Press release from State Representative Greg Smith 1-30-08:
(Heppner) Next week 90 lawmakers representing citizens all across our great state will reconvene at the State Capitol for a special month-long session. While I did not vote for the plan to schedule an “emergency” session 13 months in advance, I will do my constitutional duty, attend the proceedings in Salem, and continue to represent the wishes of the people of Northeastern Oregon.
I hope this session will be short and sweet with good policy outcomes and as few politics as possible. Some issues critical to my legislative district will be on the agenda, including funding for State Police, water for agriculture, and support for timber dependent counties.
Last year we came very close to bringing up the number of State Police Troopers so there would be 24/7 coverage on Oregon’s major highways. This is especially important in our neck of the woods. We now have great opportunity to add a few dozen more positions to the State Police force enabling us to get to that round-the-clock level.
As you may remember I helped spearhead the OASIS project in the House last year to allow more water from the Columbia River to support our rural economic base. A “watered down” proposal has now surfaced which would study using underground aquifers to store water during the winter for use later in the summer. There may also be grant funding available for communities to explore new sources of water.
We all know hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake with the loss of federal forest payments. I’m optimistic that the February Legislative Session will send Congress a message urging continuation of those payments and that state officials will work on creative ways to help our counties in need so they won’t have to close libraries and lay off sheriff’s deputies.
Other important issues include limiting drivers’ licenses those who are here legally, protecting in-home care for seniors, ensuring government accountability with additional audits, and cracking down on scams in the mortgage lending industry.
While I look forward to having a productive session, I worry about election year campaigning. Let’s not use this session for political gain.
Please know I will be hard at work for you in Salem and if you have a question or concern, don’t hesitate to contact me at 503.986.1457 or [email protected]
Representative Greg Smith