Oregon Legislature finishes for the year.
Just one day short of their constitutionally mandated deadline lawmakers in Salem wrapped up their annual session. Before the gavel fell late last night, they approved a compromise aimed at helping distressed homeowners facing foreclosure and a health insurance alternative for small businesses and individuals.
The foreclosure plan was essentially the last order of business and will require face-to-face mediation, while prohibiting the so-called “dual tracking” where lenders work with struggling mortgage-payers at the same time they are in the foreclosure and eviction process.
The insurance proposal, approved earlier in the day, would provide an online marketplace where small businesses and individuals can shop for health insurance coverage. Backers of the plan, called a health insurance exchange, say it will make coverage more affordable and provide greater options. They also say that if all 50-states adopted a similar plan it would save more than $1.5-trillion over the next ten years. Opponents say that’s unlikely because if the program actually works, more people would utilize it and that would ultimately cause costs to rise.
In the rush to wrap up business in Salem yesterday, lawmakers also approved Governor John Kitzhaber’s request to require school districts to sign achievement compacts with the state. The measure is an extension of Kitzhaber’s plan approved last year to create a powerful education oversight board. Proponents say the measure will improve education in the state… opponents say it does nothing to help schools struggling with tight budgets.
City preparing for mandated yard debris pickups
The City of Florence will be pursuing a grant from Lane County Waste Management to pay for planning and preparation of a curbside yard debris recycling program. Such a program is required by the state for cities of 10-thousand or more.
It had been higher on the priority list for city officials, but, says City Manager Jacque Betz, when the 2010 census showed the population in Florence had dropped below 9-thousand it gave them time to find a way to pay for it.
Betz – “Because of that decrease in the population, the public works director and I are wanting to do more of a phased in approach the next two or three years as we get closer to that 10,000; whereas before, we were actually looking at implementing it this year.”
The grant money, which could be between 25-and-100-thousand-dollars, would help pay for equipment that would be used to convert the yard debris into bio-solids for composting. Waster haulers would be required to pick up the debris and deliver it to a central processing site.
SBA offers low interest disaster loans
Private, non-profit organizations that sustained damage in the January storms and flooding can now apply for low-interest federal loans as the result of a presidential declaration of a disaster in Oregon. The January 17-21st storms and flooding caused millions of dollars in damage in Western Oregon. Karen Mills, the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration says groups must first register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine if they are eligible. The program is in addition to others available to homeowners, renters, and business owners. Information on the programs can be found at sba.gov.
Taking a look at Coast Radio Sports…
All Far West League Honors
Several Siuslaw Vikings were honored by Far West League basketball coaches this week… Jake Thompson was named to the all Far-West 2nd team, plus the All-Defensive team. Omar Alaniz was given Honorable Mention. For the girls, Nikki Parry was named to the 1st team, Ashlee Cole the 2nd team and Kati Thrall and Alex Dodson picked up honorable mention. Dodson was also named to the girls’ All-Defensive team.
Pac 12 Basketball Tournaments
The Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament gets underway tomorrow at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Oregon State will face Washington State at Noon. The winner advances to face #1 seed Washington the next day at noon. Oregon earned the #3 seed and a first-round-bye. They’ll face the winner of Colorado versus Utah Thursday night at 8:30.
The first two rounds of the women’s tournament will be across town at the Galen Center. Oregon will go up against Washington tomorrow at noon. The winner will take on #1 Stanford at noon Thursday. Oregon State will take on Washington State at 7:15 tomorrow night. The winner will play #3 USC the same time the next evening.