ONTARIO — Two bills of interest to Malheur County were passed on to the House Floor by the Joint Committee of the first Special Session of the Oregon Legislature on Wednesday.

Both bills had been brought over from the Short Session in February, which was stalled when Republicans walked out over cap and trade legislation. And, both bills were passed out of the joint committee on unanimous votes and were up for a second reading in the House, which was meeting this morning. The rules of the House were later suspended and the bills were given a third reading and passed unanimously, to be sent over to the Senate.

House Bill 4206 authorizes the Oregon Department of Agriculture to establish a state program of inspection of processed and sale of meat products from amenable species such as, but not limited to, cattle and sheep. Under the bill the state inspection program must have requirements that are equal to that of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, said the bill is a must as, while prices of meat are soaring in the grocery stores, they are going down for the producers and some are going out of business

However, the original bill was amended to say the state inspection program would not include horses.

The state program is being promoted as way to support the support the state cattle industry, particularly small producers and make it easier for producers to donate meat to nonprofits such as food banks and food pantries. These currently require that meat donated to them must be federally inspected.

House Bill 4209 clarifies that the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board’s grants and loans to enhance workforce and economic development may be spread over 10 active programs

at any one time. The original bill had limited funding to 10 loans and grants.

The bill also provides for the hiring of a a third party administrator to oversee the Board’s grant and loan programs. The Oregon Community Foundation was given as example of a third party administrator by Speak Tina Kotek.

The border region, as defined in the bill, includes that area within 20 miles of Idaho and stretches from the Annex and Brogan areas on the north to Adrian on the south.

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