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    Protecting our water

    (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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    Safeguarding Affordable Housing

    Today, the House Committee on Human Services and Housing voted unanimously to move House Bill 2629 out of committee and to the House Floor with a do pass recommendation. This bill will help preserve affordable apartments in Oregon by requiring landlords of federally subsidized apartment buildings to provide tenants one year’s notice in advance of selling the building or exiting the affordability program. There are hundreds of affordable housing rental properties in Oregon that were built using federally subsidized mortgages. As these mortgages mature, property owners often sell the properties at market rates to developers interested in converting the properties to high-end housing. The victims of these transactions are the low-income renters who are evicted without sufficient notice and left with limited or no affordable housing alternatives. Mandating 12 months notice allows for nonprofits or housing authorities interested in protecting the rent subsidy to more equitably compete against developers for purchase of the property. It also provides more time for tenants to find new housing.

    Please take a moment to watch today’s testimony and Committee vote on this bill.

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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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    Sunlight is the best disinfectant

    At yesterday’s House Revenue Committee meeting we heard testimony on House Bill 2077, which would shine a light on corporate income tax information so we can understand the taxes these companies pay and the subsidies Oregon gives them to operate in our state. Witnesses raised important questions about whether Oregonians are getting their money’s worth from tax breaks the state provides given the key need for investment in things like strong public schools. I, for one, think a strong public education system is the best economic development investment that Oregon can make. I want to make sure that the tax breaks we provide to businesses make sense in this time of inadequate funding for schools.

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    Here’s what we know:

    1. Oregon’s corporate taxes are some of the lowest in the country. Many large and out-of-state corporations pay very little to support crucial public services, either by simply paying Oregon’s low corporate minimum or by using loopholes to avoid paying Oregon income tax altogether. We need clearer information about the income taxes big corporations pay and don’t pay so we can see if existing laws make sense and if Oregonians are getting a good value from past policy choices.

    2. Oregon schools are severely underfunded. Between the 2007-08 and 2013-14 school years, our public schools lost nearly 3,400 teachers and 1,200 instructional assistants due to budget cuts. These cuts led to increased class sizes – Oregon now has one of the largest average class sizes in the country – and one of the shortest school years in the United States. Because of Oregon’s short school year, by the time our students complete 12th grade, many will have received a full year less instructional time than the national average.

    Here’s what we want to see happen:

    The passing of HB 2940 and HB 2077 will allow the legislature to evaluate whether our current policies are creating the intended outcomes and will allow legislators to create more sound plans to return funding to our schools and other crucial services.

    Please join me in fighting for a fair and transparent tax policy in Oregon. Our kids are depending on it.

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    Funding Our Schools

    Care about education funding? Then you will want to think about this. Every year the State of Oregon spends millions of dollars on tax incentives and tax breaks to businesses. On Wednesday, March 11th, the House Revenue Committee will hold hearings on two bills intended to help the legislature make sure Oregon is getting an appropriate level of benefit from our investment in these incentives and tax breaks.

    HB 2940 would require the state to make clear the amount of property tax breaks we provide to large businesses as economic development incentives, the tax revenue we forego as a result, and what our community gets in return. This information will help the Legislature assess whether the state’s investment in various business incentive programs is the best use of community resources.


    Ann speaks with Lake Grove Elementary students at the Capitol.

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    OLCC Marijuana Recommendations

    After a series of “Listening Tours” around the state, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has released its recommendations on steps that the board thinks would be helpful as we work to implement Measure 91. My goal is to implement the will of the voters in a way that is safe for kids, families, and communities, and creates opportunity for small businesses in Oregon.
    Click here to read the OLCC’s recommendations for recreational marijuana policy.

    Click here to read my earlier blog post, “In the Fields”, and see what I’ve been up to as co-chair of the Joint Committee to Implement Measure 91.

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    Share the Road

    Had a great conversation with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales about steps we can take together to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists in Southwest Portland. Lots of people in the Multnomah Village area and near Barbur Boulevard express concern about being hit by cars as they try to get around the neighborhood on foot or by bike. We are working with a team of community members, elected officials, and state agency leaders to take steps to address this important 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.
    Following the bill’s introduction, the issue was covered by OPB, The Oregonian, The Register Guard, and The Statesman Journal, among others.

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    Giving Oregonians a Raise

    It’s not right that an Oregonian who works hard all day long should raise her kids in poverty.

    Most minimum wage workers in Oregon are women, and a large number of them have kids. Right now Oregon spends $1.7 million a year on food and shelter subsidies for low income people, and a lot of those people work.

    At a time when corporations are earning more profit than ever, we need to make sure that Oregonians who work hard all day long earn fair wages. That is why I am co-sponsoring a bill to move Oregon’s minimum wage to $15/hour over a period of years. Last week I testified in support of this bill at a press conference you can watch here. I hope you will join me in supporting this important bill.