Oregon Senate Dems pursuing ‘Dirty Dozen’ partisan proposals

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Senate Democrats Pursuing ‘Dirty Dozen’ Partisan Proposals for 2016 Session
New Mandates Slam Families and Small Businesses with Higher Costs

Salem, Ore. – In the aftermath of a contentious legislative session defined by partisan politics, the majority party is determined to abuse the short February session by once again advancing a partisan, polarizing agenda backed by special interests. What was originally sold to Oregonians as a chance to adjust the budget and correct legislative mistakes and omissions has turned into a strategy for advancing ideological, controversial political issues that lack transparency and pay off wealthy campaign donors.

In the 2016 session the majority party will once again fail to address the real challenges facing our state, instead choosing to pursue more government intrusion into the lives of Oregonians:

2016 Session Democrat “Dirty Dozen” Priorities

Cap & Trade Mandate

Cap and Trade is another government mandate that will raise fuel and energy costs for small businesses and Oregon families, disproportionately hitting the poor, elderly, school districts and those on fixed incomes the hardest. This concept puts the state government in charge of the fuel and energy business. Instead of pursuing another expensive and ineffective environmental mandate, we need to find effective ways to address the challenge of climate change through technological innovation that improves our economy and creates jobs.

Minimum Wage Mandate

The minimum wage debate distracts us from what should be our economic focus: creating more family wage jobs for Oregonians and providing training to help workers get better jobs. As a result, many workers could lose their job or experience reduced hours and incomes to compensate for higher labor costs. Higher labor costs will also lead to higher prices on basic necessities like food and clothing, making life more difficult for the poor, elderly, and those on fixed incomes.

Inclusionary Zoning Mandate

Inclusionary zoning is another government mandate that restricts development and drives up housing costs. Requiring developers to subsidize below-market housing actually makes housing less affordable as developers are forced to raise market prices to offset lower profits. We need to modernize Oregon’s land use laws and reduce building restrictions to allow for more new apartments and houses so that supply exceeds demand and rent prices fall back to affordable levels.

Renewable Energy Mandate

Environmental activists and Oregon’s largest utilities have reached an agreement on an aggressive overhaul to the state’s electricity supply, expanding corporate market share while eliminating the use of coal and doubling renewable energy standards. This ambitious goal is not technically feasible today without undermining the reliability of the grid and will significantly increase costs for ratepayers. Similar to the controversial and partisan low carbon fuel mandate passed in 2015, this follows the mantra of “environmental priorities at any cost” and ignores the technologies that can most effectively address climate change. The higher electric bills from this mandate will especially hurt the poor, elderly, and Oregonians on fixed incomes.

Taking Away 2nd Amendment Rights

Democrats are developing a proposal that would remove a person’s right to buy firearms based on an anonymous report that they pose a “danger to self or others,” and a person would only be able to restore their rights by paying money to a health care provider or the court and convincing them to lift the order. The fragrantly unconstitutional violation of due process could endanger victims of domestic violence when, for example, an abuser files an anonymous report against his spouse to prevent her from buying a firearm to protect herself against him. Strengthening law enforcement and services to help Oregonians struggling with mental health should be the top priority, not additional attacks on gun owners.

Increasing Property Taxes

In an effort to increase taxes, Democrats are proposing to modify constitutional, voter-approved limitations on property taxes by changing the system from one based on assessed value to a system based on floating real market value. The changes would also allow local governments to increase the maximum constitutional caps through a voter-approved local option levy. With unaffordable housing plaguing Oregon communities, this will raise taxes on homeowners and further increase the cost of housing for Oregon families and fixed-income seniors.

Oregon Department of Energy Scandal

The complete absence of accountability within the Oregon Department of Energy and the ongoing series of financial scandals relating to the Business Energy Tax Credit and Small-Scale Energy Loan Program are costing Oregon taxpayers more than $100 million in funds diverted from Oregon schools and other essential services. Will the Democrat leadership ever stop their ‘wait and see’ approach and actually suspend failing state programs? A good start would be to suspend the Small-Scale Energy Loan Program and make an immediate additional investment in education.

PERS Costs Hurting Schools

Unwilling to acknowledge the funding dilemma posed by the $20 billion PERS liability, Democrats continue to use this as an excuse to raise taxes on families to fill the hole they created in education funding. Oregon should enact fair, constitutional PERS reforms to avoid education cuts and use a market rate for money match annuities. Democrats are refusing to take the bold action needed to stop looming class size increases, school day cuts, and teacher layoffs.

Public Employee Compensation Contracts

Critical health care services are in jeopardy as Governor Brown paid off public employee unions with a 5.18% pay raise on top of generous benefits, resulting in a $100+ million deficit in the DHS & OHA budgets in the current biennium. As DHS is under fire for misuse of funds and performance scandals, the majority party will likely spend reserves from the ending balance to compensate for a lack of accountability and generous pay raises for public employees at the expense of Oregon taxpayers and likely cuts to future public services.

Wage Disputes Create Another Payday for Trial Lawyers

Democrats are about to give another big payday to trial lawyers by hiding behind claims of protecting worker’s paychecks in wage disputes. Once again, Democrats want to create a dangerous and unfair precedent in the wage-and-hour arena by allowing employees to file lawsuits creating liens on an employer’s real or personal property based upon alleged, yet unproven, wage claims. As the power of the Bureau of Labor and Industries continues to grow, businesses are at risk of expensive new frivolous wage claims.

Union Lock Out Subsidy

As unions exert their political influence throughout Oregon, most recently seen at the Port of Portland shutdown, Democrats are once again siding with unions and are fighting to extend unemployment benefits for union workers choosing to protest while locked out in a labor dispute. Paying for these special union benefits will either require cutting benefits to other workers or increasing costs to small businesses. This would further empower Oregon’s unions at the expense of small rural communities and businesses resulting in the loss of jobs.

Cover Oregon/Oracle Lawsuit & Potential Federal Pay Back

After mismanaging and wasting taxpayer dollars on Cover Oregon’s health transition website that turned Oregon into a national laughingstock, there is still no conclusion to the saga as the majority party is unwilling to take accountability for their failure. The solution is not wasting taxpayer dollars on a frivolous, political lawsuit against Oracle. While Democrats throw more money at this problem, Oregon faces an invoice from the federal government to repay funds that were mismanaged as a result of the debacle that will go down as the state’s largest technological failure.

To download the entire “dirty dozen” list of proposals as a PDF, click here.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Government Overreach, OR 78th Legislative Session, Oregon Senate | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Dave Lister

    Ginny Burdick claims she hunts and owns guns. I know for a fact she is crazy. Her guns need to be confiscated.

    • She ain’t no saint

      And her gums lowered.

  • DavidAppell

    This article says: “This ambitious goal is not technically feasible today without undermining the reliability of the grid and will significantly increase costs for ratepayers.”

    Please provide an estimate of the increase in costs, in order to support your claim.

    Be sure to include all the damge done by fossil fuels, which run about $600 per American per year:

    “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use”
    National Research Council, 2010
    http://books.nap.edu/catalog/12794.html

    • Robert Collins

      Any website that includes “.edu” is public school propaganda. I wish you’d been born earlier, David Appell. You’re bright, but they got to you. You will outgrow it.

      • DavidAppell

        Lame. Is that really the only skimpy criticism you could muster here?

        • Shovel Emoff

          At the core of Appell’s inclinations is a facet his mantra was inseminated by a scurrilous donor.

  • Bob Clark

    Here’s some numbers I have experience with, having worked and studied in the electric utility industry only a few years ago: An existing coal plant in the Northwest can generate a KWH on average for 3 cents (with capital costs largely sunk…the fuel itself costs only 0.5 cents per KWH…some of the cheapest coal and best quality coal is located in Montana and Wyoming and transmitted by long distance power lines). Coal plants if maintained can go on for more than 40 years.

    New natural gas generated power can be had for 4 cents per Kwh, at current natural gas prices which are probably here to stay for a long time. Once more the fuel itself only costs 1.5 cents per KWH.

    The all-in cost (before heavy government subsidies) for new solar power if in good desert conditions is around 20 cents per KWH. The all-in cost (before heavy government subsidies) for wind is around 10 cents Per KWH.

    The average residential customer uses 2 Kw per hour, or 17,500 KWH per year. So, the annual wholesale electric energy bill for the average family based exclusively on each of the fuels is $525 for existing coal generation. New Natural gas plant generation, $700. Solar $3,500. Wind, $1,750.

    So, the annual savings from both existing coal and new natural gas generation over new wind generation is roughly $1,225 and $1,050. Much greater than any external effects of coal and natural gas as suggested below.

    Once more, wind and solar are intermittent power supplies whereas coal and natural gas generate around the clock at fairly level rates if called on. This means to keep ourselves from going dark and freezing to death we must build a natural gas generating plant anyways when we build new solar and wind generation plant. So, the figures above are actually too low.

    Once more, it is not like wind and solar do not also have negative environmental effects. Wind has been found in a California court to kill birds in elevated numbers; and solar uses toxic elements in its manufacture.

    Also, it is important to remember coal and natural gas generation processes could be much cleaner if technologies such as fuel cells become commercially successful. Banning these fuels may harm this innovation, preventing the market from evolving to cleaner environment while maintaining affordability.

    The Northwest Power and Conservation Council recommends pursuing conservation, building back up natural gas power; and not so much renewable power.

    PacifiCorp and PGE do not balk at losing coal because they are paid a guaranteed rate of return on capital investment, and switching from one plant to another does not harm them and actually benefits them as they have to not only add capital for solar or wind but also back up natural gas plant. Everyone wins except the customer.

    Citizens Utility Board should be ashamed of itself for supporting this new coal power ban, as they are suppose to stick up for low power prices. Bob Jenks its executive director could not even cite the wholesale costs of wind versus coal; and CUB gets paid by the Oregon PUC to represent rate payers. This is just another form of corruption Oregon is buried in currently…Kitzhaber is just the tip of the Iceberg.

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