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December Revenue Forecast Sparks Comment
Including a call for a special session

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has released it's December revenue forecast. They are predicting a speedy recovery, dependent on the course of the COVID-19 virus, prompting responses from several legislative leaders.

House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) used the forecast to call for a special session. “The COVID-19 pandemic is raging like never before in Oregon. Our economic recovery is fully dependent on getting this virus under control. As the state’s budget situation has stabilized and since Congress is unlikely to pass another relief package this year, I urge the Governor to declare a catastrophic disaster so the legislature can convene a remote special session in December.”

She also seems to be calling for the state to spend it's reserves to fund a temporary government housing program:

“We need to utilize some portion of the state’s reserves as soon as possible to help struggling Oregonians and small businesses through the winter months. I am particularly interested in seeing the state spend $100 million to keep Oregonians housed and stabilize the rental market as the pandemic continues into 2021.”

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) had a different take, emphasizing that schools need to re-open. “Economists project the average income has dropped for households across Oregon. We would get a better outcome if we protected seniors and the vulnerable and opened the state, so the average family is able to thrive. For example, if schools reopen for all children, parents can re-enter the workforce, which boosts the economy.”

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) added, “Today’s forecast shows that our state economy is stable, but this is not a reflection of reality for most Oregonians who have been impacted by these shutdowns. The most recent “freeze” will hurt Oregonians and business owners, and make an already tenuous recovery even harder for families. Now more than ever we must protect jobs, support business growth, manage our reserves and control spending to ensure a long-term recovery for all of Oregon.”

Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) stressed equity and a hope for federal assistance, saying, “We cannot deny the disparate impact COVID-19 and the corresponding recession has had on low income Oregonians and marginalized populations. We must prioritize their needs as we work toward recovery and do everything possible to retain vital services and equitable delivery of those services. Congress needs to put the needs of the American people at the top of their to do list immediately. With federal assistance, we can adequately respond to this public health emergency and deliver financial lifelines for Oregonians in every corner of our state.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-18 09:58:11Last Update: 2020-11-18 11:34:55

More Lawmakers Sound Off on COVID Policies
Disproportionally impacts women, single-parent homes, rural communities and small businesses.

In a letter addressed to Governor Brown several elected officials have requested that the Governor reconsider policies relating to COVID-19 restrictions.

The letter points out that "COVID-19 cases will ebb and flow over the next several months just as they have over the last several weeks. This metric is not a reliable indicator of the situation." Several experts have pointed out that increases in cases may be linked to testing quantity and quality, and not indicative of an increase in the severity of the outbreak.

It is time to re-evaluate the metrics and the ever-changing goal posts related to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our rural, semi-rural, eastern and frontier communities. We have shut down for months, we have met the metrics required, we have followed the goal posts as they’ve moved, we have adhered to the rules, we have slowed the spread—and yet, our counties, communities, small businesses, K-12 schools, childcare and colleges, health departments and more, sit in a stale and stagnant state without forward progress. We have done and continue to do all that is within our capacity to slow the spread of COVID-19, and now, some of our border counties are being directly affected by decisions and actions from outside our state over which we have no control.

This is not a sustainable position for our communities.

The letter notes that current COVID-19 policies "disproportionally impact women, single-parent homes, rural communities and small businesses... students are struggling in their education as well as their mental and emotional fitness, families have been stressed to the maximum, and decade-old businesses that are the lifeblood of our Oregon communities have closed for good." Focusing on the impacts to various facets of society, the elected officials propose four areas for change:

1.Restaurants and bars: Our hospitality industry, restaurants and bars must be able to stay open. The data shared by OHA does not show any indication that our restaurants and bars are the cause of increased cases. In addition, our hospitality industry is responsible for employing tens of thousands and Oregonians and keeping our already-fragile economy moving. Our restaurants and bars need to be able to extend their hours beyond the arbitrary closing time of 10:00pm and need to safely expand their indoor occupancy especially as we head into the holiday season and winter when indoor restaurants, lodging and tourism activity will grow. We are at risk for nearly 40% of our remaining businesses closing in the next six months if we do not allow for reasonable expansion of these services and industries.

2.Schools: Our schools need to be allowed to fully re-open for in-classroom learning, and our students need to be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. All teachers, students, staff, and volunteers that want to return to in-person learning should be able to do so in a safe manner. All teachers, students, staff, and volunteers that desire to continue CDL should be able to do so. If it is safe for college athletes to return to sports, assuredly it is safe for high school students. Parents need to be able to return to work, and our students and teachers need the stability of the classroom.

3.State Agencies: We need to reopen our state agencies at all levels, including and specifically DMVs, across the state. We would argue, and assume you would agree, that our state agencies and state employees are essential. These agencies are funded with public dollars and our public needs full access to these essential services.

4.Religious institutions: Release our churches and places of worship. While outliers will exist as the exception, most churches and places of worship will be and have been more than scrupulous in protecting their congregations from harm from COVID-19. Give pastors, religious leaders and governing boards the latitude to exercise their best judgement for safety.

The letter concludes:

We have a simple ask. As the leaders chosen by Oregonians to represent their best interests and be their advocates, throughout and across our beautiful state, we would ask that the Governor and Governor’s office participate in these meetings and work with us, assess the proposals and plans we put forward, and consider the options we will be recommending for your consideration and approval. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

The letter has been signed by lawmakers representing overwhelmingly rural areas.

Senator Lynn Findley, Senate District 30
Senator Bill Hansell, Senate District 29
Senator Kim Thatcher, Senate District 13
Senator Fred Girod, Senate District 9
Senator Brian Boquist, Senate District 12
Senator Chuck Thomsen, Senate District 26
Rep. Mark Owens, House District 60
Rep. Greg Barretto, House District 58
Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, House District 19
Rep. Shelly Boshart-Davis, House District 15
Rep.Vikki Breese-Iverson, House District 55
Rep. Mike Nearman, House District 23
Rep. Bill Post, House District 25
Rep. Rick Lewis, House District 18
Rep. Carl Wilson, House District 3
Rep. Elect and Commissioner Lily Morgan, House District 3
Rep-Elect Bobby Levy, House District 58
Bill Harvey Baker, County Commissioner
Mark Bennett Baker, County Commissioner
Bruce Nichols, Baker County Commissioner
Jerry Brummer, Crook County Commissioner
Patti Adair, Deschutes County Commissioner
Tony DeBone, Deschutes County Commissioner
Jim Hamsher, Grant County Commissioner
Sam Palmer, Grant County Commissioner
Pete Runnels, Harney County Commissioner
Patty Dorroh, Harney County Commissioner
Kristen Shelman, Harney County Commissioner
Mae Huston, Jefferson County Commissioner
Donnie Boyd, Klamath County Commissioner
Derrick DeGroot, Klamath County Commissioner
Kelley Minty Morris, Klamath County Commissioner
Mark Albertson, Lake County Commissioner
Brad Winters, Lake County Commissioner
James Williams, Lake County Commissioner
Donald Hodge, Malheur County Commissioner
Larry Wilson, Malheur County Commissioner
Dan Joyce, Malheur County Commissioner
Melissa Lindsay, Morrow County Commissioner
Don Russell, Morrow County Commissioner
Jim Doherty, Morrow County Commissioner
Todd Nash, Wallowa County Commissioner
Craig Pope, Polk County Commissioner
Bill Elfering, Umatilla County Commissioner
George Murdock, Umatilla County Commissioner
John Shafer, Umatilla County Commissioner
Paul Anderes, Union County Commissioner
Matt Scarfo, Union County Commissioner
Donna Beverage, Union County Commissioner
Susan Roberts, Wallowa County Commissioner
Mary Starrett, Yamhill County Commissioner

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.com

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-18 08:51:36Last Update: 2020-11-18 13:09:01

Lawmakers Muzzled on Unionization Issue
Influencing staff may be an unfair labor practice

In a memo to fellow legislators Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek warned lawmakers against interfering with staff decisions on whether to unionize. The memo reads, in part:

It is not uncommon during organizing efforts for employees to discuss the organizing effort, whether they support or oppose it, amongst themselves and to inquire of management perspectives. While every employee and certainly every member is entitled to their opinion on such an effort, it is important to recognize that employees have a right to discuss these matters. It is not appropriate, and contrary to state collective bargaining laws that protect union organizing efforts, for you in your role as appointing authority to attempt to influence or interfere in any way – in support or opposition. Any organizing effort is inherently an employee driven process and at this time, there is no action for the branch or you to take. As always, we encourage you to listen to the concerns, interests and needs of your staff, but in this circumstance, you should not engage in any discussion about the organizing activity.

State lawmakers are not regarded in law as "employers" of their staff. They are regarded as "appointing authority." Oregon Law does not mention "appointing authority." It's not clear whether any lawmaker, as "appointing authority" can "attempt to influence" the decision of their staff or the staff of other lawmakers to join or not join a union. It is not clear if such a memo is a restriction of the free speech and association rights of lawmakers.

Oregon law is clear on what is prohibited by employers and what is an unfair labor practice.

243.670 Prohibition of actions by public employer to assist, promote or deter union organizing; rules.
(1) As used in this section:

(a) “Assist, promote or deter union organizing” means any attempt by a public employer to influence the decision of any or all of its employees or the employees of its subcontractors regarding:

(A) Whether to support or oppose a labor organization that represents or seeks to represent those employees; or
(B) Whether to become a member of any labor organization.

243.672 Unfair labor practices; complaints; filing fees.
(1) It is an unfair labor practice for a public employer or its designated representative to do any of the following:

(a) Interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in or because of the exercise of rights guaranteed in ORS 243.662.
(b) Dominate, interfere with or assist in the formation, existence or administration of any employee organization.
(c) Discriminate in regard to hiring, tenure or any terms or condition of employment for the purpose of encouraging or discouraging membership in an employee organization. Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit the entering into of a fair-share agreement between a public employer and the exclusive bargaining representative of its employees. If a “fair-share” agreement has been agreed to by the public employer and exclusive representative, nothing prohibits the deduction of the payment-in-lieu-of-dues from the salaries or wages of the employees.
(d) Discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee has signed or filed an affidavit, petition or complaint or has given information or testimony under ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(e) Refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the exclusive representative.
(f) Refuse or fail to comply with any provision of ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(g) Violate the provisions of any written contract with respect to employment relations including an agreement to arbitrate or to accept the terms of an arbitration award, where previously the parties have agreed to accept arbitration awards as final and binding upon them.
(h) Refuse to reduce an agreement, reached as a result of collective bargaining, to writing and sign the resulting contract.
(i) Violate ORS 243.670 (2).
(j) Attempt to influence an employee to resign from or decline to obtain membership in a labor organization.
(k) Encourage an employee to revoke an authorization for the deductions described under ORS 243.806.

(2) Subject to the limitations set forth in this subsection, it is an unfair labor practice for a public employee or for a labor organization or its designated representative to do any of the following:

(a) Interfere with, restrain or coerce any employee in or because of the exercise of any right guaranteed under ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(b) Refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the public employer if the labor organization is an exclusive representative.
(c) Refuse or fail to comply with any provision of ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(d) Violate the provisions of any written contract with respect to employment relations, including an agreement to arbitrate or to accept the terms of an arbitration award, where previously the parties have agreed to accept arbitration awards as final and binding upon them.
(e) Refuse to reduce an agreement, reached as a result of collective bargaining, to writing and sign the resulting contract.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-18 07:58:50Last Update: 2020-11-18 08:51:36

Lawmakers Question Governor’s Policies
“We cannot support any attempt to violate any Oregonian’s home”

In a letter addressed to Oregon Governor Kate Brown from several state and local elected officials, the Governor's recent executive order with regard to COVID-19 have been called out and questioned.

Perhaps most significant is that the letter calls out the executive branch for ignoring science -- the very science that they claim their orders are based on:

We recognize the threat that COVID-19 poses to our community and support data driven decisions to limit the spread of this disease, but we do not support the mandate to close gyms, churches, and restaurants as it is not supported by historical data and will only address a small fraction of Oregon’s COVID cases at the cost of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses.

Combined, cases that can be traced back to churches, restaurants and gyms make up less than 1% of all the recorded COVID cases in Oregon. Quite simply, there is no actual evidence that restaurants, gyms or churches are driving COVID in our community. In fact, because of the adherence to mask wearing and social distancing, these establishments have been some of the safest in the state.

The closure of these establishments ensures more jobs are lost and Oregonians are left only to rely on a broken unemployment system. Our neighbors and friends won’t be able to pay their mortgages, pay their rent, or buy Christmas presents for their children because of this decision. This is wrong.

In a statement that perhaps best highlights the insensitivity and lack of compassion of the Governor's order and her handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in general, the letter continues:

Furthermore, we are concerned with the violation of our privacy as the state police and local law enforcement agencies are being ordered to investigate and criminally charge Oregonians based on the number of people they invite into their homes. Legality questions aside, with depression and anxiety levels at an all-time high, creating a new crime to visit your family only hinders those struggling with their mental health.

Data shows us that COVID has been spreading at private social gatherings, and we call on our fellow citizens to be careful and social distance when gathering over the holidays, but we cannot and will not support any attempt by any police agency to violate the sacred space of any Oregonian’s home.

The letter has been signed by the following elected officials:

Bill Post – State Representative, House District 25
Colm Willis, Marion County Commissioner
Rick Lewis – State Representative, House District 18
David Brock Smith – State Representative, House District 1
Raquel Moore-Green – State Representative, House District 19
Mark Owens – State Representative, House District 60
Mike Nearman – State Representative, House District 23
Jim Yon – Linn County Sheriff
Tim Knopp – State Senator, Senate District 27
Jack Zika – State Representative, House District 53
Cathy Clark, Mayor of Keizer
Craig Pope, Polk County Commissioner
Danielle Bethell, Marion County Commissioner Elect
Lyle Mordhorst, Polk County Commissioner

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.com

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-17 19:04:17Last Update: 2020-11-18 09:29:45

Law Enforcement Issues Statement
“We cannot enforce our way out of the pandemic”

The Governor’s Executive Order 20-65 for lockdown to December 2 calls for enforcement subject to 30 days in jail or a fine of $1,250 or both. The problem the Governor has is that she can only direct enforcement by the Oregon State Police. So, to intimidate compliance, she has convinced the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police to support the Oregon State Police in the following public statement. But, somehow it acknowledges the lack of enforcement and is just begging compliance.

Oregonians have a strong tradition of unifying to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. As your fellow community members, please join us in adhering to the Governor’s Executive Order during the two-week Coronavirus freeze. As your Oregon Law Enforcement professionals, our primary objective throughout the Coronavirus pandemic has been to take an education first approach and to seek voluntary compliance with each Executive Order. We recognize the inconvenience the pandemic and subsequent restrictions have caused all of us. We also know that the risk to our most vulnerable populations is extremely high at this time and we urge everyone to follow these restrictions in order to protect them. After all, we are all in this together.

With the issuance of the latest Executive Order, Oregon Law enforcement will continue to follow an education first approach. Oregon Law Enforcement will only take enforcement action (criminal citations) as a last resort. As with most enforcement decision making, discretion will be used if/when any Executive Order enforcement action is taken. Oregon Law Enforcement recognizes that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic. We can however work together in following these restrictions to make our communities a safer and healthy place.

We include the following recommendations when it comes to reporting Executive Order violations.

Business/workplace violations-Please report these to Oregon OSHA.
Restaurant/Bars-Please report these violations to OSHA or OLCC.

Oregon Law Enforcement is faced with many challenges one of which is typically receiving more police calls for service than available resources to respond. Because of this, we ask the public to follow the above-mentioned recommendations for reporting alleged violations of the Executive Order.

At the Northwest Observer, we wish you and yours a very joyful -- and safe -- holiday season, with minimal involuntary interactions with law enforcement.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-11-17 18:16:05Last Update: 2020-11-17 18:48:56

Governor Brown Issues Threat
Informal social gatherings -- including Thanksgiving dinner -- are targeted

In case you missed it on Friday the 13, the rumors you've been seeing on social media are true. The video below should un-debunk -- or whatever the proper term is -- any conspiracy theories out there that are saying that Governor Brown is going to send law enforcement out against Thanksgiving gatherings.

Yes, that's right. It's true. She said it. And she might send the state police after you. If you're an individual, your mother -- er, your Governor -- is not asking you. She's telling you to stop with the informal get-togethers, including Thanksgiving dinner, as she made clear in her executive order. If you're a business, you have until Wednesday to begin to follow stricter guidlines for two weeks, or whenever she reviews the situation and decides that you can go back to regular business.

This is a transcript of the short 50 second video below:

In terms of individuals, I am not asking you. I am telling you to stop your social gatherings, your informal social gatherings, and your house parties and to limit your social interactions to six and under -- not more than one household -- and I'm asking that immeadiately. I will take stronger legal action as appropriate. I've already directed the superintendent of state police to begin to work with local law enforcement to legally enforce the informal social gathering orders.

All this, despite the fact that many people have pointed out that some of her policies lack scientific foundation. All her policies lack transparency, as she is refusing to honor any public records requests made of her COVID council.

The Northwest Observer will continue to operate during the shutdown, protected by the fact that we are an entirely virtual operation and protected by the first amendment to the US Constitution. If you have any experience with law enforcement regarding the shutdown or social gatherings, please drop us a line at editor@northwestobserver.com

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-17 17:23:31Last Update: 2020-11-17 19:04:17

Four Klamath Dams Slated for Removal
States and electric utilities will assume environmental and economic liability

In an agreement between PacificCorp, the states of Oregon and California, the Yurok and Karuk tribes from the southern Oregon/northern California region and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the parties have agreed to "removal of the JC Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2, and Iron Gate dams in order to achieve a free-flowing Klamath River with volitional fish passage." Drawdown and removal is set to begin in the first quarter of 2023, according to the agreement.

Among other things, the agreement requires PacificCorp to "resolve at PacifiCorp’s sole cost and expense all PreExisting Environmental Site Conditions." PacifiCorp’s agreement will transfer a portion of its liability for dam removal -- potentially billions of dollars -- onto every taxpayer and business in the state of Oregon.

In July 2020, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reviewed the application for removal of dams on the Klamath River. Approval was given only if PacifCorp was part of the liability for any damage caused by the removal of four dams along the Klamath River. The memorandum intends to transfer a portion of that liability directly onto the backs of Oregonians.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released a statement, saying:

“It is critically important as complex water issues in the Klamath basin continue to impact tribal members, water users and stakeholders, that we don’t forget all Oregonians who are depending on us to maintain a commitment to good government.

Any executive branch agreement must include protections for tax dollars currently dedicated to funding our safety net.

During this period of economic uncertainty Oregonians cannot afford to allow the governor to simply write a blank check.

This agreement has no protections against cost overruns and is being entered into within an uncertain litigious and regulatory environment, which will impact state budgets for years to come.

As discussions of the removal of additional dams continue within the Brown administration, the importance of hydropower to Oregon’s economic strength and growth cannot be overstated. Hydropower remains a reliable, clean, emission-free energy source which we must not abandon.”

State Senator Dennis Linthicum, State Representative E. Werner Reschke and Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd issued a statement saying, "Governor Brown has no constitutional authority to make this decision. By fiat she has created this policy, entering into this agreement, without legislative process or approval from the people of Oregon."

“This is unethical business by PacificCorp. We accept them as a business partner in our community, but transferring the liability, potentially billions of dollars onto every taxpayer and business in the state of Oregon, is wrong,” said Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd (R-Klamath Falls).

“This bold move by the Governor, without any legislative consideration continues her unconstitutional mandates causing harm to Oregonians while lining the pockets of big corporations,” said Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Malin). “While the Governor polishes her resume for the Biden administration, the prospects for her career increase but the opportunities for Oregonians decrease,” said Rep. Reschke.

State Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Beatty) replied, “This is another saga in the latest batch of Governor Kate Brown’s unconstitutional power grabs. Brown continually brokers high-stakes, dark-of-night deals without public or legislative input. Oregon’s taxpayers will be on the hook for millions if this imprudent cronyism is allowed to stand.”

The agreement does recognize that no legislature nor any executive action can bind the hands of future legislative or executive action. "State law, future legislative actions, and budget limitations may constrain the States in carrying out these actions and nothing in this Implementing Agreement is intended or shall be construed to require the obligation, appropriation, or expenditure of any funds by the States except as otherwise permitted by applicable law.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-17 15:35:47Last Update: 2020-11-17 16:23:30

An Open Letter from Rep. Post
No government has ever said “we’ll come to your private home, and arrest you” for having a family dinner.

Madam Mayor, Councilors and Keizer city staff, First of all I want to address the ongoing issue of the “statement of values”. I believe the statement of values for our great city should be very clear, very concise and very simple.

“ALL people shall be treated with dignity and respect.” PERIOD.

ALL means ALL. If we must resort to listing specific people or groups, then “all” loses its meaning and strength. I believe Keizer is the most “welcoming to ALL” city in Oregon and I’m proud to be a Keizer resident.

This then leads me to the topic that is THE most important tonight that we as citizens of Keizer and the State of Oregon should be discussing: The Governor’s latest orders.

No government leader in the history of the United States has ever said “we’ll come to your house, your private home, cite and/or arrest you” for having a family dinner. Just think about that for a moment. There are people present here tonight who represent families that have 6 or 8 or even 10 or 12 or more. To ask them to not get together for the grand celebration that is Thanksgiving, is something I can’t believe I’m even hearing. It’s not only unconstitutional, and unheard of but in my estimation, it represents inequality and inequity at its most heinous and isn’t that what the statement of values that’s been discussed here in council chambers is supposed to be all about?

Add to that the plight of the workers. That hundreds if not thousands of hard working, lower wage people, perhaps as early as this Wednesday will lose their jobs is so heartless and callous, I can hardly believe it. What also stuns me, as a Representative in the Oregon Legislature, one third of the three branches of government... The Executive branch has “weaponized” a state agency (Oregon OSHA) without input or frankly anything from the Legislative branch. OSHA has “police powers” that even supersede the REAL police! Our Governor has turned Oregonians against Oregonians.

I do not want to put the city of Keizer into an awkward or uncomfortable situation but I am asking the council to consider making Keizer a truly welcoming place... for workers and employers. For businesses. For families. I am asking that we as a community just ignore this latest order. That Keizer be a shining example of hope for Oregon.

I am asking my fellow Keizerites to be smart. Wear your mask when appropriate. Keep your distance when you can. Cover your mouth when coughing. Wash your hands.. a lot! Do the things that we all know are safe and effective at stopping the spread of this virus. Just don’t let that common sense go out the window by not having your family and friends over for dinner. Celebrate Thanksgiving as you see fit and as the founders of this nation meant: in freedom.

--State Representative Bill Post

Post Date: 2020-11-17 06:30:04

Grocery Stores Can Refuse Deposit Redemptions During Freeze
Grocers may choose to still take returns

Grocers and supermarkets will get a reprieve from complying with Oregon’s Bottle Bill redemption requirements starting Wednesday, November 18, 2020when the“Statewide Freeze”begins. The “Statewide Freeze”is designed to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 and places new conditions for how businesses can operate; grocery stores will be limited to new 75% capacity requirements.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission temporarily will not take enforcement action against Oregon retailers that choose not to accept the return of empty beverage containers for redemption. During the Statewide Freeze if stores don’t take back empty beverage containers, the OLCC will not issue them a notice of violation.

Retailers that choose to do so can still accept containers for redemption; there is no mandate that retailers not refuse containers. Even if stores choose not to accept container returns at this time a 10 cent deposit will still be assessed on the purchase of all eligible beverage containers.

BottleDrop redemption centers, operated by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative(OBRC) will remain open. OBRC and retailers will also continue to operate BottleDrop Express drop sites, and Dealer Redemption Centers. Consumers in communities without redemption centers should store bottles and cans until redemption services fully resume.

The redemption requirement reprieve is expected to last longer than two weeks in some parts of the state where the“Statewide Freeze”may remain in effect based on a county’s re-opening status. Once a jurisdiction is no longer in the “Statewide Freeze”status retailers are required to begin accepting empty redeemable containers within five (5) days.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-11-16 20:15:12Last Update: 2020-11-16 20:27:04

Oregon Will Provide Wildfire Ash and Debris Cleanup
Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties

The State of Oregon will provide no-cost wildfire ash and debris cleanup for all homes and businesses in the eight counties affected by the disastrous September wildfires, the Oregon Debris Management Task Force announced today. This cleanup includes mobile home parks, second homes, businesses, and other structures.

Home and business owners that opt into this government-led wildfire cleanup program will pay no upfront costs for any cleanup work. Additionally, no government agency – state, federal or contractor - will seek payment from any insurance policy unless it is specifically designated for debris removal or left over after the home or business is completely rebuilt.

The no-cost cleanup is available to home and business owners in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties.

“Our mission is to safely clear the ash and debris as quickly as possible, and leave Oregonians with a clean site so they can rebuild,” said Kris Strickler, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation. “This will take time, strong partnerships and a lot of hard work, but we’re already well on our way. I encourage every Oregonian who lost a home or business in the wildfires to sign a Right of Entry form with their county, if they haven’t already, to help keep this important work moving forward.”

Property owners need to sign a Right of Entry form to allow cleanup crews onto their property. Cleanup crews will remove ash and structural debris, hazard trees, concrete foundations, and burned vehicles. Submit your Right of Entry form online and for more information, call the wildfire debris cleanup hotline: 503-934-1700.

Wildfire cleanup is a two-step process. Step 1 is removal of household hazardous waste, which is dangerous to people, communities and the environment. This work is nearly completed in all fire-impacted counties. Progress on Step 1 efforts can be viewed on EPA’s 2020 Oregon Fires Recovery website.

Step 2 is removal of ash and debris. The state is currently hiring contractors to carry out this work, scheduled to begin in December 2020. The task force is working closely with local governments to determine cleanup priorities for each area. Given factors such as weather impacts, property access limitations and the large area to be covered, Step 2 is estimated to take approximately 6 to 18 months to complete statewide. As the state task force gets contractors on board, more clarity on timing will be provided.

The 2020 September wildfires were the largest and most expensive disaster in Oregon’s history. Nine Oregonians lost their lives, more than 1 million acres burned and over 5,000 homes and businesses were destroyed. The state has transitioned from immediate fire response to statewide recovery.

FEMA will reimburse the state for a portion of eligible costs. The State of Oregon will fund the remaining costs, regardless of FEMA reimbursement. Initial estimates put the debris cleanup tally at over $600 million, including $326 million for ash and debris removal and $295 million to remove damaged trees. This estimate is preliminary and is likely to change.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-11-16 13:24:50Last Update: 2020-11-16 14:02:22

Union Eyes Oregon Legislative Staff
Electrical workers want to unionize all staff

In a letter from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 89, the Washington State based union claims to be assisting workers in the Oregon Legislature to unionize. The letter, authored by IBEW Local 89 Business Manager/Financial Secretary Matthew P. Carroll was addressed to the "members of the Oregon Legislative Administration Committee," and says:

The IBEW has been asked to assist workers in the Oregon Legislature in forming a Union to address their representational needs. We look forward to working with the Legislative Administration Committee to ensure your employees have a voice in the workplace they are so passionate about. The IBEW has a history of transcending politics and working with public entities in the collective bargaining process, producing agreements based on partnership and collaboration.

Local 89 is committed to a process that provides a path to representation for these workers, while respecting the laws and institutions of the State. We anticipate that the State will do likewise, respecting the rights of their employees.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan said, "Our legislative employees are valued partners in service to our constituents and state. As these options are considered, we want to make sure that all workers are advised of their first amendment rights as required by the Janus decision." In 2018 the US Supreme Court decided in Janus v. AFSCME that public employees must be advised of their first amendment rights, and must knowingly waive those rights before union dues can be deducted.

It is not clear how the unionization will come about -- if there will be a vote of the workers, or if legislative leadership will simply designate IBEW Local 89 as the representative for the workers. Workers in the Legislature have many statutory protections. In 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed a pay equity law, HB 2005, which prohibits discriminatory pay laws, effectively determining pay based on resume.

Carroll concludes the letter by saying, "I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the Oregon Legislature.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 280 PAC, an Oregon based political action committee has a history of making large donations exclusively to Democratic and left-leaning candidates and causes. It's not clear if their Washington-based sister union will follow the same pattern.

Major donations from International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 280 PAC this year
11/10/2020Oregonians to Maintain Community Standards (1579)$2,430
10/21/2020Jackie for Salem (19242)$1,000
10/21/2020Friends of Dan Rayfield (14046)$1,000
10/21/2020Elect Ashley Carson Cottingham (20526)$1,000
10/21/2020Jason for Bend (18661)$1,000
10/21/2020Megan for Bend (20694)$1,000
10/21/2020Broadman for Bend (20610)$1,000
09/30/2020Melanie For Bend (20331)$1,000
09/30/2020Friends of Val Hoyle (13967)$1,000
09/02/2020Friends of Dan Rayfield (14046)$1,000
09/02/2020IBEW Political/Legislative Dept Voluntary Fund (fed)$5,000
08/19/2020Jackie for Salem (19242)$1,000
08/19/2020Elect Ashley Carson Cottingham (20526)$1,500
08/19/2020Committee to Elect Shemia Fagan (14993)$2,500
08/19/2020Jason for Bend (18661)$1,000
08/19/2020Friends of Julie Fahey (17469)$1,000
08/05/2020Oregonians to Maintain Community Standards (1579)$2,430
05/13/2020Oregonians to Maintain Community Standards (1579)$2,823
04/15/2020Jackie for Salem (19242)$1,000
03/26/2020Yes for LCC Bond (20245)$10,000
03/15/2020Oregonians to Maintain Community Standards (1579)$2,823

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-16 09:29:20Last Update: 2020-11-16 09:48:08

Representative Mark Owens Calls Out Governor
Shutting down entire state is too extreme

Republican Representative Mark Owens of the Oregon legislature has issued the following statement in response to Governor Brown's Two-Week Freeze:

"Governor Brown's one-size-fits-all approach to shutting down our state is far too extreme. Our eastern and rural Oregon communities in House District 60 will suffer to the point of no return. I am fully committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19, but these extreme regulations do not match the metrics.

Once again, our local elected leaders, public health authorities and businesses were not invited to the table to have a conversation about COVID-19 in our communities. Furthermore, evidence is lacking to support the arbitrary, targeted closures and restricted activities of certain businesses over others. Our businesses across Oregon will not survive another shutdown and thousands of Oregonians will lose their jobs, again, right before the holidays.

The secondary impacts of preventing the spread of COVID are significant and cannot be ignored; we've seen a devastating increase in suicide especially among youth and young adults, drug and alcohol use, and domestic and sexual violence. Our elderly family members have gone months without visitors or family and are dying alone.

I implore the Governor to reconsider this one-size-fits-all freeze, and speak with our businesses, local leaders and authorities to find a different path forward before it is too late for our families, communities, and our state."

Rep. Owens also referenced agreement with a statement made by Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), in a letter to Governor Brown:

"Businesses throughout Oregon have proven that they can make the operational changes necessary to keep their employees and their customers safe, even during this unprecedented pandemic. What we need now is a plan to address the root of the problem without causing additional harm to Oregonians throughout the state," said Brandt.

Critics are noting the statewide orders are being met with a spectrum of reactions ranging from at least minimal criticism to outright rebellion in nearly all demographics.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-11-15 13:16:48Last Update: 2020-11-15 13:39:06

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