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: 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.