SALEM — A new lawmaker, new laws, veto threats withdrawn, a big meeting and an old hot-button issue were part of the news mix this past week.
Gov. Kate Brown had until Friday to sign or veto bills from the 2019 session of the Legislature.
Lawmakers worried Brown would squash some bills and slash some budgets after she was asked by Politico if she would use the veto as payback against the 11 GOP senators whose June walkout brought Salem to a standstill.
“I will just say … revenge is a dish best served cold and slowly,” Brown is quoted as saying.
How the action played out and other items in the news around the Capitol:
Done deals on development
Among the pile of bills Brown signed into law late last week was House Bill 3450, which will allow Bend to redevelop commercial areas with a mix of housing and stores without having to change zoning. Another key housing bill that became law was House Bill 2001, which will requires cities with population greater than 10,000 to allow multifamily housing to be built on land zoned for single-family dwellings within a city’s urban growth boundary.
Brown pulls back on vetoes
Brown changed course on Friday and did not veto legislation as she originally indicated she would.
Brown had sent lawmakers a letter early last week that she was considering a veto of House Bill 2437, which allows farmers greater latitude in clearing drainage ditches on their property. The bill was supported by the Oregon Farm Bureau and many lawmakers from rural areas who said current limits are unclear and unenforceable. But the bill was opposed by many environmentalists who said it would create more runoff from agricultural property into nearby water sources and wetlands.
Brown opted to sign the bill into law, a decision which won her praise from Republican lawmakers such as Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, while she was slammed by some environmental groups such as WaterWatch.
Brown also didn’t veto $4 million for a Newport dam project. Brown said earlier in the week that all 72 dams in Oregon found to be in hazardous condition should be addressed together. But when Brown found out the Newport project was in line for federal matching funds, she reversed course.
“I am concerned that my veto would significantly impede these efforts,” Brown wrote in a letter of explanation to Secretary of State Bev Clarno.
Vikki Breese-Iverson will be sworn in as the new representative for House District 55 on Tuesday.
Breese-Iverson, a Prineville real estate agent and Republican activist, will take the oath of office at 2 p.m. in the House chamber in the Capitol. Clarno will preside. The event is open to the public.
Breese-Iverson was selected Thursday to replace former Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, who resigned July 1 to take an appointment as a circuit court judge for Crook and Jefferson counties.
Democrats return to Sunriver
The Democratic Party of Oregon has announced it will return to Sunriver Resort this fall for its 10th biennial Oregon Summit, one of the party’s biggest statewide gatherings.
The event will focus on issues important to Democrats and strategies for the 2020 election. It will take place Oct. 18-20. Tickets are available through the Democratic Party of Oregon. Speakers and workshops will be live-streamed. To encourage diverse participation, the state party is developing ride-share and house-share programs for the event.
Carbon controversy comeback
Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, told the Portland Business Alliance on Thursday a carbon-cap bill will be reintroduced when the Legislature convenes Feb. 3 for its 35-day “short session.” As first reported by Willamette Week, Burdick’s statement was the first from a top Democrat that the carbon cap would be back.
The 2019 version, House Bill 2020, passed the House after six hours of debate. But 11 GOP senators staged a walkout to block it from coming up for a vote. Democrats killed the bill as part of a deal to get GOP senators to return to deal with a backlog of more than 100 bills over the last two days of the session. Democrats admitted they didn’t have the votes within their own caucus to pass the carbon-cap bill.
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