By OR Rep. Greg Barreto
The 80th Oregon Legislative session began two weeks ago and will end no later than June 30, 2019. I have been the Republican Deputy Leader of the House since 2017. When the 2018 short session ended on of my responsibilities was to raise money for the House Republican caucus and helping with campaigns. The 2018 elections were tough for Republicans here in Oregon and in most western states. There were many factors that played into the results of last November elections. The Governor’s race collected a record amount of donations, the national partisan politics that rippled down to the individual states and then which parties were more successful in voter turnout. 81.8% of Democrats in Oregon voted in this election and 81.1% Republicans voted. This was the highest mid-term election results in recent history. BUT Democrats have 271,000 more registered voters which in simple numbers is 799,123 D’s voted and 572,493 R’s voted.
The combination of underfunding as well as voter turnout produced an election cycle in Oregon that turned both the Senate and the House into super majorities for the Democrat party and Kate Brown retained her position as Governor.
This means the Democrat majority party has all the votes they need to pass any tax increase as well as any other bill they choose with simply a partisan vote.
Another way of saying it, is they don’t need a Republican vote to pass any bill — period. The direction of Oregon is totally in their hands. Almost 100 new tax bills alone have been introduced at a time when Oregon has more revenue than ever. This biennium, the majority party is looking for an additional 1.9 billion for education as well as an additional billion for healthcare, public safety and other things. That works out to around an additional $700.00 per year for every Oregonian. That doesn’t include the carbon tax or the PERS fund that just went up 4.2 billion this year because of poor investment returns.
Elected Republican legislators will argue and fight against legislation that we don’t agree on, but at the end of the day it is in the control of Democrat legislators to decide. This year, YOU, the people will need to voice your opinions as loudly as possible in Salem. I will do my best to keep you informed of bills coming forth that will impact your livelihoods and our rural values.
I recently attended a meeting in Baker City that was focused on our education system. A woman from Grant County stood up and said she could not afford another $25 a month in property taxes and to please fight for her and others like her. For some, that is a tiny amount, for her, it’s her home.
Currently, we have seen a lot bills that were pre-session filed and have more coming in every day. There have been some that have caused a lot of angst with Oregonians like SB 501 that would require you get a permit simply to buy a gun, guns can hold no more than 5 rounds and limits the amount of ammunition a person can buy. The response from the people to this bill has been incredible. It makes a profound difference in the capitol when you get active and respond. It is the difference between bills being passed or bills being killed.
It has been since February of 2018 that the public has had any information or input on the bill and since December that any Republicans have been invited to any discussions. It was released last week and is being reviewed. A carbon tax will increase the cost of living to every Oregonian through fuel cost, electricity cost, transportation costs for goods delivered and on and on.
Other bills affecting job creators are 12 weeks employer paid family leave, offsite marijuana use that would basically eliminate any drug free workplace (SB 379
), business tax increases from increased income tax to a gross receipts tax, pay equity regulations and employer liability for sexual harassment (SB 726
We spend over a billion dollars a year in economic development trying to retain and attract business to the state and then shoot ourselves in both feet with new regulations and taxes that make business difficult. Unbelievable! Attraction has always been difficult. Retention will become the bigger issue in the future.
Ok, enough of the bad news. These bills have only at this point been introduced, few have been heard and none of them worked. After this week we have 20 weeks to go before the session is over. A lot of legislation can be killed, modified or passed in that time frame. Your voice will make the difference.
I’ll work hard to keep you up to date on what’s coming for the people of Oregon. My objectives are common sense: Represent you in the best way I know how, make informed decisions, look for opportunities to enhance rural life in this district and work for legislation that protects the liberties of each individual. I will continue to be for legislation that is pro-business, pro-life, smaller government and lower taxes. Your prayers are appreciated.