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Click HERE to find out where Legislators are Hiding!

28 Feb

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

 

 

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.

Cap & Trade Testimony

21 Feb

Today I wanted to discuss Cap & Trade and the bill that is currently in the Oregon Legislature in Oregon, House Bill 2020.  While it’s an ongoing conversation in my world, it may not be on everyone’s radar.  Two weeks ago I was asked to come and speak to the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction at the Capitol regarding this issue and how it would hurt farmers here in Oregon. 

My son Hoot got to come watch me testify, which was “really awesome mom!”

It’s a complex issue and I only had 3 minutes to speak to the problems that need to be fixed for us, but I wanted to share my testimony.  The video below is the Natural Resource panel from Feburary 11th.  It begins with Chris Edwards, lobbyist for OFIC, my testimony, followed by another farmer’s.  Then follows up with lots of questions.

https://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=25756&starttime=849&stoptime=2578&autostart=0&embed=1

Tomorrow I will be posting a few things that I wish I had time to include in my testimony and in my answers.

There is still time to comment and have your voice heard on this bill!!  Comments are being taken until March 2nd.  I will post more information on how you can comment tomorrow in my blog.  Below though is my official testimony, if you’re not in the video watching mood….

Brenda Frketich, Oregon Farm Bureau
February 11, 2019

Chair Dembrow, Chair Power, Vice-Chairs Bentz and Brock Smith and members of the committee,

My name is Brenda Frketich.  I am third generation farmer from St. Paul.   My husband and I farm 1000 acres of filberts, grass seed, wheat, clover, vegetables and vegetables seeds.

I am here as a farmer and on behalf of Oregon Farm Bureau in opposition of HB 2020 as currently drafted.  

The first issue is that as farmers and ranchers, we must absorb the full impact of cost increases from fuel and natural gas under HB 2020. 

It’s difficult to assign the “cost” of cap-and-trade to the average family farm.  However Farm Bureau surveyed their members to get an idea of the indirect costs, those responses are summarized on OLIS…AND they are significant

My family farm would likely pay more than a $5500 increase in the price of fuel alone.  Which is a 15% increase in our total fuel bill for our farm, in just the first year!  I know other farmers would experience similar increases in fuel prices. Considering farms are natural sequesters of carbon already, this bill neglects to even touch the benefits that we already provide to the environment, only punishing us instead.

Those who use natural gas to operate peppermint distilleries, greenhouses, hop and hazelnut driers could see a 13% increase in their natural gas rates in 2021.  And what about 2035 and beyond? 

In December, the Carbon Policy Office presented an option to exempt ag fuels (or dyed diesel) from the cap to mitigate some of these increases.  This was a first step in helping to alleviate some of the price impacts but now it is NOT included in this bill.

Our family farm operates on slim margins and as price takers.  We can’t just pass on the increased costs of production to consumers.  So we are saddled with the full costs of cap-and-trade—making us less competitive with growers across the nation and world.  Without safeguards to keep farmers from absorbing these costs, it will be incredibly difficult to keep families farming in Oregon. 

This also makes it much less likely that the farmland stays in production, and much more likely that farms are parceled and sold to development that won’t have the environmental benefits associated with keeping it in farming. 

Our second issue is with how the incentive and offset programs are structured in the bill.

As written, I think you’ll see many farmers that could have participated in the offset or incentive programs will now avoid them.  We’ve talked to California Farm Bureau, and offsets don’t really work in dynamic agricultural landscapes, especially with how diverse Oregon agriculture is.

Oregon Farm Bureau worked for months with state and federal agencies to craft workable incentive programs with sideboards spelled out in statute.  Section 31 doesn’t reflect that work. I’ve participated in some of the federal conservation programs that offered incentives for soil health programs and irrigation water conservation, but I know that farmers are concerned that the incentives in HB 2020 won’t be accessible or affordable.  California Farm Bureau said that administrative requirements kept farmers from even participating.  My fear is we will see the same thing here in Oregon.

It’s important that any voluntary investments are made available to all of agriculture and don’t penalize early adopters.  OSU should also be a partner in this effort.

The bill doesn’t include any of the policy fixes that we worked on with the Governor’s Carbon Policy Office in 2018 and will result in unnecessary costs for family farms.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

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