Rep. Witt E-News June 10, 2015

Volume 9 Number 16

Brad Witt

Newsletter June 10, 2015

Hello Friends,

I'm glad to hear from people all over our district that are genuinely interested in what is happening in Salem, especially what has happened since the inauguration of our new Governor, Kate Brown.  I think it is fair to say that she has taken hold of the reins of government and is moving forward with her own policies and programs.  Evidence of this can be found in her legislative agenda, which includes a package of ethics reform measures:  HB 2020, HB 2019, and SB 9.  These bills respond to the many Oregonians who have demanded clearly defined regulations for those within the Executive Branch, as well as revised procedures regarding requests for public records. 

Last week, the House passed HB 2020, which formally defines “first partner” as the spouse or domestic partner of the Governor, and it requires the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to determine those definitions by rule.  The bill expands the statutory definition of “public official” to include first partner.  It also prohibits the Governor, First Partner, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General and Commissioner of Labor and Industries from soliciting or receiving any kind of consideration for speaking engagements.  Finally, HB 2020 expands the list of public officials who need to file statements of economic interest with the Ethics Commission to include the deputy secretary of state, first partner, the legal counsel and deputy legal counsel, and all policy advisors within the Governor’s office.

SB 2019 expands the Oregon Government Ethics Commission from seven to nine members and shortens the preliminary review period for an ethics complaint from the current maximum 135 days to 30 days.  It should not take more than 4 months to determine if there is cause for further investigation.  SB 9 asks the Secretary of State to conduct a performance audit to examine state agency retention and disclosure policies when it comes to requests for public records.  This should provide some clarification for both the agency and the public as to what is exempt, what is a reasonable fee, and what should be considered a timely response to these requests.

This leads us to the Governor’s next initiative, which calls for a study on campaign finance limits.  Oregon is the only state in the nine western state region with no limits on campaign contributions.  As Gov. Brown states, “No one should be able to buy a megaphone so big it drowns out every other voice.  It’s time to reopen conversations about reasonable campaign limits in Oregon.”  As a result, she has asked for the creation of a task force, with representation from all stakeholders and chaired by Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, to deliver recommendations by the end of the year.

The Governor’s push for transparency and accountability has resonated well with her constituents.  A recent survey reported a statewide approval rating of 55%.  So, when people ask me, “How’s Kate doing,” I think it is safe to say that Oregonians appreciate her efforts to reinforce the reputation that Oregon has for clean government.  In partnership with the Legislature, she is working to restore faith in public service and to make sure that those who follow her will have clear directions as to what Oregonians expect of their elected officials.

Two more bills of interest passed last week, having to do with food and alcohol.  The first one, SB 320A exempts certain food establishments from having to obtain a domestic kitchen license if, in addition to other requirements, they are located in a residential dwelling, prepare baked or confectionery goods and their annual gross sales do not exceed $20,000.  This meets a need in rural areas that do not have bakeries, and allows for small, direct-sales.  These folks must have a food handler’s license, and the food cannot be potentially hazardous.

The other bill is SB 937, which prohibits the sale of granulated alcohol.  Called “Palcohol,” this product was approved by the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in April, 2014, and it can be added to water to make an alcoholic beverage.  Little more than a year later, 39 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico have introduced a total of 80 bills to address the sale of this product.  Concern regarding the ability to keep it out of the hands of minors, internet sales and proportion overdose caused both the Oregon House and  Senate to support this bill by large margins. 

Again, thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter.  

Yours truly,

Representative Brad Witt
House District 31


Yesterday the Oregon house passed a very important bill that will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

When domestic abusers have access to firearms, their intimate partners are significantly more likely to be killed. The Oregon House of Representatives voted 51-8 to pass Senate Bill 525, which aims to protect victims by prohibiting certain domestic violence offenders from possessing guns.

SB 525 conforms Oregon law with the federal Violence Against Women Act, which has been in place since the mid-’90s. The Act prohibits gun possession by domestic abusers who are subject to a restraining order or have been convicted of domestic violence crimes. 

The bill was carried on the House floor by Rep. Carla Piluso (D-Gresham), the first woman to serve as the Chief of Police for the City of Gresham.

IDA group

I had a visit this week from a group educating us on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).These accounts are matched savings for qualifying Oregonians that help people meet specific goals  while gaining financial management skills.  From the Oregon IDA Initiative website:  "IDAs build pathways of opportunity and create models of economic success in Oregon communities.

The Oregon Individual Development Account Initiative invests in the personal and financial growth of individuals to build strong communities throughout Oregon." 

Your savings is matched dollar for dollar! See if you are eligible today.

paddlefest reminder

Reminder: Paddle fest is this weekend at the Scappoose Bay Marina.  The event is a benefit for the Columbia Pacific Food Bank and there will be fun kids' activities, boat and paddle board demos, food, music and a beer garden featuring Columbia County Brewing.

Saturday and Sunday June 13 & 14

Oregon State Capitol

Please join me to share your ideas, concerns and thoughts about the 2015 legislative session.

Friday June 19, 2015
Black Bear Coffee & Pub
831 Bridge St. Vernonia, OR 97064

PCC I did it
Congratulations Graduates!

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