Associated Oregon Loggers, Inc. (AOL) is the statewide trade association representing
some 1,000 member companies engaged in the harvest and sustainable forest management
of Oregon’s 30 million acres of forestland. “Logger and Proud of It!”
November Elections Bring Opportunities For Oregon Loggers
By: Jim Geisinger
Executive Vice President
The outcome of the November 8 elections surprised many when Republican candidate Donald Trump handily won a hard fought battle to be the next president of the United States. He defeated Hillary Clinton, who led in the polls the entire length of the campaign, by an overwhelming 305-231 margin in the Electoral College. While the Clinton Campaign staffers were popping champagne corks, the results slowly came in late in the evening from traditional Democratic strongholds like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. They all went to Trump. These results stunned the most seasoned Washington, D.C. pollsters.
Meanwhile, the Republicans maintained control of both the House and Senate although dealt with modest setbacks in both bodies. The Democrats picked up just two of the five seats they needed to take back the Senate. In the House, Republicans lost 9 seats out of the 31 the Democrats needed to take control. The Republicans will maintain a healthy margin in the House.
So, having a Republican in the White House and the same party controlling the House and Senate should present some opportunities for our industry to advance an agenda that will be helpful to Oregon loggers. Legislation to modernize the funding of fire suppression costs and to provide land management agencies with tools and authorities needed to increase forest restoration programs that will provide work for loggers and logs for Oregon mills will be our first and highest priority. Overturning the Obama Administration’s plan for managing the O&C lands in western Oregon and replacing it with a plan that honors the O&C Act of 1937 and directs the Bureau of Land Management to manage the land as prescribed in the law will be another high priority.
We will insist that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) be examined and modified as necessary to make it more efficient to prepare environmental analyses on forest management projects that will be defensible in federal court. Similarly, the Endangered Species Act needs to be modernized to consider economic impacts when listing species as threatened or endangered. Finally, there are two large areas in Oregon being considered by the Obama Administration for designation as National Monuments under the Antiquities Act. One in eastern Oregon is known as the Owyhee proposed monument and the other in southern Oregon would be an expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. These designations must be stopped. Congress must be given the authority to decide the proper designation for these two areas. While this is an ambitious agenda, we have an opportunity to make much needed changes in how our public forest lands are managed given the new leadership in Washington, D.D.
The bright spot here in Oregon was the election of the first Republican to a statewide office since Gordon Smith was elected to the Senate in 2002. Dennis Richardson was elected to a four year term as our new Secretary of State. He is the first Republican to hold that position since Norma Paulus in 1980. Richardson served several terms in the State Legislature and ran unsuccessfully against Governor John Kitzhaber in 2014. While bringing refreshing views and ideas to the office, Richardson will sit on the State Land Board, a position important to the forest products industry.
The other great news was the defeat of Ballot Measure 97 that would have imposed a 2.5% gross receipts tax on C corporations with revenues exceeding $25 million. It was defeated soundly by a 59-41 percent margin. The measure was expected to generate over $6 billion per biennium. It was promoted by public employee unions.
The State Legislature remained little changed. Republicans picked up a seat in the Senate when Alan DeBoer, a former Mayor of Ashland, won the seat made available with the passing of incumbent Senator Alan Bates earlier this year. This will narrow the Democrats margin to 17-13 in the Senate. House demographics remained unchanged with the Democrats maintaining a 35-25 margin. While many faces have changed with newcomers replacing members who chose not to run, the balance of power remains the same.