strong as it can be. You can email me anytime at ann@annlininger.org.

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    Big Breakthrough

    Yesterday we passed a resolution at the National Conference of State Legislatures urging Congress to solve the cannabis banking problem and allow states to decide for themselves how to regulate cannabis. It was an important breakthrough.

    We did it with bipartisan teamwork from Oregon legislators Sen. Ted Ferrioli, Sen. Ginny Burdick, Rep. Jennifer Williamson, and former Senator Bruce Starr, as well as from Republican and Democratic legislators from around the country. At one point a Republican Senator from Utah—which allows neither medical nor adult-use cannabis—offered a compromise amendment that allowed the resolution move forward.

    We need more bipartisan teamwork like this to solve tough problems in our country. It’s great that work on the cannabis issue, both in Oregon and at our national summit, is providing a model for how we can move forward together.   

    There is much left to do – the federal government’s decision not to de-schedule is one example. I stand ready to work with you, and to work across the aisle, to keep making progress.

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    Speaking to the National Conference of State Legislatures about the importance of our resolution.

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    Strengthening Oregon Agriculture

    Yesterday I joined Rep. Dan Rayfield and Rep. Nancy Nathanson for a tour of Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science facilities. Students in the Fermentation Science program learn in a hands-on environment how to make, process, and test cheese, beer, and wine. They also work with scientists to perform critical research that helps Oregon farms, dairies, breweries, and wineries create the best possible products. When these students graduate, they take their knowledge into communities across the state and go to work to keep Oregon’s agricultural economy thriving.

     

    Learning about beer production in the OSU brew house.

    OSU is playing an important role in boosting Oregon agriculture, and that’s good news for our state. Agriculture brings jobs, wealth, and quality products to communities across the state. I look forward to working with my colleagues to find new ways to support Oregon State and our agricultural sector in the next legislative session!

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    Say cheese! These are some of the great cheeses produced in the Oregon State creamery. We got to sample some of them, and they were delicious!

     

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    Growing Oregon’s Food Economy

    Today I had the opportunity to tour Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center in Portland. The center works with businesses from around the world, including many Oregon small businesses, to help them develop products, run food safety tests, and grow their brands. We had a great conversation about the role of programs like this one in shaping Oregon’s food economy. I am excited to learn more about how we can grow our food and agriculture sectors in a way that helps both urban and rural Oregonians earn a good living!

    Looking at some of the many Oregon products developed at the Food Innovation Center.

    Learning about the FIC test kitchen.

    Touring the Food Innovation Lab.

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    Summer Learning for All of Our Kids

    This week lots of our kids attend school for the last day this school year. This is great news for some families, but for many, it begins a tough season of piecing together childcare and trying to avoid the slide in reading and math skills that happens for vulnerable kids. According to a recent New York Times article, “most kids lose math skills over the summer, but low-income children also lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills — and they don’t gain them back. That puts them nearly three years behind higher income peers by the end of fifth grade, and the gap just keeps getting wider.”    

    Support for summer learning programs can help parents stay employed, help young people enjoy a change of pace from the regular school year, and helps children of all backgrounds return to school ready to succeed. 

    I remember doing the National Youth Sports Program in southern Oregon as a kid. It helped us build skills and kept us out of trouble. I look forward to working with colleagues, educators and parents to support summer learning for Oregon kids.

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    Students learning about history during a field trip to Phillip Forster Farm in Eagle Creek, OR.

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    We Can Create More Opportunities

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    Oregon Transportation Forum

    Members of the Oregon Transportation Forum, a group of leaders who represent the freight, transit, port, bicycle, and environmental communities, met earlier this week. They discussed next steps for improving Oregon’s transportation system. I was pleased to sit in on the conversation.

    Gregg Kantor, CEO of NW Natural, provided an update on the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel. He noted that community members expressed strong interest in transportation improvements that could deal with safety, alleviating congestion, and emergency resiliency. Senators Lee Beyer and Betsy Johnson shared their thoughts on how Oregon can move forward productively in the coming legislative session: “people need to come to the table with their ‘get-to-yes’ face on. People need to be ready to compromise.”

    In the coming weeks the Legislature’s two presiding officers will name a joint committee to support transportation investments. Whether or not I end up on that committee, I look forward to supporting efforts to improve Oregon’s transportation system in the next session.

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    Growing Oregon’s Small Businesses

    Yesterday was the second meeting of the new House Special Committee on Small Business Growth. We heard from farmers, food processors, tourism businesspeople, and other small business owners from around the state. They told us about their experiences growing and maintaining their businesses, and about what steps the Legislature can take to help them succeed.

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    Leigh Geschwill of F&B Farms, Chad Allen of Victor Dairy, and Evann Remington of Fresh ‘n Local Foods were three of the small businesspeople who presented to us about running small businesses in the agriculture sector. The stories they shared were compelling, and I thank them and all the other business owners we heard from for taking the time to testify.

    As part of my work on this committee, I have been speaking with producers about an initiative to promote Oregon’s craft food and beverage sectors, as well as our food and lifestyle tourism industry. Oregon businesses are growing agricultural crops and processing them into high-quality food and beverage products that are sold all around the country. Businesses in these sectors support thousands of good jobs across the state, and bring tourists from around the world, which helps grow the economy for everyone. If the Legislature can take steps to help these businesses thrive, we can create opportunity in communities all over the state.

    Another step we should consider is passing a good transportation package to help people and freight move through the state more efficiently. All businesses do better when they can easily connect with consumers, suppliers, and services, and a new transportation package will make these connections possible. What’s more, developing our transportation infrastructure will support small business growth among the many subcontractors that will work on those new projects.

    Oregon’s small businesses are vital to our communities, and we should do what we can to make sure they have the support they need. I am excited to be a part of this committee, and to work with my colleagues to develop policies that will strengthen local economies across the state.

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    Creating Jobs and Opportunity

    Unemployment is down and wages are up, but too many Oregonians still struggle to pay rent, save for retirement, and fund their kids’ education. We need more good jobs and opportunity across our state.

    I am working to create jobs through steps like these:

    Investing in transportation: Our streets and bridges need work, and we need to help people and freight get where they need to go. By supporting a strong transportation package, we can create good construction jobs and a better future.

    Growing Oregon’s craft food and beverage sector: Our producers of Oregon wine, beer, cider, distilled spirits, meats, seafood, cheeses, chocolates, and other specialty products are nationally acclaimed. By helping these farms and businesses grow, we can generate opportunities around our state. My colleague Rep. Mike McLane gave a great talk on this at Lewis and Clark Law School on Friday.

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    Expanding our tourism economy: Visitors enjoy Oregon’s outdoor adventures, natural beauty, craft food and beverage scene, and cultural activities. We can highlight these attractions, welcome more visitors, and expand this economic activity.

    Investing in education: By continuing to strengthen Oregon’s schools and colleges, we can help workers prepare for good jobs.

    Supporting innovation: Businesses in the dynamic clean energy, medical, communications, and technology sectors need a regulatory approach that adapts to changing circumstances and supports innovation. As a member of House committees on Revenue, Tax Credits, and Small Business Growth, I am working to bring that approach.

    If you have thoughts about how we can work together to improve opportunity for all Oregonians, please share them! I’ll be co-hosting a town hall event with Representative Tobias Read and Clackamas County Commissioners Martha Schrader and Jim Bernard on Saturday, April 30th. I would love to hear from you there.

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    Oregon: Good at Democracy

    Last night, college students in Wisconsin had to wait in line for hours to vote in the presidential primaries there due to strict new voter ID laws. A similar story unfolded two weeks ago in Arizona, where the number of polling places has been reduced dramatically since 2012. These are just two recent examples of states making it harder for people to vote.

    Thankfully, Oregon is on a different path. On Monday Governor Brown signed SB 1586, which increases voter registration opportunities on college campuses, and ensures that ballot drop boxes are accessible to every public university and community college campus in the state. Here in Oregon, we are striking down barriers to voting rather than raising them, and in doing so we are creating a better, more democratic state for all of us.

    I was proud to be a chief co-sponsor of SB 1586, and I am eager to build on our progress moving forward.