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Wallan vote at odds with Rogue X claim

Courtesy photo The Rogue Credit Union Community Complex, known as Rogue X, received $3 million from an omnibus bill approved March 4 by the state Legislature.
Medford state rep opposed bill that included funds for water park

Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford, issued a press release last week claiming credit for securing $3 million during the legislative session for the Medford Rogue X sports complex, but she actually voted against the bill that included the funds.

Wallan was one of 14 Republicans in the Oregon House who opposed House Bill 5202 March 4. Two Democrats also voted against it.

The bill, which provides $1.5 billion for various projects around the state, passed in the House with 35 Democrats and six Republicans voting for it.

“I did vote against it,” Wallan said. "There were more things that I disagreed with than I agreed with.”

The bill also contained millions of dollars for water and sewer projects in Medford, Phoenix and Ashland. Medford alone will get $2.7 million for a water and infrastructure project.

Wallan issued a press release last Friday announcing that Medford had secured the money for Rogue X and trumpeted her efforts to secure the dollars.

She didn’t mention that she had voted against the bill in her press release, only that she had “worked to secure” the money.

“I was glad to be able to distribute some of the state’s surplus to a project that is important to Medford,” she stated in the press release.

Wallan said she didn’t think it was significant that she hadn’t mentioned her “no” vote on the bill.

She said it was a large omnibus bill that contained a lot of money that would benefit local communities around the state, but it also contained other provisions that on balance meant she had to cast a protest vote.

“I complained we don’t properly fund the judicial branch, particularly our judges’ salaries,” Wallan said.

In the Portland area, there aren’t enough defense lawyers to represent those facing criminal offenses, she said.

Wallan said she’d hoped the bill would have better funded various aspects of the judicial system.

She said the lengthy bill was devised in a manner that was far from transparent.

Wallan said there are likely other legislators who supported a particular local project but didn’t vote for the overall bill.

“Just because they got a project funded, they didn’t vote ‘yes,’” she said. “I didn’t like the way the process went. It was very opaque.”

Wallan said she still supports Medford’s efforts to secure the funding for Rogue X, known officially as Rogue Credit Union Community Complex.

The $75,781,036 price tag for Rogue X is $15.18 million more than a 2019 estimate, driven by market forces related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also helped secure an additional $1.85 million to help Medford deal with homeless issues, including for transitional housing and for trash and other cleanup.

The homeless money was also part of House Bill 5202.

Wallan said she knew the bill would pass despite her “no” vote.

“When you’re in the minority, it kind of doesn’t matter, because the majority will pass it anyway,” Wallan said.

Despite the vote, she said she did her best to bring the money to Medford.

“The work of supporting the project comes well before it’s time to vote,” Wallan said.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly in support of House Bill 5202 with only two “no” votes.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.