POLITICS

What Salem-area legislators hope to accomplish in 2023

Oregon legislators will head back to the Capitol Jan. 17, with a number of fresh faces representing the Salem area.

This year’s session is a long session, typically running about six months. Legislators are responsible for passing a budget for the next two years of state government spending.

Salem Reporter asked each legislator representing Marion or Polk counties for their top three bills for the 2023 session, and their main hope. Here’s what they said.

OREGON SENATE

Sen. Fred Girod (R-Stayton), 9th District

Committees

Senate Committee on Natural Resources (Vice Chair)

Joint Committee on Ways and Means (Co-Vice Chair) and Capital Construction Subcommittee (Co-Chair)

Girod did not respond to questions from Salem Reporter about his legislative priorities or main hope.

Sen. Deb Patterson (D-Salem), 10th District

Committees

Senate Committee on Health Care (Chair)

Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on General Government (Co-Chair, new for 2023)

Senate Housing Committee

Senate Labor and Business Committee

Legislative priorities

  1. Making healthcare more accessible and affordable
  2. Supporting the development of a range of housing options, including transitional and affordable housing
  3. Addressing public safety issues in our community. 

Main hope

“Helping hospitals and their staff to recover from the extra crush and cost of the pandemic and backlog of deferred care, and helping patients be able to access quality healthcare in a timely manner (which means helping to reduce the crush in Emergency Departments), as well as helping patients be able to afford their care.”

Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), 11th District

Committees

Senate Judiciary (Vice-Chair)

Senate Committee on Veterans, Emergency Management, Federal and World Affairs (Vice-chair, new for 2023)

Joint Legislative Committee on Information Management and Technology 

Joint Committee on Audits 

Joint Committee on Legislative Counsel Subcommittee On Public Records

Legislative priorities

“I think I have several good bills. However, based on my experience, I know that some are more likely to pass than others for a number of reasons, including, current events in the media, the mood of the electorate, and the mood of the majority legislators in power. So, I will continue to fight for bills that will be of best benefit to Oregonians, regardless of who is sponsoring them, and fight against bills that will be harmful.”

Main hope

“My main hopes are that The People will continue to be able to access their Capitol building and legislators without interruption from a new, declared emergency. That the term “emergency” will not be further abused. In addition, I hope Democrats will be willing to work across the aisle and actually listen to Republican ideas and maybe even compromise on major bills, not just merely go through the motions of appearing to do so as they did in the past three sessions.”

Sen. Brian Boquist (I-Dallas), District 12

Committees

Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue

Joint Transportation Committee

Legislative priorities

“None of my bills will get passed by the Democrats.”

Main hope

Balance the budget with existing revenues.”

OREGON HOUSE

Rep-Elect Ed Diehl (R-Scio), District 17

Committees

House Behavioral Health and Health Care Committee

House Economic Development and Small Business Committee

Joint Ways and Means, Human Services Subcommittee

House Committee on Semiconductors

Legislative priorities

Three priorities for me this session are:

Implementing real school choice.

Helping my district continue the recovery from wildfires.

Several initiatives related to the mental health crisis.”

Main hope

“A major hope for me this session is that our legislators work together to find common ground to focus on what’s in the best interest of the people of Oregon.”

Rep. Rick Lewis (R-Silverton), District 18

Committees

House Emergency Management, General Government, and Veterans Committee (Vice Chair)

House Judiciary Committee

Joint Ways and Means, Public Safety Subcommittee

Legislative priorities

“Many of my priority bills will be public safety related, including a bill to repeal or significantly reform the failed Ballot Measure 110.  I am also prioritizing bills to help farmers and several bills to assist veterans.  I may also attempt for the 4th time to get an affordable housing bill for rural communities passed.  I am hopeful that there will be more of a recognition that the urban–rural divide is very real and rural communities have needs too.”

Main hope

“There are many issues that are important to address in the ’23 session.  Knowing that we will soon be experiencing some serious revenue concerns, my hope is that we will find a way to come together to reduce the economic burden on our citizens with a reduction in government spending and resist adding more programs that lack long-term sustainable funding.  There is a saying that warns citizens to hold on to their wallets – the Legislature is in session.  That has never been more true than it is today.  Ultimately the taxpayers foot the bill and suffer the consequences of legislative actions in less take-home pay and less disposable income.”

Rep-Elect Tom Andersen (D-Salem), District 19

Committees

House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment

House Judiciary Committee, Vice Chair

House Early Childhood and Human Services Committee

Legislative priorities

“Bills that I support must make government work better for the people of my district, address the affordable housing crisis, support working families, and protect the environment. As a brand new member, I’ve not signed onto or sponsored any bills yet this session. That said, one of the things I’d like to explore is the feasibility of a streetcar in Salem that goes through downtown and out to I-5, connecting the hospital, our parks, small business, and Willamette University.”

Main hope

“I am hopeful that this is going to be one of the most productive sessions in history with bipartisan achievements that both Democrats and Republicans get behind – not because they’re Democrat or Republican but because they’re doable, practical solutions. From housing to community safety to support for our schools to improving access to mental and behavioral health services and facing the climate crisis– we can all agree on some of the most pressing issues Oregonians are facing that we must urgently address. “

Rep. Paul Evans (D-Monmouth), District 20

Committees

Joint Committee on Ways and Means, and Public Safety Subcommittee (Co-Chair) 

Joint Committee on Transportation 

House Committee on Emergency Management, General Government, and Veterans

Legislative priorities and main hope

Evans listed more than a dozen specific projects in his district he hopes to secure funding for, as well as statewide emergency management and public safety projects and issues. Those include investments in the Salem Municipal Airport, accelerated west Salem bridge repairs and improvements along Northwest Wallace Road.

In general, he said, I am advocating for continued significant investment in public safety and our statewide resiliency/emergency response structures and systems; focused investments and oversight on education and workforce preparation programming, and on community investments that play a ‘force-enabler; function supporting other policy efforts (including food insecurity, housing stability, and mental health care availability — components of any real progress on our statewide ‘homelessness’ challenges.”

Rep-Elect Kevin Mannix (R-Salem), District 21

Committees

House Committee on Higher Education

Joint Ways and Means, Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee

House Interstate 5 Bridge Committee

House Legislative Information Management and Technology Committee

House Transportation Committee

Legislative priorities

“a. I want to see legislation passed which enhances accountability in the public safety system.  The State must step up its support for local law enforcement.

b. I want to see a dynamic program to help our communities to build a wide range of housing.

c. I want to see comprehensive reforms to enhance mental health and drug treatment programs.”

Main hope

“I hope that my colleagues will work together to focus on positive results for our Oregon.”

Rep-Elect Tracy Cramer (R-Gervais), District 22

Committees

Joint Ways and Means, Education Subcommittee

House Education Committee 

House Early Childhood and Human Services Committee

Legislative priorities and main hope

“Our community made it clear that greater educational opportunities for students, public safety, and cost of living were very important. I hope to use this position as a voice for our district, and will do so, in the Education related committees I will be on. I will also be sponsoring legislation ensuring law enforcement has the tools they need to address raising crime. A big priority will also be to bring down the cost of living by lowering taxes for working families and providing local resources for professional development. I ran on a pro business platform and will be supporting legislation to cut red tape for small businesses as well.”

Rep. Anna Scharf (R-Amity), District 23

Committees

House Early Childhood and Human Services Committee, Vice Chair

House Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water Committee

House Business and Labor Committee

House Rules Committee

Legislative priorities

“Returning as the Vice-Chair to the Early Childhood and Human Services Committee, I am excited to get to work on several bills that will look to strengthen protections for our foster care youth. The social and emotional trauma suffered by these children that stagnate in the system is unacceptable. Their needs must be put first.

I am also focused on State Agency transparency and accountability. Over the past two years, we have seen rules written by state agencies that act more like laws rather than rules. It is time to make sure the rule making process is as transparent as the law making process and that there is oversight by the Legislature to ensure that the rules are following Legislative intent.

Renewable energy seems to be in every conversation in every committee. However, there is little conversation about the longevity of renewable energy projects or the required maintenance of those projects once the incentives given to the renewable energy companies expire. The last thing Oregon needs is a wind or solar farm graveyard.”

Main hope

I hope that the minority voice will be heard, and that true bipartisan legislation will be able to move through the process.”

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.

Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.

Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.