Max Denning

Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) might be in the super-minority in the Oregon Legislature, but don’t tell him that. The sixth-year Oregon senator has introduced more than 70 bills already, and the Legislature is in only its third week of the 2019 session. Hansell said he is committed to serving his constituents in District 29.

The Oregon senator, now in his second term, has a legislative agenda that includes bills aimed at strengthening resources for protection against wildfires and farmland fires, offering Eastern Oregon counties with options to change property zoning, and helping rural Oregon cities have more options for electrical contractors.

Two bills for which Hansell is the chief sponsor, SB 291 and SB 292, would allocate more resources for potential air response to fires and also would grant “more flexibility” to the state in how to fight these fires, Hansell said.

Hansell is also cosponsoring a bill with Senate President Peter Courtney that would allow a number of Eastern Oregon counties to rezone land outside the urban growth boundary of any city or county. The bill’s description says: “Allows listed eastern Oregon counties that undertake economic opportunity analysis to designate up to 50 acres outside urban growth boundaries for industrial and other employment uses.”

Hansell explained that these laws would still leave it up to the respective counties to make the decision if they want to rezone all 50 acres.

“If a county is below a certain population and has not grown economically, they will be able to do some land use planning differences in order to attract businesses,” Hansell said.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer