Pot Plight

On Thursday the Trump administration lifted an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on marijuana markets in states where the drug is legal. It is now up to federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules collide with federal drug law.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ action came just three days after a legalization law went into effect in California. The lift of the policy now threatened the future of the young industry and created confusion in states, like Oregon, where the drug is legal.

Oregon governor Kate Brown said Thursday the state will fight Sessions’ move to lift the policy on federal enforcement of the drug in order to protect the state’s economic interests. Brown said marijuana is an important component of the state’s economy and has creating more than 19,000 jobs.

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in 1973. Oregon legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational use in 2014.

It is not clear how the change might affect states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes. A congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. Justice officials said they would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions.

Officials wouldn’t say whether federal prosecutors would target marijuana shops and legal growers, nor would they speculate on whether pot prosecutions would increase.



Courtesy of the Associated Press 

Trump signs Tax Bill

President Donald Trump signed the republican tax bill on Friday, before heading to Florida for Christmas. The bill is the largest tax overhaul in 30 years and passed through Congress without a single democrat vote in the House or Senate. The bill has been criticized for providing permanent tax cuts to large corporation while only providing temporary cuts to most middle to low-income Americans.

Before it passed Congress the tax bill polled low with the American people, with only about 40 percent in favor of the bill. Aside from concerns that the bill favors rich Americans and large corporations, it will also likely hit high-tax states the hardest, which generally means liberal-leaning costal states like Oregon. This is due to the new bill’s limits on SALT deductions, which allowed people to deduct their state and local taxes.

Since the tax cuts for middle and lower- income Americans expire in 2025, many Americans may also see tax increases as time goes on to pay for the new bill’s $1 trillion in tax cuts and the $1.5 trillion it adds to the national debt.

For now Americans could see the new cuts reflected on their taxes as early as this year since Trump signed the bill before the New Year.

On Friday Trump also signed in a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded through Jan. 19 while adding $4 billion to missile defense. A more permanent spending bill will be discussed when democrats and republicans return to D.C. after the Christmas break.

FCC Votes on Net Neutrality

The Federal Communication Commission voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules at a hearing on Thursday. In a three to two party line vote the agency decided to roll back net neutrality rules which guarantee equal access to the Internet.

The decision was met with protests on streets across the county and online. Proponents of net neutrality fear that providers like Comcast and Verizon could charge Internet giants like Netflix and Google more for faster connections. That may lead to higher costs to consumers at best but supporters of net neutrality fear a worse case-scenario where cable and phone companies could control what consumers are able to see and do online.

Republicans say these fears are overblown.

“The sky isn’t falling, consumers will remain protected and the internet will flourish,” said FCC commissioner Brendan Carr.

Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai pushed for the change, arguing the Obama-era rules kept Internet service providers from expanding.

“Investment in high speed networks has declined by billions of dollars,” Pai said.

Supporters like Pai believe the decision will allow broadband businesses to prioritize speeds on the Internet and the broadband industry says there are no plans to restrict the Internet.

However, it appears the battle over net neutrality isn’t over. Opponents plan to fight the FCC’s decision in court and the FCC commission’s two democrats hid none of their outrage after Thursday’s vote.

“I dissent from the corrupt process that has brought us to this point,” said FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

“The agency that is supposed to protect you is actually abandoning you,” said Mignon Clyburn, the other democrat on the FCC commission.

The Americana Song Academy for Youth

You will be amazed to see the talent that we have here in Central Oregon. I got to visit these high school singer/songwriters at the song writing camp in Sisters, OR. Watch them work on mastering their craft under the instruction of professional and inspirational musicians.

Why Mrs. Anderson is Oregon’s Teacher of the Year…

Juniper Elementary’s (Bend, OR) principal and students tell us why Heather Anderson, whom is a fourth grade teacher at Juniper and a Bend native, deserves to be 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year. One of her many accomplishments is being certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which is non-profit committed to improving schools and promoting academic excellence. Heather will go on to compete nationally; stay tuned for the update.

First Copper then Gold? USASA National Championship Hopefuls

MBSEF freeskier athletes, Dominic and Sebastian Bowler (brothers), qualified for the USASA National Championships this weekend at Mt. Bachelor. Entry is based on a cumulation of points throughout the season and overall rankings. These two brothers are nationally ranked and hope to go far at Nationals which will be held at Copper Mountain, Colorado, in April. Keep a look out for these two, there may be gold medals in their future. For more information on MBSEF program go to: www.mbsef.org. For more information on the USASA National Championships go to: www.usasa.org