Politics & Government

Politics & Government

Oregon Judicial Department

The Oregon Supreme Court Thursday overturned several of the cost-cutting reforms to the Public Employees Retirement System enacted by the 2013 Legislature. It will restore some benefits to retirees and workers, but is also leaves government agencies and school districts facing higher PERS contributions in the near future. It wipes out hundreds of millions of dollars in savings carved out when the Legislature cut cost of living adjustments for retirees and employees.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum stopped by the KLCC studios this week to check in with our listeners. Her conversation with KLCC's Tripp Sommer covers the ongoing federal investigation of John Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes as well as the recent resignation of U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.

Angela Kellner / KLCC

Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken is exploring a run for Oregon governor. He announced Monday his Political Action Committee has changed its name to "Sid Leiken for Governor".

In a news release, Leiken says Oregon is ready for a fresh start and new leadership. Leiken, a Republican, is looking to the 2016 special election.

Democrat John Kitzhaber resigned amid questions over the role of his fiancé Cylvia Hayes earlier this year. Kate Brown, as Secretary of State, replaced him.

It's been decades since Oregon had a Republican governor.

City of Eugene

The City of Eugene is launching a new program, E-Build, that allows people to apply for building permits on-line. The goal is to make the process more convenient and save paper.

People planning commercial and residential building projects formerly had had to go to the city building permit office with piles of paperwork. With E-build, the process can be done on the computer. Laura Hammond is with the City of Eugene.

City of Eugene

For the first time in 6 years, Eugene is not looking at a budget shortfall.

The 516-million-dollar proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 maintains the city's current level of services. The Sheldon branch of the Eugene Public Library will get another year of funding.

Twyla Miller is the city's Acting Budget and Analysis Manager.

Miller: "Our revenue picture really has improved. So, we are seeing property tax revenues in particular at pre-recession growth levels. And our general fund is almost 70 percent funded by property taxes."

City of Eugene

On Earth Day, the Eugene City Council passed a resolution urging state lawmakers to implement a carbon tax to help fight climate change.

City of Eugene

The bridge that connected the old Eugene City Hall to the Lane County Building has been sent to the scrap heap. The city tried to give it away, but there were no takers.

Mike Penwell, Eugene City Hall Project Manager, says the bridge was steeper than what's allowable under Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. It was also narrower than what is standard for bike and pedestrian bridges. The city had wanted to give the bridge away.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

A decline in revenue at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is putting the agency's financial health at risk. A recent audit from the Secretary of State is raising questions about the Department's business model.

Since the 1970's, fewer people have been buying hunting and fishing licenses, which analysts say is a reflection of a nationwide trend. The licenses are the largest part of the ODFW's annual operating budget; it generated more than a billion dollars in 2013. Gary Blackmer is the Director of the Secretary of State's Audit Division.

Allison Frost

Oregon Governor Kate Brown wants to drive the issue of how to unclog traffic and fix decaying bridges back into the fast lane. The Democrat highlighted that topic Friday during her State of the State address in Portland.

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Senate Tuesday approved a renewal of timber payments to rural counties. The two-year extension is expected to bring 85 million dollars to Oregon. The bill is on its way to the President's desk and he's expected to sign it.

Lane County spokeswoman Anne Marie Levis says the county expects to receive about 6 million dollars for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. She says the renewal of Secure Rural Schools funding is welcome news. But since 2008, the county's share of federal timber payments has gone down 73 percent. Levis says budget planners want to use the money wisely.

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