State senator lays out Republican agenda for 2015
Sen. Ted Ferrioli paid a visit to Burns on Saturday, attending the Lincoln Day dinner hosted by the Harney County Republicans. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)
Oregon Senate Republican Leader Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, attended the Lincoln Day Dinner, hosted by the Harney County Republicans, Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Burns Elks Lodge.
Ferrioli presented an overview of current happenings in the state legislature, outlined the 2015 senate Republican agenda, and discussed his role on the committee working on the implementation of Measure 91.
Ferrioli said that in general, senate Republicans were working to grow jobs, reduce regulation, and keep and expand tax cuts. He noted a number of bills being proposed by Democrats that would levy additional taxes. He said that those and other proposals, include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and mandating that employers offer paid sick leave and family leave, would bankrupt thousands of small businesses.
In outlining the goals of the senate Republicans for the 2015 legislative session, Ferrioli said that they were far more detailed objectives than those of the Democrats. Some agenda items include:
• Working to grow rural Oregon by expediting land-use decisions for new and expanding businesses in counties with declining populations;
• Working to protect and expand the 2 percent tax cut to small businesses;
• Working to stop any taxes that hurt families and small businesses.
Ferrioli said that he is on the joint committee responsible for the implementation of Measure 91, which passed in the November 2014 election and legalizes recreational marijuana. He said he plans to place all those testifying before the committee under oath, in order to ensure that the newly legitimized marijuana business is not tied up in the black market.
He said that in the proceedings of the committee, he has been confronted with the question of how marijuana can be legal in Oregon, when it is illegal at the federal level. The response he has gotten, he said, centers around the 10th amendment, which states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Ferrioli said that he is a “big fan” of the 10th amendment, and added that he wonders why it couldn’t be used in other cases, such as those of timber or grazing laws.
In other comments, Ferrioli said he:
• opposes a proposal to require background checks on private transfers of firearms;
• wants additional school funding to be tied to educational outcomes.
Gretchen Bates, the new chair of the Harney County Republican Central Committee, talked about the need for people to get involved, and what the Harney County Republicans are currently focused on.
Bates talked about “tipping points” – the points at which people become inspired to take action.
“More people need to know that their efforts are required,” said Bates, “now is not the time to think that our involvement doesn’t matter.”
She said she is committed to preserving the values of hard work and self-sufficiency that are characteristic of Harney County. Bates noted that threats on a nationwide level include terrorism, illegal immigration, over-regulation, debt, and a biased media. She said that internal threats were just as dangerous as external threats, and recalled a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Bates said that as chair, her goals include coordinating with other like-minded groups, and creating an “action wing.” She noted that major issues the organization is focused on addressing include sage grouse, road closures, school funding, and finding and electing Republicans to office.
Tim Smith, former chair of the Harney County Republican Central Committee, spoke about the need for voters to step up during elections, and the power that Harney County and the 2nd Congressional District have to influence elections. He said that too many people are not voting during gubernatorial elections, and noted that the 2010 Republican candidate for governor lost by only 22,000 votes.
“We have the ability to elect the governor in the 2nd Congressional District,” said Smith.
Art Robinson, chair of the Oregon Republican Party, said that the country is challenged now more than ever. He said that people “have forgotten that this is a constitutional republic,” and that elected officials are acting as career politicians. However, citizen volunteers are responding to these problems, he said.
“Today, millions of Americans are coming out of the woodwork to help out,” said Robinson.
“Our party is vital, our country is vital, and we’re winning,” he added.
Richard Burke, executive director of the Western Liberty Network (WLN) presented information on his organization, and encouraged people to get involved in local government.
Burke explained that WLN offers training to grassroots activists on how to engage with local government, and get elected to local government offices. He said that although it is “unnatural” for conservatives to want to get involved in government, people should take responsibility and get involved.
“Folks on the left dominate local government, even in conservative areas,” said Burke.
He reminded the audience that May 19 was the filing deadline for the next election. He stressed that no position is too small or unimportant, and that experience is not necessary.
“All you need is a good head, and good values,” said Burke.
“You can win here,” he said.
Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians For Immigration Reform (OFIR), spoke to the group about the effects of illegal immigration, the dire situation at the nation’s borders, and the defeat of Measure 88 in the November 2014 election.
Kendoll said that illegal immigration impacts every part of life in this country. She said that the group is non-partisan, and that its members support the mission of the organization for a variety of reasons. According to their website (www.oregonir.com), OFIR “works to stop illegal immigration as well as reduce legal immigration to a more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable level here in Oregon and across the United States.”
Kendoll described her visits to the border, saying that it is a crisis situation, and that more elected officials should travel there to witness what is happening. She said that sheriffs, ranchers and others are pleading to the U.S. Congress to address the issue, without result.
Kendoll encouraged people to get involved. She said her own “tipping point” was when Measure 88, the Oregon Alternative Driver Licenses Referendum, was put on the ballot for the November 2014 election. The measure would have made four-year driver licenses available to those who cannot prove legal presence in the United States. She touted the overwhelming defeat of the measure as a victory, and noted that 87 percent of voters in Harney County voted against the measure.
“It takes all of us to be a success,” said Kendoll.
The next meeting of the Harney County Republicans will take place Tuesday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. at Figaro’s Pizza. For more information, please contact Gretchen Bates at 541-573-7595.