Letter from Salem: Rep. Chuck Thomsen says prosperity should be bipartisan

May 25, 2011

The week of May 16-20 in the Oregon Senate was a wild one.

Going into my first session I had no idea what kind of complexities can stall good legislation. We pushed hard for job and economic growth, and I sincerely wish I could report success to you.

One bill was SB 464, which would allow us to responsibly manage and harvest more timber and add an estimated 4,300 jobs to Oregon. The economic advantage goes without saying, as those would be living-wage jobs. The revenue acquired would add at least $100 million we could allocate to schools or other services.

Furthermore, our responsible approach to timber harvesting these days is very sustainable, which negates environmental concerns. I know our district would support this bill with a whopping majority.

The other was SB 190 dealing with water allocation from the Columbia River. Right now 7 percent of the river's water is withdrawn for usage. Of that 7 percent, Washington uses 55 percent, Idaho uses 41 percent and Oregon takes 4 percent.

Imagine what we could do if we took 8 percent - which is still miniscule compared to our neighbors. An estimated 16,682 jobs would be created especially in rural Oregon. That is what SB 190 proposed - again, a clear solution that should have bipartisan applause.

So how were these two bills not given a vote in the Senate, or even in committee? That is because the majority party blocked it from happening. At this point, smart bills like these get sent to committee by the Senate president, and in that committee the chairman gets to decide which bills are heard. In this case, these two bills were not even listened to.

What we tried to do recently was circumnavigate this process by using a unique and rare procedural vote on the senate floor. We called for a vote not on whether or not to pass them, but on whether or not to discuss and vote on them despite no committee referral. All we asked for was the chance to debate -but even that had a party line vote of 14 to 16, so our motion failed.

I want to keep pushing. I know what my constituents want to see, and what they elected me to do. It is a shame that what should be bipartisan will only be politically feasible if we reach a greater point of economic desperation than we are at right now. Oregon must use the resources that once made it great, and two aisle-crossing votes would have taken us there.

Sen. Chuck Thomsen, Senate District 26, lives in Pine Grove.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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