The United States Department of Interior held a listening session Tuesday evening at the Klamath County fairgrounds to determine public opinion regarding their plans to decommission and demolish the four PacifiCorp owned hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. We estimate that the event was attended by between three hundred and four hundred people during the course of the evening.
By our unofficial count, seventy two people spoke at the microphone. Twenty people, or twenty eight percent, spoke in support of dam removal. Of those twenty supporters five were identifiable as Klamath Project irrigators, two of which farm primarily in Oregon and three that farm primarily in California. Four supporters identified themselves as Klamath Tribal members or their employees. Two either are or have been employed by Sustainable Northwest and another is employed in water restoration projects.
Fifty two people, or seventy two percent, spoke in opposition to dam removal. Of those fifty two supporters sixteen were identifiable as project irrigators, fourteen of which we believe farm primarily in Oregon and two who farm primarily in California. No Tribal members or their employees opposed dam removal. One Klamath City Councilor, one Klamath County Commissioner, and state Senator Doug Whitsett spoke in opposition to dam removal as well as three candidates for the Klamath County Board of Commissioners. No local elected official spoke in support of removing the dams.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, October 14, 2011 Newsletter
Last week I participated in the Wireless University Communications Policy Summit held in San Diego.
The University was attended by more than sixty legislators representing thirty six states.
The seminar was hosted by, and partially paid for by, the non-profit National Conference of State Legislatures.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, October 7, 2011 Newsletter
Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. The loss of clarity is usually caused by mud, silt, organic material and chemical precipitates suspended in the water column.
Turbidity has been measured in Oregon in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) since 1990. That method essentially measures how deep into a water column we can see with the naked eye. An average person can see an object nearly three feet under water at a turbidity level of 5 NTU. That also happens to be the normal allowable standard for drinking water. In contrast, relatively clear lakes often have turbidity of 25 NTU, visibly muddy water may measure 100 NTU, and at 2,000 NTU water is virtually opaque.
Current standards (OAR 340-041-0036) set allowable summer turbidity in Oregon water bodies at levels less than or equal to the established 5 NTU drinking water standard. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has set about the minimum level for the protection of aquatic life and their habitats. In many Oregon water bodies this standard leaves little if any margin for anthropogenic activities. In fact, the preponderance of eastern and southern Oregon water bodies may have normal background levels that already exceed that standard during much of the summer and fall.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, September 30, 2011 Newsletter
Our monthly telephone bills include a variety of fees, surcharges and taxes. In fact, those add-on charges make up more than 20 percent of our personal monthly land-line telephone bill. One of those charges is particularly important to those of us who live in the more rural areas of Oregon.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) surcharge appears on both land-line and hand held mobile telephone bills regardless of location. The fee was established by Congress in 1996 and is collected from all telephone connections. The $8 billion in annual USF revenue collected is used to help build and maintain telecommunications infrastructure in America’s rural and underserved areas. Wireless phone customers contribute nearly half of that total amount.
More than 290 million Americans now have one or more hand held mobile telephone connections. Eleven different carriers provide mobile service to 3.3 million Oregonians. About 63 percent of Oregon families have access to rapid broadband wireless services. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all American households are currently served exclusively by mobile hand held telephone devices. The types of hand held telephones and their applications are expanding virtually every day. Our mobile telephones have become wireless telecommunication devices capable of instant communication through a variety of media.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, September 23, 2011 Newsletter
Last week our Ways and Means General Government Subcommittee took an in depth look at the outcomes of last summer’s public employee labor negotiation. Some of those results were very good and others were pretty ugly.
The good outcomes included that the labor negotiations were based on the total amount of employee compensation. Prior to this most recent collective bargaining effort, separate discussions have determined salary and benefit agreements. This time the agreements were adopted as a package that was allegedly limited to a six percent overall compensation increase over two years. This was a significant step in the right direction.
Moreover, state public employees agreed to share in the cost of their health insurance benefits for the first time. The agreement calls for each state employee to pay five percent of the cost of their health insurance premium. Those employees on the lower end of the salary scale will be reimbursed for part of that cost.
Klamath Falls, OR – Senator Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath) announced Thursday that he will run for a third term representing District 28 in the Oregon State Senate. District 28 includes all of Klamath, Lake and Crook, as well as parts of Jackson and Deschutes Counties.
“It is an honor to represent the citizens of rural Oregon in the State Senate,” said Whitsett. “I am running for re-election so I can continue to be a voice and strong advocate for the needs and perspectives that we value in this part of the state. My highest priority is to help rural Oregon thrive and prosper through employment of its citizens. This means we must reduce the government regulations that are acting as barriers to private sector job creation, shrink the size and cost of state government, lower taxes and help empower individuals to create successful businesses across our state.”
Serving in his second term in the Senate, Whitsett is recognized as a fierce champion for the culture, economy and lifestyle of rural Oregon. He has been a careful watchdog of environmental regulation, routinely identifying and fighting back excessive rule proposals and job-killing red tape. He has earned a position on the powerful budget-writing Ways and Means Committee, where his eye for detail and numbers has made him a formidable enemy of government waste and out-of-control spending.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, September 16, 2011 Newsletter
Two years ago, I traveled with state forestry personnel to an area on the Fremont-Winema National Forest that they called the “Red Zone”. I went there to witness first-hand the devastation caused by a 350 thousand acre Pine Bark Beetle infestation. At that time, the more than 500 square miles of dead and dying trees, located between Lakeview, Paisley and Gilchrist, was called the “Red Zone” because the beetle infestation was spreading so rapidly that the red colored needles remained on most of the dead and dying trees.
The “Red Zone” includes the areas surrounding Campbell and Dead Horse Lakes, Lee Thomas Meadows, and much of the Gearhart Wilderness Area. What once was among the most beautiful mountain terrain imaginable is now ruined for future generations.
Little has changed during the past two years.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, September 9, 2011 Newsletter
A number of economic records have been established during the first 32 months of the Obama administration.
Federal spending has surpassed twenty five percent of Gross Domestic Product for the first time since World War II. That rate of spending is nearly forty percent higher than the historic sustainable rate of eighteen percent of GDP, according to the Congressional Office of Management and Budget.
Moreover, for the first time since World War II the ratio of budget deficit to Gross Domestic Product has surpassed ten percent. Each year our nation is now borrowing more than ten percent of the total amount that our entire economy is producing. That amount is generally calculated by using the expenditure method, wherein all consumption, investment, government spending and net exports are added to establish the annual GDP.
The accumulated sum of that federal debt has now reached more than two thirds of our Gross Domestic Product for the first time since the end of World War II. It will soon reach one hundred percent of GDP if our congressional leaders fail to curtail our current spending practices where forty cents of every dollar spent is borrowed money.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, August 26, 2011 Newsletter
In a June 23rd e-newsletter I wrote “State income from taxes has been steadily declining for more than three years. The state economist has predicted a dramatic reversal of that three-year trend in state revenue. He now assumes that the state’s income will cease its freefall and increase by more than $100 million during the next two years. His predictions for the past three years have been both uniformly over-optimistic and demonstrably incorrect.” The actual revenue collected during the 2009-11 budget period was more than one billion dollars less than the state economist predicted would be available. “Never the less, his predicted revenue increase is being considered hard revenue by legislative leadership. That yet to be realized income is being included in budgeted spending just as if it actually existed.”
The new September revenue forecast now predicts total general fund and lottery revenue to be $199.2 million less than the former state economist’s over-optimistic prognostication made last May. The fact of the matter is that state revenue is simply continuing its more than three year free fall. In my opinion, that progressive deterioration will continue until your legislature takes positive action to address the causes of our statewide economic malaise. We cannot and will not experience improving state revenue until our private sector employment recovers.
Thank goodness that Ways and Means co-chair Representative Dennis Richardson stood by his principles and insisted on maintaining $460 million in reserve ending balances. Dennis was much maligned by representatives of organized labor, the press and even his Democrat Ways and Means co-chairs. Our state budgets would already be underwater and in need of immediate reductions without his principled stand and conservative foresight. As it is, nearly half of that financial cushion has evaporated in the first two months of the twenty four month budget period.
From Senator Whitsett’s Friday, August 19, 2011 Newsletter
Each year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation calculates the number of days that the average American must work just to pay their taxes. The Foundation divides the sum of federal, state and local taxes by the total national income, to determine the “tax freedom day”. This year, the average American had to pay every dollar earned through April 12th just to satisfy their tax obligations.
That news is bad enough, but it is only the beginning of the story being told by the Foundation.
When they added the costs of this year’s federal deficits and the cost of the regulatory burdens imposed by governments, that tax freedom day became August 12th. According to the Foundation, the average American worker would have to pay every penny they earn through the 12th day of the 8th month of the year in order to pay for the true cost of their government!