The 2018 legislative short session is about to wrap up. We are constitutionally limited to 35 days, and as such are constitutionally required to finish by March 11.

These past few weeks I have worked to ensure passage of many bills; however, a couple I want to highlight have an importance to our area.

First is Senate Bill 1517, a bill which would allow free hunting tags for disabled veterans in Oregon. During a town hall meeting Rep. Greg Barreto and I were holding in Enterprise last fall, we began speaking to a gentleman who runs a hunting camp for veterans.

He asked if there were anything that could be done to help them obtain their hunting tags. My staff and I began looking into seeing what could be done.

Currently, Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife offers a program for critically, terminally ill children. The department sets aside 35 hunting tags each year, even though they traditionally only use 11.

Using this program as a model, Senate Bill 1517 was created. The bill sets aside 15 tags for the children’s program and then the other 20 tags are reserved for organizations like Divide Camp in Wallowa County for use by disabled veterans.

Second is House Bill 4153, a bill that officially designates Eastern Oregon University as Oregon’s Rural University. I am pleased to announce that I spoke to the bill with President Tom Insko and Rep. Barreto when it was up for consideration in the Senate Education Committee.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously, and I was fortunate to carry the bill on the floor of the Senate last Monday. The college plans to use this official designation, the second university in the state to have an official designation, as a way to entice students from across the nation to come to La Grande for their higher education; as well as leveraging additional federal education dollars.

I am happy to have sponsored this bill and carrying the water on the Senate side for this important bill for the university. I even wore an EOU hat when I carried the bill.

Sen. Bill Hansell represents Oregon’s 29th District, which includes Wallowa County.

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