Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you may know, the Legislature adjourned the 2021 session on June 26th. This time between sessions, referred to as the "interim", provides legislators an opportunity to spend more time in their districts visiting with local leaders, community partners and constituents… and of course, some down-time to refuel and recuperate from the long session.
It has been enjoyable to step away from the "virtual world" after spending countless hours behind a computer screen. While my schedule is more relaxed there is much work to do as we continue to address the challenges of the past 18 months and prepare for future challenges ahead.
July's newsletter is a snapshot of what I've been up to during the past few weeks. Earlier this month, I took some time to travel and visit family out of state and reconnect in person. We all have sacrificed so much this past year and seeing our loved ones is truly food for the soul. I hope you are also able to reconnect with friends and loved ones this summer.
Thank you for taking the time to remain engaged in what's going on in House District 18, around the state, and in the Capitol. Please don't hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of assistance.
Berry Farm Tour — Heat Wave Crop Damage
During the June heat wave, berry farms throughout the Willamette Valley saw the fruits of their labors scorched by the unprecedented heat dome.
On July 16th, I toured a local berry farm along with my colleges Rep. Cate, Rep. Clem and Congressman Schrader. The damage we observed was significant. The June heat dome and the February ice storm have been tough for our agricultural communities. Local farmers, their employees, and consumers will likely see significant supply and economic impacts in the months ahead. Though the extreme heat hit caneberry growers the hardest, Christmas tree farmers also lost newly planted seedlings that fried to a crisp in the sun's heat. Some fruit tree orchards also experienced heat damage and nut tree farms suffered significant damage to their trees during the February ice storm. Fortunately, other more heat-loving crops saw less damage and are more likely to recover. I visited with Congressman Schrader about the possibility of federal grants to assist with the installation of drip irrigation since many of the caneberry farms do not have it currently, making them more susceptible to high heat conditions.
It is still early in the season and there is more summer heat ahead. During these challenging times, we can all use some extra support — our local farmers included. As you venture out to your local Farmer's Market, I hope you will take time to thank a farmer for the valuable contributions they make to our daily lives.
Molalla Rural Fire Protection District
On July 21st, I attended the Molalla Fire District's meeting to present a legislative update on the funding allocations for Wildland Fire Protection. Through HB 5006 the Molalla Rural Fire Protection District is to receive $385,000. The funding will provide for a Type III fire truck which is used primarily for wildland fires. The truck will significantly enhance the Fire Protection District's future wildland fire fighting capabilities.
Molalla Fire District is made up of career and volunteer personnel who staff the MRFPD fire, rescue and ambulance services. The District is small with a staff of 13 not including an administrative assistant. To learn more about the Molalla Rural Fire Protection District click here.
Thank you, Lieutenant Byron Wakefield, for bringing the need for this equipment to my attention and for the invitation to share this exciting news with your Fire Board in person.
OR 211: Pedestrian and Bike Improvements
On my way through Molalla, I stopped to snap this construction photo. At long last, the construction project on OR 211 in Molalla is underway. In the 2017 session, I was able to secure a significant portion of the funding for this pedestrian walkway in the Transportation Package (HB 2017). I am pleased to see the work in progress.
ODOT, in partnership with the City of Molalla, is making pedestrian and bicycle improvements in Molalla along the north side of OR 211 between Oregon 213 and North Hezzie Lane. This project will enhance safety, operations, and efficiency for people walking, biking, driving, rolling and using transit in the area. Construction is expected to be completed this fall. You can learn more about this project on ODOT's project page here.
Marion County Community Corrections
On July 22nd, I attended the Marion County Community Corrections barbeque to celebrate Parole and Probation Appreciation Week. It was an honor to share in this celebration and to extend my gratitude to our parole and probation officers and community corrections staff for their service and the valuable role they play in keeping our communities safe.
Drakes Crossing Rural Fire Protection District
On July 27th I met with the Chief of the Drakes Crossing Rural Fire Protection District (DCRFPD). DCRFPD is to receive $5,000, for matching funds for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to cover the FEMA cost-share associated with the impacts of smoke, clean up and damages to their vehicles during the September 2020 wildfire. They will also be receiving $1 million in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for a rural broadband project to bring a more reliable communication link to the Fire District. I want to say a special thank you to Senator Fred Girod for using some of his allocated ARPA funds for this project. The Labor Day fires brought this communication problem to the forefront and the remedy is sorely needed.
Drakes Crossing Rural Fire Protection District is located in the eastern Willamette Valley, 20 miles east of Salem. The district covers land between Silverton and Sublimity on Highway 214, on the Silverton side of Silver Falls State Park. They also provide coverage for Silver Falls State Park and Longview Fiber even though it is not part of their district. DCRFPD serves a residential population of 800 across 25 square miles and covers over 1 million people who pass through Silver Falls State Park each year.
Drakes Crossing firefighters are a dedicated group who put community above self and provide a professional service of fire protection and medical service to the citizens and visitors of the Drakes Crossing community. Their heroic efforts contributed greatly to stopping the Labor Day fire from spreading further into the landscape. I am thankful for their service and their commitment to stand ready to respond when called.
Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council
On Tuesday this week, I attended the Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council (MCPSCC) meeting for an update on the Council's activities. The council unanimously approved the proposed funding amounts for the 2021-23 Justice Reinvestment Initiative programs, including victim services.
As a long-time member of MCPSCC, the Council is statutorily mandated by Oregon Revised Statute 423.560. Meetings are open to the public and held quarterly. The council's mission is to create a continuum of supports and services for adult offenders, juvenile offenders, and crime victims, resulting in a system that emphasizes community safety and prevents criminal activity. Council members are community partners, leaders and stakeholders that serve and interact within the criminal justice system. Their purpose is to increase public safety by enhancing law enforcement efficiencies and reduce crime.
North Willamette Research and Extension Center
Last night, I participated in the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) Advisory Council meeting. It was great to be able to finally meet in person, share a dinner together, and to get an overview of the research and education program activities since our last meeting in February. I shared legislative updates on the budget. Discussions around priority staffing opportunities and the continued search for the next NWREC director were informative and engaging. This is a fun and amazing group of dedicated agricultural leaders, educators, and community partners with whom I am proud to be a part.
NWREC serves farmers in the seven county north valley area and focuses research and education on the region's most important crop systems, nurseries and greenhouses, fresh vegetables and specialty seed crops, berries and small fruit, Christmas trees, orchard crops, field Crops, and small farms. In addition, NWREC is home of the Berry Initiative Program, an important program that I have worked hard for the past 3 Legislative Sessions to provide funding for, and the state's only IR-4 Pesticide Registration program working with many of the state's agricultural crops throughout Oregon.
August 4 Clackamas County Town Hall on Wildfire Preparedness
|Mark your calendars. Clackamas County Commissioners are hosting a Virtual Wildfire Preparedness Town Hall on August 4, 2021, from 5:30-7 pm. More information and how to sign up and join the meeting can be found at: https://www.clackamas.us
American Legion National Commander Visit
On June 30th, it was my honor to attend Commander James W. Oxford's visit and tour the American Legion Bend Heroes Memorial and the Central Oregon Veterans Village in Bend.
Both projects were initiated by Bend Heroes Foundation. Military service and first responder flags were displayed at the Memorial and along the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
James W. “Bill” Oxford is the National Commander of the nearly 2 million member American Legion. Commander Oxford visited American Legion Posts and other veterans facilities in Oregon during his visit. For more information about Commander Oxford click here.
While at the memorial, I spent a few moments in remembrance of a dear friend who was killed in Iraq when we were there in 2005. Deb Klecker was a civilian police trainer working for Dyncorp International at the time of her death from a roadside IED. I had the honor of reading a letter from then Governor Kulongoski at her memorial service in Baghdad and later delivered challenge coins from Generals Patraeus and Fil to the family on my return from Iraq. Deb's name is engraved on a special plaque at the memorial and she was the recipient of the Defense of Freedom Medal which was awarded posthumously at a special ceremony at the memorial. Deb and I served together for several years on the Board on Public Safety Standards and Training and the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund Board prior to 2005.
While many Oregonians are still recovering from last year's devastating wildfires, fire crews are on the ground and in the air fighting a number of large fires in various parts of our state.
The Bootleg Fire continues to challenge firefighters into its 4th week. It is now the largest wildfire burning in the country. It is also Oregon's third largest wildfire since 1900. Federal resources, fire personnel from other states and the Oregon National Guard are also assisting Oregon fire crews in combating the blaze.
Although lightning was determined the cause of the Bootleg Fire, nearly 80 percent of fires are human caused. We are still early in this year's fire season. The months of August and September are where we often see peak fire ignition. The dangers associated with our drought conditions and historical dry fuel in our forests make this year's wildfire season extremely dangerous statewide.
Please do all you can to prevent wildfires. Stay informed and be prepared. If told to evacuate, do so immediately — for your own safety and the safety of others.
||Sign up for emergency alerts through the OR-Alert Notification System:
Text: Sign up for emergency alerts in your area by texting your zip code to 888777.
Website: Sign up for emergency alerts in your area by visiting www.oralert.gov.
Mobile App: Download the Everbridge Mobile App to receive emergency alerts wherever you are.
For the Latest Information & Resources on Wildfires Across Oregon Visit: https://wildfire.oregon.gov.
Remembering Representative Gary Leif
Last week, I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend and colleague, Representative Gary Leif. Gary's love for his community and our state was exemplified by his steadfast and dedicated public service.
Rep. Leif represented House District 2, which includes portions of Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties. Prior to his service in the Oregon House of Representatives, Gary served as the Douglas County Commissioner. His kind heart, gentle spirit, and thoughtful approach to problem solving will be missed. My condolences to his family and his wife, Carol, who served beside him.
Oregon State Capitol Opens to the Public
On July 12th the Oregon State Capitol opened to the public following a 16 month closure by legislative leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily guided tours are available at 11 am and 2 pm and the Capitol store is open from 10- 3 pm. Visitor entrances are located at the front of the Capitol, accessible from Court Street. Through the front doors, visitors will find the information kiosk. Come in and take a look around!
Parts of the Capitol are currently under construction. Major renovation projects have closed the House and Senate Wing offices until December 31, 2021. This unfortunately, is where my office is located. During this time, my staff and I are working remotely and remain available to help constituents. The best way to contact my office is via email at: [email protected].
More information about visiting Oregon's Capitol can be found here.
The House and Senate Interim Committees on Redistricting are expected to meet sometime in August to return to the task of redrawing Oregon's legislative and congressional district boundaries. You can sign up to receive alerts and committee agendas via e-Subscribe here.
September Revenue Forecast
On August 25th the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) is scheduled to release the September 2021 quarterly Economic and Revenue Forecast.
The Oregon Economic Forecast provides information to planners and policy makers in state agencies and private organizations for use in their decision making processes. The Oregon Revenue Forecast opens the revenue forecasting process to public review. It is the basis for much of the budgeting in state government. Forecast reports are issued four times a year: March, June, September, and December.
You can Subscribe to the OEA publications listserv here to receive email notifications when new forecasts post to their website. You can also click here to view the 2021 forecast calendar.
2021 Legislative Interim Calendar
The 2021 Legislative Interim Calendar is available online. View the dates for Legislative Days, a possible Special Session, LC deadlines, and more here or by clicking on the photo below:
As always, thank you for your support and your feedback on legislative issues that are important to you.
Enjoy the beautiful Oregon summer weekend ahead!
House District 18
Oregon's Christmas Tree District
Previous newsletters and information can be viewed on my legislative website.
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1418
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, OR 97301
Email: [email protected]