Full U.S. House passes 2-year extension of Secure Rural Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – With a strong bipartisan vote, the U.S. House today passed a two year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program secured by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River). The extension, which was included in a bipartisan bill that reforms how doctors are paid under Medicare, provides needed funding for schools, roads, and law enforcement in rural forested communities. The measure passed by a vote of 392-37.

“Included in this bill is two years’ worth of funding for the Secure Rural Schools program. Now this is like a can of flat fix: an emergency repair on the side of the road to solve a short term problem. What we really need is a permanent fix for our forested counties. But this is an emergency and what we’re doing today is providing a lifeline to our school children in classrooms in rural counties that are forested under federal land, and making sure law enforcement have the resources they need. In my own state of Oregon, this will even protect some counties from going bankrupt because of lack of management and activity on our federal lands,” Walden said on the House floor today before the vote.

This two year extension now goes to the Senate. After the vote, Walden urged immediate Senate action. “Now, the House has passed it with strong support on both sides of the aisle, and the President announced yesterday that he would sign it. Rural Oregon counties are counting on swift action in the Senate. The Senate must pass this lifeline right away.”

Walden also said that further action is needed in the House and Senate on a permanent solution that reforms federal forest policy. “I remain fully committed to working on forestry legislation that puts people back to work in the woods, reduces the threat of wildfire, and produces the revenue to allow for self-sustaining counties and the people in them. I just hope this time, with a new majority in the Senate, we’ll be able to move forward.”

During the last session of Congress, the House twice passed a bipartisan plan that Walden helped write to reform federal forest policy. Unfortunately, Senate Democratic leaders never took any meaningful action to reform federal forest policy.

In September 2013, the U.S. House passed a historic forestry reform bill, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526), which included a section authored by Walden, DeFazio, and Schrader to better manage Oregon’s unique O&C lands. The bill reforms federal forest policy to create jobs in the woods, improve forest health, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and generate revenue for local communities to provide essential local services like schools and law enforcement. In September 2014, due to inaction in the Senate, the House passed this bill for a second time. While an alternative plan was eventually offered in the Senate, the full Senate did not vote on either the House or Senate versions of the bill before the end of the last session of Congress.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler announces art contest for high-schoolers

The contest is open to all Washington’s 3rd Congressional District high school students- submissions due April 17th.

VANCOUVER – Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler announced today that her 2015 Congressional Art Competition has kicked off and is now open to high school students across Southwest Washington.

First place winner: Kyuri Kim, Mountain View High School Submission: “Importance of Memories”

First place winner: Kyuri Kim, Mountain View High School
Submission: “Importance of Memories”

The Congressional Art Competition is open to all high school students, grades 9-12, who either reside or attend school in Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

The winner of the competition will have his or her artwork displayed for one year in Washington, DC’s U.S. Capitol Building Corridor. The winner will also receive free airfare for themselves and one guest to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Washington, DC.

The deadline for entering the competition is April 17th, 2015.

The Congressional Art Competition is a great tradition that gives me the honor of showcasing one of Southwest Washington’s talented young artists in the halls of our nation’s capital,” said Jaime. “It is a fun way to celebrate the gifts and creativity of this region’s high school students.”

Details:

Entries must be submitted electronically, via digital photo.

To be eligible, the actual art must be two-dimensional, framed, and can be no larger than 28”x28”x4 (28 inches high, 28 inches wide, and 4 inches deep

Artwork must be original in concept, design and execution.

Artwork accepted mediums are as follows:

Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.

Drawings: pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink, markers

Collage: Must be two dimensional

Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints

Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc.

Computer-generated art

Photography

Entries will be evaluated by a blue ribbon panel of judges from counties within Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

Second and third place entries will be displayed in Jaime’s district office over the next year.

For complete details and guidelines, students and education leaders should call Jaime’s office at (360) 695-6292.

Art submission forms can be found at: http://herrerabeutler.house.gov/assistingyou/artscompetition.htm

Video: Senators Cantwell, Murray, Baldwin and Feinstein introduce new safety standards for oil trains

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation that would set strong new safety standards for trains hauling volatile crude oil, to better protect American communities along the tracks.

The Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015 requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to draft new regulations to mitigate the volatility of gases in crude oil shipped via tank car and immediately halt the use of older-model tank cars that have been shown to be at high risk for puncturing and catching fire in derailments.

“Every new derailment increases the urgency with which we need to act,” said Senator Cantwell, ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Communities in Washington state and across the nation see hundreds of these oil tank cars pass through each week. This legislation will help reduce the risk of explosion in accidents, take unsafe tank cars off the tracks, and ensure first responders have the equipment they need. We can’t afford to wait for ten accidents per year, as estimated by the Department of Transportation.”

“Families and communities in Washington state and across the country should be able to feel safe knowing that every precaution is being taken to protect them from oil train disasters,” Senator Murray said. “This legislation will help make sure the most dangerous tank cars are kept off the tracks and is a strong step forward in reducing the risks of oil train accidents and making sure our communities have the resources they need to be prepared for emergencies if they happen.”

“As more and more volatile crude oil moves through Wisconsin and through our country via rail it is critical that appropriate safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of deadly accidents,” Senator Baldwin said. “I’m proud to join Senators Cantwell, Feinstein and Murray in introducing legislation that takes immediate action to phase out the most dangerous tank cars carrying crude oil through our communities and I am hopeful our colleagues in the Senate will join us to prevent future oil train tragedies from occurring as we work to increase safety and efficiency along America’s railways.”

“As more crude oil is moved by train, we’re seeing a surge in derailments and explosions. Until we deploy safer tank cars and stronger safety rules, countless communities across the country face the risk of a devastating accident,” Senator Feinstein said. “That’s why I’m supporting Senator Cantwell’s bill, which will save lives and property and ensure that railcar investments now underway will lead to significant safety improvements. We can’t wait for the next deadly accident to take the necessary steps to improve rail safety.”

The legislation would:

Require PHMSA standards for volatility of gases in crude oil hauled by rail.

Immediately ban the use of tank cars shown to be unsafe for shipping crude oil. Those models include DOT-111s and unjacketed CPC-1232s.

Require new tank car design standards that include 9/16th inch shells, thermal protection, pressure relief valves and electronically-controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes.

Increase fines on railroads that violate hazardous materials laws and establish new fines for railroads and energy companies that don’t comply with safety laws.

Authorize funding for first responder training, equipment and emergency preparedness. Also would authorize funding for increased rail inspections and energy product testing.

Require comprehensive oil spill response plans for trains carrying oil, petroleum and other hazardous products.

Mandate railroads establish a confidential “close-call” reporting system for employees to anonymously report problems.

Require railroads to disclose crude-by-rail movements to State Emergency Response Commissions and Local Emergency Planning Committees along hazmat rail routes.

The legislation follows four fiery derailments involving oil trains since the start of February. No injuries were reported, but a July 2013 derailment in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, resulted in 47 deaths. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates an average of 10 derailments annually over the next 20 years as crude-by-rail shipments grow, costing $4 billion.

Five years ago, railroads hauled almost no crude oil. Now, more than 1.1 million barrels per day – with more expected – move by rail, largely originating in the Midwest. But safety regulations have not kept pace, and thousands of tank cars now in use to haul hazardous materials were not designed to carry the more flammable crude that comes from regions such as the Bakken shale.

Video: Distict 59 Rep. John Huffman blasts legislature for underfunding schools

Representative John Huffman (R-The Dalles) expressed disappointment with the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education’s decision to today move forward with an inadequate and underfunded education budget for K-12 funding. On a party-line vote, Democrats chose to shortchange children, teachers and schools by approving a $7.255 billion education budget that will lead to overcrowded classrooms, reduced classroom time, less resources and materials, and outdated curricula, technology and infrastructure.

“It’s true this morning we voted to give Oregon school districts certainty,” said Rep. Huffman. “School districts, last week, came and said: on a $7.2 billion budget, it would give them certainty to once again be able to cut teachers, certainty to be able to cut programs and certainty to be able to cut school days.”

With an additional $1.8 billion in revenue this biennium, House and Senate Republicans have been calling for legislative leaders to prioritize education funding and give schools, teachers and superintendents the tools they need to help Oregon’s students succeed and get our education system back on track and in the right direction.

Video: Rep. Greg Walden says he has two-year extension of Secure Rural Schools act

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today announced that he has secured a two year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program for local schools, roads, and law enforcement in Oregon’s rural forested communities. The extension has been included in a bipartisan agreement to reform how doctors are paid under Medicare, which the House is set to vote on this week.

“Last December, Speaker Boehner and I committed to extending this lifeline for rural Oregon communities by March 31. Today, we fulfill that commitment. My Oregon colleague Peter DeFazio deserves credit too for working with his leadership to support including this provision. This two year extension gives us time to continue work on a long-term plan to reform federal forest policy to grow jobs in the woods, improve forest health, and provide certainty for essential local services like schools and roads,” Walden said.

The extension will provide funding to 33 cash-strapped Oregon counties. It is broadly supported by local teachers, sheriffs, first responders, and county commissioners. If the county timber payments were not extended, the consequences would be dire for public safety and education. School districts like Grant County School District 3 would be forced to choose between laying off 10 percent of their teachers, eliminating 10 days of instruction, or deferring maintenance for an entire year on their 90-year-old school facilities.

According to the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, they would be forced to eliminate their remaining patrol deputies and 911 dispatchers by July without this funding. The Department faces worse patrol shortages than nearly two years ago when a 911 dispatcher asked a woman if she could just ask a man assaulting her to go away because there were no deputies to send on weekends.

House consideration of this bipartisan agreement is expected this week. If passed by the House this week, the bill would then go to the Senate for a vote.

Walden pledged to continue bipartisan work to reform federal forest policy. “During the last session of Congress, the House twice passed a bipartisan plan to reform federal forest policy. Unfortunately, Senate Democratic leaders never took any meaningful action to reform federal forest policy. I pledge to continue working hard to put forth a long-term solution to actively manage our forests to grow jobs and revenue,” Walden said.

In September 2013, the U.S. House passed a historic forestry reform bill, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526), which included a section authored by Walden, DeFazio, and Schrader to better manage Oregon’s unique O&C lands. The bill reforms federal forest policy to create jobs in the woods, improve forest health, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and generate revenue for local communities to provide essential local services like schools and law enforcement. In September 2014, due to inaction in the Senate, the House passed this bill for a second time. While an alternative plan was eventually offered in the Senate, the full Senate did not vote on either the House or Senate versions of the bill before the end of the last session of Congress.

Map: Where medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in TheDalles

03 23 15 City of The Dalles proposed marijuana dispensary locations

The Dalles City Council meets tonight at 5:30 in City Hall. Among the items on the agenda are a presentation from The Dallles Area Chamber of Commerce for the proposed marketing plan and budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and a new ordinance establishing regulations for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The city is currently under a one-year moratorium which expires May 1. The new regulations would treat the dispensaries in the same manner as medical and dental offices, clinics and laboratories. The dispensaries would be allowed as an outright permitted use, and be restricted to three commercial zones; the Central Business Commercial District, the General Commercial District, and the Commercial Light Industrial District. The new regulations further require the medical marijuana dispensaries to comply with the same area restrictions which are imposed upon adult businesses in the City’s Land Use and Development Ordinance, which are intended to prevent such businesses from being located adjacent to residential zoning districts, public or private schools attended primarily by minors, public libraries, and public parks or recreational facilities, will protect the safety aod welfare of the community. No mention is made of recreational marijuana facilities, which are still undergoing statewide development. The use of marijuana for recreational purposes becomes legal in Oregon in less than 90 days on July 1.