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Reopening the Blue River post office with Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Congressman Peter DeFazio

Dear <<First Name>>

The 2021 Legislative Session came to a close last Saturday, after passing $600 million in critical wildfire relief. I’m proud to have supported many of these bills, testifying in favor of legislation to help East Lane residents recover from last year’s devastating Holiday Farm Fire and conferring with our state legislators about bills to reduce wildfire risk in the future.

Here are some of the key pieces of legislation that will have a major impact on the McKenzie area.

HB 2289 – Rep. Clem’s bill eliminates barriers and cuts red tape for wildfire victims to rebuild.

SB 405 – Sen Prozanski’s bill gives property owners more time to rebuild, extending the deadline from 12 months to the year 2025. Because hazardous waste and debris cleanup was such a lengthy process, homeowners had little chance to rebuild within the one-year window. Under current zoning laws, missing that window meant they risked losing their ability to rebuild at all. SB 405 allows homeowners rebuild at their own pace.

SB 762 – Sen. Golden’s bill addresses wildfire risk in Oregon, hopefully preventing the next major fire before it happens. It instructs the state to create a statewide wildfire risk map, requires public electric utilities to have wildfire protection plans, and forms a Wildfire Programs Advisory Council. It also addresses defensible space and building codes in high-risk wildfire areas, and helps local communities prepare and plan for wildfire smoke. Check out a good video synopsis from KATU News of this multi-pronged bill.

HB 2341 & SB 464 – These bills provide direct property tax relief for homes with fire-related damage.

HB 5006 - Provides $600 million in wildfire relief, including direct funds to McKenzie area. Some highlights:

  • $4 million for EWEB riparian/floodplain rehabilitation
  • $1.8 million to the McKenzie Valley Health Clinic
  • $903,000 to the McKenzie Fire and Rescue Disaster Relief Logistics Center
  • $2.1 million to the Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District replacement
  • $15.5 million to the McKenzie River Valley Drinking Water and Wastewater System replacement
  • $1.4 million for the Blue River Community Library

There’s still more to do to secure funding for internet/communication systems restoration and resilience, and I’m closely following another potential source of dollars. Unfortunately, there were concerns that including these projects in HB 5006 might jeopardize the bill’s eligibility for American Rescue Plan Act funding. 

Project Turnkey, which has enabled counties to purchase motel properties to develop into emergency shelters, received additional dollars this legislative session, providing a critical lifeline for residents of wildfire-affected communities. The old Red Lion Inn in downtown Eugene, renamed Bridge on Broadway, offers wildfire survivors a place to stay while they rebuild. We still have many folks seeking permanent housing, and I’m grateful to the legislature for this innovative program.
 

Coming Up . . . .


Lane County Independent Redistricting Committee 

Here’s a once-in-a-decade opportunity to quite literally shape our democracy. The Lane County Board of County Commissioners is seeking applicants for the Independent Redistricting Committee, which will use 2020 Census data to draw new boundaries for the five Lane County Commissioner positions. Redistricting is done every ten years; the boundaries were last redrawn in October 2011. If you’re interested in fairly drawn districts and equal representation for all Lane County residents, I encourage you to apply for the Committee. Find out more and apply at www.lanecountyor.gov/IRC. Applications must be received no later than Friday July 16, at 4:00 pm.

Stay cool this summer, and have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Sincerely,


 
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The next election may seem far away, but it's time to start gearing up for 2022. I'm proud to represent East Lane County and ready to start campaigning to keep working for our community. Your contribution will help me talk to as many voters as possible before May 17, 2022. Thank you for your support!
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Copyright © 2021 Heather Buch for Oregon, All rights reserved.


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