Three Oregon congressmen have asked Sen. Ron Wyden to hold hearings about the financial problems faced by southern Oregon counties.
A handful of Oregon counties have received federal subsidies linked to their historic dependence on timber harvests. Local government budgets - especially in rural southwest Oregon - suffered as those payments dwindled.
Now, Republican Greg Walden and Democrats Kurt Schrader and Peter Defazio are asking Sen. Wyden for a favor. As the new chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, they want Wyden to hold a hearing on long-term solutions for the timber counties.
Defazio notes that, in addition to a plan he floated last year, the committee might consider suggestions from a task force formed by Gov. John Kitzhaber.
"We believe Sen. Wyden could find within the eight options offered by the Governor and our proposal some ideas to flesh out his principles into actual legislative language," Defazio says. "We believe it's vital his committee hear this issue. It's also vital it be heard on the House side."
They've sent a similar letter to Washington Republican Congressman Doc Hastings, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee.
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