Morning Roundup

Oregon unemployment rate reaches record low, timber leaders want to overturn monument expansion and universities threaten tuition increases.

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It’s a balmy day in Portland — the calm before yet another storm, as it were. A slew of protests will hit city streets tomorrow, to coincide with the inauguration of the 45th president.  Mayor Ted Wheeler aims to limit the collateral damage. Marches will not be allowed onto the freeways, he says.

1. 2016 jobless rate sets record low

Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to an average of 4.9%, the Register Guard reports. That low was last seen in 1995, and is the lowest rate since the Employment Department began keeping track in 1976.

2. Timber industry wants to challenge Cascade-Siskiyou monument expansion

President Obama announced the 48,000-acre expansion last week. But some in the timber industry think they can reverse the designation, Capital Press reports. American Forest Resource Council President Travis Joseph argues several thousand acres of land priorities for logging were included in the expansion, which could have legal bearing for an appeal. The original monument designation, however, also included harvestable lands.

3. Tuition increases on deck for Oregon students

Seven public universities say without a boost in education funding this session, tuition increases will reach into double digits, the Portland Business Journal reports. Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed budget maintains current funding levels straying from the traditional biennial increase.

4. Portland’s economy fueled largely by tax dollars

According to the Portland Public Schools’ financial report, seven of the 10 largest employers are government agencies or health care systems. Both are funded by the government. This set up puts Portland on par with larger cities including Seattle and San Francisco, the Portland Tribune reports. The only two private companies to hit the top ten are Intel and Nike.

5. Federal authorities peg damages at $108K in Malheur standoff

Occupiers caused more than $100,000 in damages at an Oregon national wildlife refuge during a 41-day standoff last year, the Statesman Journal reports. Federal authorities say protestors dug two trenches and damaged a road at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The FBI is still determining whether provisions of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act were violated.

6. Portlanders really like Biketown

Since launching in July, more than 160,000 individual trips were taken using one of the fluorescent orange Biketown bikes, the Oregonian reports. Those numbers don’t mean 160,000 individuals used the system, however. Data from Biketown and the Portland Bureau of Transportation show about 38,000 people use the bike rental program.

7. Portland may be melting, but the rest of the state is in rough shape

Ice and falling snow banks have closed Interstate 84 for the last several days across the state. Officials now say some closures, including between Troutdale and Hood River, are set for the long haul, the Oregonian reports. Eastern Oregon has additional storms in its near future, which will also lead to lasting regional closures. 

8. Speaking of lasting snow impacts, here’s OB Research Editor Kim Moore’s latest thoughts on the weather.

She asks why private day care centers close when schools are cancelled.