The 80th Oregon Legislative Assembly’s 2019 Regular Session finally came to a rumbling halt on the constitutional day of adjournment, Sunday, June 30. It reminded me of a run-away, “tax and spend” freight train finally hitting a concrete barrier.
The total state budget for the 2019-21 biennium rose by 9.9% over the 2017-19 budget to $85,799,479,438 to provide services over two years to a mere 4.1 million people.
The budget categories receiving the most funding are Human Services (42%), Education (18%) and State Administration (18%). These three categories alone consume nearly 80% of Oregon’s total budgeted allocations.
The state easily consumes 40% of its budget before tax-payers ever see any tangible benefits because of combined administrative costs, internal controls and regulations. This is true across all budget categories including public safety, transportation, natural resources, economic development, and consumer/business areas.
As you are aware, I was among the 11 Republican Senators who left the state to deny the administrative quorum required for the legislative body to conduct business. The impact of this effort brought reasonable Democrat super-majority members back to the negotiating table and they willingly helped kill several bad pieces of legislation.
The first bad bill to die was SB 978, an extensive gun-control bill that would have saddled all gun owners with rigid ownership requirements. These included, locked-while-not-in-use regulations, burdensome insurance requirements, criminal responsibility for actions of other parties and extraordinary financial obligations.
The next bill stopped was another bill that invaded the constitutional rights of constituents and their children. HB 3063 would have removed religious, philosophical and specific medical condition exemptions from Oregon’s vaccination requirements.
This bill would have placed Oregon Health Authority (OHA) bureaucrats between the physician and their patients and I considered this a violation of an individual’s right to volitional consent for medicine and medical procedures.
Too much cost, little results
Most importantly, the Republican walkout killed the Cap and Trade Bill, HB 2020. My main point in opposing HB 2020 was it cost too much while doing too little — it just wasn’t worth it.
The arbitrary bureaucratic and regulatory rules imposed on Oregon’s greenhouse gas (GHG) production can never successfully impact GHG production around the world. Oregon is too small to impact global production and pollution stemming from giants like, China and India. India has 13 of the world’s 20 most-polluted cities.
China produces 28 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. And India is the world’s third largest carbon emitter, having increased its emissions by 93 million metric tons in 2017 — an increase more than twice the amount of emission reductions across the US, during the same period.
In other words, stifling Oregon’s 2.0 million taxpayers with restrictive laws and punitively higher taxes will not impact the issues seen on the horizon. The only solution can, and should, come through the creative genius, technological advances and innovation that blossoms from our productive use of capital resources within our own free economy.
I remain convinced that these legislative concepts will return during the short, or next long session. As the Republican Whip, I will be on hand to ensure that we focus on addressing legitimate issues and real problems with reasonable and effective solutions.
Bills that benefited Klamath County
Additionally, I was able to lead the charge on several items that passed, and on other items that still need some work. The pharmaceutical and drug price transparency issue that occupied much of the 2017 and 2019 long sessions, is one of those.
I also carried several bills on the Senate Floor that will be beneficial for Klamath County. Here are a few:
n HB 2847 added Sky Lakes Medical Center to the list of hospitals whose medical staff could qualify for medical provider income tax credits. These tax credits are designed to help rural communities, with sole provider community hospitals, attract and retain skilled providers, such as, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, podiatrists, dentists and optometrists.
n HB 2867 modified the statutory cap for Average Daily Membership Weighted (ADMw) limits on the size of schools eligible for small school funding resources. The Klamath County School District was forecast to exceed the arbitrary cap and this legislation was required to fix that upcoming problem.
n HB 3030 allows Oregon’s professional licensing board to issue nonrenewable temporary authorizations to spouses of service members stationed in Oregon and who hold eligible out-of-state authorization to provide occupational or professional service. Specifically, this would help service members at Kingsley Field, who transferred into Oregon, avoid the need for re-licensure or re-certification if they hold valid certification from another state.
Be assured, my effort during the interim will be to protect the effective and judicious use of our precious taxpayer resources by state agencies. This will be the only realistic way to service the various needs across District 28, including the rural and suburban areas in Klamath, Jackson, Lake, Deschutes and Crook counties and our local communities.