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Soapbox: We were successful in facing challenges


State Rep. Margaret Doherty represents Tigard in House District 35.
We’ve adjourned the 77th Legislative Session with some fantastic successes, from protecting the privacy of those who use social media to creating hundreds of jobs by investing in our local infrastructure. None of this would have been possible without the support of everyone who called my office, sent me emails or came to town halls during the session. Even when we disagreed, it was incredibly valuable to be able to hear from people across my district.

Of all our accomplishments, I am most proud of having passed an education budget, which makes one of the largest investments in our public schools to the tune of $6.75 billion — $1 billion more than the last budget! This will go far in reinvesting in our schools, which have suffered from almost a decade of deep and unsustainable cuts. Now, we are able to stabilize our schools, giving students the needed resources to be ready for the global economy.

We also found money for schools by passing House Bill 2632, which I was proud to sponsor, which changes an error in urban renewal tax law that took money away from local-option levies. By solving this problem, we will be able to generate millions more for schools and other services. This represents a long-term commitment to reinvesting in our education system. As a former school teacher, I know that a good education system is the bedrock of a well-functioning society, so I was thrilled to be a part of this effort.

The economy is improving, but not nearly fast enough. That is why as chairwoman of the Business and Labor Committee, and a member of the Transportation and Economic Development Committee, I made job creation a top priority this session. I supported and helped pass House Bill 3459, which establishes the Office of Small Business Assistance. This new office will help our small, local businesses navigate the regulatory system, helping to guide the way for the creation of new businesses and the expansion of existing ones.

The Legislature also worked to spur growth and build partnerships in the rural parts of our state. By passing House Bill 2992, the farm to food bill, we helped to clear the way for farmers to team up with schools and other services to stimulate economic growth and provide healthy food.

We also worked tirelessly to ensure that government was efficient, and that we are getting the biggest bang for every taxpayer dollar. I, along with 32 of my colleagues, joined the GATE caucus, which stands for Government Accountability, Transparency and Efficiency. As part of the effort to make the government more efficient, I sponsored House Bill 2973, which ended the wasteful contracting out of maintenance of a stretch of Highway 219, saving taxpayers millions in the process. Now we can put this money back to use repairing and supporting our highways and roads.

Lastly, I worked hard to keep our laws up to date with our changing digital world. I was proud to sponsor House Bill 2654 and Senate Bill 344, which forbids employers and colleges from demanding digital login information for social media websites from prospective and current employees and students, ensuring the privacy of all Oregonians' private information.

This session we faced some serious challenges. By keeping our priorities straight and listening to our constituents, we were able to end the session with many accomplishments that we can be proud of.

Get on your soapbox

The Times offers a soapbox to stand on every week in our Opinion section. The soapbox is a guest column written by any reader on any local issue of public interest. They should be no longer than 800 words (about three double-spaced typewritten pages) and should include the signature, address and phone number of the writer. Soapboxes are due Mondays at noon and can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..