DeFazio Gives Legislative Update

EUGENE, Ore. — There seems to be some confusion about why federal timber payment can only be spent a certain way by the county.

Congressman Peter DeFazio was at the federal courthouse Monday to give a legislative update.

He discussed the benefits of a new transportation bill recently passed by Congress along with more on the extension of federal timber payments and how it can be used in Lane County.

Federal law states that timber payments must be broken down so that a certain percent goes to Public Works.

That means out of the $10 million received, Lane County must use $6.5 million for the road fund.

DeFazio says that’s a law that’s been in place for over 100 years.

“It has very powerful interest behind it is that the counties have to provide the access to our forests both for recreation and commercial purposes, and that was sort of the rationale behind part of that revenue sharing with the counties,” DeFazio said.

DeFazio says to relieve the strain on the jail system, he’s looking at legislation to reinstate the Forest Work Camp program, which was closed in 2008. Then the timber money could possibly be used to pay for a program that would put low-risk offenders to work on federal forest projects and free up jail space.

For now, DeFazio says he’s pleased with the progress congress has made in these recent weeks.

DeFazio also discussed the one-year extension of student loan interest rates to stay at 3.4 percent, which will affect 120,000 Oregon students.

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