Senator Ron Wyden

Oregon's senior U.S. Senator, Ron Wyden, has drawn his first democratic challenger in next year's election.

29-year-old Medford City Councilor Kevin Stine is running against Wyden. Stine told the Mail Tribune he saw a lot of waste in his nine years serving in the U.S. Navy and would try to tighten defense spending if elected. He is working toward a political science degree at Southern Oregon University.


A number of states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana, but it remains illegal in the eyes – and the laws – of the federal government. Senators from Oregon and Colorado say it's nearly impossible for marijuana businesses to access banks, which follow federal regulations. New legislation aims to ease the banking restrictions.

Devil's Staircase
Rachael McDonald

Oregon U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced a bill last week to expand wilderness in the state. The legislation has failed to pass 3 times in Congress.

The bill would designate more than 200 thousand acres of land as wilderness or national recreation areas. The bill creates the Devils Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range southwest of Eugene. It also expands the Wild Rogue Wilderness. Josh Laughlin with the conservation group Cascadia Wildlands says he's hopeful public support can help get the bill passed this time.

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.

President Barack Obama has signed the USA Freedom Act into law, just hours after Congress sent it to his desk. Oregon's U.S. Senator Ron Wyden praised passage of the Freedom Act, which changes how the government can conduct surveillance and gather data, which was put in place under the Patriot Act.

On Tuesday, Sen. Wyden said it is not an exaggeration to say passage of the Freedom Act is the most significant victory for Americans' privacy rights in more than a decade. The Democrat said Americans do not need to sacrifice their liberty to have security.

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.

Karen Richards

Senator Ron Wyden met with leaders of several Oregon fire prevention agencies today (Thursday) in Springfield. He's proposed legislation he hopes will make their jobs easier, as they face another potentially dangerous fire season.

With precipitation in the Willamette Basin currently at ten percent of normal, firefighters say they're doing work now they usually do in June. Senator Wyden is aware of the urgency. He and Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo have introduced a bill to classify mega-fires as natural disasters.

Coos Bay Rail Link

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mike Crapo from Idaho introduced the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2015 on Tuesday.

The senators' proposed act would extend the maintenance tax credit for short line railroads nationally which expired in 2014. When the previous bill was enacted, short line railroads across the country received a 50 percent tax credit, or, up to $3,500 per mile of track owned.

Now that these funds are expired, railroad owners will have less money to pay for maintenance. Martin Callery from the Port of Coos Bay explains:

Anna King

As Congress prepares to adjourn next week, still unresolved is a pair of bills with wide-reaching implications for southern and western Oregon. Over the past year, Senator Ron Wyden has pushed hard for compromise measures that would address long-standing conflicts over logging and water. But now those bills are in limbo.

Nick Edwards / OPB

Oregon's Dungeness Crab season is set to begin on schedule this year December 1. The Coast Guard rescue helicopter based in Newport is set to be decommissioned December 15th, which has commercial crabbers and their families worried.