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Capital Chatter: Brown says she won't propose property tax change

Governor told reporters that while she isn't working on a proposal for he next session, others are.

If the 2019 Legislature considers changing Oregon's property-tax systems, the proposals won't be coming from Gov. Kate Brown. She made that clear on Thursday during what has become a weekly telephone conference call with Oregon journalists.

Brown said she's been getting a lot of calls about property tax reform. "It's my understanding that there are legislators working on that, but my office is not," she said.

That led to a reporter's asking why two of Brown's key aides, according to their office calendars, met with folks to discuss legislative concepts around property taxes. Brown reiterated that she was not proposing legislation but other organizations were likely to.

"These proposals are floated, frankly, every session and they're not unusual," Brown said.

She noted that changing Oregon's property tax limits would require voter approval of a constitutional amendment.

Last month, the League of Oregon Cities released its legislative priorities for 2019. Property taxes is one: "The property tax system in Oregon is broken and in need of repair due to Measures 5 and 50, both of which are more than 20 years old. The League proposes that the property tax system be constitutionally and statutorily reformed to restore fairness and local choice. Adjustments should be included in efforts during the 2019 session on state and local tax reform and improving funding for schools."

• Looking for a sneak attack: Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler is an aggressive fundraiser, sending donation requests from him; his wife, Patty; and others in the campaign.

An Aug. 23 email to supporters said: "There are two paths in front of us. 

"One where we look back on August and talk about how that was the closest we ever came, how we matched Kate for a while, but ultimately fell off, and lost. 

"The other path is where we look back on August and talk about how we started to pull into the lead. How THIS is the month that defined our victory. …"

An Aug. 31 email supposedly came from "Midnight" and said: "This is me, the stroke of midnight. 

"In less than 18 hours, I will officially close the books on August, and open them on September. 

"As you know from Knute and Patty's relentless emails, when I strike, their Official August Deadline will have passed, and unless they raise $6,754 more right now, it will mean failure. …"

On Sept. 1: "First of all, I apologize. I am emailing you on Labor Day weekend. For that I'm sorry, but late last night I received some unsettling news, and I can't wait four more days to share it with you. 

"You see — Kate Brown has launched a sneak attack against our campaign: over the next week she's pouring cash into this race. As of this moment, she is outspending us three to one. …"

Brown did release a new TV ad and more testimonials from her supporters.

• "The future is female canvass": First-term state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn, is inviting women to learn about campaigning by joining in canvassing voters. An email from her campaign said: "Thinking about running for office? Come join us for a canvass event with Teresa Alonso Leon and learn what campaigning is all about!"

The email says Alonso Leon is "the first Latina, indigenous immigrant legislator to represent House District 22."

The district has 30,032 registered voters, the fewest among the 60 House districts.

Central Oregon's House District 53 has the most – 54,256 registered voters as of last month. Incumbent Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, is retiring from the Legislature.

Legislative districts are supposed to be roughly equal in total population, not the number of registered voters.

• Eagle Creek Fire: Friends of the Columbia Gorge is hosting a forum on "Living with Fire: Looking Back, Looking Ahead" on Wednesday at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) in Portland. The event runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

I've been asked to moderate the panel discussion, which will include representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and other organizations. Before that, White Salmon and Hood River middle school students will show their documentary film about the Eagle Creek Fire.

• Schrader in the middle: Fifth District Congressman Kurt Schrader could have more influence in the next Congress if he's re-elected and neither party has a large majority in the House. He is part of the Blue Dogs, a group of moderate and conservative Democrats that largely has been sidelined in the current House. He heads the Blue Dogs' political action committee.

Roll Call wrote about Schrader and the Blue Dogs this week:

"The nearly moribund Blue Dogs … are looking to rebuild influence in the next Congress … .

"'For Blue Dogs, the sweet spot is winning in single digits, winning the majority,' Schrader said. 

"That's because the smaller the majority, the more a single caucus, especially one like the Blue Dogs that ideologically falls in the center of both parties, can wield its influence over legislation." 

• Oregon connection: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, is No. 1 on Roll Call's Top 10 list of vulnerable incumbent senators. The Oregon connection is that she earned her law degree at Lewis & Clark College and gave the law school's commencement address the year before Brown did.

In case you're wondering, the only Republican among the 10 most-vulnerable senators is Dean Heller of Nevada, who was No. 1 until being displaced by Heitkamp. The Top 10 Most Vulnerable House Members are all Republicans.

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