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Keep watching the water legislation

There’s scarcely a better way for the Oregon Legislature to scare farmers and ranchers than to debate bills that mention water rights.

People in the ag business pay particular attention to such legislation.

Their scrutiny isn’t prompted by paranoia, either.

It’s awfully hard, after all, to run a farm or ranch without an ample supply of water.

For most producers in Baker County some of that water — most of it, in many cases — comes from rivers and streams.

Sticking around

Jobs are scarce in most places these days, but Baker County soon will have four pretty good ones available.

All are with the county’s road department.

In a confluence of retirements rare for the sheer durations involved, four road department workers either have retired, or intend to do so by May 28.

Kickstand this one

45 years is enough

Quite a lot has changed since 1964, even if you don’t account for the Beatles, the moon landing and the Internet.

Yet after four and a half decades, by one measure not so much as a tree has fallen nor a patch of sagebrush been scorched in Baker County.

This oversight is to be rectified finally.

The measure in question is how the Oregon Department of Forestry defines which private lands in Baker County are forested and which are for grazing.

No need to tinker with the tax kicker

Even while they fret about the state having too little money, some Oregon legislators envision a time when the state will have more than it needs.

That’s optimism, we suppose.

But this is not the proper time for lawmakers to propose a bill that would ensure Oregon residents and businesses would keep less of the money they earn once the economy rebounds.

The legislation is Senate Joint Resolution 29. It was introduced last week.

The bill’s target is Oregon’s famous income tax “kicker” refund system.

Stop Senate Bill 440

The recession has spurred state lawmakers to new levels of creativity in their quest for money.

Among the more shortsighted of the ideas is Senate Bill 440.

The bill would overturn a 2003 state law that mandates that government agencies spend at least 70 percent of money they collect from lodging taxes to promote tourism.

SB 440 would allow cities and counties to spend lodging taxes any way they see fit.

That’s appropriate for, say, property taxes.

Not so fast, says Ferrioli

Baker County residents won’t go it alone in their campaign to convince Idaho Power Co. to build a power line somewhere else.

State Sen. Ted Ferrioli, the John Day Republican who represents Baker County, introduced a bill that would prevent Idaho Power from constructing the proposed 500-kilovolt transmission line on the company’s preferred route through Baker and Malheur counties.

Signs span the ages

Baker City’s ordinance regulating business signs dates to 1921.

What surprises us most about this fact is not that four generations of city councils haven’t tinkered much with the rules.

Rather, we were shocked to hear the city had a sign ordinance in place just three years after World War I ended.

Discussion needed

We figured the recent report showing that Baker City’s streets are in worse shape than they’ve been in almost 20 years would have prompted a lengthy discussion among city councilors.

And so we were surprised when councilors accepted the annual pavement management plan last week without debate.

We hope councilors devote a bit more time to the matter this spring.

This year’s report, prepared by the city’s Technical Services Department, is familiar reading for anyone who has perused reports from the past several years.

Thanks for pep talk

We’d urge President Obama to delete “catastrophe” from his vocabulary.

Unless there really is one.

Which isn’t to say that this recession, which Obama has referred to repeatedly as a crisis that could become irreversible, is just a statistical blip.

It’s pretty bad.

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