Why I’m Supporting the Walk Out

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

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!

Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time???

Now if you thought about the Oregon legislature you might not immediately think about the debate on Daylight Savings time versus Standard Time.  But currently that is a discussion being held in Salem.  And you also might not think it’s a “hot topic” but it is proving that people have some very strong opinions about what the time on the clock reads when the sun comes up.  And I also fall under that category as someone who does care one way or the other.

  1. It’s not because “I feel tired” two days a year (let’s be honest I have three kids, I am tired all the time)
  2. It’s not just because I like my late summer evenings (I’m usually in a field until dark anyway)
  3. It’s not because I personally am a farmer (because as many of you will say in your heads while I’m writing this…”You’re a farmer don’t you just work when it’s light no matter what the time says?!”)

The bills currently moving through the House and the Senate address changing Oregon’s time to year round Daylight Savings time.  Which is the time that we are currently on as we “sprung forward” into spring.  Currently we are only on Standard Time about four months out of the year, November through mid-March.  So why the heck would I be against this?  For two reasons.

  1. My kids safety to school in the dark on a bus for 30 minutes.
  2. Our employees and their work out in the fields during those months.

So reason number one is a pretty personal one.  Our son Hoot will be in all day kindergarten next year and will jump on the bus at the farm around 7:15 and arrive at school at 7:45am.  During those four months, that entire trip will be in pitch blackness.  Not to mention some of the days the view out the school window would also be dark until almost an hour into the actual school day.  And I get that even if we didn’t change he would have days where it wasn’t super bright and sunny while he rode into town for school, but it would be for way less days than if we changed to Daylight Savings through those winter months.

And reason number two…I’m an employer.  So as the “farmer” yes my husband and I work often without looking at the clock.  But when it comes to the folks who work for us, that’s a different story.  Our employees are asked to work 7 days a week often 14-16 hours days all summer.  And you know what that does for family time in the summer?  It rarely exists.  So these winter months are their time to have a set schedule at work.  To get off at a reasonable hour, often at the same time as their families so they can have a good quality of life at home.  This is important to us.  But if we change to DST year round, our employees won’t have the time outside in the orchards pruning.  This time will be cut short by an hour, or I will have to ask them to work until 6pm all winter, cutting into that family time.  If I don’t have them work until 6pm we will lose about 2-3 weeks of outside time per employee.  When it comes to pruning, we are often in the orchards until nuts are forming on the branches, so basically until the time comes when it will do more harm than good to get the job done.  I have real concerns over how much time we loose doing our jobs outside during the winter.

And this goes beyond pruning.  We also rogue out weeds, spot spray, mouse bait by hand in the fields, all during these winter months.

So there you go, that is why some of us farmers are against this change.  And believe me if Washington and California decide to change, that puts us sort of (or literally) in the middle of a time zone, and I understand that we would more than likely be forced to follow suit.  But I also think that we need to be conscience of the changes that this will bring to those of us who do work outside year round. There aren’t many of us, but what we bring to this state, not to mention the dinner table, might make some stop to think about it.

I know there are strong feelings on this topic, stronger than I ever would have thought. But feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!