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Capitol roundup: Cannabis contribution; debate on taxes


Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has contributed $1,000 to Oregon Cannabis PAC, the political arm of the state’s blossoming legal marijuana industry. It’s not the first time Rosenblum has thrown money in the pot “pot” — she gave $500 last year.

McLane shall return

The extraordinary long wait for House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, is over. Last week, President Donald Trump chose to retain Billy Williams as U.S. attorney for Oregon. Back in March, McLane said he was a candidate and has been waiting ever since. Now McLane will return to lead Republicans on the floor of the House.

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Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has contributed $1,000 to Oregon Cannabis PAC, the political arm of the state’s blossoming legal marijuana industry. It’s not the first time Rosenblum has thrown money in the pot “pot” — she gave $500 last year.

McLane shall return

The extraordinary long wait for House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, is over. Last week, President Donald Trump chose to retain Billy Williams as U.S. attorney for Oregon. Back in March, McLane said he was a candidate and has been waiting ever since. Now McLane will return to lead Republicans on the floor of the House.

Better late than never

There will be no bill asking for the $39 million a coalition of educators, businesses and students is seeking for the OSU-Cascades campus during the 2018 session. Erik Kancler, lobbyist for the university supporters, says the money would come in a late-session omnibus bill that would include several other funding items. First, university supporters need to persuade House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, to support the supplemental funding. Gov. Kate Brown, who offered tepid support for the university during the 2017 session, also needs convincing.

Walden in the ‘red’

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, has attracted seven opponents: five Democrats, a Republican and an Independent. But the race is still forecast as a steep uphill battle for all challengers. Though three major election-analysis websites — The Cook Report, Marist and Quinnipiac — are currently forecasting a “wave” election next year that could topple dozens of Republican incumbents nationwide, Walden isn’t listed on any as in danger.

In October, the Cook Report rated Walden’s district as “Solid Republican,” and the race was not among 83 listed as “competitive.” Walden has won by margins of 60 to 70 percent in his re-election campaigns every two years. Since the district was created in 1893, only two of the 16 men elected to the seat have been Democrats (though one served 10 years and the other 20 years).

Steak a la Trump

Walden ranks sixth among members of Congress for spending money at properties owned by President Donald Trump, according to a report by The Washington Post. Walden used $6,707 in campaign funds for two events at BLT Prime, a prime-cut steakhouse at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., noted for a $110 Porterhouse steak (for two). Walden held a fundraiser in March and a meeting in June. Federal political committees have spent $1.27 million at Trump properties since Election Day 2016. The biggest spender at Trump properties: President Trump himself, who has spent $534,864 at properties he owns. The top congressional spender was Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, at $16,602. As for Walden, the Post points out he is a prodigious spender elsewhere too, with $7,729 spent at Mastro’s Steakhouse — famous for its lobster mashed potatoes.

Paper chase

Nov. 21 is the deadline for submitting legislative “concepts” that can be crafted into bill form by legislative staff. Bills are due back from legislative counsel Jan. 8. That gives lawmakers a little less than a month to digest the new legislation, which can be submitted when the 2018 session of the Legislature starts on Feb. 5.

Term of the week: EIEE

State lawmakers working on a possible carbon emissions “cap-and-invest” program worry about EIEE — which stands for “emission intensive, economically exposed.” An EIEE business generates a great deal of pollution but is in a competitive business sector where added costs of carbon emission controls could put them at such an economic disadvantage that they could shut down or move to another state or country.

Hurricanes > Wildfires

Led by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., 10 Democratic senators from Western states called on President Trump to send $200 million in short-term disaster aid to states hit by summer wildfires. Another $580 million is needed to thin forests to avoid wildfires in the next few years. The money would match disaster relief for hurricane-hit areas in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

“On Forest Service land alone, 78 million acres are designated as moderate to high risk of severe wildfires,” the senators noted. “If we do not act quickly to fund the treatment of fire-prone areas, the costs to fight and recover from these extreme fires will continue to grow.”

Cut the crayons

Democrats have latched onto what they believe is a telling cut in the Republican budget. While several exemptions survived in the House tax reform bill, one that didn’t: Teachers would lose their maximum $250 tax deduction for buying school supplies for their students.