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Natural Resources Rally at the Capitol 2019

3 Jul

The rally will go down to some, depending on the article that you read, as a terrorist gathering, a group of mostly bearded men, a few tractors and trucks, a few hundred people.

But for those of us who were actually there.  Those of us who listened to the speakers and talked to the attendees, we are the ones who will remember what it was really like.

It was a peaceful gathering, one of the most respectful events ever held of that size.  There were men and women, families even, who came to show their support.  There were hundreds of trucks and tractors and thousands of people.  Signs saying, “If you bought it, a TRUCK brought it!”  People from the Natural Resource Industry were gathering to be heard!  There was respectfulness, there was impact, we were a force!  But also there was no trash left behind, no trace of demonstrators at the end of the day.   We showed true rural hospitality as we simultaneously STORMED the Capitol. We heard from loggers and farmers, men and women, who would have been devastated by House Bill 2020.  We heard from leaders in our natural resources industry, including legislators, who were so excited to see the rural population show up!  We were there to stand up for standing up!!  We showed our support our Senators who walked out, to tell them that we understand and we are with them.  11 Senators whose bold actions and courage extended to all of us, giving us the courage to do the same!I know I’ll never forget that Sunday I got a phone call from a neighbor telling me that “a few” farmers were heading to the capitol and they needed…honestly at that point we weren’t sure what was needed…but would I be willing to help?  My first answer was no; it’s harvest, we are all swamped and working 24 hour days.  But by Monday morning I found myself on a text thread with loggers, timber unity folks, farmers who wanted to do this, wanted to go big, wanted to show up and rally.  In just four short days this grass roots team mobilized and organized and brought together people from across the state to the Capitol steps.  This is just a brief preview of the rally taken from Farm Bureau. Search #timberunity for more great coverage of the rally.

Here is a full video of the entire program that day!

I’ve driven to the Capitol building probably at least a hundred times to come and testify in the past 13 years, but when we drove up early that Thursday morning, the streets of Salem already lined with log trucks and tractors, it was completely overwhelming.  Matt looked at me that morning and said, “Remember 4 days ago when you didn’t know if you all could ever pull this off, when your answer was no?  I mean look at this babe, look what you all have done in such a short period of time.” There are many of us who have waited for our industry here in Oregon to wake up and show up, and this became a moment that was more than we could have ever dreamed.  But I do hope it’s not just a moment in time, I hope the momentum of being involved continues.  This is what we need in order to be heard, and I know people see that now.  I still can’t quite believe we pulled it off.  And there’s too many people to thank to list them all here.  But you all know who you are and a true thank you for helping to make this all possible.

I’ll leave you with this….

“There is an undeniable and noble calling to take care of the earth, but this bill will not help the earth and only hurts all of us. I see fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers all around me. You all steward the natural world through farming, ranching and forestry. It’s time we stand up for each other and the earth.”

-Tiffany Harper, farmer and woodland owner from Junction City, Oregon.

Why I’m Supporting the Walk Out

20 Jun

The big news today from the Capital might seem bigger than normal; today all Republican Senators are nowhere to be seen.  They have walked out in a last ditch effort to stop not only an unconstitutional bill, but one that would devastate Oregonians.  I’m talking about House Bill 2020 regarding Cap & Trade.  You can read more regarding my concerns with this bill here.  And what this bill will cost you as an Oregonian here.

I testified against this bill in the very early stages of session.  Now, as the end of session is looming, the stakes, along with blood pressures, are rising, and the hope that voices are heard seems to be a pipe dream.  The lack of communication and team work around this legislation is part of why I am supporting our senators.  Not to mention, Senate Republicans standing up and saying that they won’t comply with an action that is clearly unconstitutional (trying to avoid 3/5 vote requirement) is something worth a “walk out”.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, it isn’t even the first time it’s happened this session actually.  Historically though it is interesting to note that In 2001, House Democrats, then in the minority, walked out for a partisan political issue.  While Senate Republicans today have left in an effort to protect our economy from the disastrous deal on cap and trade, in 2001, Democrats left simply to give themselves a political advantage.

The Democrat walk out in 2001 was very important however….if it weren’t for their walkout then, we very likely wouldn’t have had a walk out today.  Their walk out changed the course of our state in a way that benefited only the Democrats.  They circumvented the political process that would have allowed the House and Senate, then controlled by Republicans, to pass a redistricting plan.  Because they walked out, the Democrat Secretary of State crafted one of the most politically motivated redistricting plans possible, allowing Democrats to take control of both chambers.

Governor Kate Brown, who in 2001 was Senate Democrat Leader, called the House Democrats’ actions “very appropriate under the circumstances.” She continued, “Under certain circumstances, it’s fair to say we would use all tools available to us, and stage a similar boycott.”

Senator Mark Hass at the time said, “I don’t think standing up for fairness and protecting the constitution is something we need to hide from.”

If Democrats thought it was justified for their colleagues to walkout over a partisan political battle, surely they should support Republicans walking out to protect Oregonians from the illegal passage of the cap and trade bill that will destroy the economy of our state.

And as an Oregon farmer and business owner I am in full support of the walk out!  It may just seem like the drama just started, but believe me when I tell you that this story is longer than just today, and longer than just the 2019 session.  This bill is clearly an illegal tax-raising measure (trying to do so without a super-majority vote), Democrats have done everything possible to circumvent the process and in the process have left the hands of Republicans tied.  The only thing left to do was walk out.

County Road Safety, House Bill 3213

20 Apr

Next Wednesday (4/24/19) at 5pm there will be a hearing at the capitol on House Bill 3213.  I’m asking for support…here’s why:

As a farmer you can imagine that I live in a fairly rural area.  That said, I’m also only 30 minutes south of Portland, and 30 miles north of Salem.  We are faced with an urban and rural collision, literally and figuratively on our country roadways from folks going through our area to get to and from work.  The problem comes from those who drive freeway speeds on country roads, people who don’t know the turns in the road, or folks who don’t understand how to drive around farm equipment that is going super slow on a 55mph road.

As a volunteer EMT and firefighter I have seen my fair share of accidents on these roads.  Some where folks walked away, many where they didn’t.  Some were due to high speeds, some were due to passing in no passing zones, some were where people were trying to pass a tractor and misjudged the whole scenario.  All of these I don’t take lightly, so the discussion around road safety from a farming perspective is always high on my list, from a rural community member it’s also right up there.

For example, a road just north of where I grew up, which is in our fire district, has seen 10 fatal crashes since last summer.  Let  that sink in.  More than a person a month has died on that road, now coined, “Death Road”.  So what can we do?  The discussion brought a few of us rural community members to the idea of allowing for this roadway to be considered in the program of “Safety Corridors”.  Unfortunately the idea was brought to a halt when it was realized that only state run highways could fall under that program.

So here’s the fix….or at least the step in the right direction….Many thanks to Representative Shelly Boshart Davis who introduced House Bill 3213, which would allow for counties to also handle and maintain safety corridors within the same program that ODOT currently uses.  It’s a process in which a community can lobby to get their road designated.  Once the designation comes, you get signage that goes along with safety corridors and also all traffic tickets automatically double in this corridor.

My hope is that this will enable us out here on the county roads to give other folks who are just driving through a second thought to their speed.  It will help folks realize that this is not the place to pass on a double yellow line, this is not the place to drive 91 mph, this is not the place to go on auto pilot and not pay attention.  And if they don’t realize that, then I hope they are caught red handed and hit in the pocket book.

If you’re interested in supporting this bill I urge you write to your legislator or email support testimony to jct.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov.  And of course if you have any questions please let me know!

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