Herb Krohn, Washington State legislative director for the United Transportation Union, published an opinion editorial in The Everett Herald on the consequences of inconsistent regulations, specifically noting Governor Inslee’s special treatment of particular industries and companies. While these industries are greatly important to Washington’s economy, Krohn warns that inconsistent regulations could ward off potential economic development in the state.

This got me thinking: Don’t we have a similar problem in Oregon?  In December, Governor Kitzhaber called the Oregon Legislature to a special session to pass a piece of legislation, which solidifies a 30-year tax deal with Nike. This legislative deal was struck after Nike threatened to expand outside of Oregon.

I should make it clear that I don’t doubt Nike’s importance to our economy, and I think any action to help keep businesses in our state is important. However, Governor Kitzhaber bent over backwards to strike a deal with one company, while other companies are unable to make large, private investments in our state due to regulatory uncertainty. We cannot allow our elected officials to use regulations as a way to encourage and discourage private investments; not only is this bad policy, our economy cannot afford to turn away new economic opportunities.

Nike’s headquarters are located in Beaverton, Oregon, a city outside of Portland. While this company is important to our state, it cannot support our entire state’s economy. Our elected officials need to understand that diversity in industries and products will result in a more robust economy, which is why as a 5th generation Oregon farmer, I support the private investment in the Port of Morrow expansion.

The proposed export expansion, made possible by investments in coal exports, in our state serves as a perfect example of an economic stimulus our elected officials are overlooking. The proposed facility offers thousands of jobs and millions in state and local revenue for our area, but more importantly, the private investments offers a boost to traditional, bulk commodity exports, like agriculture and timber, for our state and rural communities.

By focusing on the development of one industry, our elected officials are leaving our state susceptible to economic shortfalls. Diversifying and expanding industry development will ensure the economic longevity of our state.