Malheur leaders hopeful as Speaker backs legislative slate

By Les Zaitz

The Enterprise

Tina Kotek climbed aboard the plane last summer to fly back to Portland, mulling what she had heard in two days of meetings in Malheur County.

Over those days, she met onion farmers and packers. She rode over potholes with the Vale city manager. She listened as an industrialist explained why he wished he’d never built a new plant in Oregon instead of Idaho.

“I left thinking: ‘What could we do? What would be helpful?’ said Kotek, the Portland Democrat who is Oregon’s House speaker.

She answered her own question last week , teaming up with state Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, to announce ground-breaking legislation that would significantly boost efforts in Malheur County to attract new business and industry with more workers, more state money, and possibly relief from state regulations.

Local leaders reacted strongly to the proposal, appreciating Kotek’s support . . .