Rep. Witt E-News April 22, 2015

Volume 9 Number 10

Brad Witt

April 22, 2013

Hello Friends,

It’s no secret that a lot of Oregonians are still trying to regain their footing after surviving a punishing recession.  Thankfully, there have been, and still are, some programs available to help people negotiate the ups and downs.  Last week, two bills passed the House that will continue to help families when they are trying to obtain the assistance that they need.

Designed to help people at the beginning of their journey, HB 2219 will require the Department of Human Services to convene a work group to study the application process for human and social services and to report their recommendations to the Legislature.   Currently, Oregonians seeking services can spend hours filling out redundant forms for multiple agencies, wasting time and resources for both individuals seeking services and the agencies that must process their applications.  This legislation is modeled on an award winning online process in Pennsylvania that allows individuals to submit and track their applications all in one place.  It’s a great idea and the bill passed the House unanimously.

One of the utilities that people often need help with is their electric bill.  In Oregon, we have the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program that is federally funded but administered by the state.  To be eligible to receive assistance, a household’s income must be at or below 60% of Oregon’s median income.  This program was set to expire in January 2016, so in order to retain the program for a while longer, the House unanimously passed HB 3257, which extends the sunset for another two years.  Many of the program’s recipients are elderly, disabled or veterans, so it is gratifying to know that they will be able to continue to count on some support.

On a different note, the Senate passed SB 839, called a “Good Samaritan” law that will allow individuals to seek medical attention without fear of arrest when a person experiences a drug overdose.  Heroin use is skyrocketing throughout Oregon, and this bill reflects the desire to hold drug users accountable while making clear that our number one priority is keeping people alive.  Requesting medical assistance should not be avoided for fear of prosecution, either by the user or those who are making the call to 911.  This also clarifies the situation for our first responders.

Finally, the Joint Ways and Means Committee is kicking off a series of public hearings on the state budget.  They will be travelling to La Grande, Lincoln City, Gresham, Portland, Springfield, Klamath Falls and Grant Pass.  They will take public testimony at each location.  If you wish to attend, the closest location for residents of District 31 will be at the Portland Community College Rock Creek Campus.  Hearings will be held on Tuesday, April 21st, from 7-8:30pm.  I hope some of you can make it.  

Thanks, once again, for taking the time to read my newsletter.  Let us know when you are planning a trip to Salem – we’d love to see you!  

Representative Brad Witt
House District 31

Columbia Pacific Food Bank Visit

The Oregon Food Bank's day of advocacy was a great chance for me to reconnect with the folks who make a difference in our community.  Columbia Pacific Food Bank, St. Vincent DePaul and Community Meals were represented and shared stories of the people they serve everyday.  It is a sad reality that Oregonians face food insecurity and depend heavily on the Oregon Food Bank network.  This session we are considering the Oregon Hunger Response Fund, HB 5026 as part of the Housing and Community Services budget.   

APANO Advocacy Day

The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) visited the office to advocate for the "Fair Shot agenda." The policies include equitable education, accessible and affordable healthcare, and fairness in the workplace.

email: I phone: 503-986-1431
address: 900 Court St NE, H-374, Salem, OR, 97301