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Capital Chatter: Trade pub touts ODOT's budget

Roads & Bridges magazine lauds transportation package's near doubling of repair programs.

The December edition of Roads & Bridges magazine says things are looking bright at the Oregon Department of Transportation after this year's Legislature passed the massive transportation-funding package.

The article, titled "Oregon: In good shape," says the legislation will nearly double the state's bridge repair and pavement-preservation programs. It quotes Bruce Johnson, ODOT state bridge engineer, as saying, "The interesting thing about highway funding in Oregon is it's required by state statute that if funding increases to the state highway department, a similar increase has to go to local agencies."

Johnson says another unusual aspect of Oregon is that it has a couple hundred or so wooden bridges on state highways. ODOT will target replacing them with "more longer-life, durable kinds of bridges."

• Money coming down the road: The Oregon Transportation Commission has set the broad outlines for spending $2.4 billion on the 2021-24 Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan.

The commission allocated most of its discretionary money to fixing and preserving roads, bridges and related infrastructure. Selection of the actual projects will start next year, continue the following year and be circulated to the public as a draft proposal in 2020.

The current Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan – known in the transportation and political worlds as STIP – covers 2018-21. The plan covers state-funded and federally funded projects in Oregon.

• City opposes airport expansion: The state owns 28 airports. The largest is Aurora State Airport in north Marion County.

The Wilsonville City Council fears a potential bill in the 2018 Legislature would "remove public-review processes" and enable the Oregon Department of Aviation "to 'supersite' an extension" of the airport runway.

"The Council directed staff to work with Clackamas County to oppose the proposed legislation that preempts public participation in the land-use process and results in increased urban-level activity in a rural location lacking municipal governance, adequate infrastructure and surface-transportation facilities," a city press release said.

Marion County officials have promoted business development and airport expansion at the Aurora State Airport to boost the north-county economy.

• Oregon seeks a tax guru: The Legislature is recruiting a new legislative revenue officer, following the retirement of the well-liked and highly respected Paul Warner. The job pays up to $183,660 a year.

I'm surprised the salary is not higher, given the job's importance in setting Oregon tax policy. The legislators make the decisions but they rely on the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office to analyze how proposed legislation would affect taxes or other revenue.

For the first round of job interviews, applications are due Jan. 28. The listed benefits for the job include:

Membership in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) / Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan (OPSRP).

Sick leave earned at a rate of 8 hours per month with no maximum accumulation.

Vacation leave earned at a minimum rate of 10 hours per month with accrual rate increases at 5-year increments.

24 hours of personal leave earned each fiscal year.

Ten paid holidays a year.

• Adding and subtracting senators: Nearly half the Oregon Senate will have new committee assignments as of Jan. 1. Senate President Peter Courtney shuffled some assignments following the resignations of Democrat Richard Devlin and Republican Ted Ferrioli, the election of Jackie Winters as Senate Republican leader and Courtney's continuing decision to bar Republican Jeff Kruse from serving on committees.

Devlin's and Ferrioli's replacements have yet to be chosen by the county commissioners in their districts, but Courtney has designated on which committees they will serve.

Here's a look at who is on and off various committees.

Democrats

Peter Courtney, Salem, Senate president. OFF: Veterans/Emergency Preparedness. ON: Legislative Audits, Ways & Means co-chair.

Michael Dembrow, Portland. OFF: Human Services. ON: Education.

Betsy Johnson, Scappoose. ON: Legislative Audits co-chair

James Manning Jr., Eugene: OFF: Judiciary. ON: General Government/Accountability, Veterans/Emergency Preparedness.

Floyd Prozanski, Eugene. OFF: General Government/Accountability.

Chuck Riley, Hillsboro. OFF: Legislative Audits.

Arnie Roblan, Coos Bay: ON: Emergency Board.

Kathleen Taylor, D-Milwaukie. ON: Environment/Natural Resources.

Senate District 19 (Richard Devlin's replacement). ON: Human Services, Judiciary.

Republicans

Jackie Winters, Salem, Senate Republican leader. OFF: Ways & Means Human Services Subcommittee. ON: Rules co-chair, Legislative Administration, Legislative Counsel.

Alan DeBoer, Ashland. OFF: General Government/Accountability. ON: Health Care, Ways & Means Human Services Subcommittee.

Tim Knopp, Bend. ON: Education, Human Services.

Dennis Linthicum, Klamath Falls. ON: General Government/Accountability, Human Services.

Alan Olsen, Canby: OFF: Human Services.

Chuck Thomsen, Hood River. ON: Education.

Senate District 30 (Ted Ferrioli's replacement). ON: Environment/Natural Resources, Judiciary

The 2018 Legislature's 35-day session begins in February, but lawmakers will be back at the State Capitol in January for several days of pre-session meetings.

Dick Hughes, who writes the weekly Capital Chatter column, has been covering the Oregon political scene since 1976. Contact him at TheHughesisms@Gmail.com, Hughesisms.com/Facebook, YouTube.com/c/DickHughes or @DickHughes on Twitter.