Merkley Visits LBCC: Senator Merkley hosts town hall in Russell Tripp Performance Center

Photo by Sarah Melcher

On Monday, April 30, Senator Jeff Merkley held his 344th town hall in the Russell Tripp Performance Center at LBCC, where he answered questions, gifted a representative of the American Legion Post No. 10 a flag that flew over the capitol, and touched on issues regarding climate change and net neutrality.

Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa emceed the town hall and David Solomon a representative from the American Legion Post, who was also a 9/11 first responder, gave an opening statement explaining how the post works with setting up a suicide hotline for veterans.

Solomon said, “Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day, and if we can prevent one then we did something right,”

Sen. Merkley thanked the representative for his service and gave him a flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol.

The senator spoke about net neutrality before beginning the question-and-answer session.

“100 to one of the phone calls I receive are in regards to net neutrality,” Merkley said.

He, along with 49 other U.S. senators, seeks to overrule the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. The Senate will vote on the measure sometime in the middle of May, needing only one more senator to have the majority. He urged the audience to reach out to friends and family in other states to call their representatives to help gain the last vote to overturn the repeal.

The Q&A began with SLC President Shelby Pick asking the first question. She asked about what is being done to combat the rise of tuition prices forcing many students to drop out?

In response, he talked about better K-12 prep, more funding for school, and more emphasis on shop classes for middle and high schools. He talked about the program, “Debt Free College” where the student pays depending on their family’s income and graduate college debt free.

“We really need more federal resources to support our colleges,” Merkley said.

A member from the LBCC civil discourse club also had a question: “how can we bring Democrats and Republicans in congress together to agree on policies?”

Senator Merkley encouraged two things: having more town halls and to encourage people to listen to both sides and seek out opinions and views that don’t align with their own.

“We have to remember that we are all Americans who, at our core, would like to see national policies that will provide a foundation for every family to thrive,” Merkley said.

“How will you hold universities responsible to transfer credits?” Asked another LBCC student.

Senator Merkley stated this issue is better solved with the initiative of universities than legislators, but added the government could put together a board of experts in the academic field to deal with this issue.

He closed with his concern about the rate of burning fossil fuels and its impact on the environment. He elaborated by saying that in the past decade, roughly 1,000,000,000 oysters on the Oregon coast have died due to the rise in the ocean’s acidity, and that in that time half of the coral reefs worldwide have died or experienced serious damage.

“If we look at the past 10 years versus three decades ago, much more negative impact has happened in the past decade to the environment than before.”

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