COOS BAY — Coos County State Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay, spoke with citizens of Coos Bay on Tuesday night at Marshfield High School in a town hall meeting to promote her re-election.
Around 25 people attended the meeting at Marshfield’s Heritage Hall. The majority of the crowd was older, but there were also several high school students who took interest in what McKeown had to say.
McKeown began the discussion by talking about some of the things she’s proud of that the state House of Representatives has been able to accomplish while being a participant.
She talked about her success with the planned replacement of the old Scottsburg Bridge along Highway 38. Highway 38 is the Oregon Department of Transportation’s primary supply route from the Interstate 5 corridor to the South Coast in the event of a natural disaster.
“That bridge opened in 1929, and it is not designed for modern traffic. They are designing the bridge right now, it will go out to bid around February 2019, with about a three-year construction cycle. They’ll build a bridge down river from the old bridge, and then they will remove the old bridge so there won’t be a disruption,” McKeon said.
During her time in office the McKeown aided the house in passing stricter regulations for elderly care facilities. She used Baycrest Memory Care as an example.
“We passed legislation in the last two sessions that dealt with that pretty effectively," said McKeown. What we did is we update the fine schedule that was 20 years old to give them tools to bring these facilities into compliance. Then if they’re not in compliance then we have the authority to shut them down.
The other legislation regarding care facilities that McKeown spoke of was extending the Nursing Home Licensing Board to be the Long Term Care Licensing Board. Making all of long term care facilities comply with the same licensing process.
McKeown did note that Bay Crest decided to close it’ doors instead of getting into compliance and was not closed by the state.
She also touched on recent legislation that allows a more surgical approach to domoic acid closures in the crabbing industry. In the event that domoic acid is found, segments of the coast will be closed instead of the entire Oregon coast crab fishery shutting down.
One thing McKeown talk about was improving the transit options offered by Coos County Area Transit. A specific interest being that there be proper transportation available to students attending Southwestern Oregon Community college.
“We’ve got kids in Marshfield and North Bend that we know are going to SWOCC and are taking advantage of the expanded options program," she said. To take college course work at no cost to the student and graduate with college credit. How do we interact with the high schools and college to make sure that somebody who’s out in Myrtle Point and is taking classes at SWOCC are offered the very best transit options?”
McKeown took questions from the audience after giving her brief speech. She was asked questions regarding the railroads, homelessness, and gun control.
As for homelessness McKeown feels there needs to be some sort of push for both affordable housing and creation of more jobs.
Marshfield student and co-organizer of our local March for our Lives Protest Cameron Langley asked McKeown about school safety what is being done to improve school safety.
“One of the bills that we passed in 2017, I think is really important for people be aware of. Oregon has passed probably the most aggressive gun control measures in the country. We’ve done a lot,” McKeown said.
McKeown is referring specifically to a bill known as the Extreme Risk Protection bill. That allows a citizen to appear before a judge and begin an investigation on another person they believe to be mentally unfit to own a firearm. If the investigation confirms that suspicion the individual’s weapons will be taken away for a minimum 30 days and a maximum of one year.
The bill is modeled after a 20-year-old bill out of the state of Connecticut. According to McKeown, over that 20-year period, only 700 Extreme Risk Protection Orders were carried out.
McKeown also spoke as to what she would like to accomplish if she is re-elected as state representative of Oregon’s Ninth District.
“I will continue to be working to protect our seniors. I will continue to work on implementing the transportation package. This is a 10-year process, and as chair of the committee its part of my job to make sure that the legislation that we wrote is implemented well. Also I want to look into more ways of dealing with issue of poverty and Job creation. Creating a robust economy so that we can deal the issues of poverty,” McKeown said.