Rep. Jim Weidner: Newberg Bypass, Food Stamps, Cultural Trust

State Representative Jim Weidner Newsletter,

Items discussed:
1. Newberg Dundee Bypass
2. Food Stamps Changes
3. Cultural Trust (Or lack Thereof)

It’s been busy at the capitol since my last “Window to Salem.” My committees have been hearing numerous bills and I’ve been keeping a close eye on any that would be detrimental to taxpaying citizens of Oregon.

Newberg-Dundee Bypass Caucus

I am happy to announce the formation of the Newberg-Dundee Bypass Caucus. The members are Representative Thatcher and myself as well as Senators Boquist and George. We will be having weekly meetings to focus attention on the Newberg-Dundee Bypass and the best way to make dirt fly instead of pushing the problem further down the road.

Although I am philosophically opposed to raising taxes during a recession, I am also a realist. I would consider supporting a reasonable increase in the gas tax if I could receive a mandate in the bill that the money raised would go towards immediate construction for Phase 1 of the Newberg-Dundee bypass. Of course before considering any tax increase, I’ll push for more accountability in ODOT and throughout state government and try and get the Newberg-Dundee bypass moving without raising taxes.

I’m also looking for innovative ways of getting the bypass funded. Democratic Representative Schaufler is putting forward HB 2733. This bill would require ODOT to include asphaltic concrete pavement mix composed of up to five percent recycled asphaltic shingles in materials selected for construction, maintenance and operation of state highways. I’m in discussions to add an amendment to the bill that would make the Newberg-Dundee Bypass the first pilot program if the bill passes.

Far too often rural communities have had the burden of tax increases placed upon their shoulders without receiving any meaningful benefits. My worry is that if I supported a gas tax increase without a specific mandate for the Newberg-Dundee Bypass, ODOT would continue down its decade’s long path of promises without action.

Food Stamps
The legislature recently voted on HB 2124 that would do away with Oregon Trail Cards and directly deposit money into the bank accounts of food stamp recipients. The main purpose of HB 2124 was to change the name of the food stamp program to the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” but the authors also updated several provisions, one offering the option to directly deposit money into bank accounts for recipients to spend any way they see fit. I’m very concerned with the lack of accountability this new legislation will bring and I’m afraid that taxpayer dollars will be going towards non-food items at the expense of our children.

Cultural Trust (Or lack Thereof)

My colleagues in the House recently passed SB 581 which reallocated 1.8 million dollars from the cultural trust to the general funds budget. It’s no wonder that people don’t trust their government anymore. Supporters of Oregon heritage, arts, and humanities were the victims of a bait and switch scheme. They thought that they were giving a gift to help preserve Oregon’s rich and storied culture. Instead their gift was re-appropriated by politicians. I don’t think money given to government for one purpose should be diverted to another when times are hard. I was happy to vote against this bill and I’m disappointed that it passed.

As always, I am here to represent you: the citizens of House District 24. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns with your government please contact my office and we will do everything in our power to help.

Best Regards,
Jim Weidner
State Representative