Tax would kill brewers

Beer is an essential part of Oregon’s economy and identity.

Closures due to COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on Oregon’s breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, restaurants, bars and hospitality sector. The last thing these local businesses need are the tax increases proposed in House Bill 3296, which would increase taxes on beer and cider by nearly 3,000 percent and increase taxes on wine by 1,700 percent, making Oregon the highest beer, wine, cider and spirits tax state in the nation.

As local business owners and residents, Oregon breweries care deeply about our communities and make significant contributions to the employment and economic growth of Oregon as whole. Prior to COVID-19, Oregon was home to 400 breweries, creating 43,000 jobs, $2 billion in wages and $6.7 billion in economic activity for the state. Sadly, it’s estimated due to the pandemic, 10,000 of those beer-related jobs have been lost.

When pFriem closed our tasting room and restaurant to protect our employees and the public health safety of Oregonians, it was devastating to our business. The restaurant represents a third of our business and half of our beer production was sold in kegs to other restaurants across the state — restaurants that were also closed. Sadly, this resulted in us losing 60 percent of our employees, who are like family to us. A massive tax increase will only make it harder for us to rehire and pay off the debts we face from these state-mandated closures and restrictions.

HB 3296 would decimate small, family-owned businesses like pFriem. Increasing taxes on Oregon brewers from $2.60 a barrel to $72.60 per barrel would be devastating for Oregon breweries, eating up all profits and then some at a time where we are already struggling to survive.

In order to survive, Oregon’s breweries, cideries, wineries, distilleries, restaurants and bars need the support of our elected officials. Raising taxes on an industry that is the third-largest source of revenue for the state will add insult to injury for these businesses already overwhelmed by COVID-19. Tell your lawmakers to oppose HB 3296.

Don’t Tax My Drink!

Ken Whiteman

Hood River

Ken Whiteman is co-owner of pFriem Family Brewing.

A kind child

A while back I was coming out of Fred Meyer in The Dalles. There was a man and what I guess was his son ahead of me. As I approached the exit, the boy turned around and asked how fast I could run! I have an eye-patch on right now and I’m 67 years old, but I told him that I could run faster than he could. This got us both laughing. He continued out the exit and got into a car with his dad.

My car was parked near theirs. Suddenly, this same boy I didn’t know, got out of his father’s car and raced over to mine asking if I needed any help getting things into my car. It was snowy and slippery and the offer of help was too much to resist. With that, the boy opened my passenger door and helped me get my groceries in the car and then raced around the other side of my car to open the driver’s side door for me.

I thanked him and then he left. I never got his name. That one random act of kindness meant the world to me. There are still some pretty awesome children in this world. I teach school and I see that everyday. But, that night as I got into bed and said my prayers, I thanked God for that special kid who took the time to help out an old man at the grocery store and I thanked God for his parents who have done a wonderful job raising a son.

Courtney Kiser

The Dalles

A safety net

The recently passed COVID-19 Rescue Plan includes a Safety Net for Children, the first in our nation’s history. This is essentially an antipoverty legislation which will cut the child poverty rate by approximately half.

Ninety-four percent of all families with children will qualify with an expanded tax credit to $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 for children between 6-18. Unlike previous child tax credits, this credit will be provided to families without taxable income in the form of monthly checks and thus will benefit the poorest of children.

Thanks to Biden and our Democratic legislators, our poorest and most vulnerable will finally receive some badly needed assistance.

Sandy Montag

White Salmon

Solar invasion

CEASE — Citizens Educated Against Solar Energy — began in October 2020 organized to inform and educate the citizens of Klickitat County about the encroaching industrial-scale solar farms in our county. None of the citizens were aware of this, none wants it.

As we research solar, we learned of the dark side. We began bringing this information to the commissioners' attention. They agreed the Energy Overlay Zone, which are the ordinances for renewable energy projects, did not address solar and did need to be updated. We have asked for a moratorium numerous times to halt any solar project until the EOZ is updated but this has not happened.

CEASE told the commissioners we are not your adversary. We want to work with you to do what's best for the county and the citizens. They hold a public comment period each week for a half-hour to hear citizens concerns but are not required to reply. Commissioners have stated they want to hear every citizen's concern, but have had no public meetings to hear citizen concerns and discuss the solar issues. They now fail to answer our questions. We have been forced to file public records request to obtain information.

Some of those requests have been fulfilled. We have learned the county has been aware of the solar intrusion since August 2019. This has all been kept quiet to avoid opposition. The EOZ does not require the county to hold public meetings. Only one meeting is required 30 days before a solar plan is approved. That meeting is held with the solar company. Citizens then have 20 days to file an appeal. That cost is $4,000. A deterrent to prevent opposition. CEASE wants to believe that the commissioners have the citizens foremost in their minds when they make decisions on solar, but we are beginning to doubt that. It appears that big solar is their primary concern.

Time is running out to create solar ordinances. Invenergy will submit their plan June 2021. Without ordinances, we lose control over the solar project. Greed motivates these solar companies. We can not allow this to happen. View cease2020.org.

Greg Wagner

Goldendale

Parking puzzler

On March 15, the Hood River City Council will possibly vote on zoning revisions designed to encourage more available housing. This is unrelated to separate efforts to bring more publicly-funded low-income housing to Hood River.

This vote would change minimum lot sizes to allow greater density in existing neighborhoods by allowing duplexes, triplexes, quadrlexes and cottage clusters on all R1 and R2 parcels across the city, and reduce off-street parking requirements on the assumption new home buyers will just park their cars along the streets.

The proposed changes could dramatically change the nature of Hood River. Since we moved here in 1978, I can remember no other council action of similar consequence to what I understand to be a recommendation by the planning commission.

The R1 requirement of 1 unit per 7,000 square feet would be changed to allow 1 dwelling per 2,500 square feet, or up to six “cottage” units. Only three-quarters of a parking spot will be required for each dwelling unit. Existing homes can also be converted to up to four “units.”

This zoning change will be strong economic incentives to remove even valuable, historic homes and build to maximal density. There can be no certainty that additional building sites will create an inventory of affordable housing.

Nationally, there are 1.9 vehicles per household. What will people do with only three-quarters of a parking spot? Will our roads be able to handle such a large increase in street traffic? Where will parks be created to meet the standards to serve more people? Are the utility and sewer systems capable of such potentially large increase in users?

The high cost of housing is a serious problem that deserves addressing, but surely solutions are possible without such dramatic changes to existing neighborhoods and with less risk of over-crowding our streets. For example, could these changes initially be restricted to current R3 zones?

This proposal may also not even solve the problem; increased supply will not reduce demand from out-of-town vacation home buyers.

Wider citizen discussion and understanding should happen before council moves forward.

Chuck Haynie

Hood River

Racist heritage

Somebody roamed our neighborhood at the end of February and removed all the “Black Lives Matter” lawn signs. This action broke two laws — theft and vandalism — and is an act of racist cowards.

So those who did this have a choice: Hang onto your cowardice like an egotistical lifeline or come sit in my front yard and have an adult discussion about our racist heritage.

David Hupp

Hood River

Lawnmower standard

President Biden is an experienced political insider. You want the Deep State? There you go, you’re looking at him. For him, winning a major legislative victory by one vote, as he has just done with the COVID Relief Bill, is exactly how to have a very good day. If it were more than one vote, he’d be going, huh, I wonder what we gave up that we didn’t have to give up.

Which I guess is okay for me. I’ve never been that thrilled by the guy, but maybe that’s what we need for now.

And I will say he passes the lawnmower test. If he were my next door neighbor, which would be okay with me, and he were to say, "Geez, Jerry, my lawnmower is in the shop, can I borrow yours?" Normally I do not lend tools, but I would lend him my lawnmower. And he would return it in good time, in good shape, with a full tank of gas. Would I loan my lawnmower to Trump? No, of course not. Would I loan my lawnmower to Bill Clinton? Huh, probably not. Interesting to find myself thinking that.

Jerrold Richards

Lyle

Williams refreshing

I would like to give accolades to Oregon House Rep. Anna Williams (D-Hood River). The Oregon state legislature has been reviewing House Bill 2358, which is a bill if passed, will make overtime pay mandatory for agricultural field workers beyond 40 hours per week.

As expected, there was much public testimony, both for and against. Farmers are against the bill as currently written due to low margins and the financial challenges of keeping small family farms viable.

As I read the letters of support of the bill, I realized most were from the urban areas in western Oregon and several were from both elected and appointed public officials.

When I started reading Rep. Williams’ testimony, I must admit that I expected a dialog similar to the representatives from Multnomah County. To my surprise and pleasure, as I read on I realized that Rep. Williams actually took the time to research the topic and obviously talked with commercial producers in her district. Her testimony was very well thought-out and showed compassion to both the field workers along with the small family farmers in our area.

What a breath of fresh air to see an elected official working on good for all sides regardless of political affiliations.

Jeff McNerney

Parkdale

Team truth

Individuals who enter “the truth” today are enlisting into a team. A team of soldiers as “The Scriptures” suggest.

Right from the beginning, the team which made up the body of truth was found in the sons and daughters of Israel. When they camped in the wilderness it was a military-arranged camp. When they moved it was an orderly military movement. Those who enlist today are not required to live in this manner but they still have the military team concept that is expected to be obeyed.

Here is a description of the ideal uniform for those who volunteer. “Therefore take up the full armor of the Creator … stand firm having girded your loins with truth … put on the breastplate of righteousness … and shod your feet with the gospel … take up the shield of faith … and take the helmet of salvation and the sword which is the Word.” This describes a soldier’s battle gear but those of today do not fight to spill blood. The weapons are words from “The Scriptures” refuting false ideas and teachings.

Like any army, the volunteers obey a chain of command. It reads like this, “I want you to understand that Messiah is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and the Father is head of Messiah.”

The Father, the Son, the man and then the woman. There is no “pastor” position in this chain. Why has pastor taken control and command from the Son? Pastor knows the church customer. They will worship and obey what they see. You can not see the Son but you can see pastor. Pastor deliberately usurps the chain of command demanding that they be obeyed above the Father’s word and the Son’s commandments.

To avoid this unforgivable sin, the Creator guides those in the truth with the commandment, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” The sacrificial courageous behavior of the sisters to voluntarily obey this seemingly unjust command humbles the brother’s political ambitions.

Men and women of the truth are a team not rivals.

Gary Fischer

The Dalles

Disgraced

Hello, my name is Corey Helyer I live in Wasco County in The Dalles.

I have been forced out of my home by means of a restraining order. I am a disabled combat veteran with severe PTSD and anxiety. Wasco County Judge John Wolf granted the order. I have been forced to leave my home. The reason the restraining order was granted was on the basis that I had called the veterans crisis line and I have suicidal tendencies.

I have been disgraced by Judge Wolf. He has also disrespected combat veterans of all ages. I am currently homeless, living out my car.

Corey Helyer

The Dalles

Where are we headed?

A yes vote on H.R.5 Bill — Equal Rights Act — would ensure no gender identity specifics and due to this, would allow transsexual female (boy) students to use girls' locker rooms and showers, public women’s restrooms subject to urinals, transsexual females allowed in “women only” shelters, places where abused women and children have been able to flee for safety and security from abusing boyfriends, husbands, and fathers, etc. Women’s sports are in danger of being taken over by transsexual girls who are born much stronger than women, by making new records that women will not be able to beat — this cannot be disputed. On Jan. 2, 2021, Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times reported, "The U.S. House Committee on Rules is clear on how to address gender in committees. In clause 8(c) (3) of rule XXII, if approved — (and may be by now), strikes any form or use of gender identity: Mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa, uncle, aunt, male, female, stepfather, stepmother, etc.” These measures, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern, will make the House of Representatives, “The most inclusive in history.” Get the picture? Once it starts in the House, it is more than likely the government will extend it to the public, workforce, churches, and everyday life! The director of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated children 10 years of age and older would have the right to hormonal therapy to change their sex — without parental consent, and under questioning in the Senate on Feb. 25, 2021, refused to give a definite yes or no. Church guidelines will be forced to comply with government rulings when our country was founded on the principles of freedom of religion without restrictions from the government! Vice President Kamala Harris said, “Every American has the right to freedom of religion in their home, church or synagogue” and left it there! Doctors and nurses would lose their license that refused to comply with sexual changes or to do abortions, even though there are other doctors who perform these services.

Do your own research! If you agree on the Equal Rights Act, that is your right. But if you don’t, please voice your opinion by writing to your senators, and congressmen (in case it is sent back to the House of Representatives).

Jeri Rector

Parkdale