By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Rep. Bill Post has had a rough go of it in the early weeks of the 2017 legislature.
“As of yesterday, all my 13 bills are dead. They didn’t make it out of committee,” Post said.
Post spoke with about three dozen area residents at a town hall meeting Friday, March 31, at the Keizer Fire District station.
Post had submitted a number of bills prior to the legislative session, but said most hope for what he called the “Sudafed bill,” which would have allowed Oregonians to purchase pseudoephedrine products over the counter again.
“That was my No. 1 priority and it got killed yesterday,” Post said.
Later on in the evening, Post walked back on the claim that all his bills had died. He did manage to get one cosponsored bill passed – but all it did was officially recognize Newberg as Oregon’s “Camelia City.”
Post and his support staff put up a poll on social media in the days leading up to the event asking what issues constituents would like him to address during the meeting. However, the ones that received the most attention in the poll – like the state budget, transportation package and funding for veterans – were not ones Post has a hand in crafting.
He lamented his lack of a voice in the legislative fiscal committees saying, “It’s kinda bad, but kinda good because I’m not responsible for what happens.”
Post spoke to some high points in recent budget assessment from the Legislative Revenue Office, and summed it up saying, “The revenue is going up, but the spending is going up slightly more rapidly.”
He added that when the state was more flush with revenue, he and other colleagues had supported socking money away in a rainy day fund, but that did not come to pass.
Post had even more difficulty talking about a transportation package. While one big project could affect St. Paul, part of his district, talks about what will be included have remained under wraps.
“It is a very secretive thing. I’m not even sure who is on that committee. They are trying to negotiate and they are keeping it close to the vest,” Post said.
He said he was similarly in the dark regarding budget proposals for public schools, and said he supported decoupling the K-12 budget from the rest of the budget to get it moving.
Between anxieties over the general budget, the school budget and the transportation package, Post said legislators are in a “weird detente because no one wants to tick off the other side.
“The transportation package is using up all the bandwidth. It’s like a clogged up toilet. With no agreement on transportation, everything is backing up behind it.”
He also voiced frustration over the money being proposed for allocation to projects without a statewide impact, and cited $990,000 being allocated to the Portland Japanese Gardens as one example.
Post told attendees that if they have concerns about a specific issue, then the best course of action is to become their own lobbyist. Search the Oregon Legislative Information Sysem (olis.leg.state.or.us), find out what is being proposed and visit legislators on those committees or travel to the Capitol building and offer public testimony.
“If my constituents are in the hallway, the lobbyists are out of the room. Find the bill or groups of bills that interest you and then come down and testify or knock on our doors,” Post said.