Unknown Speaker 0:08
legislature is the policymaking body for Oregon. So it's supposed to be the body that introduces ideas, debates, ideas, votes and ideas. And then the executive branch is supposed to go carry those ideas out. And if there's a question about whether that execution is correct, or whether the idea is even constitutional, then the judicial branch can get involved.
Welcome to cascade views a discussion with Central Oregon leaders. Your host is Michael SIPE, local business and community leader Best Selling Author of the Avada principle and candidate for Oregon State Representative for House District 53, which encompasses southern Redman sisters tremolo in northern bend. The purpose of these discussions is to share the views and insights of local leaders from a variety of community sectors on a range of timely and important regional and state issues. With that, now, here's your host, Michael SIPE.
Michael Sipe 1:05
Thanks for joining us on cascade views. My name is Michael SIPE, and I'll be your host. My guest today is E Warner Redsky. Werner is a lifelong Oregonian who serves in the Oregon legislature and has excelled as a state representative in serving the rural communities of South Central Oregon since 2017. He's currently running for reelection in the newly redrawn Oregon House District 55, which now includes some of the southern portions of Deschutes County repress he earned colada honors from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration, with an emphasis on international business and marketing, and minors in economics and German. Representative Rasky has 30 years of business experience he owned a technical online marketing agency for 18 years prior to his position in the state legislature when he currently serves on three House committees in the Oregon Legislature, including Vice Chair of house revenue committee, member of joint Ways and Means Committee, member of joint emergency board committee who stands for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and champions free markets, education excellence and free speech. A few of his recent legislative accomplishments include sponsoring and passing legislation for Crater Lake National Park Day, funding for drought relief tax credits for rural medical providers, protecting small businesses from unemployment insurance price surge fund, different Klamath Community College, Klamath County Economic Development Association, as well as recognizing Oregon Tech as Oregon's only Polytechnic University, where he's on the show today to give us a little education on how the Oregon legislature works and to share some of his perspectives on a few state issues. I'm sure we're all going to learn a lot, including me. So Werner, welcome to the show.
Unknown Speaker 2:58
Thank you, Michael. It's great to be here.
Michael Sipe 3:01
Well, let's start with a little background. You're a businessman who stepped into politics. So tell us how that came about.
Unknown Speaker 3:08
Sure. So I graduated from Oregon State. As you mentioned, I went to work for a fortune 500 company in the Portland area, and then went to a different fortune 500, which was in the high tech industry. And then that company got bought out by a third fortune 500 company. So spent the first 10 years in the Portland area, Portland metro area, working first wood products, and then high tech. My wife and I, we had our first son. And so we decided that we would not raise them in the Portland area, but back where she grew up, which was in Southern Oregon. And so we moved there, and I needed a job. And so I took my skills that I crafted for about 10 years in high tech and started an online marketing agency did that for about 1718 years. And at the end of that I decided to run for state representative. I'd never served in public office around for anything in my life. I was just tired as a I shouldn't say I was tired. I was frustrated as a businessman, having taxes continually going up and up and up and seeing the state spend the money. They were spending it in a way they were spending it and it just wasn't it just wasn't working out. I wasn't seeing any results on the ground. I wasn't seeing any better education. Matter of fact, I was seeing worse education. I wasn't seeing better this or that it was just the same or worse. And all I could hear from Salem was we need more of your money. So my wife said, you know, when I listen to television programs or radio, they can't hear you when you yell at them. So you need to either shut up or do something. And so I decided to run and do something about it. So that's kind of how I got into it.
Michael Sipe 4:54
I get it. Well, just in a general sense. What have you seen is the differences between running a business and serving in the state legislature?
Unknown Speaker 5:04
Well, there's quite quite a few things, I guess I'd put my my finger on the one thing that is just as blatant but needs to be said. And that is, in a business. If you do things that don't work, you go out of business, in government, you can do things that don't work, blame somebody else, and then do it more. And government never goes out of business. And just seems to be able to obfuscate why it hasn't succeeded. Now, people can get unelected and so forth. But unless the direction changes, you see the same mistakes made over and over again, or doubling down or you can just name it. But that's that's one thing that just blew my mind away was just that, here, we have evidence that what we're doing isn't working, and we're going to fund it more
Michael Sipe 5:56
painful, so painful. Well, listen, we have a broad audience for this show with varied understandings of how state government works. And you may have just depressed us all. But we got three branches of government, state government, executive, judicial, and legislative. And I think people probably understand the governor and the executive branch and probably have some understanding about the state Supreme Court and the judicial system. So let's just focus today on the legislative branch, give us a little education about the Oregon legislative branch. Yeah, I
Unknown Speaker 6:33
mean, I would say that we don't probably understand those other two branches, because they keep modeling in the legislative, legislative business. Legislatures business. The legislature is the policymaking body for Oregon. So it's supposed to be the body that introduces ideas, debates, ideas, votes and ideas. And then the executive branch is supposed to go carry those ideas out. And if there's a question about whether that execution is correct, or whether the idea is even constitutional, than the judicial branch can get involved. But what we saw over the last, you know, two years with the COVID response, especially here in Oregon, the legislature was tossed to the side as the governor just started writing executive order after executive order under emergency state of emergency that just never seem to end. And the legislature because it was a Democrat legislator, legislature, they did not want to offend or up end their Democrat governor. And so she basically got a blank check to do whatever she wanted policy wise. And it was very frustrating. And, you know, the biggest thing I've always said, problem with government is executive overreach. And that usually finds its way in agencies making up rules without legislative authority. So we have I think it's the let me think of its dq, I think it is the EQ or its OSHA, I can't remember which agency it is, has just put out heat rules. The legislature never weighed in on heat rules. We never said you need to, you know, agency X, you must create rules that say if the temperature gets above 90 degrees, that a worker gets 15 minutes off, if it gets above 100, they get 30 minutes off, if it goes above 110 degrees they get they just made it up. They just made those rules up out of thin air. And now businesses have to apply, you know, abide by them. The legislature can go back and overrule them, because the legislature trumps any executive agency rule, but they should not be making rules without authority from the legislature.
Michael Sipe 8:52
Well, let's assume that it worked. Right. Okay. Which is I realized a big assumption, but let's assume it worked. Right? Tell us how bills get passed, and how laws are made if we're actually, you know, following the balance of power and, and the way that the system was designed, what's the process of taking an idea and turning it into law? Right.
Unknown Speaker 9:16
So let's take an example. Let's take an example of the estate tax in Oregon. If you your estate is over a million dollars in Oregon, you're going to owe some state taxes and Oregon's like one of 10 states it might be 11 or something like that, that still have a state estate tax. So we're in the minority there. So and the problem is is property values especially in the Portland area and in Bend, continue to grow. There are a lot going to be a lot of accidental millionaires where someone who passed away and they bought their house maybe for $100,000 and now it's worth 1.5. And now Now their heirs are going to have to pay taxes on the sale of that house. And they're not prepared to do that. And they can put you in the poor farm really, really quick, you become cash poor, or the proceeds from the sale you're using just to pay the state. So let's say we said, we want to eliminate that we wanted to be like the majority of states in Oregon and not have an estate tax. So a legislator, such as myself would go to what's called Legislative Council, there's about 20 or so, attorneys that work for legislators, the 90 of us. And I would say, I'd like you to like to draft the bill that does X, Y, and Z, here's the goal, here's they create a draft and legalese, send it back to me, I would mark it up and send it back to them, we go back and forth till I said, Okay, this is good. Then come a legislative session, the next one, which would be in January, I would introduce that bill. And that bill would be go to the Speaker's office, the speaker would assign it to a committee. So estate tax has to do with taxes. So most likely, it would go to the house revenue committee, while I sit on the house revenue committee as the vice chair, so that's good. My bill would be in that committee. It is the sole desire or authority of the chair of that committee to decide which bills get heard and which bills will be voted on. So I can have the best idea since sliced bread. But if the chair decides they don't want to hear it, they don't want to move it, it will die by the session ending in it's sitting in committee. So let's say I'm able to convince the chair to say, you know, we should hear this so I could get a public hearing. And so I round up all the people that thought this is a great idea, we'd come testify before the committee. And there would be some people that would probably come and testify against it saying no, the state needs that revenue. And, you know, it's not fair that the rich people get to keep all their money and on and off ghosts. Let's say that's over now, I have to convince the chair to hold a vote. And typically, you don't hold the vote unless you have a majority of members on the committee that will pass it. So my job then would be to go get a majority of members while I'm in the minority. So that means I've got to go find a Democrat to join my Republican friends to pass it. If I did that, and I was successful there, then it would go to the House floor on the House floor, it would be up for a vote for all 60 members. And I'd have to make sure that there were 31 votes down on the House floor. Well, right now, there's only 23 Republicans. So that means I have to go find eight Democrats to join me in a vote and tell them why it was good. That's very difficult, but it can't happen. Let's say that happened. Let's see, I got that done. Then it goes to the Senate. And the process starts all over again, it goes to the Senate president's office, he would assign it to probably the Senate Finance and revenue committee, they would have to then convince the Chair of the Senate Finance and revenue committee to hold a public hearing. If I got that, you would go back again and testify before that committee and say, here are the reasons why as our detractors say, here's the reasons why you shouldn't pass it, I then have to convince them to have a vote. Since I'm not on that committee in the Senate, I'd have to make sure I had some allies in the Senate to get enough votes to get that out of committee. And then when it goes to the Senate floor, I'd have to make sure there were 16 votes to pass the 30 body. It's a 30 member body. So if all that habit, then it goes to the governor's office, and if I haven't ticked off the governor enough, then she would sign it and it would become a law. But that's kind of the simple process of a bill going through one committee to get will actually one committee on each chamber to be go from an idea to become law.
Michael Sipe 13:51
So that's a kind of a tax matter. Is there a distinction between the House and the Senate in regard to tax bills?
Unknown Speaker 13:58
Yeah, that's a good question. So any tax bill that raises revenue, has to start in the house doesn't have to start in the house revenue committee. But it does have to start in the House chamber. So there's been some there's been a couple of tax bills that I think we've passed recently that the argument was made, but failed that this didn't start in the house, therefore, you can't it can't move forward. But Democrats run the entire building. And so it went forward in the past, and the only way to change that then would be to challenge it in court, which is an expensive proposition.
Michael Sipe 14:36
But in general, if have a revenue bill, if a tax bill is going to get launched, it's going to be launched, it'll be in the house. Yeah, it'd be the House House, which makes the House of Representatives pretty criticise.
Unknown Speaker 14:47
It is and you know, it could start in a policy committee. So let's say the bill, the estate tax, we said we didn't want to eliminate the state tax. Let's say we wanted to lower it. instead of the money going to the general fund, we wanted to go to child care. So then I'd probably that bill would probably start in a policy committee that deals with child care, they would have to pass it, then it would come to the house revenue committee, we would have to pass it before it went to the floor, and then what the Senate did with it. Who knows they might just put it to Senate Finance, they may do the same thing. So Bill can go through multiple committees before it gets to the chamber floor, just depending on its topic.
Michael Sipe 15:30
That's interesting. You alluded a little bit earlier to some of the political makeup of the house in the Senate. And, and the majority status over the last few years. So talk to us just a little bit about the general implications of a supermajority of one party over another.
Unknown Speaker 15:48
Yeah. So when I when I joined in 2017, there were 25 Republicans in the House, and I'll just talk about the house right now. There are 25 Republicans and 35 Democrats totaling 60. That meant the Democrats had a majority, if they all locked up, they had a majority of pass basically any policy without asking for one Republican vote. And they did a lot of times they had just pass it on party line vote, and maybe a few Democrats would vote no, but they had, you know, a few to give up to get to 31. So they do that. There were some ideas so that they would come up and say, well, we want to do X, and we're going to pass this bill. And then we would say, Well, how are you going to pay for it? Says because if you think you're going to add a tax to this bill, there aren't any Republican votes for that. And so the difference between just a policy bill, and a tax bill that raises revenue for the state, is that a tax bill needs to have a supermajority of members or 60% of members. So let me get to 36 votes in the House to pass something. So like I said, The split was 2535, they would have to peel off or one Republican to vote for them to pass a tax. So in my first term, there was a lot of that that went on, they wanted to do something we'd say how you're going to pay for you're going to take it on education and take it on public safety, you're going to take it out of health care, where are you going to get this money. And since the state doesn't print money, they would just have to let that idea kind of sit on the sidelines and hope for a better day. Well, that better day came for them and 28th, the 2018 election when they got 38 Democrats in the House, and all of a sudden they had a supermajority. So that meant they could pass any policy they wanted to, and they can pass any tax that they wanted to. And they did, they tagged a raise taxes over $5 billion in that the 2019 session.
Michael Sipe 17:46
Wow. So let's talk a little bit about some of the challenges you see in the state right now. This is kind of a nice segue into that, obviously, there's a lot, but maybe you just share two or three that you see as the most pressing in the year ahead, and especially those that the legislature could address.
Unknown Speaker 18:06
Well, I think, you know, this election cycle is going to be real interesting. So we, we on the right, continue to preach, the red wave cometh. And the question is, is that red wave get independent over the Cascades. And that's been the problem. In the past, when people thought a red wave was coming, it would just kind of hit the Cascades and stop it never make it into the Willamette Valley. But it's hard to say what what we would do because I don't know what the makeup of the legislature will be. Right now. We have a total Democrat run operation. They have their super majority in the House supermajority in the Senate, and they have the governor's office. You know, if we had a Republican Senate, which I think we probably will and 23. And we had a Republican governor, which we very well could in 23. And we had a Democrat house, let's say that's the scenario. Basically, what you'll see happening is you'll see probably decent policy go forward, but you wouldn't be able to unwind anything because Democrats in the House would block it, you wouldn't be able to push forward, Democrats wouldn't be able to push for any worse policy, again, because Republicans would block it either at the governor's office or at the Senate. So you'll probably see a lot you would probably see a lot of bills that have bipartisan support that eBay agrees on and there's plenty of those in a session. It's just that I think the legislature would kind of be at a at a standstill or a pause as people are sharpening their knives for the 2024 election. But as far as some of the problems that I see out there, I mean, I would just say you know, the number one problem that we see is affordability in Oregon. It is just it's it's very expensive to live here. And there's a couple of reasons for that and they you can draw straight lines to Democrat policies. One is the The National level and of course, we see gas prices and diesel going through the roof. And that just makes everything expensive that goes by truck or rail or plane to get to your store, or to your front door for that matter. You also see inflation of the the ARPA bill. And I would argue some of the spending under the Trump administration was probably not a good thing in the long run, because it meant we flooded the market with dollars, we had too few goods, when you raise wages, when you raise revenue without increasing productivity, what you end up with is inflation. And that's what we have now. And then, and then we just have a tax, you know, tax burden in Oregon, that seems to be second to none, unfortunately. And so you add all those things together, and Oregon just becomes really unaffordable, you could add our land use laws are very inflexible, and so we don't have enough supply housing. So that's driving up things. It's just everywhere you look, it just seems like the wrong policy has led to where we're at today.
Michael Sipe 21:06
Well, let's talk about some opportunities you see. So let's say the voters of Oregon I see fit to return the legislature to even just a balanced situation, not a supermajority completely controlled by one party, as it has been for, I don't know, a decade or more, right. And not even necessarily that one or both houses end up with a Republican majority just just parody. So we can have reasoned debate and negotiation. What are two or three things that you think that the legislature should go after? That could make things better for everyone in Oregon?
Unknown Speaker 21:42
Well, it'll be interesting, because the Democrats are really far left. And so you're, you have very different worldviews, I don't know how much compromise can happen there. Again, there's a lot of stuff that we do in the course of a session that we all agree on. So budgets are one of those things. But at least Republicans in that scenario that you painted, well have a say in things. Currently, we don't have a say in things, we just say, well, we don't like that. And they say, Well, too bad. We're passing it. And so I think I think it will slow down the march to the left. You know, if we want to tackle some of these problems head on, I really think we need to go in entirely new direction. And to do that we're going to need with Republican majorities in the House and in the Senate, or be able to convince enough Democrats in the House to, to come over on our side on certain key issues. And that's possible, but it's gonna take a lot of work. So, you know, I'm optimistic that things will be much, much better, because we will stop more bad things from happening when I would call. But I don't think we'll be able to enact a lot of great legislation that moves Oregon in a new direction, because again, Democrats have invested in the last 10 to 15 years in control, saying, Nope, this is the way we want to go.
Michael Sipe 23:08
Well, that might make the next couple of years of the legislature actually somewhat positive to Oregonians, I mean, one of the things I hear over and over and over again, particularly from from business people, but that across the board is just stop, like, Stop already. Like no more rules, no more regulations just yeah, like ease up, you know,
Unknown Speaker 23:31
like, well, that's wrong. Yeah, you'll get that you'll get that in a split, split government. And I think that's, that's definitely a good thing. But there's a lot of things that have been set in motion in the last six, eight years that I really think we have to unwind. And so if again, our goal is to make Oregon affordable, or if we want to put excellence back into education, or we want to change community safety so that we have, you know, adequate police response. So we have bas doing their jobs, etc. If we want all that we really we really have to go a different direction. We can't just coast but again, yes, the the there are a lot of thing, a lot of good things could happen in a split legislature in the sense that things would slow down or stop as far as extreme policies going forward.
Michael Sipe 24:27
Yes, it's not like we have a shortage of laws, right.
Unknown Speaker 24:30
No, that's, you know, we in the house, I think we that, you know, just ballpark figure we'll, we'll vote on about 1000 bills in a session. There might not be quite that many, and they'll probably be about two to 3000 introduced in both chambers. So is a massive amount of work. And on 85% of them You'll get bipartisan support, because it might be, you know, they're just common sense thing that an agency might come forward and say we need this in order to do X. And you'll say, Oh, that makes sense. Yeah. Okay, great. Go do X. But it's the it's not the volume necessarily that that often hurts us. It's that 15%, where we do disagree that Democrats have just had this say, for the last 1015 years without Republican input.
Michael Sipe 25:31
Well, this has been really educational. Last question here, as we, as we wrap up, and kind of get down to the last couple minutes. What would your recommendations be for voters, regardless of party affiliation? What would you recommend that voters do in this election cycle? How can they get educated? And how should they decide who to vote for?
Unknown Speaker 25:53
That's a great question. You know, I could just say vote read, but that you just you just took that option away from you. So here's what I'll say is a recent poll in was taken by DHS research, I think back in March of this year, and this is a poll they've been taking every every two years since 2011. They skipped 2020, because it was COVID. They didn't have the ability to do the polls. So they didn't do it. But the poll starts out with this simple question. Do you think Oregon's on the right track or the wrong track? And over the last 10 years or so it's been pretty close to 5050? It's usually 50%. Say, Yeah, we're on the right track. 50% would say we're on the wrong track, sometimes 5248 4654 You know, something like that. It's within the margin of error. That is pretty much half the state thinks we're doing okay, half the state thinks we're not doing so great. And that's yielded in Democrat victories for that time that those polls been taken. In March, I said, again, the poll was taken by DHS research. And the number was 73% of Oregonians said, we're on the wrong track. I just turned it updated numbers saying it's 79%. So, Oregonians are not happy. And all I have to say is the last 10 years for sure, if up to 15 years, there was one year that there was parity in the house 3030 In that time, but basically the last 15 years since 2007, Democrats have run the table, every poll, everything that you'll complain about, I can point to a policy that is Democrat policy. So if you want more of the same vote for the Democrat, if you want a new direction, you want fresh ideas, you want a new direction, vote Republican, that's as simple as I can make it. But that would be my advice. You know, you can go look at candidates, and so forth and so on. And that's great. But when we get to Salem, it's a team sport, Representative rescue, you can't pass a bill without 30 other people in support of him. And it's a lot easier to get that support if they're on, quote my team, than having to go across to the other team and say, Hey, because the question becomes, what are you going to do for me rep. Rasky. And what they want me to do for them is I don't like so that those things don't happen. So it's a lot better to move good policy for I say different policy forward. If you don't like what we're doing right now. By voting Republican in November.
Michael Sipe 28:29
You know, it's interesting, you're a business guy, I'm a business guy, a lot of people listening to this are in business and, and to your, one of your early points. You know, if if a business is failing, if a business is doing poorly, the shareholders look to the CEO, they look to the leaders of the company, the ones running the company, they and then the stories really don't fly like it's they're really not that interested in the story. Like, oh, well, you need to understand blah, blah, blah. Now the shareholders say, you're in charge of this ship, and, and you're messing up and guess what? You're out. And so we've had some people in charge of the ship now for a long time. Yeah. And when you look around and look at all of the challenges, I mean, everywhere you turn, things are broken. You know, the business solution is, wow, you know, we really ought to change the CEO, we really,
Unknown Speaker 29:26
really ought to change the management team, the new
Michael Sipe 29:30
management team, because we can make up all kinds of stories, but the bottom line is,
Unknown Speaker 29:35
it's busted. Every two years we come back, it's the same story, it's somebody else's fault, or we just need more time or we need more revenue for these ideas to work in the marketplace. You know, at some point, those shareholders say, adios. So you know, the other thing you can do, I'm just thinking, you know, rather than just just voting Republican, which I would prefer, is to go look at what candidate is for and really understand what that is. It's easy for, for me to say, here are the things I'm against, what are the things they are for? And then how do they think they're going to get there? And if it's, oh, I'm for education. Well, that's great. How are you going to get there? Oh, well, we need to spend more money on education. Well, we're spending more money on education than we've ever spent in our state's history. So he's worried our solution is to do the same thing. Okay, gotcha. what's your what's your what's when things your for all candidate be on for excellence in education? Oh, what do you want to do? Well, I think that we should maybe see how we can enhance charter schools. And I think we should see how we can get private schools better, and maybe we could give parents more choice in their education. Oh, would that cost me more? No, it wouldn't cost any more, maybe my cost a little less? Oh, okay. Well, that, find out what people are for, find out how they expect to get there. And that if it's more of the same, then I would recommend not voting for.
Michael Sipe 31:05
That's a great point. Where it's been great having you on the show, I think my main takeaway is, is really the complexity of the lawmaking process, and also the significance of the supermajority and how challenging that is to have a rational discourse and debate, which is really what the whole idea of a multi party system and the legislature was supposed to be, at least as I understand my old civics lessons, we were supposed to be able to have a rational discourse and and hear multiple sides to the issue and, and figure out how to design a solution that results in the highest and best for everyone. And based on your description, and my observation, it sure doesn't seem like that's been happening.
Unknown Speaker 31:57
Yeah, you know, the legislative process isn't perfect, but it is public. And that's the thing that's really good about it is that the public does get to weigh in on it. And then if the public doesn't like what the legislature decides, they can take action in two years, every two years, especially in the house. So when executive rules get written, or executive orders get written, you can give public input. But if those rules go forward, if there's no way to vote out that ad agency administrator, so it's, it's a whole different ballgame in the rulemaking process. The legislative process, it's slow, it's cumbersome, it's involved. But all in all, it's it's a it's a good process, and it is messy, and it should be because you have people involved, you know, people involved, anything gets messy, and it's good. It's it's a good thing to have. And I just encourage more people to get involved.
Michael Sipe 32:56
Whenever you're a good man, I sure appreciate your time. I appreciate your message today, and I wish you well in your campaign for reelection.
Unknown Speaker 33:05
Thank you. It was great to be with you, Michael. Appreciate it.
Michael Sipe 33:08
My guest today has been e Werner risky. You can learn more about Warner and his campaign at WWW dot Warner for oregon.com forerunner for oregon.com and then you can learn what he's for. Thanks, everybody for tuning in.
Thanks for listening to cascade views with Michael SIPE. To find out more about Mike the upcoming election. The key issues he's focused on in his campaign to represent Central Oregon and Salem as a state representative. Visit www dot a voice for Central oregon.com that's www dot a voice for Central oregon.com You can get your own copy of Michael sites best selling book the Avada firstname.lastname@example.org. And finally, please vote in the upcoming election. Your Voice Matters