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Chair's Blog

Upcoming legislative priorities for the February session February 2014
By Gregg Kantor

The Alliance is working on two major priorities this legislative session: the Columbia River Crossing/I-5 Bridge Replacement Project and Oregon Health & Sciences University’s (OHSU) request for $200 million in state bonds to build two new facilities for the Knight Cancer Institute in South Waterfront. Both of these issues have significant economic potential for the region, and we could use your help in moving them forward.

The Oregon-led option of the Columbia River Crossing/I-5 Bridge Replacement continues to be the business community’s number one transportation priority. The project has been technically, administratively, operationally, legally and financially vetted by experts, and the state must now decisively move the project to construction or refocus and reprioritize resources. Governor John Kitzhaber has indicated that without decisive action by the Legislature by March 9, and the state of Washington by March 15, he will direct ODOT to close the project and begin archiving materials.

This is essentially Oregon’s last chance for a new bridge for at least the next decade. For more than 10 years this project has been analyzed and planned, and the state has spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours on it. While some may question the Oregon-led option’s credibility, experts have confirmed the project is feasible and there is no alternative plan that is less complicated or less expensive.

Another priority for the Alliance this legislative session is OHSU’s request for $200 million in state bonds to construct two new facilities for cancer research. If approved by the Legislature, the bonding will be part of the effort to match the $500 million Knight Cancer challenge grant. This investment is an unprecedented opportunity for the region to make Oregon a worldwide center for cancer research. It’s one the business community should champion, as it will support new family-wage jobs, increase traded-sector activity and position the Portland region, and the state, as a world-class research hub.

In addition to the economic benefits, this investment has a human impact that cannot be overstated. This investment in the Knight Cancer Institute has the potential to move us down the road to more successful treatments for cancer. These days it’s hard to go through life without being touched by cancer in some sense, and, with this investment, we have the potential to benefit people throughout the world. Both of these issues will be considered during the February legislative session. We will keep you updated as they progress. In the meantime, please join me in contacting our legislators to express support for these important business priorities.
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