Oregon Political Update

All legislative committees in the Oregon House and Senate will be meeting for interim legislative days Sept. 21-23, and again from Nov. 16-18. Many workgroups are meeting in preparation for these legislative days, including the Elder Abuse Task Force. Gayle Gustafson, SVP of Financial Services at Rivermark Community Credit Union, is currently serving on the Task Force, representing the interests of credit unions. Other Oregon political issues worth noting include:

Oregon Economic and Revenue Outlook
On Aug. 26, the Office of Economic Analysis presented the state’s revenue forecast to the Oregon House and Senate Revenue Committees. The forecast covered the period between the close of the state’s legislative session to September 2011. As expected, and especially with the downturn in the various equity markets, total revenues are down from the close of session. More specifically, personal income tax revenues are down $158.4 million, corporate revenues decreased $18.7 million, lottery revenues are down $6.6 million, and other revenues are down $15.4 million. The total revenue decrease is $199.2 million. Despite the revenue downturn, the Office of Economic Analysis expects revenues to grow approximately 10 percent through the 2011-13 biennium. Also, the personal and corporate income tax rebate kicker will not be in play in 2013 as a result of the revenue forecast.

Ballot Measures
Many groups are already collecting signatures for potential 2012 ballot measures in Oregon, with plenty of time remaining until the July 6, 2012 deadline. A measure that would legalize growing and using marijuana without a medical card has already collected a third of the signatures needed to be placed on the ballot. Other proposed initiatives include prohibiting government agencies from collecting public union political contributions through payroll deductions, prohibiting transfer taxes on real estate, and a reversal of the ban on using hounds to hunt cougars and bears. Signatures are also being collected for creating an independent commission, made up of retired judges, to be in charge of congressional and legislative redistricting every ten years, taking the job away from the legislature. Citizen initiatives require 87,213 signatures to be placed on the ballot if they change state law, and 116,284 signatures if the initiative requires a change to the Oregon constitution.

46th Legislative Seat
Oregon Representative Ben Cannon (D-Portland) announced he will be resigning his seat in the House to become Governor Kitzhaber’s Education Policy Advisor. He replaces Nancy Golden, the Springfield School District Superintendent, who was in the position temporarily. Back in April, Cannon voted in favor of a bill that would have required legislators to wait at least one year after leaving office before taking a job in the executive branch. Multnomah County Democrats will meet on Sept. 21 to pick three to five candidates for the open position. The Multnomah County Commissioners will then be responsible for selecting Rep. Cannon’s replacement within 30 days of his Sept. 1 resignation. So far, six candidates have filed to replace Cannon: Rob Milesnick, James Schwartz, Trisha Parks, Mary Volm, Walt Nichols and Elizabeth Crane.

First Congressional District
The filing deadline for Oregon’s 1st Congressional District—the seat currently held by Congressman David Wu—has now passed. Thirteen candidates are confirmed with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, including eight Democrats and five Republicans. The race includes State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, state Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), state Senator Suzanne Bonamici (D-Beaverton), and the Republican who lost to Wu in 2010, Tualatin businessman Rob Cornilles. Other candidates include five Democrats: Dominic Hammon; Todd Lee Ritter; Dan Strite; activist and lobbyist Saba Ahmed; and Sherwood investment advisor Robert Lettin. Four Republican candidates include: Pavel Goberman; Jim Greenfield; Lisa Michaels, a media consultant who also hosts a cable-access talk show; and Delinda Morgan, who works in construction. Ballots will be mailed out at the end of October for the Nov. 8 1st district special primary election. The special general election will be held on Jan. 31.


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Posted in Advocacy News.