Last week was a big week in Salem as Oregon swore in a new Governor for the first time in almost eight years, swore in the new Legislature including 22 brand new faces, and welcomed a new Senate President for the first time in two decades. OFS is already busy working on our proactive agenda and reviewing and analyzing the first 1800+ bills, which will be formally introduced on Tuesday morning when the Legislature starts its work.
There weren’t many surprises in the initial round of bills – the issues we see so far are those we have already worked on this fall or have had conversations with policy makers or other organizations about. OFS is excited to be working proactively to increase farmworker education through the Pesticide Analytical and Response Center with our introduction of a concept to fund a new outreach program, sponsored by a bi-partisan group of legislators (bill coming soon). We are also advocating for $1 million to support more research on new pesticide products for Oregon specialty crop growers with HB 2610.
There are a handful of bills we have identified so far that know will be of concern to OFS members, whether these are bills related to pesticides in other contexts (schools, cosmetics) or threats to the biotech industry. Over the coming weeks, our team will review these concepts, seek feedback from OFS leadership and key members, and determine the right strategy with our allies on these issues.
We will also start evaluating the litany of budget proposals and programs, and identify those that we will want to support, which ultimately benefit our members. The budget picture is uncertain this year and won’t be clear until later in the spring, but we hope the new Governor and legislators will help bridge the gap between Portland and our rural communities by supporting budget priorities that benefit the natural resource sector and support rural Oregon.
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