The fight behind the Metolius bill

Oregonians In Action,

This week, Governor Kulongoski signed HB 3298 into law at a signing ceremony near the Metolius River.  The signing of HB 3298 marks the formal designation of the Metolius River as an “area of critical state concern,” with rules established by LCDC.

The Governor’s signing ceremony reminded me of the need for a belated tip of the hat to Shaun Jillions, land use lobbyist for the Oregon Association of Realtors.  While the debate raged on HB 3298 and the Metolius issue, the legislature was quietly advancing HB 2227, a bill which would have set very strict (and in many cases impossible) limitations on the siting of destination resorts throughout Oregon.  The impacts of HB 2227 would have been far more devastating on a statewide basis than those imposed by the Metolius bill.  I do not mean to minimize the impact that the Metolius bill had on those property owners who were negatively impacted, but HB 2227 affects the entire state.

While many of us opposed HB 2227 and testified in opposition to the bill, Shaun did the “heavy lifting” necessary to defeat the bill, working all the way until the last day of session before the bill officially died in a conference committee.  Without Shaun’s efforts, I am certain HB 2227 would have passed, and many more property owners would be filing new Measure 49 claims to seek compensation for lost property value.

While the debate rages on about the impact of destination resorts to local economies and government services, I am pretty sure of one thing – with very few exceptions, land that sits idle contributes nothing to the economy, creates no jobs, and generates no tax revenue for government.  In areas of the state with unemployment rates approaching 20% and “farmland” that hasn’t every been used for actual farming, it makes no sense to prohibit destination resorts.  That would have been the law had HB 2227 passed, and thanks to Shaun’s hard work, that won’t be the case – at least for now.

Thank you Shaun.

Dave Hunnicutt

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