Smith and Wyden Set Agenda for 110th Congress
Washington, D.C. - Oregon Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden unveiled their sixth joint legislative agenda today showing their firm commitment to advancing a bipartisan agenda for Oregon. The agenda sets out to preserve the county payments safety net, improve access to health insurance, and help build Oregon's economy. The agenda also addresses education, hunger, the Internet and funding for transportation projects.
"We're probably the only two home state Senators not arguing with each other," Smith said. "Oregonians want their representatives to get things done and that is what Ron and I try to do. We've set some important goals, we are going to keep pushing for solutions that work for Oregon."
"Fulfilling the nation's commitment to rural counties, protecting natural treasures like Mt. Hood, improving access to quality health care and guaranteeing educational opportunities for everyone - these are not Democratic or Republican goals," Wyden said. "These are Oregon goals, which is why for the last decade, Senator Smith and I have collaborated on an agenda that puts partisanship aside and puts Oregon first."
Since 1997, the Senators have unveiled their bipartisan agenda at the beginning of each new Congress after holding a series of joint town hall meetings throughout Oregon. The agenda has produced many successes for Oregon, including:
Stopped Administration proposals to raise the Bonneville Power Administration electricity rates
Secured the bulk of funding to construct the Oregon nanotechnology center
Protected Medicaid funding that supported the Oregon Health Plan
Created alternative energy tax incentives
Advanced the Columbia River Channel dredging project
Added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare
The Senate is likely to act soon on one agenda item, the Mt. Hood wilderness bill. The Senators proposal would protect 128,000 acres of wilderness on Mount Hood and in the Columbia River Gorge — an increase of almost 70 percent over existing wilderness protections.
Oregon's U.S. Senators
Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden
BIPARTISAN AGENDA FOR OREGON IN THE 110TH CONGRESS
Preserving the Heritage and Promise of Oregon's Natural Resources and Rural Areas
MULTI-YEAR REAUTHORIZATION OF COUNTY PAYMENTS: Senators Smith and Wyden will continue making the extension of federal county payments their top priority. The federal government made a pact with Oregon's timber-producing counties almost 100 years ago; it is essential to the health and future of these counties that the government makes good on this commitment.
RESPONSIBLE MANAGEMENT OF FEDERAL FORESTS: Work to improve forest health through increased, responsible thinning, which can reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, improve wildlife habitat, and produce merchantable timber for mills and biomass for the production of electricity.
ALLEVIATE HUNGER: Protect the integrity of the federal Food Stamp Program. And, as the Senate rewrites the Farm Bill, the Senators will push to enhance the use of nutritious Oregon crops - including fresh fruits and vegetables - in the abatement of hunger.
PRESERVE MT. HOOD: Enact their bill to permanently protect more than 128,000 acres of wilderness on Mount Hood and in the Columbia River Gorge — an increase of almost 70 percent over existing wilderness protections.
PROMOTING RENEWABLE ENERGY: Extend and strengthen incentives for the production of electricity from renewable resources. They will work to expand resources eligible for the production tax credit to include wave and tidal energy facilities. And they will also work to ensure that Clean Renewable Energy Bonds remain available to Oregon's consumer-owned utilities that want to develop renewable resources.
BPA & ELECTRICTY RATES: Continue their efforts to ensure that the Administration does not implement policies that would raise rates for Northwest ratepayers and that do not conform with Bonneville Power Administration's statutory mandates. And they will work to bring stakeholders together to attempt to find a long-term solution that restores benefits to consumers under the residential exchange program.
Promoting Oregon High Tech Jobs and Opportunity
RURAL BROADBAND: The Senators will work to deploy broadband to rural Oregon communities at the same cost and speed as it is enjoyed by those in larger cities. Advance tax incentives such as expensing provisions for broadband equipment to encourage broadband deployment to currently unserved areas in Oregon.
INTERNET TAX MORATORIUM: Push to make permanent the Internet Tax Moratorium. This freeze on Internet taxes will not only foster the growth and deployment of commerce over the Internet, but will also prevent millions of Internet users from paying new taxes on their monthly Internet access bills.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TAX CREDIT: With the research and development (R&D) tax credit expiring this year; the Senators will push to make permanent a robust R&D tax credit that will encourage technological innovation in Oregon and throughout the nation.
SUPPORT RESEARCH AND COMMERCIALIZATION FOR OREGON NANOTECHNOLOGY: Promote measures to increase the commercialization of nanotechnology and ensure proper attention is directed to health and safety issues related to the emerging technology. Additionally, the Senators will play a key role in the reauthorization of the National Nanotechnology Initiative and nanotechnology efforts that will increase U.S. global competitiveness.
Improve Access to Quality Health Care
CATASTROPHIC COVERAGE: The Senators have reintroduced their Catastrophic Health Coverage Promotion Act, which improves access to health insurance for Americans and those who incur catastrophic health care costs. Under this legislation, Oregon is guaranteed to be awarded one of the four state-based pilot projects.
HELP FOR RURAL HOSPITALS: Protecting access to care in rural communities, the Senators will push legislation that helps ensure Oregon hospitals qualify for Critical Access status. Maintaining this status will keep essential rural hospital doors open.
IMPROVE ACCESS AND QUALITY OF VETERANS CARE: Returning servicemen and women deserve the best health care available, and both Senators will work to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs can provide that care. And recognizing that the importance of mental health care is often overlooked, the Senators will examine the current mental health care landscape to identify areas of needed system improvements to ensure access to high quality mental health care for our nation's veterans.
Enhancing Oregon's Commerce
FAIR TRADE FOR FOREST PRODUCTS: The Senators will fight to ensure that Oregon forest products receive fair treatment in the domestic and international markets, the Senators will pursue an aggressive agenda enforcing U.S. trade laws and draw attention to unfair and illegal trade practices in foreign countries.
COLUMBIA RIVER CHANNEL DEEPENING: Completion of the Columbia River Channel Deepening Project is a top priority. The project will allow ships calling on Columbia River ports to load more cargo, which will help sustain employment at Oregon's ports and yield transportation cost savings for Northwest exporters. The Senators will also work to maintain and expand economic opportunities for Oregon coastal ports and communities.
Educational Opportunity for All
HEAD START: As quality early education programs increase children's future success in school and in life, Senators Smith and Wyden will focus on increasing funding for Head Start and high-quality child care for at-risk and low-income children.
TAX RELIEF FOR HIGHER EDUCATION: They believe current tax benefits should be expanded to increase student utilization and to assist low-to-moderate income students pay for higher education expenses. This will be particularly helpful to those who wish to attend Oregon's fine community colleges.
Equitable Funding for Oregon Transportation
ADRESS TRANSPORTATION NEEDS: Senators Smith and Wyden will push for equitable distribution of transportation funding to address the needs of both rural and urban Oregon.
LIGHT RAIL: Expand and improve light rail and commuter rail options, in addition to expanding other public transportation systems throughout Oregon.
PROMOTE COMMERCIAL AIR FLIGHTS: Work to help support commercial air service for small airport facilities.