Politics & Government

Politics & Government

columbiariverreview.com

Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden pushed for increased and long term highway funding during an address to a congressional committee, last week.

A recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers asserts the U.S. needs to invest 3.7 trillion in infrastructure by 2020 just to reach satisfactory conditions. Senator Wyden accused Congress of limping from one short term funding package to another without a long term solution.

Kari Greer / U.S. Forest Service

The federal government is one step closer to changing the way it pays to fight wildfires. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley said the preliminary legislation was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday.

Wildfires are not treated the same as other natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes. This forces the U.S. Forest Service to take money intended for fire prevention efforts, like thinning, and use it to fight fires. Under the new system, Senator Merkley explains the wildfire budget would be based on the 10-year average cost.

Eugene voters could see a property tax levy on the November ballot to help fund library services. The City Council discussed several options at its Wednesday work session. The previous library levy was allowed to expire four years ago. The Sheldon, Bethel and downtown branches now receive about 10-million dollars a year from the city's general fund. But the needs of other departments, as well as increased benefits and payroll costs have led to cuts in library hours.

Rachael McDonald

A woman from Cottage Grove has filed a petition to recall democratic state senator Floyd Prozanski of Eugene.  A small group of her supporters gathered at the Free Speech Plaza in Eugene Tuesday.

Patricia Michaelson-Duffy says she's disagreed with many of Senator Prozanski's actions over the years, but the recent passage of Senate Bill 941 is what spurred the recall effort. The bill expands background checks for private gun sales. Duffy says it is an undue burden on law-abiding gun-owners and doesn’t keep guns away from criminals.

City of Eugene

The Eugene City Council will hold a public hearing Monday on its controversial Multi Unit Property Tax Exemption or MUPTE program. The city is shifting away from applying it to student housing projects.

The MUPTE program gives an up to 10 year property tax break to qualified developers in Eugene's downtown. It's currently suspended while the city makes tweaks. Denny Braud with the City of Eugene says two large student housing projects were among the last to take advantage of the tax breaks.

tallasiandude / Flickr

The Oregon legislature is expected to vote this week on statewide paid sick-leave. Eugene has passed its own sick leave ordinance, but, the mayor has asked to delay its implementation.

The Eugene ordinance was set to go into effect July 1st. Mayor Kitty Piercy says, with expectation of a state law mandating sick leave, it made sense to delay the city's rule. The state law would over-rule Eugene's. Piercy says this way businesses won't have to go through the adjustment twice.

Quagmar Flickr

The leader of the Lane County NAACP is protesting the recent proclamation by the County Board of Commissioners refusing to enforce a state law expanding gun background checks.

Eric Richardson says the timing and spirit of the proclamation that passed 4 to 1 this week is offensive, especially for those who've been affected by gun violence.

Rachael McDonald

Calling it an “unfunded mandate” the Lane County Board of Commissioners Tuesday voted not to enforce a new Oregon law that expands background checks for gun sales. 

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Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden praised the end of the bulk collection of Americans' information under the Patriot Act during the legislative session Sunday. The U.S. Senate failed to approve a measure which would extend the ability for the National Security Agency to collect Americans' phone records and emails. Wyden also called for the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act to enact additional reforms.

Corinne Boyer

A delegation from Kakegawa, Japan met with Eugene representatives and Mayor Kitty Piercy to renew their sister city agreement on Thursday. The mayors exchanged gifts at a ceremony held at Harris Hall.

The sister city agreement between the two cities began in 1979. This was the first visit to Eugene for Kakegawa Mayor Saburo Matsui. During the ceremony, Mayor Piercy said, "We support the development of communication skills and promote global understanding by sharing experiences through study abroad opportunities."

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