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    Standing Up For Our Environment

    In the last two years I have been proud to work with allies and legislative colleagues to address climate change and protect our clean air and water. Together we have passed this important legislation:

    • Coal transition bill to wean Oregon off coal-generated energy and increase renewable energy production;
    • Clean fuels bill to reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation;
    • Aerial pesticide legislation to strengthen penalties and education to prevent pesticide poisoning; and
    • Children’s toxics legislation to remove toxic elements from children’s products.

    I’m proud to be endorsed by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. I will keep working with OLCV, the Oregon Conservation Network, and other groups to protect Oregon’s clean air and water and address climate change.

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    Clean Air, Clean Jobs

    Today the House passed SB 1547, the revised Coal to Clean bill. It’s a major milestone for our state. This bill is living proof that we can move toward a clean, sustainable future while also promoting the growth of good, living-wage jobs all around Oregon.

    SB 1547 will phase out coal power from Oregon’s energy grid by 2030 and will require that by 2040 half of our electricity is derived from renewable sources. As utilities start replacing power from out of state coal plants with renewable power, they’ll have the opportunity to invest in local clean energy production, spurring the growth of good, green engineering, manufacturing, and construction jobs. More living-wage jobs in both urban and rural communities means a stronger economy for all of us.

    This session we are passing a number of bills that are good for our environment, and good for job creation too. In addition to SB 1547, last week we passed a bill (HB 4037) to incentivize creation of utility-scale solar projects. This bill will bring solar energy production into Oregon so that Oregonians can reap the job creation and environmental benefits of clean energy. The legislature is poised to fund this provision at $952,000.

    We also passed a bill (HB 4084) to help communities redevelop brownfields so those lands can be reused to support jobs. Finally, we are set to make a $200,000 investment in the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, which will help support wave energy creation our state.

    I’m pleased that Oregon has taken decisive steps toward combatting climate change while supporting the kinds of good jobs that families and communities rely upon.

    Coal to Clean Supporters Logos

    Some of the many organizations to support the Coal to Clean bill this session.
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    Session Highlights

    The 2015 legislative session just ended, and we made good progress on our priorities. Here are some of the highlights, plus links to key bills we passed:

    Strengthening Education

    We took important steps to improve Oregon’s education system by

    • Making historically large investments in early learning, our K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities (HB 5016, HB 5017, HB 5024, SB 5507)
    • Supporting career and technical training and science and math education (CTE-STEM) so students can prepare for good jobs (HB 3072, HB 5016, SB 81)
    • Helping students who learn at an accelerated pace access appropriate challenges and earn college credit (SB 418)
    • Ensuring that students can afford lunch so they can focus on learning at school (HB 2545)
    • Protecting the confidentiality of student data so companies do not buy and sell it (HB 2715, SB 187)
    • Helping school districts identify students with dyslexia so schools can ensure these students’ success (SB 612)

    Helping Workers and Businesses Thrive

    We all want Oregonians to be able to provide for their families and enjoy the dignity of having a job. This session the Legislature advanced these goals by

    • Helping low-income people access child care so they can work, and by easing the financial cliff that hurts some people when they get a job (HB 2015, HB 2171)
    • Enabling workers to take time off to care for a sick child or recover from illness (SB 454)
    • Helping Oregonians save for retirement (HB 2960)
    • Adopting targeted incentives to spur job growth in the clean energy, food production equipment, and film sectors (HB 2941 and HB 3125)
    • Clarifying tax policy so Oregon can attract and retain technology jobs (SB 611)
    • Supporting transportation investments – this is a good step, but we need a robust transportation package (HB 5030, HB 5040)
    • Creating clear rules for the cannabis sector to help create good jobs, protect safety, and appropriately regulate this $1 billion/year market (HB 3400, HB 2041, SB 460, SB 844, and SJR 12)

    Protecting our Environment

    We took steps to protect Oregon’s environment this session by

    • Requiring a phase-out of toxic chemicals from children’s products (SB 478)
    • Improving Oregon’s pesticide spray laws to better protect people and drinking water – we have more work to do here, but this is progress (HB 3549)
    • Supporting expansion of our clean energy economy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (SB 324)
    • Encouraging cleanup and re-use of brownfield properties (HB 2734)

    Helping Vulnerable People

    We are helping keep vulnerable Oregonians safe and secure by

      • Supporting creation of affordable apartments and preserving the ones we have (HB 2629, SB 5506, HB 2198)
      • Enabling survivors of sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence to obtain confidential help and protective orders (HB 3476 and HB 2628)
      • Keeping guns away from domestic violence perpetrators and other dangerous people (SB 525, SB 941)
      • Enabling women to obtain a year’s supply of birth control so they can avoid unintended pregnancy (HB 3343)

    Strengthening our Justice System

    After tragic events around the country, we worked to ensure our justice system is fair for all Oregonians by

    • Preventing unfair profiling by police of people of color (HB 2002)
    • Creating a framework for communities to require on-duty law enforcement officials to wear body cameras (HB 2571)
    • Allowing community members to record the conduct of on-duty police officers (HB 2704)
    • Reclassifying marijuana offenses and helping people expunge offenses for conduct that is no longer illegal (HB 3400, SB 844)

    Improving Government Effectiveness

    We are helping our government operate more fairly and efficiently by

    • Improving information that lawmakers and the public receive about tax credits before creating or expanding tax credits so we can use credits wisely (HB 3542).
    • Streamlining the process to access social services to improve efficiency and reduce costs (HB 2219)
    • Requiring the Legislature to hold hearings around Oregon to ensure the redistricting process is conducted in a fair and reasonable manner (HB 2974)
    • Helping Oregonians register to vote so they can help shape a strong future for our state (HB 2177)

    We accomplished a lot this legislative session, but there is more left to do. Please reach out to our office over the interim about issues that are important to you so we can work together to address them. Thanks.

    IMG_2479
    Members of the Committee to Implement Measure 91 (Rep. Peter Buckley, Rep. Carl Wilson, Rep. Andy Olsen, and Rep. Ken Helm) marking the close of our 2015 Legislative Session, with photo bomb by Rep. John Davis

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    Protecting our water

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    (Photo: Brent Drinkut, Statesman Journal)

    A potential deal to help Nestle extract and sell our water has raised the profile of water stewardship issues in Oregon. On April 17th, I joined 8 colleagues to share concerns about the transfer with Governor Brown.

    We’re at a turning point for water use in the West. Seven Oregon counties face drought emergencies, climate change is a fact of life, and wealthy investors are looking to divert northwestern water to California. At a time like this, Oregon needs to look carefully at how we steward our water resources.

    Here are some steps that would help us deal with water scarcity issues:

    1. Require a public interest review when the state seeks to transfer public water rights to help a private company extract and sell our clean water.
    2. Develop a water stewardship strategy to make sure we meet the needs of people, fish, the environment, and farmers. We could start by assessing Oregon’s “Water Resources Strategy” to make sure it deals with emerging concerns about drought, diversion, and privatization, and it reflects our values.
    3. We should also consider whether a state agency like the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife should actively facilitate a deal to help a private company extract, bottle, and sell Oregon’s water.

    I plan to continue working with Governor Brown and my colleagues in the legislature to use Oregon’s water carefully and protect our communities, wildlife, and environment.

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    Oregonians have a right to know

    More proof that Oregon should require public notice before helicopters aerially apply pesticide on forestland. On March 27th in Douglas County, several foresters were working at a job site when a helicopter flew overhead two times and sprayed pesticide on them. The workers were exposed to atrazine and hexazinone and reports are that they are in bad shape.

    This incident shows why Oregon needs a law requiring advance notice of aerial pesticide sprays. Neighbors need the opportunity to bring their children and animals indoors, and forest workers need to know so they can stay away from a spray area. Here is a copy of the complaint describing this situation.

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    Poison in Our Water

    In the 1990s, a regular person named Erin Brockovich exposed business practices that poisoned the drinking water of people in a small California town.  Today regular Oregonians are working to expose flawed laws and business practices that have allowed helicopters spraying weed killers to harm people, drinking water, pets, and wildlife near clear cuts.

    People near Gold Beach were harmed in October 2013 when a helicopter spraying pesticide doused many homesteads.  The chemicals made people sick, killed wildlife, and worse.  State agencies failed for months to share information about what happened.  Film students at the University of Oregon made a great documentary about this travesty called Drift:  A Community Seeking Justice.

    In July 2014, residents of Douglas County suffered similar harm when toxic fumes from the aerial spray of a nearby clear cut invaded their property.  People suffered headaches, their animals died, trees withered, and state agencies again failed to respond adequately.

    Around 100,000 acres of Oregon forestland is aerially sprayed with pesticides each year.  Forestland in Douglas, Coos, and Lane Counties are most intensely treated with these chemicals, but it happens in the Portland area, too.

    In Clackamas County, pesticide has been applied to over 2,000 parcels since 2004.  In Multnomah County, 217 parcels.

    “People’s drinking water flows through these areas,” notes a homeowner who lives by a clear cut in Clackamas County slated for pesticide treatment. She worries about the pregnant woman down the road: “What is going to happen to that baby?”

     

    Oregon’s inadequate pesticide controls are one reason our state has had its coastal nonpoint source pollution program disapproved by federal agencies, a decision expected to cost Oregon over $1 million in federal funding annually.

    This is a bad situation, but together we can help fix it:

    • Legislators are working to pass Senate Bill 613 which would improve advance notice, create buffers, and track the chemicals and quantities that are applied on forestlands.
    • Oregonians and nonprofit groups like Beyond Toxics and Oregon Wild have spurred creation of many bills this legislative session to address the issue, as well as a bi-partisan work group to develop a legislative fix. That work group will begin meeting on Tuesday.

    We need your help to pass meaningful reforms.  Please contact our office at (503) 986-1438 or email rep.annlininger@state.or.us to find out how you can help.

    Please also check out the great reporting Rob Davis of The Oregonian and Tony Schick of OPB have done on this issue.

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    Natural Hazards Planning

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    In the last few years our state has spent around $60 million more in general fund dollars to fight wildfires than we had expected to spend. In 2014, over forty people died in the Oso landslide in Washington State. During the last year communities on the coast and throughout Oregon have worked to strengthen Oregon’s resilience when we experience a major earthquake or tsunami.

    We need to take responsible steps to address the risk of these natural hazards. Together with Senator Michael Dembrow and Representatives David Gomberg, Deb Boone, Ken Helm and others, we are bringing a bill this session that would direct the Land Conservation and Development Commission to develop rules to implement an existing state law, Goal 7 of the statewide land use planning system, to help communities plan how they can minimize risks from natural hazards.

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    Protecting People from Pesticides

    Today, a team of legislators introduced the Public Health and Water Resources Protection Act, a bill that will help protect people, pets, drinking water, and wildlife from pesticide poisoning that can result from aerial application of pesticide on clear cut timberland. We are working to improve notice for community members, buffers zones, and access to information about sprays that have occurred.

    Click here to read the full bill.
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    Following the bill’s introduction, the issue was covered by OPB, The Oregonian, The Register Guard, and The Statesman Journal, among others.