One of the more intriguing issues of the Oregon Legislative session will be the dynamic between whether to allow the low-carbon fuel standard approved in 2009 to go into effect and how that would impact proposals to increase the state gas tax to fund transportation projects at the state and local level. Republican 59th District Representative John Huffman thinks majority Democrats can get the votes to put the low-carbon fuel standard into effect…but they need a 60 percent vote for a gas tax increase, and they are one vote short in the House of being able to do that on a party-line vote. That could lead to a compromise. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality estimates a low-carbon fuel standard could increase gas prices between four and 19 cents a gallon, while the Western States Petroleum Association estimates the increase at between 33 cents and a dollar-six cents a gallon.
The Dalles Sister Cities Association is launching a membership campaign, and has redesigned its website and informational brochure with a goal of expanding community involvement in the nearly 30-year-old program and relationship with Miyoshi City, Japan. The organization’s mission is to build and sustain cross-cultural connections and mutual understanding with its sister city and the larger global community through cultural events, partnerships, and activities. New members are needed to help with recruitment, event planning, fundraising, host families for future delegations, and the selection of student delegates from The Dalles and other Wasco County communities. The group has set a goal of resuming annual student delegations to Miyoshi City in 2016, and a small group of adults, including Mayor Steve Lawrence, will make an official city visit this summer. Information on how to join The Dalles Sister Cities Association is available at their new website, thedallessistercities.org.
Washington 14th District State Representative Gina McCabe wants to know what her constituents think about state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s proposal to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. McCabe says she is torn on the issue. She is encouraging 14th District constituents to give their input by taking part in a survey available through her e-mail newsletter…which can be obtained by signing up for it at McCabe’s legislative website. Fellow 14th District Representative Norm Johnson says he has some mixed feelings on the smoking age proposal, but adds given what we know about the health ramifications of tobacco use he is leaning in favor of the Ferguson bill at this point.
Hermiston 45, Hood River Valley 16
Seton Catholic 53, Stevenson 38
A veteran Washington legislator does not think an increase in the state’s minimum wage will come out of Olympia during this session. Republican 14th District Representative Norm Johnson doesn’t believe a proposed increase to $12 an hour could get out of the Senate. Johnson points out Washington already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and he isn’t sure you can ask business for much more. Fellow 14th District Representative Gina McCabe is on the committee that heard testimony on the minimum wage bill. She pointed out some business owners in SeaTac, where the minimum wage was increased to $15 an hour, testified they had to lay off some workers when it occurred to keep their labor costs manageable.
Hood River County Commissioners will hold their annual goal-setting session this Saturday. With a stable group of commissioners that has remained unchanged for a few years, Chairman Ron Rivers says they will start by reviewing the goals from one year ago and see what kind of progress they made. He says affordable workforce housing will remain a big issue. Rivers adds they will probably discuss how to get a better idea of the number of vacation rentals in the County and their impact on housing supply. Saturday’s goal-setting session is at 9 a.m. at the Hood River Hotel.
The Dalles City Council will hold a goal setting session this Monday afternoon. Councilors will prioritize their goals for the upcoming year as a precursor to budget work for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Mayor Steve Lawrence says they have taken a different approach to goal setting, starting with a blank sheet of paper rather than using last year’s goals as a starting point during an earlier meeting. He says much of the discussion involves policy as much as specific goals. Funding road maintenance figures to the top the list. Also on the list up for discussion: working with partner governmental agencies and non-profits to improve coordination of services, maintaining public safety, and encouraging efficient City government. The meeting takes place at noon on Monday in The Dalles City Hall.
Columbia 67, Stevenson 55
Zillah 71, Goldendale 16
Lyle-Wishram 58, Klickitat 31: Lacy Carse scored 18 points and Kiya Childers 17 as four Cougars finished in double figures.
Trout Lake 40, Horizon Christian 31
Zillah 61, Goldendale 24
Hood River City Councilors approved a contract with the firms of EcoNorthwest and Berger Abam to do a buildable lands inventory and housing needs analysis. It’s part of the effort to craft a solution to the lack of affordable housing in the area. Hood River City Manager Steve Wheeler says the work will begin with an inventory of vacant land, filtering out some properties that are not realistic to build on. Wheeler added they intuitively know some of the issues surrounding housing, but there is a need for more factual data. The inventory and analysis should be done by the end of May.
A group of senators, including Oregon’s Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, have written a letter to President Barack Obama to award the Presidential Medal of Honor to Hood River native Minoru Yasui. Yasui is most famous for his legal challenge to the order authorizing restrictions on, and the eventual internment of, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. He deliberately violated a curfew and after his arrest took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him. An Oregon district court eventually overturned his conviction but did not rule on the constitutionality of wartime internment. He had tried nine times to join the U.S. Army, only to be denied due to his heritage. Yasui was born in Hood River, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon, and became the first Japanese-American to graduate from the University of Oregon law school. After his internment Yasui eventually moved to Denver, where he had a long career as a lawyer and civil rights advocate. Eight senators signed the letter to the President.