Please note: This was published over a year ago. Phone numbers, email addresses and other information may have changed.
Southeast Center Town Hall covers important legislative issues
Photos and Story by James Hill
On Monday, Jan. 30, more than 60 community members attended the Southeast Center Town Hall, featuring State Senator Jackie Dingfelder and Representatives Michael Dembrow and Alissa Keny-Guyer. They discussed with the public legislation they intend to propose this session.
Among those in attendance were PCC District President Preston Pulliams and PCC Board Member Gene Pitts. At the end of the legislators’ presentations, the community was given a chance to ask them questions.
“We certainly want to provide some background for you on this session,” said Sen. Dingfelder, who led the town hall meeting. “We have to make a lot of important decisions on a lot of issues. It’s great to know we have the resources of our colleagues to tap into.”
To recap, Rep. Keny-Guyer discussed environmentally attributed chronic diseases, which she says takes a $1.5 billion toll on Oregon’s families. The Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act will try to reduce this risk by preventing exposure to toxic chemicals early in life.
Rep. Dembrow, a retired PCC faculty, highlighted his bill HB 4141, which would direct the governor and the State Workforce Investment Board to convene a group of business, labor and community leaders. They would then develop a workforce structure focused on helping business and workers, such as work-ready community certificate programs.
Sen. Dingfelder talked about her initiative to provide low-income seniors with vouchers so they can buy fresh produce at farmer’s markets. Another bill she has going centers on ensuring that more affordable, and streamlined, housing documents are available to use by home buyers and sellers.
The state Legislature used to convene once every two years, proposing bills and working on the state’s budget. However, it now meets every year and in even-numbered years, the Legislature convenes for 35 days starting in February at the State Capitol in Salem. Rep. Dembrow said that community colleges should be fine and even hinted that restoration of previous higher budget levels could be in the offing.
“Community colleges are at the center of our efforts to recover from this economy,” said Rep. Dembrow, who sits on the Joint Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Education. “We’d like to find some money to go back in that direction. The big focus this session will be the budget. It’s why we went to an annual session so we don’t wait two years to deal with budget issues.”