- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Delivering her second state of the state address Gov. Kate Brown on Friday reflected on her “unexpected” first year in office by touting achievements on minimum wage and affordable housing while acknowledging darker times like the Umpqua Community College shooting and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge armed occupation.

Looking ahead, Brown - who faces two other Democrats in Oregon’s May 17 primary to finish the remaining two years of John Kitzhaber’s term - laid out a wide range of issues she’d like to tackle in the 2017 legislative session.

She said she’s “determined” to improve Oregon’s high school graduation rate, among the lowest in the country, and also wants to revive a gun control bill that died this year that would’ve closed the so-called “Charleston loophole” by requiring that background checks clear before guns can be purchased.

Brown also plans to give the transportation funding package that failed last year another try in 2017 with the help of the Oregon Transportation Commission.

“If it seems to take a lot longer to get anywhere in the tri-county area than it did five years ago, that’s because - it does,” Brown told a packed room of about 500 people at the Portland City Club’s downtown event. “Traffic delays in the Portland metro area are rising. Every commuter will waste an extra 52 hours this year fighting traffic. And until we take action, that number is just going to keep going up.”

But some of her critics were quick to raise issues.

Anthony Smith, Oregon director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said support for the business community needs to go much farther than, as Brown suggested, focusing on startups and entrepreneurs.

“It’s important to remember that businesses are still struggling with rising health-care costs, new wage and benefit mandates, and an ever increasing regulatory compliance burden that keeps too many entrepreneurs in a survival-mode holding pattern rather than focusing on growth and innovation,” Smith said in a statement.

Brown also said there’s still work to do in tightening Oregon’s government ethics and public records laws - an issue she touted as a top priority last year when the state was still reeling from Kitzhaber’s resignation amid influence-peddling allegations involving his fiancée.

But critics have blasted Brown for the sluggish progress made so far on the issue, and Sen. Ted Ferrioli, leader of the Senate Republican caucus, said in a statement she “failed” to follow through on her promise.

“How long will Oregon voters allow their leaders to say one thing and do another?” Ferrioli said. “Oregonians deserve more than lip service.”

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