House District 23 Updates
The 2022 Primary is in the books and the voter turn out for House District 23 was less than expected, but still on par with past non-presidential election year primaries. Ballot return level in Yamhill County is approximately 41% (for Yamhill report press here) and Polk County's return is approximately 40% (for Polk report press here). Our district can do better in November!!
One thing is certain, the Legislature will "look" very different during the 2023 long session. Almost half of the current Representatives are not returning for various reasons. That means 30, or more, new members of the House. If voters turn out, this could also bring a more balanced legislature. In addition to the 18 seats that lean Republican, there are 15 House District races that the Republicans can possibly pick up. With 12 years of no balance in either the house or the Senate, and the Supermajority rule for most of the last 10 years, it is time to change the makeup in Salem. If you disagree with the way the state has been run, it's time to vote! Let's bring balance and common sense back to Oregon.
Bottle Drop Tour
Representative Scharf recently toured the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) Corporate Headquarters. The first in the nation, Oregon's bottle bill recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and has been a huge success and a model for the rest of the nation! The OBRC has 502 employees, 25 full service redemption centers, plus 83 bag drop locations and more opening soon. All this success and $0.00 taxpayers' dollars used! It is the shining example of private public partnerships working well together.
In 2021 there was an 83.9% redemption rate, almost $200 million refunded, with the remaining unclaimed deposits invested to the operation of the redemption system.
In 2022, the Legislature added wine in a can to the bottle redemption program (SB1520). It takes full effect in 2025 and brings another beverage into the successful Oregon recycling program. Thank you to Eric Chambers for the informative tour of the Corporate office.
Administrative Rules Turned into Laws
As a Legislator, I receive email alerts regarding rule changes for all Departments and Commissions across the state of Oregon. These rule changes have significant effects on citizens across the state and have recently become a replacement mechanism for the law making process. Instead of the legislature passing laws, State agencies are now writing laws under the umbrella of Executive Orders and circumnutating the legislative process.
The most recent example of this is Governor Brown's Executive Order 20-04 which implements portions of Cap & Trade laws onto Oregonians. Despite the Republican's walking out of the 2019 & 2020 Legislative session to stop Cap & Trade (HB2020), portions of Cap & Trade are now being put into effect through the Administrative rulemaking process.
This backdoor way of making laws is being conducted by many state agencies. The Land Conservation & Development Commission [PDF] (LCDC) will soon vote on Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities rules. The building codes division and Public Utility Commission are also in the process of taking portions of Cap and Trade and making them law.
In addition to Cap and Trade as a result of EO20-04, the Department of Environmental Quality [PDF] is poised to being a lengthy rule making process updating and changing everything from the electric vehicle rebate programs to the profiling and labeling of diesel-powered construction equipment. All rule changes that will affect affordability and livability in the State of Oregon.
However, it's not all Cap and Trade rule-making. Despite the reprieve that we have received from COVID, there are still rule making changes happening with making some COVID temporary rules permanent. One of those is currently under consideration by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). They received a petition to repeal OAR 333-019-1030. This is the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for teachers, staff, and volunteers in our schools. At a time when Oregon School continue to face hurdles in hiring licensed educators, classified staff, bus drivers, and the ability to return volunteers to the classroom, I am shocked that this rule was not previously eliminated by the agency or the Governor. I submitted written testimony to OHA on this rule which you can read in full here (my testimony) [PDF]
If you drive down Court Street in front of the State Capitol, it appears that the building is closed. It is NOT! Despite the construction fencing, the public will continue to be able to access both the House and Senate member offices. Visitors are welcome into the building during regular building hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The south entrances to the building along State Street will also reopen prior to the next legislative session in 2023, along with six public hearing rooms. The construction will continue through the end of 2024 but will bring the building much needed safety and seismic upgrades. In the meantime, please come visit your capital and our office by appointment. If you have questions about visiting the building, contact the Visitors center at 503-986-1388.
First floor House Wing construction
Congratulation Class of 2022
Congratulations to all High School and College Graduates from House District 23. You have persevered though distance learning, hybrid learning and finally back to in person learning. Despite all the challenges thrown your way, you’ve accomplished your goal and are graduating! I encourage all of you to continue to strive to be your best and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.