The Double Crested Cormorant is a voracious fish eater. These strange looking water birds can weigh up to five and a half pounds. They have a long, sharp, hooked beak and are strong swimmers with webbed feet and powerful legs. They are very quick and mobile underwater, and are capable of diving to at least twenty five feet.
It has been estimated that cormorants can consume up to half of their body weight in fish and crustaceans each day. That body-weight to fish-consumption ratio is even higher among immature birds. The preponderance of that diet is composed of small fish.
For the past several months, the legislative Democrat leadership has been steadfast, in telling anyone who would listen, that they needed at least $275 million in new revenue, in order to balance the state budgets. The Republican Senate has been equally steadfast, in telling anyone that would listen, that meaningful restructuring of the Public Employee Retirement System is essential to balance state, school and local budgets.
At least two Republican votes are needed in the Senate to achieve the sixty percent majority vote constitutionally required to enact a tax. The same sixty percent majority votes are required to reduce or eliminate a tax deduction or a tax credit. For that reason, Republican Senators have refused to vote for any revenue increases until and unless meaningful PERS restructuring is achieved.
Last week, the Oregon state economist predicted that state revenue collection would increase by about $272 million over the next two years. This fortuitous prediction allegedly resolves the Democrat “steadfast need” for an additional $275 million in tax revenue. Political coincidences can and do occur, but one of this magnitude would certainly be rare.
On Friday, April 5th at 8:30 A.M, the Senate Judiciary Committee held public hearings on four bills relating to firearms. Many citizens and legislators alike consider all four of these measures to be both anti-gun and a challenge to our Second Amendment rights.
Several anti-gun bills were scheduled for a Friday hearing earlier in the session. At that time, the Senate Democrat leadership proposed that the Senate Rules be changed to prohibit open carry of firearms in the Capitol. The Democrat leaders withdrew that proposal when all fourteen Senate Republicans unanimously opposed that change in Rules. The initial anti-gun hearings were then postponed.
The Judiciary Committee Chair is Senator Floyd Prozanski. He is a Democrat representing much of the Eugene area. In his recent posting of the four bills for hearings and possible work sessions, he stated that “I intend to conduct a civil, orderly and respectful hearing in accordance with the Rules of the Senate”.
The “tuition equity” bill passed out of the Oregon Senate last Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber in the near future. All sixteen Democrat and three Republican Senators voted to pass the bill. I joined ten other Republican Senators in voting no.
HB 2787-A exempts students who are not lawful permanent residents of Oregon from paying out of state tuition at Oregon’s seven universities if they meet certain criteria:
The bill does not establish legal residency for students who are undocumented. It does not establish admission preference for students and it does not automatically enroll the student in a university. The undocumented student must meet both the legal criteria established in the new law and must be accepted academically by the university.
There is little doubt that something needs to be done to improve traffic flow on Interstate 5 across the Columbia River. The current levels of traffic congestion, delays and the number of vehicle crashes are unacceptable. The questions are what should be done and how should we pay for the Columbia River Crossing.
What’s required to be done should be left up to the traffic and construction engineers. Determining where the bridge should be built, the number of lanes of traffic needed, and its height both above the water and its total elevation should be left up to the professionals to decide. What is clear is that the design is far from being completed. In fact, I have not yet been shown a detailed drawing of the project.
HB 2800 that authorizes the construction of the Columbia River Crossing project is one of Governor Kitzhaber’s highest priorities and has now passed both the House and the Senate. A number of legislators have worked very hard to make substantial improvements in the original bill. Among those improvements are five “triggers” that discontinue funding for the project if certain performance targets are not timely met. I greatly appreciate their significant efforts.
Oregonians should carefully evaluate Governor Kitzhaber’s recently released draft Ten Year Energy Plan. The Plan aggressively mandates energy conservation, further development of green renewable energy and the rapid phasing out of the use of fossil fuels.
The Plan calls for no-net increase in statewide energy use for the next decade. The goal is stated: “Maximum energy efficiency and conservation to meet 100% of new electrical load growth”. At best, the Plan appears to cap future energy availability at current levels. At worst, it will actually reduce energy availability in the likely event that energy efficiency and conservation methods are inadequate to compensate for increased demand. Neither the methods to be used for efficiency and conservation nor their inherent costs are fully described or quantified. Further, the increased competitive costs that always occur when energy demands exceed energy supplies do not appear to be addressed.
Oregon has the most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard in the nation. Oregon law articulates the aspirational goals of reducing fossil fuel usage by 30 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050. Actions taken in the attempt to achieve the Standard are already forcing the change from reliable low-cost hydropower and coal generation to much higher-cost wind and solar renewables. The draft Plan appears to dismiss low-cost, reliable and relatively clean electrical generation from abundant natural gas primarily because natural gas is a fossil fuel.
Under current law, American families and businesses are facing nearly half a trillion dollars in increased federal taxes next year. If Congress and the President fail to take action, this unprecedented expansion in federal taxes will equal nearly $1,600 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
The specter of these enormous additional tax burdens is already causing a significant negative impact on our economy. Investors, businesses and families alike are delaying investments and foregoing purchases until they know what to expect in the federal tax arena. The economic stagnation caused by government-created uncertainty is slowing private sector job creation and preventing millions of unemployed Americans from going back to work.
The combined expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, the ending of employer payroll tax reductions and enormous new taxes imbedded in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will cost American taxpayers at least $494 billion next year. The preponderance of these tax increases will be levied on America’s middle class, working families and the owners of the small businesses that create nearly three out of every four new jobs.
Current Oregon law requires that all public building construction and reconstruction projects include solar energy technologies when their total contract price exceeds one million dollars. The law requires that one and one half percent of the entire construction cost for new building must include solar electric, solar thermal or passive solar technologies. It also applies to building renovations that exceed one million dollars and fifty percent of the total building value. The solar requirement can be transferred and added to another building in the event that the contractor determines that solar technologies are not feasible for a specific building.
I voted against the enactment of the law in 2007 for two reasons. First, I believe that construction contract decisions should be based on free market cost-to-benefit analysis rather than political mandates. Second, the most cost effective form of renewable energy should be used if our state government is going to force the inclusion of renewable energy technology.
A salient example of the second point is the application of the solar technology requirement to a reconstruction project for the hospital in Lakeview. Geothermal energy was piped into the building from an existing resource to supply virtually all the HVAC system. Yet Oregon law absurdly required the contractors to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars on solar technologies for the building. This is not an isolated occurrence in our area. Five of the seven known major geothermal resource areas in Oregon are located in Klamath, Lake and southern Deschutes counties.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) will soon decide whether or not to adopt a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) for Oregon. The Department was directed to study the issue by the Oregon Legislature by HB 2186 in 2009. That bill was adopted by a very close vote even though the Legislature was controlled by a Democrat supermajority at the time. Many of us that opposed the concept in 2009 believed it was unnecessary, probably illegal and likely to trigger an economic chain reaction that would drive up costs, drive out businesses and destroy jobs.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, January 6, 2012 Newsletter
Oregon statistics paint a grim picture of local family violence and neglect. Klamath County ranks in the top tenth percentile in domestic violence, child abuse and the use of illegal drugs. Our local rate of child abuse and neglect stands at an astounding twenty five cases per one thousand children. That rate of abuse is twice as high as the Oregon and national averages. In fact among the 36 Oregon counties, Klamath ranks a dismal third in child abuse and neglect.
What kind of a craven coward would beat his wife or child senseless for any reason? Personally, I cannot fathom what would cause a man to physically or sexually abuse a woman or child even once. Yet it happens on a daily basis in our community. The abuse is usually serial and prolonged.
A very small percentage of the domestic and sexual violent acts that are committed are ever reported to law enforcement authorities. Of those victims that do report, we know that, on average, they have previously experienced violent intimate partner abuse at least seven times. Domestic and sexual violence affects not only those abused, but witnesses, family members, co-workers, friends and the community at large.