Governor’s priorities

Gov. Kate Brown will submit five bills for consideration by the Legislature this year. Their focus:

Job creation

Waives some construction licensing fees and allows for job experience to substitute for education. Aids subcontractors in rural Oregon working on affordable housing to receive low-rate loans and defrays the costs of hiring apprentices and technical school graduates

Gun control

Anyone convicted of domestic violence or stalking would be barred from purchasing firearms. Sellers would be required to inform authorities if a prohibited person tries to buy a gun.

Public pension liability

One-time and unexpected revenue would be put into a side account as an Employer Incentive Fund to be used to match 25 cents to every dollar employers contribute to defray their costs within the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS).


Requires opioid prescribers to register with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, making it easier to crack down on those over-prescribing opioids. “Mentors” — including ex-addicts — would go with overdose response teams to assist in recovery and work with opioid abusers to stay off the drugs.


Creates system to track costs across 85 agencies to ensure lowest prices are paid in each transaction. Approves “reverse auctions” with sellers bidding against each other when the contract is worth more than $150,000.

SALEM — After 37 committee hearings, major announcements by the governor and secretary of state, special election debates and scores of one-on-one chats among lawmakers, lobbyists and constituents, a hyper-busy week at the Capitol has wrapped up.

The “Committee Days,” held Wednesday to Friday last week, were a chance for lawmakers to unveil their “legislative concepts” for bills they will introduce when the 2018 session of the Legislature convenes Feb. 5.

Among some of the issues:

Bridge bill

A controversial bill to ban a pedestrian bridge over a portion of the Deschutes River that failed last year will be resurrected for the 2018 session.

The “legislative concept” for the bridge ban was approved Friday by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The move means the plan will be submitted as one of three pieces of legislation the committee is allowed to offer during the 35-day session.

Because it is a committee bill, no sponsor was named on the legislation. Unlike most other legislation before the committee, there was no presentation or debate over the bridge bill.

The committee is chaired by Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, who supported the bridge ban bill in 2017. Clem did not attend Friday’s hearing because of a conflicting business matter, said the vice-chair, Rep. Susan McLain, D-Hillsboro, who presided over the hearing.

Similar legislation was introduced last year using a controversial but common “gut-and-stuff” move in which a bill that has made it to a committee is amended so that the contents are taken out and a new piece of legislation is inserted.

The amended bill, offered by Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, passed the House unanimously with no debate. But objections from the Bend Park & Recreation District led to hearings in the Senate. The bill died in committee when the Legislature adjourned in July.

The bridge is at the intersection of the House districts of Whisnant and Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, and the Senate district of Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend.

Whisnant and Knopp could not be reached for comment about what role they are playing in the legislation this year.

Buehler, who is giving up his House seat to run for governor, said through spokesman Jordan Conger that he was not aware of the bill until it was introduced. Conger said Buehler was concerned about possible impacts to wildlife and the environment if a bridge was built. He supports additional talks between supporters and opponents, but said he would “not be actively involved” in the process.

“He is supportive of finding an alternative solution, such as a trail on the east side of the river, that balances the need to protect the scenic waterway and wildlife crossing with the recreation interests of local residents,” Conger said.

Richardson: Reversal on ballot measure signatures

Facing a lawsuit brought by an activist group, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson reversed his unilateral change to rules for trying to qualify measures for the ballot.

Richardson had announced that signatures could be gathered using a summary of a ballot measure written by the state attorney general, instead of having to wait for a final decision by the Oregon Supreme Court. He said he would also allow one type of online e-petitions.

Our Oregon, an activist group supported by labor unions, went to court to block the changes, saying Richardson did not have the authority to change election rules. Richardson, a Republican, said he now hopes the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, would enact his changes.

Richardson: Board of education representative

State Treasurer Tobias Read and Richardson are non-voting members of the State Board of Education. They can appoint a representative to attend in their place. Richardson, a Republican, chose Kim Sordyl, a Portland attorney and frequent critic of the city’s education leaders.

Non-voting members are free to comment and ask questions. The House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, announced it will introduce legislation requiring that the representatives be staff members of Richardson and Read. Republicans say the legislation is an attempt to keep Sordyl from attending the meetings.

Brown: Schools chief

Acting schools chief Colt Gill has been nominated to the job permanently. Gill had been “education innovation officer,” a new position created in the state Department of Education. Brown asked him to run the full department on a temporary basis. The nomination will put him in the job full time. He requires Senate confirmation.

Brown: Nominees from Bend

Along with a new schools chief, Brown forwarded dozens of nominees to the Senate for confirmation. Among them were three from Bend: Former Redmond School Superintendent Jerome Colonna was nominated to anotherfour-year term on the state Board of Education; Jennifer Welander, chief financial officer of St. Charles Medical System, to a two-year term on the Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee; and Katherine Kihara to a partialfour-year term on the Water Resources Commission. (Her term would end in June 2021.)

OSU-Cascades cascades into Salem

Three dozen advocates of additional funding for OSU-Cascades in Bend came to Salem on Friday to meet with lawmakers and legislative staff about a proposed $39 million in funding for building on the campus. Brown has called for the funding as part of an $88 million package for Oregon State, the University of Oregon and Eastern Oregon University. OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson led the group, some of whom also attended a hearing about cross-laminated wood products.

As part of the funding sought by Brown, the campus must use the timber technology as much as possible.

— Reporter: 541-525-5280,