With crisis comes opportunity

Sen. Alan Bates

Sen. Alan Bates

As we begin the 76th session of the Oregon state Legislature we are presented with an unprecedented opportunity. Inherent in the crisis of an approximately $3.5 billion budget shortfall is the unique chance to fundamentally restructure the way we manage budgets. Seizing this opportunity will allow Oregon to enhance the quality of our education systems, various healthcare services, transportation model, and other vital social services. As we go forward my priorities remain private sector job growth revitalization and K-12 education.

We have neither the time nor the money for divisive and counterproductive rhetoric; we must unite to permanently lower unemployment and ending the boom and bust cycle that has plagued our state for to long. I mean what I say here. This is no time for the old style Democrat vs. Republican nonsense. In the last election the public mandate was clear; we must work together and control spending. I will work with anyone from any end of the political spectrum so long as their intent is to help revive and reform in a responsible and sensible manner.

Southern Oregon leads this session. We already have broad bipartisan support for two bills. Senate Bill 196 reforms foster care and will help balance the budget while saving families and children. Senate Bill 238 drastically reduces unnecessary and redundant state bureaucracy thereby saving the state many more millions. Dynamic and substantive reform is my goal; contact my office at any time if you wish to discuss these or any other issues.

We must increase employment in the valley and we have already started down that road with recent federal approval for sustainable woody biomass production. We should take advantage of the once again emerging Asian appetite for lumber by opening up new mills and new areas of our forests. The capacity to log more responsibly is available. I also support enhancing the value of our timber resources by adding industry and jobs that add value; we need to capture more than the raw resource dollar value of our forests and we need to keep those dollars in our community. We absolutely must log in a sustainable and responsible manner that protects all old growth. Timber is a major resource and if we act with proper yet efficient restraint we can utilize that resource for untold centuries.

I look forward to being more open and available to the business community than ever before. I have met with both the Medford and Ashland chambers of commerce in the last weeks and I will continue to have productive conversations with both. Our common goal to revitalize the business sector in the Rogue Valley is my top priority. I encourage any businessperson to contact my office at any time to discuss ideas going forward. I am always listening. As I said before we must work together in a sincere and genuine effort to bring down unemployment and increase small business viability.

As a family doctor of more than 30 years I am excited to work in a bipartisan effort to uniquely reform and develop health services in Oregon. I look forward to helping launch Oregon to the front of the health care reform by working with the community to develop our own hybrid system of healthcare that utilizes healthcare exchanges to drive down costs and enhance quality of service for all Oregonians. We can do this because of the new federal health care reform act and we can do it this biennium. We cannot allow this issue to divide us as it has the rest of the nation, instead we must calmly and rationally confront the issues while we make the hard choices that will stabilize the skyrocketing cost of healthcare and set the example for the nation.

Sen. Jason Atkinson and I are working in a bipartisan effort to end the harm coming to our streams and rivers via recreational dredge mining, otherwise known as placer mining. The environmental impact to our waterways is devastating and every other state in the union has already enacted law to abate this practice. Other states, notably California, have closed down this practice. Many of these recreational miners have flocked to our state increasing the amount of these practices by more than 10 times any other state.

I am opposed to fast tracking liquefied natural gas pipelines in Oregon. These pipelines violate the fundamental notion of property rights and pose a negative impact to our states environment. The few temporary jobs created by the pipeline will be given to out of state workers and the exportation or importation of clean natural gas to and from other countries is simply not the right direction for us to be going if we are serious about energy independence and a sustainable future.

I will work to reform the mortgage foreclosure laws. Specifically I want mediation rights for those who need them. Home ownership has traditionally been a key component of the American dream and I remain supportive of enabling home ownership so long as it’s done in a responsible and financially sound manner. Financiers and realtors should not cross the line in deceiving citizens with interest rates that later explode. That said the old adage “buyer beware” will always remain true.

Southern Oregon leads this session. Your senators and representatives are each chairs and co-chairs of the most important committees and we are working together in a new bi-partisan spirit. We will remain united to overcome this crisis and forge a new Oregon together and I am committed to that goal.

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