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Sometimes its best to prepare for the worst

The 77th Oregon Legislative Assembly has now been in session for over a month and legislation has been moving quickly.

One of my top priorities continues to be disaster preparedness, and last session I sponsored House Resolution 3, requiring an Oregon Resiliency Plan so we can make reasonable preparations for a Cascadia Subduction-zone earthquake.

As a result of HR 3, the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission was directed to study the situation and make recommendations to legislators. I am a member of OSSPAC, and the advisory panel has been working diligently to develop the Resiliency Plan, which was presented to a joint meeting of the Senate and House Veterans’ and Emergency Preparedness Committees on March 14.

While the low-lying coastal communities are in the most imminent danger from a tsunami, geologic experts predict that an earthquake on the scale of the one that hit Japan two years ago would have devastating impacts from the Oregon coastline [and] inland nearly 100 miles. An earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 or larger would destroy or damage every bridge and highway overpass and severely compromise all transportation routes in the western part of the state.

We cannot predict or prevent a major earthquake; the best we can do is prepare.

In an effort to make our communities more resilient, one of my bills, House Bill 2176, directs the state treasurer to issue another round of general obligation bonds to implement seismic upgrades of public buildings.

Oregon voters approved this funding strategy in 2001, establishing the Oregon Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program within the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. HB 2176 will add additional funding to the grant program and is currently in the House Veterans’ and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

You can imagine that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, federal and state disaster response will initially be concentrated in the large metropolitan areas, and our smaller communities will need to be self-sufficient and dependent on our own community first responders.

Because of their tremendous service to our communities, I was pleased to sponsor House Bill 2182 to create the First Responder Appreciation Day Designation. First responders stand ready 24 hours a day to come to the aid of our citizens.

First responders are volunteers and employees that provide public safety services, including policing, fire protection, emergency medical services and search and rescue. The State of Oregon recognizes the important contribution these individuals make in all of our communities, and if approved will make each September 27 the annual Oregon First Responder Appreciation Day.

While it is meaningful to celebrate the work of first responders, I am also working on legislation that includes a small financial incentive. House Bill 2177 is another bill I’m sponsoring, and relates to a refundable $250 tax credit for volunteer firefighters.

While this doesn’t come close to covering the costs that these hard working first responders spend while serving our communities, it is one small way to recognize the outstanding contribution these volunteers make in service to our families, friends and neighbors.

HB 2177 has been referred to the Veterans’ Services and Emergency Preparedness Committee hearing on March 21. Then, due to its financial implications. it will be referred to the Revenue Committee.

If you have a concern or comment about a state agency, or pending legislation, you can also write, phone or email my office, or when you’re in Salem, stop by my office in the capitol. It is my privilege to represent you in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to hearing from you.

State Rep. Deborah Boone, a Democrat, represents Oregon’s 32nd House District, which stretches from the North Oregon coast into western Washington County, including Banks, Dilley and Gaston. She can be reached at 503-986-1432 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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