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Salem 2013: C.O. representatives tackle big issues

By Joe Burns
Published On: Feb 06 2013 10:22:40 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2013 10:26:48 PM CST

From drone restrictions to tuition and licenses for undocumented immigrants, NewsChannel 21's Joe Burns looks at some of the legislation proposed by High Desert lawmakers

SALEM, Ore. -

As is the custom, Central Oregon lawmakers will introduce quite a few bills this session.

The Dalles Representative John Huffman is already tackling some pretty controvserial issues in the 2013 session.

One would restrict the use of drones by law enforcement and the public. 

"It's a reminder to police agencies that people do still have rights in America and you really need to be careful and about how you use drones," Huffman said. "This is, of course, that they go to the FAA and they are actually rewarded to have a drone to use for surveillance of any form."

He's also crafting a bill on tuition equity. 

"I would get hundreds of emails from people saying , 'You'd better not give undocumented people free education," Huffman said. "Well, the tuition equity bill does not give free education to anybody."

He's also proposed allowing temporary drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. 

"People say, 'They are illegal -- end of discussion -- I'm not going to talk about it any more,' and I would agree they are," said Huffman. "But many of them I have talked to in town halls have been here 25 and 30 years, they've raised their kids here and can anybody look me in the eye and say we are going to deport 11 or 12 million people -- I don't see that happening."

Huffman says he's trying to be proactive and work on these sorts of hot-button issues, because with the right wording, they do work for Oregonians.

Powell Butte Representative Mike McLane's top priority: jobs. 

"I'm going to advocate for enterprise zones and a robust competitiveness for rural Oregon, and even a suburban areas to attract businesses that may go to other states," McLane said.

McLane is also introducing legislation that emphasizes water supply for agriculture. 

Bend Rep. Jason Conger wants to address some components from health care reform that he says weren't addressed last year.

"One of them would be medical liability being such a sunk cost that we could do better on with some reforms," Conger said. 

Sunriver Rep. Gene Whisnant says he is working on legislation to make sure big tax refunds are reviewed at higher levels by the Department of Revenue.

Another bill from Whisnant would collect data to study public health issues relating to wildfire pollution, after weeks of smoke in Sisters and other locations became one of the biggest impacts from last summer's Pole Creek Fire.

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