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Soapbox: Lawmakers are tackling vital issues in Salem

State Rep. Margaret Doherty represents Tigard and Southwest Portland residents in District 35.Spring is finally here in Oregon, and the 2013 Legislative Session has been as busy as ever. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are working diligently on some important issues and legislation. We have been working hard this session to get to a balanced budget that begins to put money back into the classroom. After five years and $4 billion of budget cuts to schools and other vital services, it’s time to move our state forward.

On May 15, Gov. John Kitzhaber publicly asked the leadership of both parties to accept a compromise to allow us to balance the budget and adjourn session on time. The framework has two parts. On top of the more than $800 million in Public Employees Retirement System savings already signed into law, the governor proposed finding additional savings by modifying the money match program for inactive members. Second, the governor asked the Legislature to find $200 million in new revenue.

Accepting both sides of the governor’s framework was not easy. After serious consideration, Speaker Tina Kotek announced that House Democrats were willing to make the difficult decision to accept the framework in order to deliver results for education.

While Democrats in both the House and the Senate were willing to come to the table and accept this framework in order to deliver results and truly reinvest in education, Republicans rejected this compromise. It is time to get results for Oregonians and put politics aside. In the coming weeks, I will continue to fight for a budget that makes meaningful reinvestments in schools. We have a historic opportunity to do the right thing for Oregon kids.

In other news, we are making exciting progress in our efforts to support small business growth and development here in Oregon. Kotek recently announced the formation of a bipartisan legislative task force that will focus on supporting small businesses. Legislators on the task force will recommend action on bills that will help small businesses thrive and hire new workers. Small businesses are the real drivers of our economy, and I think it’s great that the Small Business Task Force will continue its work into the interim in order to gather ideas and policy concepts for the 2014 session.

The governor recently signed The Safe Roads Act into law. The bill creates a four-year driver card so that people who cannot provide the proper documentation to get a standard driver license — including elderly Oregonians, immigrants and many others — can purchase insurance and prove they know the rules of the road. The bill was developed and supported by a broad coalition including the Department of Motor Vehicles, Republican and Democratic leaders, law enforcement, business leaders, the insurance industry, faith communities, and farm labor and immigrant advocates.

I’m always looking for a way to support Oregon workers, and this session I sponsored a bill that will protect social media privacy for employees. People have a right to keep their personal lives private — even in digital form. House Bill 2654, which passed the House and Senate on strong bipartisan votes, prohibits employers from demanding access to personal social media accounts.

As always, please feel free to contact my office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 503-986-1435, and my staff will be able to assist you with any questions or concerns.

Get on your soapbox

The Times offers a soapbox to stand on every week in our Opinion section. The soapbox is a guest column written by any reader on any local issue of public interest. They should be no longer than 800 words (about three double-spaced typewritten pages) and should include the signature, address and phone number of the writer. Soapboxes are due Mondays at noon and can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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