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Chamber exec: keep tabs on lawmakers

Mike McLaran of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce used old words to warn small businesses of new challenges.

'Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you,' he said, quoting Pericles, a statesman and orator of the ancient city Athens.

And: 'No man's life, liberty or property is safe while legislature is in session,' he said, quoting Mark Twain, the American writer and satirist.

McLaran, the guest speaker of Monday's Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce luncheon, quickly set the tone: Lawmakers in Salem are 'well intentioned,' but small businesses are wise to look after their own interests.

Speaking before about three dozen people, he touched on a few particular bills, including those dealing with health care, tax reform and the rules governing overtime pay. But for the most part, he avoided details in favor of staying on message.

'As a chamber, it's very important that you're involved in this component,' he said, adding, 'I encourage you to stand up, even on controversial issues.'

The message was an important one in the mind of attorney Mike Moore of Moore, Lommen and Ballard Lawyers of Forest Grove.

'I think a lot of time when there's no position taken by an organization, they lose their edge and their identity,' Moore said.

Former chamber director Lois Hornberger said small businesses have trouble tracking state policies. That's why it's important that they're involved in local chambers of commerce, which in turn need to be involved in the state chamber, she said.

'It adds a lot more clout to each individual chamber to be involved in the Oregon Chamber,' she said, praising McLaran's involvement.

McLaran ended the speech the way he started, with a quote, this one from former President Ronald Reagan: 'Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it.

'If it stops moving, subsidize it.'