Bend

Knopp: Forest management, PERS reform top citizen priorities

Survey results lead to 2016 legislation

SALEM, Ore. - State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, on Wednesday released the results of his 2016 session legislative survey for the constituents of Senate District 27.

Constituents were asked to share their top priorities for the 2016 session, and two pieces of legislation were chosen for Knopp to introduce in February. The top priorities for Central Oregon residents are sustainable forest management and Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reform.

Wildfires remain an unfortunate consistent issue for the Central Oregon area, harming the ecosystem, endangering rural communities, and costing millions to keep communities safe, the senator said.

Sustainable forest management will assist in the regeneration capacity, vitality and productivity of a forest, Knopp said. This approach strikes a balance between the preservation of forest health and job creation, which enables the state to fully fund education. 

Likely PERS cost increases will force schools to lay off teachers, increase class sizes and reduce school days.

Both the state and local governments will have to lay off police officers and firefighters or reduce services elsewhere unless the legislature passes immediate reforms. 

Knopp said Oregon must enact fair, constitutional PERS reforms to avoid cuts, and also use a market rate for money match annuities. 

These were two proposals introduced by Knopp in 2015. He said reform should also be directed towards moving new public employees into a 401(K) plan competitive with the private sector and capping benefits so taxpayers are not responsible for millionaire PERS retirees.  

"I pledge to remain accountable to the concerns of my constituents and introduce their legislative priorities," said Knopp. "The 35-day 2016 legislative session will afford the opportunity to present my colleagues with legislation regarding sustainable forest management and PERS reform. Now is the time to get to work and support sound public policy that meets the needs of Oregonians."

Knopp serves as the Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee and as a member of the Senate Health Care and Workforce Committees.  He was elected to his first term in the Oregon Senate in November 2012.  Senate District 27 encompasses the Central Oregon communities of Bend, Redmond, Sunriver, and Tumalo.


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