Last week, I shared the observation that this 2022 session will be largely about the money and the wise disbursement of the $2.5 billion in federal aid and unexpected state funds. now available.

If we want to build things, housing and infrastructure must be the priority. The housing challenge is widely understood. Infrastructure, not so much.

In our district and state, water storage and distribution, sewer systems, roads, bridges and public buildings are aging. Toledo must move its 20-year-old “temporary” public safety building out of the tsunami zone at a cost of $4.5 million. Waldport needs to repair its sewage treatment system at a cost of $1.4 million. Newport is struggling to find $80 million to replace a vulnerable earth dam. The list of needs in our cities, ports, fire districts and water districts goes on and on.

So here is the challenge. How does Waldport, with a population of about 2,000 people, come up with $1.4 million to deal with dirty water? That’s $700 for every man, woman, and child in town. Without state assistance, the cost to local taxpayers is devastating.

Before the session began, my office reached out across the district to identify urgent needs. We prepared a list of proposed projects and submitted it to the capital construction committee for review. And then, when the committee met to hear the proposals, we worked with community leaders to organize and present our case. You can listen to the hearing and the large list of demands from our district and the state here. If you do, you will soon find that we are represented more frequently and more effectively than any other region.

Almost immediately after the hearing, the Speaker of the House sent me a game-changing request. In addition to capital construction allocations, he wanted to commit an additional $100 million for rural infrastructure statewide. Most of those areas were represented by Republicans, so he would nominate three Republicans and one Democrat to recommend a slate of projects. I would be the only Democrat.

These will be transformational investments to improve rural communities for generations and create hundreds of well-paying jobs. As our infrastructure ages, small towns face high prices to replace or repair water and sewer systems, bridges and public buildings. Now, with state assistance and federal funds on the way, we can bring lasting change to rural communities across our state.






Last session, hard work and advocacy resulted in new investments in our sprawling district. This included $14 million for the Newport Dam, water storage in Waldport, docks in Depoe Bay, cultural plaza and a new D-River visitor center in Lincoln City, port investments and the Toledo Pool, a new fire station in Eddyville. , a cultural museum in Siletz, the expansion of wildlife rehabilitation at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and funds to replace fire-damaged water and sewers in Otis. Remarkably, nearly all of Lincoln County’s proposed capital projects for 2021 have been funded. To see here for more details.

The investments for the 2022 session will be announced at the beginning of the week when the funding decisions for the bills are finalized. I will have full news in my next report.

________________________________________

As we approach adjournment, decisions are also being made regarding housing and homelessness. We will commit $400 million to address homelessness and housing across the state.

The proposal, rolled out late last week, includes $165 million for homeless services, $215 million to build and maintain affordable housing and $20 million to improve home ownership. The plan also includes an additional $50 million for Project Turnkey, a statewide program administered by the Oregon Community Foundation and local community action agencies to turn old motels into emergency shelters.

Part of that plan is a bipartisan bill that I’m proud to sponsor as Chief. The measure creates eight pilot programs to establish a coordinated statewide homelessness response system. This would provide money to counties to establish centralized offices to oversee assistance to people living on the streets. The bill includes $1,000,000 for Lincoln County.

Housing insecurity affects families, low-income workers and, unfortunately, children. Oregon has one of the highest rates of homeless people who are homeless, which means they sleep outside, in a tent or in a car. In 2019, a study of housing and community services in Oregon found that Oregon is one of four states where more than half of people (61%) who are homeless do not have access to shelter. . In Lincoln County schools, one in five students do not have a safe, long-term place to sleep.

Here is the link to a press conference with Heads of State who are exploring this issue in greater depth. My own remarks begin at the 12th minute.







Homelessness package

Lincoln and Tillamook counties were facing a sudden recycling crisis with news that e-waste collection sites were closed on March 1. The loss of five locations across the state, including two in Lincoln and one in Tillamook, would mean much longer trips – up to an hour – to get rid of old televisions or computers. And of course, too much of this waste would end up hidden in the trash, thrown on the side of the road, or dumped in our landfills where it just doesn’t belong.

Together with Rep. Pam March (D-Ashland), we negotiated the late introduction of HB 4158 to address this issue. Last Monday, I testified on the measure. I was accompanied by Senator Dick Anderson, Commissioner Claire Hall, Rob Thompson of Thompson Sanitary and David McCall of Tillamook Solid Waste. You can listen to the audience here. My testimony begins at 26 minutes.

With legislation set to change, the Department of Environmental Quality and its contractors have reached an agreement to restore service and preserve the recycling of 1 million pounds of e-waste. It’s a win for customers, carriers and industry officials allowing Oregon residents to continue recycling e-waste for free at collection sites across the state.







Internal Rules Committee

We are now in the home stretch.

Most of the committees, with the exception of a few “lifeboat” committees, have closed down. We expect to see the big end-of-term measure with funding for one-time projects and programs today or tomorrow. Ways and Means completes all budget adjustments and sends them to the Senate and House for final approval.

With bills to be read verbatim before a vote, floor sessions are scheduled for eight o’clock today and ten o’clock Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This means that I will probably spend a lot of time on the podium. At this rate, we can be done by the weekend. If the rule requiring reading is lifted, we could be done by midweek.

I have focused this update on housing and infrastructure. But if you are interested in an overview of policy proposals, Click here.

Thank you for your interest in your Oregon legislature.