Rep. Witt Newsletter July 8, 2015

Volume 9, Number 20

Brad Witt

Newsletter July 8, 2015 Sine Die Edition


It was the best of times…it was the most challenging of times…

By many accounts, it was a very unusual session, one that came to an end on Monday, July 6th, when we adjourned sine die. Within a month of our opening ceremonies, Governor Kitzhaber had resigned and was replaced by the Secretary of State, Kate Brown.  The leadership in both Chambers took ownership of an aggressive agenda that did not always sit well with the members, ruffling feathers and causing increased stress to a process that is designed to provide for orderly debate.  As a rural legislator, I found it challenging to make sure that my constituents’ voices were both heard and respected, and it caused me to split with my caucus on more than one occasion.

In spite of the uphill battle, I managed to pass more than 10 pieces of legislation, one of my most successful sessions ever.  And overall, I believe that the end product of this Legislature is one that we can be proud of because it focused on restoring real opportunities for Oregonians in every part of our state.  I would like to take this opportunity to share some of our accomplishments…

At the top of the agenda, was reinvesting in our public schools, from kindergarten through higher education.  Here’s what that looks like:

·         A $7.4 billion investment in K-12 means stable budgets for most school districts while also funding full-day kindergarten throughout Oregon for the first time.  This is a $1 billion boost over the last budget.

·         $35 million funding for Career and Technical Education, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education (CTE/STEM) in our high schools.

·         Increased funding for Oregon Opportunity Grants and a new tuition waiver program for qualified community college students.

·         $700 million to help fund our colleges and universities.


We were also keenly aware that Oregonians are still trying to get back on their feet from the recession, so here are a few examples of how we sought to support job creation and our local economies:

·         $175 million bonded investment for seismic upgrades to K-12 schools throughout Oregon, and an additional $125 million in bonds to help school districts fix outdated, dilapidated and hazardous facilities.

·         $90 million investment in Oregon’s transportation infrastructure to increase mobility and safety, and strategic investments in multimodal transportation through the ConnectOregon program.

·         $50 million in grants and loans in rural Oregon to meet water storage needs, maintain grazing lands, improve sage grouse habitats and build a market for Western Juniper.


Getting people back to work is one part of the equation, but this session we also looked for ways to support our working families and expand their opportunities:

·         Strategic investments in Employment Related Day Care and the Working Family Child and Dependent Care tax credit so that parents will have access to quality, affordable childcare.

·         A landmark investment in affordable housing construction to help meet our housing crisis.

·         Sick leave that will allow most workers to accrue a reasonable number of paid sick days each year.

·         The Oregon Retirement Savings Accounts program that will allow everyone the opportunity to save for their retirement.


We also managed to pass a range of bills to improve the health and safety of our communities.  Here are just a few examples:

·         Significant investments in mental health care, alcohol and drug treatment, and housing for Oregonians impacted by mental illness or addiction.

·         Pharmacists will be able to prescribe and dispense birth control medication and insurance companies will be required to cover up to 12 months at a time.

·         The Oregon Toxic Free Kids Act will require some manufacturers to incrementally phase out dangerous chemicals from kids’ products.

·         The statute of limitations will be doubled for first degree sex crimes from six to twelve years.

·         We improved the state’s capacity to respond to accidents involving trains carrying hazardous materials, a critical issue for District 31.


As you can imagine, this is just the tip of the legislative iceberg.  In the coming weeks, my newsletters will focus on some of this session’s challenges, particularly my efforts to make sure that legislation helpful to rural Oregon gets a fair shot. 


If you have specific areas of interest that you would like more information on, please contact my office and I will do my best to research the issue and get back to you.  I intend to stay in touch with a monthly newsletter, and I will be making my way around the district during the interim to listen and learn.  As always, I look forward to our conversations.  And don’t forget to check out my Facebook page – there’s always something happening!  Thank you for reading my newsletter, and I hope you all have a wonderful summer!


Yours truly,

Representative Brad Witt
House District 31

Sine die on floor
The Close of the 2015 Legislative Session on the House Floor. I'm on the bottom left of the image, my desk is close to the back right corner of the house floor.
Rainier Days

 Hope to see you this weekend in Rainier! The weather should be perfect and the entertainment is always great. Good work volunteer coordinators, this is always a great weekend of family fun!  

Click the flyer to visit their website for more information.

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