Sen. Merkley speaks at Chemeketa 

Keizer Times

Senator Jeff Merkley (OR-D) spoke at Chemeketa Community College’s Salem campus on April 26 about a series of legislation he secured funding for including more than 475 community-initiated projects throughout the state as well as introducing a strengthened version of his End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act. 

Highlights of the community project funding includes: nearly $1.88 million for the City of Stayton to make critical stormwater infrastructure improvements as well as around $500,000 to help support the Salem Area Mass Transit District’s South Salem Transit Center Mobility Hub to increase its city-wide reach; to name just a few. 

For a full list of all the community-initiated projects being funded, check out

The funding for these projects come from earmarked funds for community projects within the federal budget. 

An “earmark” is when funds within a bill are designated towards a specific purpose which allows these funds to be allocated as long as they fulfill that purpose. 

In the case of the hundreds of Oregon projects receiving funding, Merkley described how his team reaches out to local governments to learn about what critical things they need and then works with the community to help them make a proper request for the needed funds. 

Merkely, who is on Oregon’s only representative on the U.S. Appropriations Committee, noted the importance his role plays as another piece towards acquiring that funding. 

“Communities propose them, I fight for them,” Merkley finished. 

Merkley spoke to his efforts sustainability by being able to secure more funding for other communities in need across the state. 

He described how earmarks have received a lot of negative attention due to them, in some cases, becoming projects of want rather than need. 

Merkley said that by designating this funding as instead for community-initiated projects funds can more easily get to those who need it. 

As far as being sustainable, it seems that as long as Oregon cities have issues to solve and the will to come together as a community to fix it, there will be a chance for more funding 

“These are decisions being made at the local level about what’s most important, not decisions being made in Washington DC,” Merkley said. 

Merkley discussed his other bill, written alongside Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) to improve protections for potential homeowners through his End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act, a bicameral bill which would help reduce the issue created by purchasing of single-family homes by hedge funds, especially in the current housing market, has made it more difficult for middle-class Americans to become homeowners and is contributing to America’s twin crises of housing un-affordability and wealth inequality, according to his official website

The bill would do this by putting an end to allowing hedge fund owners, defined as any applicable taxpayer which has $50,000,000 or more in net value or assets under management on any day during the taxable year, by making it so, each year, they must sell up to 10% of the current amount of homes over a 10-year period. 

After the 10-year phase out, hedge fund owners would be banned from owning any single-family homes, according to the bill