District 55 Representative McLane seeks second term

After the first legislative session, Representative Mike McLane has new insight into what happens behind the scenes in Salem.

McLane is also running as an incumbent once again for District 55, and just came back from Salem after 34 days in legislative session. McLane will be challenged by LaPine resident John Huddle for the position in November. Huddle has not run for Representative in District 55 before, but challenged Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Dist. 53) in 2010.

As a freshman in the first short legislative session, McLane was the only freshman on the Legislative Emergency Board, and he also served on the Ways and Means Committee. He has been involved in budget issues to make sure Oregon prospers and gets more done.

Altogether, 120 bills and measures passed in the House, with a deadline to get bills out of committee in two weeks. Of these, McLane introduced the Data Center Jobs Bill, House Bill 4067, which helped lift the potential threat of central assessment to data centers that are protected by rural enterprise zones in Oregon. McLane said that the Senate passed a bill that mirrored his bill, which passed in a timely manner — ensuring that data centers looking at locating in enterprise zones in Oregon wouldn’t be centrally assessed for the duration of their contracts.

As a state representative, McLane believes in reading each bill as thoroughly as possible. McLane said that the committees worked really hard, but during the short session, he believes the Legislature really needs to be able to focus on fewer bills and more on the budget.

McLane said that there are some noted advantages of being a rural state representative. He is getting ready to go on a “southern swing” to the southern counties and communities, where he will conduct several town halls.

“You get a pretty good update on what is going on,” said McLane.

“When you talk politics with people, and you’re sitting down and having a cup of coffee and someone joins you, you realize that politics is local,” he added. “When people feel disconnected from government, it breeds distress. A republic does not function well in an atmosphere of distress, and that has been pervasive too long with our federal government. As long as I’m serving, I am definitely going to be out as much as possible doing those town halls, and sitting down and talking to people.”

This is one trait that sets McLane apart, with his willingness to meet those he represents where they are at. McLane also elaborated that technology has also made it even easier to stay in touch with those he represents.

“I am only one mouse-click away from letting me know about a concern, and that is important because when you represent a district that goes from Prineville to the California border, and over to Medford and back, you can’t be at every football game, gathering, or club meeting.”

McLane reflected that it is his sincere desire to make life in rural Oregon better. “In Oregon, we have to realize that to pay for the programs we all want, we have to have private-sector jobs. To have private-sector jobs, we have to have the fundamentals of developed land, water, electricity, etc. So we need more balance in our use of natural resources and water.”

He said that the state would not want to go back to the days of pollution and abusive land use practices. “Nobody wants to do that — we’re not going to do that,” said McLane. He cautioned that Oregonians can’t forget the fact that it needs to be a productive state. Oregon has declined to 30th in per capita income in the United States.

“Oregon has an abundance of natural resources, and we have to have a balanced approach to the stewardship of those resources. If we don’t, it will have long-term consequences.”
During a presentation at “What’s Brewing?” Wednesday, McLane gave an overview of the recent legislative session, and explained some of the house bills that had passed, and their relevance to Central Oregonians. He emphasized that no drastic cuts were made to some of the most vulnerable populations and to education. There were several bills that were passed that involved public safety, education, health care, and job creation.

He enjoys being a legislator, and loves representing District 55 because he is “a small-town kid from Condon.” McLane emphasized that it takes the efforts of all legislators working together to get the hard work done for Oregon during the legislative session.

McLane added that he was frustrated on some of the bills that didn’t pass due to election politics. “That was frustrating to me.” said McLane, “If we’re going to be there in Salem, and we’re going to work bills, let’s work them based on their merit, not based upon the politics of who sponsored them.

“Oregon is still a small state, thank goodness, and relationships matter and integrity matters.” He added that there was also a lot of bipartisan support and collaboration in Salem. He said that most of the time, he believes that leaders in Oregon still are willing to roll up their sleeves and listen to one another to get the work done to make Oregon communities a better place.

“I’m glad we’re still like that. Because our problems are too big, and the system too complex, to not commit to engage and do the hard work to get things done, and most of the time in Salem the legislators do just that.”

One thing that McLane has come to realize as a result of living in a small town is the fact that when people disagree and have different opinions, it takes collaboration and work to produce results. “When you are in the big capitol, you have got 60 legislators in the House and 30 in the Senate, and they aren’t just going to go away because you don’t agree with them. I think one of the skills I have is to be able to sit down, listen to people, and to build consensus. I credit that with being a small-town kid.”
He also related to his experience as an attorney in a rural community. “A lot of times, its ‘How do we get things done to make this better for the most people?’ I think the legislature lends itself to that set of skills.”’
McLane is also currently a member of the Air National Guard. He is a part of the 173rd Fighter Wings in Kingsley Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls, Ore. He compared the fact that just as the military requires team work, the legislature also requires everyone working together.

“It is definitely a team sport,” he commented. “I am pleased that I have got such support from urban legislators to get the job done.

“There are times when there are bills that are introduced by urban legislators who are a different party than I am and a different viewpoint than I am,” he continued. “It is concerning their local community, and it is hard for me to see how this affects my district. But I learned that it is important to them, so I need to listen and I need to support them whenever I can so that they can make their community better. If you go into Salem with an us-versus-them mentality, you just don’t accomplish much.”

Link: District 55 Representative McLane seeks second term

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