Sources: Not so fast on tax hikes, Johnson says
In the Jan. 31 issue of the Portland Tribune, state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, fired a warning shot across the bow of anyone who thinks Democrats in the 2019 Oregon Legislature are going to raise taxes without Republican support.
Democrats barely have three-fifths supermajorities in both the Senate and House, meaning they can raises taxes by themselves if they all vote together. The budget requested by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown requests $2 billion in new taxes for education. A Democrat-controlled committee says schools actually need an additional $3 billion.
But in a signed column in last Thursday's paper, the famously independent-minded lawmaker wrote, "Get ready to lower your expectations."
"Shortly after Gov. Kate Brown was re-elected in November, she announced work would begin on developing tax and fee increases to raise billions of dollars. Unless there are accompanying restraints in spending, there will be no change in Oregon's financial condition," wrote Johnson, who represents Senate District 16 and co-chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
You can read her column at tinyurl.com/y754yxmq.
State rezoning idea a departure
The push by Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, to require all larger cites to allow multifamily housing in single-family neighborhoods represents a radical departure from previous state policy proposals.
Kotek is co-sponsoring HB 2001, which is scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Human Services and Housing on Monday. Feb. 11.
But less than three years ago, the state's Growth Management Program rejected rezoning more land in cities for multifamily housing, saying creating flexibility within single-family zones for a limited assortment of additional housing types was a better idea. Its May 2016 report focused only on cottage clusters, internal divisions of larger houses, corner duplexes, and accessory dwelling units.
"These traditional housing types have been selected specifically for their small size and ability to nestle discretely and compatibly within existing neighborhoods of detached, single-family homes," read the report, which was funded by the Department pf Land Conservation and Development, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Seattle has masonry risks, too
Portland isn't the only city threatened by a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and struggling with what to do about unreinforced masonry buildings, which are likely to collapse when the Big One hits. So is Seattle, whose City Council also has taken action.
Unlike Portland, Seattle is considering requiring the buildings be ugraded based on a priority list of risk factors, including the importance of the building in emergency responses.
According to one article, critical risk buildings includes schools, hospitals and fire stations. High risk buildings include four-plus story buildings on poor soil, or buildings with more than 100 occupants. Medium risk includes all other URM buildings.
A timeline for compliance with unreinforced masonry building retrofits would be determined by the risk category, from seven years for critical, to 10 for high, and then 13 years for medium risk buildings.