BEND, Ore. - It's been almost two weeks since the "short" legislative session wrapped up in Salem. Several state lawmakers were in Bend to talk about it Tuesday evening.
Sunriver Rep. Gene Whisnant said he was proud of his bill that stops university staff from using outside income to build their PERS accounts. He also said he and others were able to help school counseling programs.
"The rumor was that they were only going to get $600,000 and I had a letter that I initiated that had 40-some legislators, Republicans and Democrats, sign the letter, urging it to be funded at $950,000, and we got it!" Whisnant said. "We got $950,000 to hire mental health providers and counselors to help in our schools."
Rep. Mike McLane of Powell Butte also agreed the legislative session was a lot of work in a short period of time. He said the short session is supposed to be about budget adjustments and tweaks to policy bills.
His bill giving enlisted members of the Oregon National Guard tuition credits at state and community colleges passed.
"Oregon went from one of the premiere National Guard (units) to 50th in the nation on recruiting," McLane said. "We're still excellent in our duty, but we are last place in recruiting, so that bill is going to give new tools for recruiters."
Bend Sen.Tim Knopp said he wants to get Oregon on a sustainable budget path. This could include a revenue or tax reform.
He said he was most proud of the funding for OSU-Cascades.
"Central Oregon received $39 million for OSU-Cascades' academic building, and it's really a recognition that campus is here to stay," Knopp said. "This is Oregon's eighth campus and critically important to our community and future."
Ontario Sen. Cliff Bentz said he would've liked to support the advanced directive legislation and is disappointed lawmakers did not spend more time on it.
He thought tax reform was one of the biggest issues.
"I was sorry that we disconnected from the small business tax reduction that we would have otherwise had, and I believe the governor is now considering whether or not to veto that particular bill," Bentz said. "So we'll see. Perhaps small businesses, about 300,000 of them, will enjoy the tax break the federal government created -- or not, depending on what the governor does."
Other issues discussed included affordable housing, the clean energy job bill, climate change and school safety.