Candidate Name: SARA BYERS
What is the #1 priority in your legislative agenda? Please attach or provide links or references to bill drafts or legislative concepts (can be from previous sessions).
"Repairing the economy and creating family wage jobs. Oregon can be a leader in renewable energy, creating jobs while reducing utility bills for families, businesses and non-profits. My number two priority is education, but we can't increase funding for schools until we get our economy back on track."
Oregon in the 2011-13 biennium is expected to have a $2.5 billion shortfall from meeting the current level of services. This deficit is expected to continue through 2019. What programs would you cut? How would you raise revenue?
I would first work on raising tax revenues by stimulating the economy through job creation and support for small businesses. I will also push for reforming the Kicker law so we don't issue any checks until our Rainy Day Fund equals at least 20% of the previous budget. I'll look for waste in government and work to reduce it.
What is your best idea to promote economic development in Oregon?
"Renewable energy is the key to Oregon's economic recovery. We have the resources of wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and wave energy already in place and ready to expand. A specific piece I want to work on is legislation that would allow individuals, businesses and non-profits to install renewable energy systems and sell the excess energy they produce back to the power grid at wholesale rates, with no end of the year ""give back"" to the power companies. This should be standardized statewide. This will create thousands of good jobs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, a win-win for Oregonians and our environment."
As no court has ruled invalid any of the limits on political campaign contributions or expenditures enacted by the voters in Measure 47 (2006), should the Attorney General and Secretary of State be enforcing those limits?
"Yes, the Attorney General and the Secretary of State should be enforcing Measure 47 limits. However, enforcement requires funding and in a recession with agency budgets stretch so thin, that's a tough call."
Do you favor amending the Oregon Constitution, if ultimately necessary, to allow reasonable limits on campaign contributions in state and local candidate races?
"Yes I do, in principle. However, the nation's Supreme Court has just ruled that money is speech, and thus protected, and until our U.S. Congress passes legislation amending that, we might not be able to pass a State Constitution change that wouldn't end up being thrown out of court."
Do you support the current system of allowing a candidate who is nominated for the same office by more than one political party to choose up to 3 party labels to appear next to her name on the general election ballot (sometimes called "fusion-lite")?
YES! It gives the voter more information about the candidate and expands the influence of the minor parties; all to the good of expanding participation in our electoral process.
Do you support regulation to control health care costs and give the Insurance Division greater power to limit unreasonable rate increases and allow citizen participation in cases involving insurance rate hikes?
"We must bring health care costs down, and at first glance an Insurance Division to control unreasonable rate increases might seem like a good idea. However, who appoints this ""Insurance Division"" and from what sector do they come? Without more specifics, I'd be concerned that we might be setting ourselves up for putting a fox guarding the hen house."
Should non-affiliated voters be allowed to vote in the primaries of the major parties?
"NO! Only members of actual political parties registered in Oregon should be able to vote in primaries. By definition, a primary is where parties chooses their candidates, so non-affiliated voters should have no say in party primaries."
Should Oregon adopt a nonpartisan commission of retired judges to reapportion its congressional and legislative districts, based on the 2010 Census?
"In the end there's no such thing as a strictly non-partisan process. One has only to look at the politics behind the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court over the decades. Just by the nature of the process, whichever party gets to appoint the judges will promote its agenda."
What is your best idea for making government in Oregon responsive to the public interest and less consumed with satisfying the desires of the special interests?
"Take the money out of politics as much as possible and limit the influence of lobbyists in our political system. In addition, legislators need to be in direction communication with their constituents. Communication and dialogue is key. On another level, we need to teach civics and government (and more history) to our kids so they'll pay attention and take their elected officials to task when they appear to vote for the special interests and not in the best interests of the people."