News Stories Wed., Feb. 21, 2018

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A proposal to include class sizes as required bargaining items during negotiations between teachers and school districts is moving ahead in the Oregon Legislature. Teachers are currently able to ask for class size changes as part of their bargaining, but are not required to do so. Under the proposal, collective bargaining negotiations would be required to cover class sizes along with things like pay. The Oregon House advanced the measure on a 33-25 vote Tuesday, sending it to the Senate.

A bill in the state House aims to restore net neutrality as a priority in Oregon after the Federal Communications Commission repealed the policy late last year. House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson says she will add a net neutrality amendment to House Bill 4155, legislation to stop internet service providers from sharing or selling customers’ personal information. But can the state implement net neutrality on its own? Opponents say the federal ruling takes precedence over state laws in this case. Williamson says she’s been careful with the language in this amendment, and that it doesn’t directly regulate internet providers. H-B 4155 is in the House Committee on Rules. Attorneys general in 22 states, including Oregon, are suing to reverse the F-C-C’s decision to end net neutrality. The F-C-C chair has said mandating net neutrality stifles investment and innovation.

The Madras White Buffaloes beat Crook County – both boys and girls – last night. At the Buffalo Dome, Byron Patt led scoring with 18 points and the Buffs won 74-68. Tyler Lockey had 12 points for Madras, Kanim Smith III and Chad Thurby had 11 apiece. The win put the boys in sole possession of second place in the Tri Valley Conference. The Buffaloes expect to host a Class 4A play-in game Friday or Saturday. The Madras girls closed out the regular season undefeated in the Tri-Valley with a 59-24 win in Prineville. High scorers were Lynden Harry with 17 and Jayden Davis with 15 points. The girls will host a Class 4A first-round playoff game on March 2nd or 3rd.

In his latest budget plan, President Donald Trump proposes axing federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting over a two-year period. The CPB supports PBS and NPR stations, and also helps to support KWSO. Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio says he’ll work with allies on Capitol Hill to preserve funding for public broadcasting. CPB supporters say without federal funds, emergency alert systems, rural communities, and childhood education will suffer. While conservative critics have argued taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for a service they consider biased towards the left, the Trump proposal simply says the money isn’t necessary.

Oregon wildlife managers are trapping sea lions at Willamette Falls and trucking them out to the coast in an effort to protect a very fragile run of steelhead.  OPB reports that biologists estimate the sea lions at Willamette Falls are eating at least a quarter of the winter steelhead run. At that rate, they say, there’s about a 90 percent chance at least one population of the fish will go extinct. Bryan Wright, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the state is waiting for federal approval to kill sea lions at Willamette Falls. In the meantime, they’re moving as many sea lions as they can to the coast. So far, they’ve moved three sea lions to the beach near Newport. That’s given the marine mammals the chance to demonstrate that they can swim back in a matter of days. One sea lion swam the 230 miles in less than four days. Wright said that supports the state’s argument that lethal removal will be necessary to protect the dwindling wild winter steelhead run. A decision on lethal removals at Willamette Falls isn’t expected until the end of this year.

There is a fundraising event for the Sahalee Splash Park this Saturday at the Madras Bowl & Pizza. A small group of COCC students is coordinating the event. Bowling is from 12:30-3:00 and half of the proceeds will be donated to the Splash Park effort.  Anyone who’d like to donate or find out how they can help can contact Gerald Tufti at 541-668-2797. The city of Madras is accepting donations also, there is a link to a Go Fund Me account on their Facebook page.