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Copycatting California? On vaccines, we should

The Oregon Legislature hasn’t completly failed to address the state’s dangerously low childhood vaccination rate.

But almost.

Our lawmakers’ lack of gumption seems especially galling when compared with our neighbors in California.

Potís quiet debut; and flags dominate the news

Day 3 of Oregon’s great marijuana experiment has arrived and I have yet to detect a miasma of patchouli wafting over Baker City, or a cacophony of the Grateful Dead reverberating through the streets.

I’m not surprised that this legal milestone has thus far been marked by mellowness.

Pot tends to induce a certain placidity in most people, after all, unless there’s a platter of burritos nearby.

Kudos to the county

For more than a decade the specter of the sage grouse has loomed over Baker County.

Concern about this bird has focused on the potential restrictions on livestock grazing, recreation and mining that could result from the federal government conferring threatened or endangered status on the species.

Letters to the Editor for July 1, 2015

Pope Francis’ inspiring call to action on climate change

“We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.”

There are many profound teachings in Pope Francis’ newly-issued, wide-ranging Encyclical on climate change, inequality, and justice. It is a truly majestic document. It’s lengthy, but I urge everyone to read it in its entirety with both mind and heart, and to go well beyond the words to the spiritual meaning they convey.  (A link may be found here:  http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Franc/index.htm)

State lets down students

Here’s the new excuse for Oregon students:

“I did my homework, but Gov. Kate Brown vetoed it.”

Last week Brown signed House Bill 2655. This legislation, on which proponents bestowed the egregiously misleading name “Student Assessment Bill of Rights,” allows parents to exempt their kids from standardized testing starting next spring.

And they don’t have to give any reason for skipping the tests, which are given to students in third through eighth grade, as well as 11th grade.

That’s a substantial change from current practice.

A peak glimpse; and Baker voters mix on pot

Grand mountains crowd Baker City, and I can scarcely imagine the place without these looming masses of stone that quicken the sunset and stay the sunrise by more than half an hour depending on the season.

But sometimes the peaks, rather than dominating the scene, insert themselves with rather more subtlety.

This approach sacrifices grandeur for surprise — a fair enough trade as anyone knows who has had a loved one’s face appear in an unexpected place.

Of the two ranges that dominate the view from Baker Valley, the Elkhorns, by virtue of proximity, are more imposing than the Wallowas, which are taller but more than twice as distant.

But there is a particular place in town, a spot I walk past a couple times each week, that always delights me even though it affords a brief glimpse of just a smidgen of the Wallowas.

Wildfires: Money and a new focus

Oregon’s U.S. Senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, are among the lawmakers leading an effort to change how the federal government pays to fight wildfires.

Their goal is a good one.

But it’s also only one part of the solution — and not the most important part.

Last minute campaign contributions

Editorial from The (Bend) Bulletin:

In the week before the November 2014 election, Gov. John Kitzhaber received some $392,500 in campaign contributions that were not made public until Nov. 5, the day after the election. That will change if the amended version of House Bill 2178 becomes law.

The bill, introduced at the behest of then-Secretary of State Kate Brown, tightens up Oregon’s campaign finance reporting in important ways. Critically, it requires that all last-minute large contributions to campaigns be reported within 48 hours, rather than the current seven days.

Letters to the Editor for June 24, 2015

Volcanoes as major CO2 source myth refuses to die

In a recent letter to the editor, Chuck Chase makes this completely erroneous claim: “Just the (volcanic) eruption in Iceland alone...put more carbon dioxide in the air than we (humans) have since we started cutting back on carbon dioxide.” Then he jokes that believers in global warming should “quit drinking Kool Aid and believing in fairy stories..."

Flaws in our public records law

We’re pleased that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed a law requiring the Secretary of State’s office to study how the state government is handling the public records law.

But we’d be a lot happier if such an audit weren’t necessary.

It shouldn’t be.

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