Its Time to Bring Our Troops Home

Yesterday, I was joined by members of the Oregon Senate and House today to introduce a memorial urging Congress to create a plan for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. The Memorial, HJM 38 "The Oregon Homeward Bound Act," calls for Congress to pass a resolution that declares that it is the policy of the United States to announce a plan for withdrawal from Iraq that would begin by October 1, 2006.

The memorial mirrors a bi-partisan resolution that has been introduced in Congress by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-TX). The federal Resolution, "The Homeward Bound Act" (HJR 55) is a binding Resolution calling for President Bush to announce by the end of 2005 a plan for withdrawal from Iraq that would begin by October 1, 2006. The Oregon Resolution urges Congress to pass the federal resolution.

We hope to send a message to Washington with this legislation. If legislatures across this country join us in passing similar Homeward Bound Acts, I believe we can send a strong message to the President that we need a sea- change in strategy and a way to get our troops home. We cannot ask Oregon's sons and daughters, husbands and wives, to spill their blood for Iraq's security forever.

I was joined by chief co-sponsors of the memorial - Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), whose son Justin is a member of the U.S. Army and has served in Iraq, and Sen. Avel Gordly (D-Portland), whose legislative aide has a son serving with the military in the Middle-East. Co-sponsors of the resolution attending the press conference included Representatives Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene), Vice-Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee Peter Buckley (D- Ashland), and Mitch Greenlick (D- Portland/Washington County).

U.S. troops have completed an important task. They have overthrown a despicable dictator. They have ushered in Iraq's first elections. They have secured a victory. And now, the Homeward Bound Act is a way to bring our troops home.

June 28, 2005 by Chip Shields
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Oregon Spending More on Prisons than Universities and Community Colleges


Representative Chip Shields is a first term legislator representing NE Portland

With the budget for the Department of Corrections increasing 32% this year to $1.2 billion for the 2005- 07 biennium, and the prison population growing rapidly, Oregonians are being forced to spend a greater share of tax-payer dollars on incarceration rather than on education. Currently in Oregon we spend more on corrections than we spend on universities and community colleges combined.

Because I believe that it is imperative for this Legislature to begin the difficult work of stabilizing our growing prison population and addressing our funding priorities, I have worked hard to ensure passage of Senate Bills 435. There is considerable evidence that this bill will increase public safety and save taxpayer dollars. It will allow the state to shift much needed funds to K-12, higher education, law enforcement, and services for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Senate Bill 435 would increase earned time credits from 20% to 33% for non-Measure 11 offenders (Measure 11 is the mandatory minimum sentencing law in Oregon). Earned time credits are credits accumulated by inmates time for good behavior that allow inmates to cut time off their sentence (e.g. - for completing drug and alcohol treatment, obtaining a GED, not assaulting corrections officers).

Evidence shows that expanding earned time will not only save money, but will also increase public safety since the accumulation of earned time credits is associated closely with reduced recidivism. Washington recently increased their earned time credits to 50%. SB 435 will save the state $6.5 million this biennium, $26 million by 2007-09, and will allow the delay of building the Madras prison

SB 435 had a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 12. In addition to my testimony, Rep. Gary Hansen testified in support of the bill. Numerous advocates for education and social services testified in support including Cynthia Guyer, a crime victim and Executive Director of the Portland Schools Foundation, and Tom Fahey, president of the Portland Community College Foundation.

May 26, 2005 by Chip Shields
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