One thing for sure, it is not boring in Salem. There has been so much going on with bills, ARPA funds, county funds, city funds, budgets from every Oregon state department and group. The good news is there is an end to the madness, but the bad news is there is an end to the madness coming a little quickly as we wind down the legislative session.
There is a lot of work to do and I am up for the challenge of getting everything accomplished for all of us here on the coast. I sometimes have to make some unpopular decisions according to some groups but I am doing what I see as the right thing for everyone. I will continue make my voice heard in Salem. We need strong representation for the coast and that is why I ran for this position.
Now, let’s move on to getting us vaccinated to help open the coast back up and let’s get people back to work.
SB 842 Update – “Stimulus Check Protection Act”
Things in Salem have gotten political and interesting. We were supposed to get a vote in committee last week on the piece of legislation I introduced to eliminate taxes paid on the stimulus checks you have received and any possible payments in the future. At the last minute, Senator Burdick pulled the bill with the excuse that they have not had a chance to discuss the bill in caucus. This is after already amending the bill to only include your 2021 stimulus payment, NOT your 2020 stimulus payments.
This is YOUR MONEY they are discussing. The Federal Government never meant these payments to be taxable by the states and most don’t tax them. The State does not need this money. We will continue to fight for this bill.
Follow the bill here. The bill sits in the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue. You can see their agenda here. Please email or call any and all the members of the committee to support the bill and get your tax dollars returned.
Neskowin Contract Post Office Closing
My office recently learned of the Post Office box contract station closing in Neskowin, we’re disappointed about the office not being able to acquire a future contract holder and that although this hurts Neskowin, we’ll find a way to move forward. We are looking into the matter more.
There is a bit of good news on the DMV front recently. May 10th is the first day of online driver license/ID renewals. Historically, renewals have been an in-person transaction. The DMV decided a few months ago to begin offering these transactions online in addition to in-person at the field office. This does not apply to everyone. For example, if a person wants a Real ID, they have to apply in-person but it does apply to the more general license renewals. They do expect a significant number of people will take advantage of the new service.
Reminder: The Real ID deadline has been delayed by the Department of Homeland Security from October 2021 to May 2023. This means we will have a longer period to get a Real ID before it is needed to board a commercial flight or enter a federal building.
Field Offices & Tests
- Field offices continue their upward trend, with ~36,000 weekly customer visits.
- Knowledge tests remain high, with over 9,000 administered per week.
- Drive tests continue their upward trend, with close to 2,500 weekly tests being administered.
Titles & Call Centers
- Average title wait times continue to drop, and is now at 15 weeks (recall not too long ago we were at 20/21 weeks). We know this is still a very long time to wait and continue to keep our eye on further reduction in this time; this transaction time has been steadily dropping since implementing our title backlog reduction project.
- Call center wait times continue their steady decline, and is now at ~29 minutes. We expect these wait time to continue their downward trend as other DMV services continue to improve.
These are some stats that were sent to my office last week. These are unacceptable wait times. I understand there is high demand on the system and the employees so I look forward to discussing with the department, what we can do to get these times down and make the DMV a strong, customer-service based department.
Special District Vote May 18th
May 18th is election day for Special Districts such as school boards, health districts, fire districts and more. Government is local and governed by locals. These Districts and the individuals on the Boards impact your lives.
Be sure to vote, it matters. If you need to figure out how to get your ballot to your local county office, check out this page to help.
OSHA a “no show” from Legislative committee hearing to discuss their new permanent COVID-19 mask mandate and business restrictions
Following from Press Release:
OSHA is expected to answer to Oregon Legislature, but the administrative body scheduled an oversight committee meeting to review its new rule only after it was put in place.
SALEM, Ore. – Last week, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration extended its COVID-19 rule permanently with no specified end date and no oversight from the elected officials they are accountable to.
OSHA chose to enact the permanent rule before a scheduled Legislative hearing to review their decision. The administrative body’s leaders declined to attend to answer questions about the new business restrictions.
In response to a letter from Senators and Representatives asking the agency to suspend adoption of the COVID-19 rule until legislative review, OSHA’s Director stated that they have broad authority to place these restrictions on Oregon businesses with no specified end date.
“This is the opposite direction of where we should be headed,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “In light of vaccines, improved PPE supply for hospitals and more, we should be giving businesses more breathing room. Instead, this administrative body has demonstrated that it does not believe it is accountable to the people of Oregon.”
Oregonians are concerned that the adoption of this flawed rule indefinitely will punish businesses without adequate scientific data to suggest that it has an impact on preventing COVID-19 transmissions. However, there is no opportunity for businesses and employees to have true input without oversight from their elected officials.
The following questions were left unanswered during the committee hearing because OSHA’s leaders did not appear before lawmakers:
How were these Permanent Rules developed?
Did the advisory committee which was involved consider the impact of vaccines
in developing the Permanent Rules? If not, why not?
What current guidance, science and vaccination data did OR-OSHA take into
account prior to adopting the Permanent Rules?
What is the reasoning behind OR-OSHA’s determination to keep these rules in
place after the vaccine is widely available to all who wish to get it?
Wildfire readiness training is happening now!
If there is one thing we need to remember about wildfire, it is that we are not immune to them on the coast. We all need to be ready.
In Lincoln County, there is some training happening now. It is streaming live at certain times and recorded so you can go through the different modules at your convenience. This is a sample of some of the modules look like for the training. Please go here for all the details.
The presentations will incorporate specific topics to assist in the planning, mitigation, response, and recovery from wildfire events for both rural and city neighborhood areas.
– Wildfire history and seasonal fire conditions
– How to prepare your home, property, & family
– Evacuation Levels (Be Ready, Be Set, Go Now)
– What to expect if you receive an evacuation order
– Assistance after you evacuate
– How to minimize health effects of smoky conditions
This press release and media information has all the details you need on when and how it will be presented over the next few weeks and months.
LANDLORD COMPENSATION FUND UPDATE
Round two of the Landlord Compensation Fund Program opened April 29th, 2021 and includes $70 million in assistance covering rent owed by eligible tenants that has accrued from April 1, 2020 through May 2021. All applications must be received by May 17th at 5pm.
If you are looking for details on the program, go here.
Stay strong together
The Coastal Caucus is a group made up of Democrats and Republicans, from the House and Senate from all the coastal districts. We get together and focus on issues, bills and budgets that really affect the entire Oregon coast.
Being part of this caucus reminds me every day that we must stick together to get ahead here on the coast. This year I am Vice Chair of the Coastal Caucus.