Local lawmakers prep for brief – but busy – legislative session

By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

It’s going to be a short legislative session — just 35 days — and lawmakers have a lot they want to accomplish.

A hot topic will be the Democrats’ revised so-called cap and trade bill, aimed at reducing carbon emissions. It’s an issue so divisive that it forced GOP lawmakers to walk out of the capital last year.

It’s an issue Bend Sen. Tim Knopp is hearing a lot about.

“I’m hearing both for and against the cap and trade bill.” 

Knopp says he’s focused on a bill that will freeze property taxes for low income seniors.

“As property taxes continue to increase, I’m very concerned about seniors being taxed out of their homes and having to make choices between paying their property taxes and food and medicine, necessities,” he said. 

He also mentioned a financial priority is to find a judge for Deschutes County, which is shared by Redmond Rep. Jack Zika.

“Right now they’re starting to overload on cases, they have to turn some away like the lesser petty crimes,” Zika said. “This is a big deal. We’re pushing that hard.”

Zika is focusing on an affordable housing bill and a bill that would incentivize new day care centers to come to Central Oregon.

“We’ve identified ourselves as a child care desert. For every ten kids who need day care, we only have spots for three,” he said. “Wait lists are incredibly long.”

Bend Rep. Cheri Helt is also focusing on children-related issues. She’s prioritizing a bill that would ban vaping flavors and a bill that would support homeless unaccompanied youth.

“I’m excited about this session. I’m excited where we can make changes and help people.” Helt said. “I’m looking forward to working collaboratively, and I think we’re off to a good start on collaboration.”

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