By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
A lively town hall with Rep. Kim Thatcher at Avamere Court of Keizer touched on drugs, abortion – and some state business, too.
Thatcher, R – Keizer, touted successes like passing a bill restricting information available on concealed handgun license holders and legislation enhancing penalties for disorderly conduct near a funeral service. That bill was aimed at members of a Midwest church who routinely protest military funerals.
She also bemoaned what she described as a deluge of state agencies, boards, councils and commissions that, by sheer numbers, make it impossible for the everyday citizen to keep up: More than 190 meetings listed on the state’s transparency website in March alone.
But audience members were in the mood to ask some tough questions of their legislator.
She declined to take a position on the recent Clear Lake fire annexation, but supported the election moving forward without legislative interference. She said the matter was very confusing and didn’t think the recent vote in favor of Marion County Fire District No. 1 settled much.
As to whether Gov. John Kitzhaber should reside at the governor’s mansion in Salem as opposed to Portland, she didn’t see it as a problem and even offered limited praise.
“We had more communication with him than we had during eight years of the previous governor,” Thatcher said.
One submitted question asked whether marijuana should be legalized and taxed.
Thatcher said the matter would likely be up to Oregonians via the initiative process, saying it was the kind of third-rail issue legislators don’t like to touch.
“I can definitely see, in theory, why somebody would want to do that,” Thatcher said. “The war on drugs, well, it’s never ending. I don’t see that we’re winning.”
She said she wouldn’t support calls for a unicameral legislature, where the body would have one chamber as opposed to a house of representatives and a senate. Thatcher said the new set of eyes and perspective can provide wisdom, even if they frustrate at times.
Thatcher tap-danced around one questioner, who asked whether she supported the “rollback” of women’s civil rights and healthcare, referring to debate in some states as to whether a woman getting an abortion should have to receive a transvaginal ultrasound and see the fetus before the procedure.
“I would say the abortion itself is pretty invasive too, but … that’s a rollback?” Thatcher said before residents started to offer their own opinions on the subject.
She added she doesn’t see abortion going away in Oregon anytime soon, but opposes state funding and supports parental consent for minors.
Thatcher’s other thoughts included:
• “In the end, we did not close prisons, we did not send (Oregon State Police) troopers home, we didn’t cut services to seniors or people with disabilities, and we didn’t force local schools to have to increase class sizes,” she said.
• Seniors with reverse mortgages who learned they couldn’t get a property tax deferral were given a temporary reprieve, she said.
• She expressed disappointment that economic development didn’t get more attention, and was skeptical of the effectiveness of tax credits for “businesses that are politically connected, politically correct and politically expedient at the time.”
• Suggested the Public Employee Retirement System needs to be scaled back, but that the state must honor its commitment to workers already in the system.
• Said she had no plans to run against Congressman Kurt Schrader, a Democrat representing the Fifth District.