All blog posts created by Communications Office
  • Ron gets firefighting briefings that reinforce the need to fix wildfire funding

    Oregon’s record-breaking fire season this year is being worsened by severe drought and the current system of wildfire funding that shortchanges fire prevention and suppression work. To combat this problem, Ron has introduced a bipartisan bill to make sure there are enough resources to fight fires like the natural disasters they are by fixing the nation’s broken system of wildfire funding.

    In addition to working with the U.S. Forest Service and the state to ensure all available firefighting resources are deployed as quickly as possible, Ron will make his wildfire funding bill his top priority when Congress reconvenes in September.

    “These infernos are threatening lives and burning up Oregon’s forests and homes,” Ron said after recent briefings in Medford and Boise about the wildfires ravaging southern Oregon and eastern Oregon.

    “My first order of business is to finally end the terrible trifecta that makes these fires worse,” he said, “underfunding firefighting budgets, stealing money from fire prevention to make up the shortfall and letting hazardous fuels build up as a result.”

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    Ron received his first fire briefing of the year in March, which was the earliest fire briefing he’d ever had to receive.The most recent fire briefings in Medford and Boise follow updates firefighting officials gave Ron last month in Portland and Bend. The bottom line in all those briefings was that firefighters are doing extraordinary work under extraordinary circumstances and that it’s imperative they get the resources they need.

    To read more about Ron’s bipartisan bill with Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo to reform  the system of wildfire funding, go here.

    And to keep up with all the incredible work firefighters are doing across Oregon, go here.

  • Ron holds Portland roundtable on unmanned aircraft systems

    With commercial applications from agriculture to mountaintop rescue, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have the ability to boost Oregon’s economy and create good-paying middle-class jobs. Because of this potential, Ron and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer invited FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker to discuss the benefits of UAS in our state.

    Oregon is once again proving to be a leader in innovation and technology.  Our state has three FAA-approved test ranges in Pendleton, Tillamook and Warm Springs, numerous innovative UAS companies in operation statewide, and the FAA recently chose Oregon State University (OSU) chosen as a Center of Excellence for UAS.

    “This is an Oregon industry that is poised to soar," Wyden said at the Aug. 14 roundtable in Portland. "And it's our job to help make sure that there is a good safe flight path in place."

    Also attending the roundtable were local and state officials, Warm Springs Tribal leaders and Oregon agricultural leaders, as well as representatives from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the three test range sites in the state, OSU, University of Oregon, Portland State University and Business Oregon.

    Ron said afterward that the roundtable generated a productive discussion of issues such as getting the federal role right on safety and privacy, including limiting the government’s use of UAS where it would intrude on individual rights. The roundtable participants also discussed ways to ensure that UAS play a role in commercial applications from agriculture and mountaintop rescue and wildfires – while heeding firefighters’ concerns about private UAS that in some instances have hampered efforts to fight wildfires.  

  • Strong Families, Strong Kids

    Keeping kids in stable and familiar environments is key to their well-being and helping them grow-up to be successful adults and reach their dreams.

    Right now, child welfare funding limits states’ investment in prevention services to help keep kids safe and supported at home with their parents or other family members. The money is mostly available for keeping kids in foster care – but cannot be used for services that would prevent kids from entering foster care in the first place.

    That’s why Sen. Wyden is introducing the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act. This bill, which is supported by a wide group of child welfare advocates, pediatricians and state officials, will expand the types of services available to help keep kids in a safe and stable environment whether that’s at home or with another family member.

    These services, for example, could help a single mother find child care for her overnight work shifts or afford a washer and dryer to remedy neglect charges stemming from her children going to school in dirty clothes.

    And, for kids who do need to enter foster care, the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act would allow existing federal dollars to pay for services and supports to ensure they are safely reunified with their family or a relative caregiver

    See below for what experts and kids’ advocates are saying about the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act.

    American Bar Association

    We commend Senator Wyden and the Committee and are strongly supportive of its effort to advance meaningful legislation to address the desirability of allowing children to remain in their homes with their families.

    -Thomas M. Susman (Director, Governmental Affairs Office)

    Children’s Defense Fund

    The draft bill includes a number of components CDF (Children’s Defense Fund) believes are critically important to improving outcomes for children who are at risk of entering foster care, are currently in foster care, or at risk of re-entering care by ensuring the provision of quality services to children and families.

    Your draft bill takes a giant step forward by investing in family services to better meet the needs of children who are at risk of entering foster care but could be maintained safely with their families, help children in foster care connect more quickly to permanent families and prevent children who move to permanent families from re-entering foster care.

    -MaryLee Allen (Policy Director) and Stefanie Sprow (Senior Policy Associate)

    American Academy of Pediatrics

    Children in foster care and those at-risk for entering the foster care system experience disproportionate exposure to trauma and often have complex medical needs. The Family Stability and Kinship Care Act makes critical improvements to the child welfare system, continuing dialogue to improve the ways in which we serve children and families living under adverse conditions.”  

    “The American Academy of Pediatrics thanks Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) for their leadership to advance this important legislation.

    -Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP (President, American Academy of Pediatrics)

    American Psychological Association

    The American Psychological Association (APA) is pleased to support your bill to amend Title IV parts B and E of the Social Security Act regarding children at risk of foster care placement.

    We sincerely thank you for your efforts to widen the array of services available to families and to minimize the need for out-of-home placements.

    -Judith Glassgold (Associate Executive Director, Government Relations)

    First Focus: Campaign for Children

    The First Focus Campaign for Children applauds your leadership in proposing new investments in a range of evidence-based and evidence informed and promising prevention and family services to help keep children and families together and out of the foster care system.

    Generations United

    We applaud Senator Wyden’s effort to find ways to better prevent children from entering the child welfare system by providing preventative service to help children remain with safe and stable families who love them whether that is with their birth parents or an appropriate relative.

    -Donna M. Butts (Executive Director)

    National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators

    We appreciate the attention you have given to better aligning federal financing with our collective desire to keep children with families.

    Our members applaud your leadership in taking this bold step for greater investments in prevention and early intervention services that keep children safely with their families.

    -Tracy Wareing Evans (Executive Director of American Public Human Services Association) and Julie Krow (President of national Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators)

    National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)

    We commend Senator Wyden for developing a well-thought-out proposal that recognizes the need to rebalance this nation’s federal child welfare finance system and improve supports for services that can strengthen families and allow more children to stay safely at home or be successfully reunified with their families.

    Senator Wyden’s proposal breaks down these barriers and provides a framework for ending the cycle of over-reliance on out-of-home services and bringing greater resources and accessibility to services that can help children retain their family and community connections.

    National Center for State Courts

    We are very encouraged by the draft legislation as it recognizes the need to invest in prevention and family services to help keep children safe and supported at home with their parents or other family
    -Kay Farley (Executive Director, Government Relations Office)

    Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

    We applaud this step, which we believe will enable child welfare agencies and courts to better address the challenges families often face in supporting their young children in the midst of great stress.

    Voice for Adoption

    Your proposal takes a significant and needed stride toward better meeting the needs of children who are at risk of entering or re-entering foster care, by providing services to safely keep children connected to their families of origin or to help move children in foster care to permanent families swiftly.

    Child Welfare League of America

    This legislation is significant and historic because it recognizes the need for greater federal investment in services that can strengthen families and sustain positive outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children.  This bill addresses, for the first time, the need to support families that have been reunified and advances post-adoption and kinship support services.

    - John Sciamanna (Government Affairs)