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Rep. Parrish pushes her knowledge boundaries

As a candidate, your platform is shaped by both subjects you are an expert in and by causes you believe in. My expertise in business and veterans’ issues drove two elements of my platform, while creating customized, outcome-based education opportunities for children and families was my cause. Julie Parrish

Legislators don’t always get to work on issues that inspired them to run for office. As a sophomore at the Capitol, I’ve become accustomed to working on new issues. Sometimes, I struggle to muster passion for issues we’ve grappled with, but have worked to find solutions regardless.

The breadth of issues coming before legislators is staggering. If people think the Affordable Care Act was contentious, it’s nothing compared to a 20-year-old struggle about whether women should be able to give birth in their living room with a midwife and whether midwives need a license. For two years, I’ve engaged in this subject and the effort produced a bill that resolves many concerns for moms and midwives. All my babies were born in hospitals, so I was personally surprised to find myself on the side of moms who want home births as a safe delivery option.

Before being elected, as a busy mother I never gave much thought to how roads in our community work. I knew I didn’t like being stuck in traffic on the Tualatin-Sherwood (Road) between the grocery store and getting kids to soccer practice. This year, I was involved in the biggest transportation conversation facing Oregon in my lifetime. The question: build the I-5 bridge or don’t build the bridge? With several conditions, the Legislature gave tentative approval to move forward. I don’t count transportation infrastructure or whether electric vehicles should be taxed as my passion area, but I’m learning quickly.

The biggest lift for me pushing knowledge boundaries has been land use laws. Philosophically, I believe people should have the freedom to use their land in a manner they see fit. Oregon’s land use laws have some good, yet unintended, consequences. In 2011, I had a front row seat to a land use issue affecting transportation development in Tualatin. It was a difficult bill, but we passed it.

This year, I’ve sponsored two land use bills. Drafting them was a stab in the dark because land use is so complicated. One looks at opening up acreage in unincorporated Washington County adjacent to Wilsonville to build a 51-acre veterans’ complex complete with housing and health care for veterans in need.

The other bill attempts to open up alternatives for the proposed development at Wanker’s Corner. Land use laws allow for a food composting facility to be sited on Stafford Road. But the same law designed to protect and restrict certain uses has had an unintended consequence of letting something potentially worse be built at the roundabout.

These bills may not be the right path to solve land use problems. However, drafting a bill starts a conversation between stakeholders who then come to the table together to find solutions. Those conversations aren’t easy; sometimes they’re downright ugly. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth discussing.

I didn’t run for office to moderate conversations about homebirths, bridge building or resolving flaws in our land use laws. However, the things I didn’t know are the things that have been most rewarding to learn.

Rep. Julie Parrish represents District 37, which encompasses West Linn and Tualatin.




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