Rep. Tim Knopp spoke with a couple of Crook County residents about local issues before addressing a larger group Tuesday morning. Knopp presently represents the southern part of Deschutes County and a part of Klamath County. From the viewpoint of the legislator who represents the southern corner of Deschutes County and part of Klamath County, Crook County is in a state of transition.
>Knopp says he is willing to help if needed during the upcoming change of representation brought on by legislative redistricting
Rep. Tim Knopp (R-Dist. 54) started off his remarks to a group of Crook County citizens by telling them "it is important for the people of Crook County to be involved when electing their next representative for District 55."
Under the recently adopted legislative redistricting, Dist. 55 is made up of Crook County and parts of Lake County, northern Klamath County and eastern Jackson County. Make sure, Knopp warned, that the next representative from District 55 "is your representative."
Under the rules of redistricting, when Dec. 15 rolls around, new legislative representatives will represent Crook County and the rest of the new district. Until the next election in November 2002, there will be two appointed legislators representing the brand new district.
Those two are Sen. Steve Harper (R) of Klamath Falls and Rep. Phil Barnhart (D) from Eugene.
Barnhart, Knopp said, is an "unabashed liberal from Eugene. There are some key issues in the upcoming special session," Knopp added, "and Barnhart may have some things in common (with Crook County), but my guess is - not too many."
Harper on the other hand, Knopp went on to say, is a rural legislator and understands the rural communitie's problems.
One of the issues that will be important for voters to understand is the state's budget deficiency. The problem, he explained, is that the state is $700 million short. During the next legislative session, Knopp said, some of the things done in the last session may have to be redone.
From the list of budget cuts, Knopp said, "it is going to be hard to conclude what to cut. I believe there needs to be a community safety net and the children programs left in. Of the people who are in need, many are children who can't do for themselves."
Knopp said he didn't know what the process will be during the special legislative session, Dec. 10 through the 14th, "but the public has to be involved," he said. "You have to make sure we know and the public knows what cuts will mean to them."
One question that comes up when talking about the state budget is the subject of a tax increase. Knopp said he is against that. "You don't want to raise taxes. Cutting spending will have an adverse impact during a weak economy and we don't want to add to a bad situation."
Knopp emphasized that the people of Crook County should pay close attention to the special session. Most people have to work for a living, he said, but advised that if possible, have someone there to protect the public's interests.
As far as relying on Barnhart to represent Crook County in the next year, Knopp, identifying himself as a "urban representative" said even if he is busy representing another district, if need be, he would help out.
(For more on politics in the new legislative district, see story on possible candidates)