On the eve of a big gathering of business, civic and elected leaders. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is talking about semiconductors and planting Oregon’s “silicon forest.”
PORTLAND, Oregon — On the eve of a big gathering of business, citizens and elected leaders, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is talking about semiconductors and planting Oregon’s “silicon forest.” Wyden sat down with KGW this weekend to discuss what he will be talking about tomorrow at the 2022 Oregon Leadership Summit.
Semiconductor research and manufacturing is big business in Oregon, and no one in the state is bigger than Intel.
It and others here are making a product that is at the heart of modern technology, from mobile phones to airliners.
We hear about a global shortage of high-tech chips, and Oregon’s top senator says he wants to fix it.
We’ll be discussing how the $52 billion CHIPS bill will help at the 2022 Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland on Monday, Wyden said.
“The legislation that I’m enacting as part of this plan provides billions of dollars in investment tax credits, and that gives us the opportunity to really get into the big leagues in manufacturing,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Wyden.
Wyden also notified KGW in advance that he plans to host a visitor in Oregon early next year with an eye toward growing semiconductor operations across the state.
“Secretary Gina Raimondo’s willingness to come out and see Oregon’s real progress in semiconductors is a huge addition to our industry, and I’ll be discussing that on Monday.”
Building a large interstate bridge is also big business, and plans to replace the interstate bridge are being worked out again. Building a new I-5 highway on the Columbia River linking Oregon and Washington states will be a major undertaking.
We just learned that the price tag has gone from about $4.8 billion to $7.5 billion. KGW asked the senator if it was still worth it, and if so, how much federal money should be spent on it.
Wyden did not provide a specific amount, but said, “We’ve started to look at these newly released numbers, and we had them just a few days ago. We know that the infrastructure of the minor leagues will not bring the quality of life of the major leagues.” , so my job is to make sure we get these infrastructure reforms and make sure we also use a sharp pencil to protect taxpayers.”
The senator also touched on some big illegal business: a massive epidemic of catalytic converter theft in Oregon and nationwide.
In August, KGW reported on a large catalytic converter theft ring centered in Washington County but operating throughout the West — stealing tens of thousands of catalytic converters worth $22 million.
Wyden said the legislation he introduced with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would require manufacturers to stamp the vin number on expensive exhaust system components, improving record keeping and standards for buyers of used catalytic converters. It will also criminalize theft nationwide.
“I think there needs to be real criminal penalties for people who do extortion,” Wyden said. “There’s also an interstate segment that I worry about because it looks like there are sophisticated gangs that are just moving up and down the West Coast and trying to offload the parts and make a quick buck.”
After a brief stint in Oregon for a few days, Wyden returned to Washington.
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he said there was a lot of work to be done to wrap up the year.