Click HERE to find out where Legislators are Hiding!

If you’re just tuning in to Oregon politics, Republican legislators have walked out of the capitol and will not (as of yet) be showing up.  Democrats have been doing plenty of begging and pleading for R’s to return to Salem.  Yesterday they even went so far as to issue subpoenas for legislators.  It’s a crazy world we live in right now here in Oregon. 

So I’m going to just go ahead and tell you all where these folks are hiding.  Republican legislators are hiding in a place that is protecting rural and working Oregonians.  And I’m so glad they are!

Sorry, I’m sure that’s not what you all wanted to hear.  And spoiler alert, I don’t know where any of them are physically.  So if it was the click bait that brought you here, I apologize.  If you want to know more, keep reading, because what is going on in Oregon is important, what these folks are standing up for is truly for the good of Oregonians.  I can’t thank them enough!!!   

“This isn’t about my job, it’s about saving yours!”  And I know they are doing their jobs.  But that whole “doing your job” bit seems to be a hot topic, so I’ll get more to that in a minute.

Background on the current issue being debated: 
As the legislature moved through the last session, Democrats introduced a bill regarding cap and trade.  They worked on it all last session, at the end of session there was a walk out of senators which led to the bill not being passed in 2019.  Fast forward to 2020 and we are in a short session, one designed for fixes and budget items, and yet again we see this extreme bill come to the table.  The words of “common ground” and “bipartisan” keep coming up in the talking points of Democrats, but I argue that just isn’t the case.  Actually what seems more accurate is the “lovely” talking point from our Governor Kate Brown at the end of 2019 session, “Revenge is a dish best served cold and slowly.”

We can argue the merits and downfalls of the bill later, but for now I will say that there were many many ideas and suggestions, even amendments provided that would have helped this bill become at least not such a blatant disregard to the people of Oregon.  But luckily (or stupidly) Democrats just ignored them.  The common ground that they keep talking about doesn’t exist, and it’s their own doing, and at this point, also their undoing.

Where we are now:
Currently in the House and Senate here in Oregon Democrats are at a super majority, which means they don’t need any Republican support for bills to pass them.  Votes along party lines are an automatic pass, the only thing they don’t have is enough to make quorum.  So both the House and the Senate have to wait in order to conduct business until Republicans are there to make quorum.  This power of being able to walk and deny quorum has been used before.  It was used last session and before that in 2001.  The 2001 walkout was interestingly enough led by our very own Gov. Kate Brown.  You can read more about that here.

All but 8 counties (whose commissioners were elected by the people) have said NO to this legislation, they have said that it needs to go to the voters for a vote.  These counties represent over half of Oregonians, and still Democrats are digging in their heels and refuse to let voters make the decision.

Here is a poll done by KGW, it’s not even a close contest.  And yet still…still…they are saying the people shouldn’t vote on this bill!! 

The people are actively saying they want to vote on this legislation.  Maybe a better term would be “screaming” that they want a vote, and yet here with sit at a total impasse.

Are they Doing Their Jobs by Walking Out?
The debate seems to go back and forth about how if they are doing their job, doing what they were elected to do, they should be there to vote no, allow the bill to pass (because they don’t have the numbers to stop it) and move on.  I would argue that their job is to represent the people who elected them, the people of their district.  And when I look at the map of counties, when I look at the poll, heck when I look at any social media surrounding this issue, I have to say that using the only power that they have left is absolutely doing their job.  They are standing up for those of us who voted them in, who now sit here with our head in our hands, hoping that this devastating legislation doesn’t get passed.  Hoping that solutions that have been presented are looked at seriously.  Hoping that we don’t just get railroaded by those who were also voted in and are now ignoring their constituents.

But I also hear the follow up question, “Well would you get fired if you didn’t show up for work?”  And the answer can’t be simple, because there are rights in this country that allow for us to stand up.  In a way you could look at this as a protest, and can union folks who protest for their rights be punished and fired because they “didn’t show up for work” even though they were standing up for what they believed in?  You have to look at the WHY, not just the simple fact that they aren’t there clocking in for work.  They were left no choice but to walk and for that, no, I don’t think they should be “fired”.

The news has been inundated with all the Democrat talking points, and it’s getting a little old. 
So here’s a quick little game of “What the Democrats Say & What I Hear.”

Democrats: We need to you to come back to pass a bill to allow foster kids to be adopted.
What I hear: This is the best sob story to tug at emotional heartstrings we could find, we probably should have passed this earlier in the session but we were too busy with a bill that shouldn’t have even been introduced this session anyway.

Democrats: Come back and do your job!
What I hear: You need to ignore the people you represent, just like we are!  It’s super important to not listen to your constituents.

Democrats: Republicans are on a tax payer paid vacation, must be so nice!
What I hear: Republicans are giving up so much to be away.  They are sacrificing family time, their kid’s sporting events, heck just dinner with your spouse.  This is not and was not a choice that was made lightly, this is no vacation.

Democrats: We really wish you would come back so we could hear your opinions on issues that we are discussing.
What I hear: We truly need your butt to physically be in that chair so we can pass this legislation without you getting a say.

Democrats: We were voted in by the people to pass this bill.
What I hear: We will pass this bill even though everything has changed since we were voted in.  Example, public records requests are not allowed.  New options have been put forth that don’t hurt our state and they have been ignored.  We have learned more about how much this will actually help our environment (not at all).

Democrats: This is an emergency and we have been working on this for over a decade, the time is now!
What I hear: So…..in the next 9 days, after a decade of working on this legislation, that’s it, the world is going to end and only Democrats in Oregon can stop it.  (Give me a break).  This might be the only time that we have the numbers to pass this bill without any Republican input, so yes, the time in NOW!

Democrats: This needs an emergency clause….”This is an emergency….”, see comment above.
What I hear: If we have an emergency clause on this bill it can’t get referred to the voters.  And there is no way that we want the people of Oregon to vote on this bill….see comment below.

Democrats: We need to vote on this bill, it’s too complicated for voters to understand.
What I hear: Voters are dumb, except that they aren’t and our fear is that they will vote this down.  AND….it’s going to cost Democrats a boatload of money to try to get this passed on the ballot and we have so many races coming up that we need to win so we can get more power in this state.  (Follow the money!)

I’ll leave you with this from House Republican Leader Representative Drazan, “Voters should remember this in November. It would also serve the Democrats well to remember who their boss is in this state – Oregonians. Only in politics can an employee (politician) get away with inferring their boss (Oregonians) are too inept to understand the difficulties of a job (bill) and not face termination. The truth isn’t that it’s too complicated for voters to understand. Voters have taken up many complicated issues over the last few decades. The truth is that the Democrats know cap and trade will fail at the ballot because voters absolutely can understand what the bill does to them – not for them.”

So maybe the question shouldn’t be “Are Republicans doing their job by walking out?” 
It should be, “Are the Democrats doing their jobs by keeping this bill from the voters?” 

And to all the legislators who are standing up, thank you for all you have sacrificed for me and for all Oregonians!  Thank you for listening and for doing what is right.  Thank you for walking out!  Because at the end of the day, for me as a third generation farmer and fourth generation Oregonian, I want my children and my grandchildren to continue this Oregon legacy.   And we can only do that if brave folks like you stand up and say, “Enough is Enough!”.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Call, write, email legislators and tell them THANK YOU!
  • Call, write, email legislators and tell them you want this to go to the voters! To Find Your Legislators Click Here
  • Share this blog and other stories about what this means!
  • Follow #timberunity to get real time updates

 

 

What Happened to the Ditch Bill??

I wanted to write a quick follow up because I have been getting a lot of questions regarding the ditch bill, House Bill 2437,  from last legislative session and what happened to it.  This bill allows us a way to legally clean our ditches to maintain drainage, a practice we have been doing on our farm for 118 years.

Here are the quick facts:

  • The process for us to do our jobs was broken, no one disputed this fact.
  • This bill was worked on for months utilizing the concerns and needs of farmers, environmental groups, municipalities, and legislators from across the state.
  • This bi-partisan bill passed the house and senate with vast majority supporting it fully.
  • August 4, 2019 The bill was put on Governor Brown’s veto list.
  • August 9, 2019 House Bill 2437 was signed into law!! (insert high fives here)

Here’s a little more detail:

This bill addressed a problem that needed a solution; the process we had was not working.  A work group was formed to bring all parties to the table.  We didn’t all get along at first; honestly at the end of the day no one who was at the table got exactly what they wanted either.  Everyone compromised and worked together to find a solution.  Because everyone around the table knew that if this wasn’t fixed, it would only kick the can down the road.

On August 4th when it showed up on the veto list, I was so disheartened.  I didn’t hear directly from the Governor why this bill was on the short list for veto, but I have my ideas.  I think possibly one extreme environmental group had her ear and was yelling loudly.  A group that was consulted on this bill and refused to give any feedback (they wouldn’t work at all through this bi-partisan process).  I also wonder if it was some sort of backlash because Cap & Trade didn’t pass.  These are my assumptions obviously, but what I can say is what I told the Capital Press when they called to get my opinion,

“Even with a positive outcome, it can then come down to political games, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Obviously I’m overjoyed that in the end the Governor signed the bill.  For one thing as I have said before this was a real solution to a real problem.  But if I take a step back and look at the bigger picture, I’m glad because this is how democracy is supposed to work.  When politicians and citizens work together, their efforts cannot (or at least should not) go unnoticed.  They should not be silenced by the cries from one extreme uncompromising group.

As for the Governor, it’s her job to look out for the state as a whole, not lend her ear only to a select few.  As Governor, she should respect the process by which our legislature stands by, by which it MUST stand by.  When she signed this bill, I believe she did just that.

Political games aside; I’m just a farmer who found herself unable to do the work that has been done for around 120 years on my farm.  I worked through this difficult process with a lot of really hard working folks all with different goals in mind (across the aisle seems like an easy step when considering the hurdles this group overcame).  We found a solution.  We got it passed.  And Governor Brown signed it.  So in my book, this is going down as a win for our state, for farmers and environmentalists, and for democracy in Oregon.

 

One more article regarding this bill and what it means to farmers:

An Open Letter to Gov. Kate Brown on Ditch Cleaning

 

Natural Resources Rally at the Capitol 2019

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.