Late Sunday I received news that all legislative business Monday and Tuesday is cancelled. An ice storm swept through the mid-Willamette Valley Friday night, downing trees and causing widespread power outages. Salem has declared an emergency.
Despite this temporary setback the 2021 session is well underway.
By all indications, this year your Oregon Legislature will consider the highest number of bills in a decade. Already, nearly 4,000 measures have been introduced. Each of them is a good idea to someone. But that doesn’t mean they are good for Oregon, or good for our district, or have the broad support needed to become law.
As in any session, most bills die for lack of interest, lack of agreement, or lack of time. In a normal session, about 700 proposals become law. That includes 100 measures that make up the bi-annual budget. But of course, this is not a normal session. Online hearings are inefficient and time consuming. Committees are meeting less. Several committees are led by first-time legislators. Overall, I expect that fewer bills then usual will actually pass in 2021.
That said, I have sponsored several bills intended to help our district that I’m working to see among those that eventually become new laws. Here are some examples:
HB 2603 requires owners or operators of undersea telecommunication cables to obtain financial guarantees for clean-up and create plans for removal of such cables. This measure is intended to prevent the kind of problems we have seen on the southern Tillamook coastline this past year.
HB 2605 implements the same building code standards for public buildings in tsunami zones as Washington and California. Previous statutes prevented any new construction. The current law allows anything to be built. This bill says, if we build, we should do so cautiously.
HB 2638 limits COVID liability for small business if they properly follow all prescribed safety protocols. I’m sponsoring this bill with House Republican Leader Drazen.
HB 2363 changes permit rules for temporary liquor licenses. In response to the pandemic, popular and longstanding community events like the Newport Wine and Seafood Festival and the Oregon Coast Community College String of Pearls fundraiser have been forced to go online. Awkwardly, they are then required to secure a permit for each day they sell tickets. I’m trying to change those requirements – retroactively.
Although we have been largely spared here at the beach, winter weather has blanketed much of Oregon with snow and ice.
Before you leave the house for a planned trip, I urge you to take a moment on ODOT’s TripCheck for travel conditions and cameras placed along all of our state highways. Bookmark the page now!
Here are some other Oregon Coast Sky Cams and Web Cams:
- Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City
- Road’s End, Lincoln City
- Inn at Spanish Head, Lincoln City
- Newport Beach Cam, Newport
- Port of Newport Marina, Newport
Note that in some cases, you have to wait for an advertisement to finish first.
While vaccine supplies are expected to increase in coming weeks, supplies are currently scarce. State health officials asked for patience as more than 700,000 seniors age 65 and older become eligible for vaccines over the next four weeks.
Oregon Public Broadcasting recently published this illustrated guide to how Oregon plans to beat COVID-19.
Based on these plans, I’m anxious to hear from the Governor and OHA on an exit plan from out broad restrictions.
I continue to voice concerns about the equitable distribution of vaccine supplies. And I’m equally concerned about how we make information available. Many older Oregonians are not easily able to access web registrations and updates, or need help with transportation to distant vaccination clinics.
Get Vaccinated Oregon is an eligibility and notification tool developed by Google, in partnership with the state of Oregon. It can be found at Oregon’s oregon.gov website, or at getvaccinated.oregon.gov . The tool allows users to answer basic questions to learn if they are eligible and get linked to information about vaccinations in their counties. Users can sign up for alerts to get notified about vaccination events or find out when they may become eligible.
Another online resource is the “Helping Older Adults Get COVID-19 Vaccinations: Partner Toolkit,”.
Older Oregonians can also text ORCOVID to 898211 to get text/SMS updates about vaccination clinics. Seniors can also email ORCOVID@211info.org. If you can’t get your COVID-19 vaccine question answered on the website, by text, or by email, you can call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, which is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, including holidays. Please be aware that wait times may be long due to high call volumes.
February 14th was a cause for double celebration. Not only do we pause to appreciate the loved ones in our lives, but we should also remember this is Oregon’s birthday. Our state was founded 161 years ago.
Today is, of course, President’s Day and many businesses and offices were scheduled to be closed before the storms arrived. But your representative will still be working and I have a full schedule of committee hearings, testimony, meetings, and appointments this week. As always, please let me know if you have questions about the 2021 session, proposed legislation, Oregon state agencies, or if I can be helpful in any way.
Drive safely and stay warm. And please take a moment to be mindful of those without stable shelter this cold February.
House District 10