SALEM, Ore.–State Senator Michael Dembrow says these issues top the Democrats to do list. “The key priorities that we need to make progress on. Homelessness relief and affordable housing. We need our communities to be safe and healthy both in terms of public health, environmental health. We need strong schools and a strong economy, a strong workforce.”
He has agreement from Republican leader Tim Knoppe, on at least some of those goals. “Housing far and away is the biggest priority for Oregonians and second to that is in fact doing something with drug addiction.”
Knoppe does not rule out the possibility of another Republican walkout.
Meantime, House Minority Leader, Republican Jeff Helfrich calls measure 110, “The biggest crisis we’re facing.” He says he wants to focus on solutions to fix the legislation, which made small amounts of drugs legal.
“We have more people dying on the street. We have open air drug markets. We need to get to a solution.”
State Senator Dembrow agrees that there is a drug addiction crisis that needs attention, but doesn’t think doing away with Measure 110, which the voters approved is in itself, the answer.
“Whatever we do with Measure 110, if we are not putting money into treatment this is not going to work. I don’t believe that recriminalization is the answer and what we really need is direct pathways to treatment for people who are ready to go into treatment.”
A special committee of House and Senate leaders will meet this afternoon at 5, focusing on drugs and safety.
Lawmakers warn, this is their short session, so they won’t have the time to get to every issue and priority they want. The session began Monday morning and runs through March 10th at the latest.