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Think Out Loud

Live from Salem

Pete Springer/OPB

Time is running out for lawmakers to accomplish everything on their legislative to-do lists. Budget decisions along with health care changes are still among the live issues as the session enters the home stretch.

Changes to the public employee retirement system (PERS) is one issue that seemed to be at the top of the list even before the session began. Lawmakers came in with lots of ideas about how to change the system. Now, it looks like many of those ideas are not coming to fruition, but it’s not over until the final gavel falls. The City Club of Portland isn’t waiting around. The civic organization just came out with a report (pdf) with a number of recommendations for PERS reform, which will most likely have to wait until the next session.

Another bill that has moved forward recently would streamline certain kinds of construction projects. Opponents of liquified natural gas (LNG) raised concerns about the bill, which the governor is expected to sign next week. Senator Alan Bates (D-Medford) tried to insert a last-minute amendment that would have made it impossible for LNG projects to benefit from the bill. The amendment was defeated, but Bates says he’s considering bringing it up in the next session.

And we’ll continue our Capital People feature, introducing you to people other than legislators who work in the Capitol. This time, you’ll hear from Shawn Miller, a lobbyist for Pacific Power, Northwest Grocery Association and others. He’s created an iPhone app to help his fellow lobbyists do their jobs, which, as it turns out, involve a lot of counting.

How would changes to PERS affect you? What questions would you like to ask a longtime lobbyist?

2011 session legislature

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