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2/10/12  U.S. Representative Greg Walden's Oregon Congressional Connection

Federal Government forest jobs

Dear Jacqui,
Great news for Lake, Grant, and Harney counties: the USDA has approved two large-scale forest restoration projects that will create much-needed jobs in rural Oregon.

The Lakeview Stewardship Landscape Project will receive $3.5 million, treat 150,000 acres, and create an estimated 88 jobs. The Southern Blues Restoration Coalition Project will receive $2.5 million, treat 271,980 acres, and create about 154 jobs.

To put those numbers in perspective, every job created in rural Oregon is equivalent to about 100 jobs in the Portland Metropolitan area.

I organized a letter (sent on Jan. 4) to the head of the USDA, signed by the entire Oregon delegation, that asked for full funding to these good projects. This is really good news for these counties.

In the Blue Mountain Eagle, Mike Billman (timber manager for Malheur Lumber Company), “said the prospect of more acres treated ‘also means more product’ - both in sawlogs and the smaller biomass material. He said both could have a huge impact for the local industry, and jobs, if the funding continues on an annual basis.”

And in the Herald and News, Lake County Commissioner Dan Shoun said, “(The community) is just incredibly excited about the opportunities for advancing our forest health, and stabilizing our local economy.”

Here’s what Russell Hoeflich, the Oregon director for The Nature Conservancy, had to say about the news: “It’s terrific news that Oregon’s forest restoration projects will be funded to create jobs in some of Oregon’s hardest-hit rural communities. It’s a tribute to the hard work by community leaders and to the great science developed by Oregonians that shows you can produce healthier forests, clean water, and jobs in the woods, all at the same time.”

Wasco County Town Hall

I held my first town hall of 2012 in Wasco County on Saturday morning at Cousin’s. It was a great turnout – more than 100 folks. The conversation included a mix of discussion on national priorities, like getting jobs going again and the dangers of the federal government’s spending binge, and local initiatives like our successful efforts to pass into law a plan to replace the 1950s-era National Guard armory.

At the beginning of the town hall, I was very honored to receive a plaque from the Family Readiness Group of the 3-116 of the Oregon National Guard. Lisa Bishop, along with her husband, Staff Sgt. Randy Bishop presented me with the award for supporting the troops during their deployment. It’s really the other way around; they deserve all the thanks and support we can possibly provide for them, both during deployment and afterwards. That goes for the families as it does for those who wear the uniform; we owe them a debt we can never fully repay for their service and sacrifice.

Returning a parcel of federal land to local control in Wallowa County

Last Friday I testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in support of S. 271, Sen. Wyden’s bill to return a piece of unused land in the town of Wallowa back to local control.

It’s a pretty straightforward deal: Wallowa donated the land to the federal government in 1936 to create a now-defunct ranger station compound. The town and a local non-profit plan to establish a historical visitor’s center there to help draw visitors to town and provide an extra shot to the local economy.

Sen. Wyden and Sen. Merkley deserve credit for getting this bill passed in the Senate, and hopefully we’ll be able to take it across the finish line in the House soon.

FAA Reauthorization…and what it means for Oregon jobs

This week, Congress passed a long-term FAA reauthorization bill that will improve the nation’s aviation infrastructure, modernize our air traffic control system, ensure aviation safety, and reform FAA programs. After being held up for nearly five years in Congress, a bipartisan coalition in the House and Senate came together to pass a bipartisan commonsense bill that sets federal policy for an industry that accounts for as much as 11 percent of the nation’s economy.

The bill also calls for the creation of six test sites for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Last year, I wrote to leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to urge them to support creation of these six sites for UAVs.

Oregon has a strong UAV industry, developing these cutting-edge vehicles for defense and domestic use. A coalition is Central Oregon is applying for one of these testing sites as part of an effort to create jobs, so this bill will open the door for them. Creating these sites is a no-cost way to encourage economic development and create jobs, and I’m glad that the authors of the FAA bill included this important provision.

Commonsense legislation — the STOCK Act

Members of Congress shouldn’t be cashing in on non-public information they learn while performing their official duties. On Thursday, with my support the House overwhelmingly passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.

While Members of Congress and their staff are already prohibited by law and the House code of ethics from trading any securities or commodities based on any nonpublic information learned as a result of their official duties, the STOCK Act explicitly prohibits members of Congress from participating in “insider trading” adding an extra layer of assurance. Additionally, this legislation will require all Members of Congress to disclose their financial transactions each month—up from our current annual requirement. These financial disclosures will then be posted to the Internet for all constituents to view, adding even more transparency to the money coming in and out of Washington.

Finally, the House strengthened this legislation so that the provisions are not limited to just Members of Congress and their staff, but also include the President and his administration. The President should not receive a free pass when it comes to monitoring how government officials are making their money. The bill now awaits reconsideration in the Senate.

Examining cybersecurity threats to communications networks

The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which I chair, held a hearing on Wednesday to examine threats to communications networks and how both the private sector and federal government should respond.

Cybersecurity has become a pressing concern. There is a problem and most people don’t know it’s a problem. American businesses are losing dollars and jobs because of cybercrime, and our national security is potentially at risk as well. The private sector owns most of the critical infrastructure that makes up our communications networks, and they are on the front lines of cybersecurity.

The testimony from experts in the industry reaffirmed the importance to act and develop legislation so we can better secure cyberspace in the long run.

Welcome to Suzanne Bonamici

On Tuesday, Suzanne Bonamici was sworn in as the representative of Oregon’s First District. I joined the rest of the Oregon delegation (including Senators Wyden and Merkley) on the House floor to welcome her at her swearing-in; Rep. DeFazio and I were able to say a quick few words to her.

Our delegation has a long history of embracing the “Oregon Way” to set aside our differences and pursue solutions to take care of the state’s most pressing priorities. Just in the last few months, I’ve worked with the senators on the Umatilla Chemical Depot closing and with Deschutes County and FEMA to ensure the county is treated fairly in a funding dispute…and I’ve been working with Reps. DeFazio and Schrader to replace the county payments program with a bipartisan long-term solution that brings jobs back to Oregon, protects enormous swaths of public land, and produces revenue to fund our local schools, roads, and law enforcement.

In that same spirit, I look forward to working with Congresswoman Bonamici and building upon the well-established cooperative bipartisan tradition of the Oregon delegation.

Best regards,
Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District




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