SALEM — With the end of the 2018 legislative session peeking over the horizon, politics and government were intertwined as always during a day of news from the Capitol. Among the developments:
Clock running on bridge ban
The bill to ban a bridge over the Deschutes River is not among 16 bills to be worked on Wednesday by the Joint Ways and Means Committee. House Bill 4029 would block Bend Park & Recreation District from moving forward with a long-range plan to build a pedestrian bridge where the Deschutes River crosses the Bend city limit.
Time is working against the bill. The bill must clear the Ways and Means Committee before it can be considered by the House.
The Ways and Means Committee has met once a week during the current session.
The Portland Tribune reported Tuesday that Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, wants to adjourn for the year by March 7. Courtney’s office said Tuesday that the only firm timetable is to finish before the constitutionally mandated March 11 deadline. Courtney’s office declined comment on the bridge bill, as did the office of Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland.
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, the state’s top elections official, has asked the Legislature for $166,348 to hire staff to tackle possible election hacking attempts by Russia.
The request, first reported by The Oregonian, came after a U.S. Department of Homeland Security review found flaws in systems used by Oregon’s to count votes during elections. Richardson received a classified report in December and made the request in January. In February, Richardson received a security briefing by federal officials in Washington, D.C. The money request is pending.
More for 2nd District
Randy Pollock, a truck driver from Grants Pass, became the 10th candidate to file for the 2nd Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River. Pollock will run as a Republican.
With a week to go until the filing deadline, Walden has not officially entered the race for the seat. Walden’s office reaffirmed the congressman’s intent to seek re-election and said he would file the paperwork prior to the March 6 deadline.
There are currently seven Democrats, two Republicans and an Independent Party candidate in the race. The field will be winnowed by the May 15 primary.
Republicans will descend on Salem this weekend for the 54th annual Dorchester Conference, a meeting of GOP activists and officeholders to discuss elections and government in Washington, Salem and elsewhere.
The keynote address on Saturday will be given by political consultant and self-styled “agent provocateur” Roger Stone, while Friday will feature syndicated radio commentator Kevin Jackson.
Walden will give a presentation, while workshops and meetings will look at how to maintain and build Republican membership in the Legislature and developing strong community organizing efforts.
Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, the Senate Republican leader until he stepped down in January, found himself wrapped in an ethical quandary over a gift of a wool blanket.
The Associated Press reported the exiting lawmaker was struggling over what to do with a blanket he received from the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Reservation, with a price tag of $249 — well above the $50 limit he could receive from an entity whose interests he had voted on. Ferrioli had sponsored legislation to curb looting of Native American artifacts and to recognize tribal police as state law enforcement officers.
That led Ferrioli to ask for advice from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, the seven-member panel that investigates potential violations and advises public officials about how to follow the rules.
“We don’t just do state employees, we do all levels of government in Oregon, so that’s every city council, every special district out there, fire board, whatever,” commission Executive Director Ron Bersin told The Associated Press.
Ferrioli told the commission his dilemma: Accepting the blanket might violate ethics regulations, but returning it “might constitute an insult.”
Bersin told Ferrioli that the value of the blanket was indeed over the limit. Because returning it would be a problem, Bersin suggested donating it.
Ferrioli decided to give it to the Senate, where it will be hung on a wall in a room dedicated to historical items.
During a retirement ceremony, Ferrioli received a gift from the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. A blanket. On advice of the ethics commission, it too will be retained permanently by the Senate, Ferrioli said.
— Andrew Selsky of The Associated Press contributed to this report
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