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Our 2024 Oregon representation

Once more the Salem Public Library was host to a town hall with double bill Oregon House Representative Tom Anderson and State Senator Deb Patterson.

You are used to hearing our City Councilor Linda Nishioka speaking on what is happening at City Hall, during our monthly SESNA neighborhood meetings. However, the people representing us on State level also make time to listen to concerns and answer your questions. One such opportunity found place on the last Saturday of January, preceding the start of this year’s short legislative session.

Tom brought up two bill’s to introduce in the coming weeks. Payment In Lieu of Taxation (or PILT) strives to compensate those Oregon Cities hosting State-owned property for a loss in property taxes. Especially the capital, Salem, is hard hit by having many State instances occupying the city for free, while having to fund the bill for the traffic and necessary emergency services. PILT proposes to start a pilot project in Salem, where the State owns 1.8 billion in property, compensating the City for these services.

The other bill brought up is in regard to Civil Commitment. Currently one is committed or not by solely based on how the judge perceives a persons’ lucidity during their moment in court. The bill states that a longer evaluation period would provide a better assessment, suggesting to raise the time of evaluation from the singular court appearance to 30 days. In response to an audience question on the availability of enough space to handle an increase in commitments; Tom refers to another bill, proposed by a colleague representative, funding 48 extra residential treatment centers.

On her turn, Deb fired off a litany of topics currently taking up her attention: Expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary. Updating the Oregon emission goals to phase out the use of coal. More money for the arts, including the Salem Parks Foundation. And working towards universal healthcare, so not only the retired and poor, but also the working class can enjoy affordable healthcare. With the United States the only developed nation without universal healthcare, that last one is especially a blight on the richest country in the world.

Where the Town Hall started with three members of the library’s Teen Advisory Board testifying how the library is a safe place for youth to spend time, organize events and meet peers, in danger because of the newly enacted more limited library opening hours; it ended with the message that those same limited hours, for the first time, force the event to end at exactly 6pm. 

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