Legislature adjourned sine die at 9:41 P.M. Friday February
22nd ending the nineteen day special session. Of the 109 bills
introduced, 73 were passed and 36 failed. A number of good
pieces of legislation are now awaiting the signature of
Governor Kulongoski; they include:
1.) Ways and Means Committee bill HB 5100 included the
authorization to issue the $3.5 million in Article XI G
bonds needed to complete construction of the Martha Anne Dow
Oregon Center for Health Professions. The funding needed to
complete the entire facility is finally in place after three
long sessions and a great deal of bipartisan effort in the
2.) The one bill that I was allowed to introduce was passed
without dissent in both chambers. SB 1095 will require a
minimum $500,000 bond for security release while awaiting
trial for the manufacture or the delivery of more than 10
grams of methamphetamine. Ten grams is about 100 doses. The
bill enjoyed strong support from law enforcement agencies
3.) As Vice-Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I
worked closely with Chair Floyd Prosanski (D-Eugene) and
with the help and support of a wide array of law enforcement
professionals to pass SB 1087. These Sheriffs, Chiefs of
Police, District Attorneys, and community corrections
officers agree that as many as 95 percent of property crimes
are drug and alcohol related. SB 1087 passed the Senate 23-7
and the House 54-2. This bill creates significant increases
in penalties for property crimes, assures that repeat
offenders will serve long jail sentences, and provides
significant funding for drug and alcohol treatment both in
state and local corrections custody. The bill is expensive
and is therefore referred to the people for them to adopt or
reject, much as Measure 11 was adopted by a vote of the
people. A companion measure specifically addresses how the
drug treatment will be applied, who will be eligible for
that treatment, places strict limits on sentence reductions,
and provides for swift and appropriately severe punishment
for those who fail to complete the treatment program.
4.) The legislature passed, and Governor Kulongoski has
already signed, a bill that requires proof of legal presence
in order to obtain or renew an Oregon driver's license or ID
5.) Ways and Means Committee bill SB 5556 included adequate
funding to provide for 24/7 police coverage on all major
Oregon highways. The agency will be able to hire and train
as many Oregon State Police patrol officers as they are able
6.) SB 5556 also provides and additional $400,000 for Oregon
Project Independence. OPI is a nationally recognized program
that allows seniors to remain in their homes where they
prefer to reside, costs about 80 percent less than
residential care, and actually has significantly better
outcomes. The increased funding was not enough but was a
significant step in the right direction.
7.) The same bill also included authorization for the Oregon
Military Department to sell the Klamath Falls Armory to the
City of Klamath Falls for cash and real estate exchange.
This bill will allow the city to move forward with its plans
to establish their public safety division at that site.
8.) Legislation was passed in 2007 that required all
gasoline sold in Oregon to be an ethanol mix. The poor
policy of that bill has become evident as the ethanol mix
has become mandatory. Ever more examples of engines that
will not perform with, or have component parts that are
harmed by, the ethanol mixture are discovered each week.
Moreover, ethanol has a greater affinity for water than
gasoline and when it absorbs the water it becomes heavier
than gasoline. The mixture then separates from the gasoline
and cannot be put back into solution. This creates a very
real public safety hazard for aircraft and watercraft that
use automobile fuel. Working with Senator Betsy Johnson
(D-Scappose) I was able to amend SB 3638 to allow the sale
of ethanol free premium fuel for use in aircraft,
watercraft, vintage automobiles, off road vehicles and
gasoline fueled tools.
9.) The Legislature recognized that Oregon has traditionally
used mountain snow packs for water storage and that in
recent years our mountain snow packs are melting earlier in
the year. SB 1069 provides for $1.75 million for grants to
develop state water storage feasibility studies. Each grant
must have a 50% matching contribution from a source other
than the state of Oregon. An additional $750,000 was
appropriated for a specific aquifer recharge feasibility
study in Umatilla County.
10.) Two bills were passed to help protect Oregonians from
predatory lending scams including so called mortgage
foreclosure counselors. Equally important, a poorly crafted
and inequitable bill that would have severely restricted the
types of mortgages offered by state chartered lending
institutions was defeated in Senate committee.
legislature failed to address several pressing issues. Once
again it failed to pass legislation to create legislative
oversight of government accountability for spending and to
root out waste. It failed to pass the Chalkboard plan to train
teachers for excellence even though Oregon recently received
and “F” in teacher training policy by 'Education Week' in
spite of the fact that we spend over $100 million annually in
teacher training. It did nothing to address secret deals that
school districts make with employees that enable sexually and
physically abusive teachers to remain in our schools.
Even though the March revenue forecast was down by
nearly $180 million, the legislative leadership refused to
address several important issues of state finance that have
the potential to cause severe problems for the Oregon budget
even if the future revenue stream does not slow further.
1.) No action was taken to roll back the $3.5 billion
increase in spending that was authorized in the 2007
2.) No action was taken to rollback the enormous pay
increases that governor Kulongoski promised state employees
including 24 percent increases for about 60 agency
directors, 16 percent increases for nearly 5,000 middle
level managers, and an additional 4 to 5 percent for several
thousand rank and file public employee union members. These
raises were largely in excess of the $125 million already
appropriated by the legislature for public employee pay
3.) No action was taken on the elimination of the tort
liability limit by the Clark v. OHSU Supreme Court decision.
The decision is estimated to have cost OHSU at least $25
million in increased insurance costs. All state, county, and
municipal agencies are similarly affected resulting in as
yet undetermined, but certainly huge increased costs across
4.) No action was taken to address the potential loss of
some $430 million in federal timber payments to counties.
Our office had the pleasure to carry a resolution on
the Senate floor honoring the life and achievements of Dr.
Martha Anne Dow. I would like to share with you some of my
floor speech so that you can get an idea of what a truly
amazing person she was.
Martha Anne Dow was an original – a unique individual who
was a perfect fit for the Oregon Institute of Technology and
for Klamath County. She served as the President of OIT from
1998 until her death in September 2007. She was no stranger
to the halls of the Capitol. A year ago, she was busily
making the rounds to each of us, championing the Oregon
Center for Health Professions. “How did I ever get involved
in politics?” she would laugh, knowing full well that
government and education, and the politics of both, are
pivotal partners in creating a healthy, thriving state.
The legislative process was one that intrigued and
invigorated her. I've been told by members of her staff that
during her illness she demanded to be kept abreast of what
was going on here in Salem. Her true interest in the work we
accomplished here began in her home state of Montana. The
wife of her undergraduate mentor was a state legislator, and
Martha Anne saw first hand the heartfelt drive of government
officials determined to help their constituents.
Martha Anne was also passionate about her calling.
She had an open-door policy that found students, faculty,
staff and community members able to walk in and take a seat
in her office. Her approachable demeanor belied her many
achievements. But first and foremost Martha Anne was a
business woman. She possessed exceptional vision for
identifying areas of need that she turned into areas of
opportunity, positioning her university for the future. She
was far ahead of the curve in recognizing the progression of
computer technology into industrial production. She
developed the Oregon Renewable Energy Center at OIT long
before “green” was trendy. The center is now the Oregon
University System’s keystone program for geothermal,
photovoltaic and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
While President at OIT, Martha Anne enjoyed many
accomplishments and saw plenty of growth at the university.
Under her leadership, the assets of the Oregon Tech
Foundation grew from $12 million to more than $20 million.
Along the way, her quality programs attracted top students
from across the country, growing OIT’s enrollment by nearly
1,000 students. With her hard work, the demand for OIT
graduates has driven their starting salaries to the highest
level in the Oregon University System. Nearly 90 percent of
OIT graduates are employed within their profession, or are
enrolled in post-graduate education within six months of
graduation. More than 70 percent of these graduates live and
work in Oregon. These enviable statistics are no accident.
To achieve them, Martha Anne asked industry leaders what her
graduates needed to know to compete in the job market. She
tracked her OIT graduates for several years, asked their
employers how they were doing, and discussed what else her
graduates might need to know to succeed. In short, she made
certain that her OIT graduates were ready for the workplace.
Martha Anne’s signature accomplishment is the program
and the building that bears her name – the Martha Anne Dow
Oregon Center for Health Professions. She started the
crusade for the Center in 2003, seeking contributions,
pledges and grants to build the matching funds for Oregon
University System bonding. When those funds were in the
bank, she refocused her efforts to Salem where she refused
to take no for an answer. The predictable result of her
efforts was to secure the bonding needed to construct the
first phase of the building to house the center. Fifteen
months later, that building was completed, occupied and
educating health care professionals. She continued her fund
raising crusade and collected more than $12 million in
matching funds for a $9 million bond to build a second phase
of the Center. Once again she focused her efforts on the
legislature to obtain the bonding critical to finishing the
Then tragedy struck Martha Anne and her family when
she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Her valiant fight for life ended just days after a grateful
community and student body gave her a fifteen minute
standing ovation when she arrived in a wheelchair to be
recognized at the opening dedication of the Center named in
her honor. The second phase of the building is now under
construction and with the remaining bonding just
authorized by the legislature, can be completed and occupied
by classes this fall. Although Martha Anne did not live to
see it finished, those of us left behind will never “take no
for an answer” until her last great vision, the Martha Anne
Dow Oregon Center for Health Professions is completed at the
university she loved so much.
Martha Anne was a remarkable woman who will be long
missed throughout the state of Oregon.
Martha Anne's family was present on the floor when the Senate
honored her life work by unanimously passing the
Resolution 30-0. We were delighted that they could be there
for the poignant moment.
closing, we want to personally congratulate Oregon's Teacher
of the Year 2007-08, Mr. Mike Geisen who teaches science at
the Crooked River Middle School in Prineville. He has been
selected by his peers as the best of the best. The Crook
County School District has developed into one of Oregon's best
under the leadership of Superintendent Steve Swisher. We are
proud of all of you.