Eastern Oregon State Reps. Dan Bonham and Mark Owens and State Sen. Lynn Findley held the seventh of their biweekly town halls on Thursday. District 59 Rep. Bonham said all of them had been working hard on various legislative topics.
“The conversation I’ve been involved in, in Salem, recently has been tied to the discussion of liability,” he said. “If the state is going to put forward the regulations that they’ve put forward and dictate to a large extent how business, how nonprofits, how local jurisdictions, how school districts can conduct business, then they need to provide some liability protection in case of COVID exposure.”
Bonham was asked, in light of the sharp downturn in state revenue, whether his party caucus had a prioritized list of where to cut in the state’s budget in a proposed special session of the legislature.
“In terms of the caucus coming up with priorities,” he said, “it is a work in progress. It is something, as you can imagine, even in the Republican caucus where there’s only 22 of us to get us to consensus on the budget we want to see before we even go and have arguments in the Ways and Means process and trying to advocate for the things we care about, we’ve got to come to consensus first and we are not there at a unanimous consensus on what the budget should be.”
Another listener asked District 30 Sen. Lynn Findley if any of the hospitals in the district were overwhelmed in dealing with the virus.
“Medical facilities in this district have done an incredible job with one arm tied behind their back when they had to close a lot of their services for a while,” he said. “Financially it’s been a very hard time for them but they’re resilient, they’re coming back in a good manner, and I think the capability is certainly there.”
One of the most thoughtful comments of the evening came from District 60 Rep. Mark Owens, after a listener said she had signed up for a job working for the census and was now concerned about possible exposure and how to deal with that.
“I don’t think there’s any guidance out there,” he said. “So one, out of respect, I’d be wearing a mask when I knocked on the door. Two, I would make sure I kept six foot distance at all times. Three, I would do it when the weather is good and ask them to step outside. And four, I would always ask them if they were comfortable. If they were not comfortable, I’d ask them, ‘I’m going to drop some literature on your doorstep, where you can do this or you can call me. I am sorry that I intruded on you. Please make contact.’”
By doing a joint online town hall, the legislators said their biweekly meetings had the highest audience of any of the legislators in the state. The next is planned for Thursday, Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m.