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A Conversation with Our Legislators by Jean Cowan and Jane Mulholland

As part of a statewide effort initiated by the LWVOR, Jean Cowan and Jane Mulholland recently interviewed Representative David Gomberg and Senator Dick Anderson concerning priorities for the upcoming legislative session and the issues on which they are particularly interested in working. The following is a summary of these interviews. Both legislators expressed their appreciation of the LWVLC and their desire to share information with its members. By way of background, this legislative session will be different from past sessions due to Covid restrictions. The recently released safety protocols require all legislative business to be conducted remotely, with floor sessions not beginning until April.


Interview with Rep. David Gomberg

What do you think are the 3 most important issues to address this legislative session?

• Balanced Biennial Budget: Creating a budget that is balanced, being able to meet the needs in the state, and being able to pay its bills. Six months ago, the state was forecasting a budget deficit due to unemployment and business closures. Recent reports suggest the revenue is not as bad as feared; however, a lot of work will need to be done to develop a balanced budget.

• Covid Recovery: A significant amount of work needs to be done to sustain and repair the economy. The hospitality industry on the coast has been particularly hard hit. Small businesses need more support.

• Wildfire Recovery: The fires in Oregon during the past Labor Day Weekend consumed more acreage than the Tillamook Burn, which lasted for 10 years. The enormity of the impact is staggering. The legislature must ad-dress the needs of individuals and communities in recovering from these wildfires; as well, it must address the potential for future wildfires. This is particularly important to coastal com-munities because these processes will be applicable to a potential earthquake/tsunami recovery.


What 2 issues do you want to work on this session?

• Coastal resilience: Ideas include addressing building codes in tsunami zones and developing a pilot project in schools to better prepare students for natural disasters.

• Tax cut for small businesses: Cap the tax break at $200,000 and increase benefits for people earning $75,000 or less, with a focus on fishermen, farmers, and tourism businesses that don’t necessarily have full time or year-round employees.


What did the voters in your district say was the most important issue for the legislature to address?

• The coast has become purple after previously having been blue—coastal legislators used to be 5 Democrats to 2 Republicans. Now it is the reverse. This election party affiliation seemed to matter more to people than in the past.


How will you work with legislators from the other political party?

• Working hard to cooperate with people on both sides of the aisle and developing good relationships with colleagues has always been a priority. He was recently elected chair of the Coastal Caucus, which consists of 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats.


What are your committee assignments this session?

• Joint Committee on Ways and Means (Vice Chair)

• Ways & Means subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development (Co Chair) and Ways & Means subcommittee on General Government

• Joint Committee on Legislative Policy and Research

• House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery


In Salem, Rep. Gomberg can be reached at: Rep.DavidGomberg@oregonlegislature.gov. If you are not receiving his newsletters, you may request to be added to his mailing list.



Interview with Senator-elect Dick Anderson


What do you think are the 3 most important issues to address this legislative session?

• Economy: Need to get the economy in Oregon back on track. Concerned about budget shortfalls and negative impacts in the im-mediate future on needed services.

• Covid: Important to get students back in school onsite safely. Feels comfortable with the current plan for Lincoln County stu-dents to return to their classrooms 2/1/21.

• Wildfires: Address the needs of wildfire survivors; need to make sure they have the resources necessary to get their lives back in order.


What 2 issues do you want to work on this session?

• Expense control, agency efficiency: Need to identify expense priorities and find efficiencies that may be buried within agencies.

• Economy: Identify barriers the state has created that don’t engage the economy. Need to have people employed and paying taxes. Not in favor of increasing taxes or fees for now. Believes the coast is a fragile economy that hasn’t yet recovered; wants to be a loud voice for small businesses and for the needs of his constituents.


What did the voters in your district say was the most important issue for the legislature to address?

• Covid, the economy, and the feeling of being left out. People reported a strong feeling of frustration at being left out of decision-making, and that coastal needs are not being considered in favor of issues that exist east of the mountains.


How will you work with legislators from the other political party?

• Began this work right after the election. He is a member of the Coastal Caucus and was recently elected Vice Chair. He has been in communication with local legislators as well as other soon-to-be colleagues. Feels he can help bring balance to the legislature.


What are your committee assignments this session?

• Joint Committee on Ways & Means.

• Ways & Means sub-committee on General Government.

• Ways & Means sub-committee on Natural Resources.

• Senate Committee on Housing and Development.

• Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery (Vice Chair).


Senator Anderson may be reached in Salem at: Sen.DickAnderson@oregonlegislature.gov


The interviewers asked Rep. Gomberg and Sen. Anderson to address two issues of local interest: Covid vaccine distribution and Vacation Rental Dwelling (VRD). Both legislators advised following the Lincoln County Health Department for the most up-to-date information on Covid vaccines. Regarding VRDs, they both feel strongly this is a local issue and the legislature should not override local decision-making.


The LWVLC wishes to thank Rep. Gomberg and Sen. Anderson for their willingness to share their views with our organization. Go to the OLIS website for the most recent information on activities and developments in their offices and the legislature.

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