E-Newsletter Volume 7, No. #1




Representative Brad Witt
District 31

Phone: 503-986-1431    900 Court St. NE, H-374, Salem Oregon 97301
Email: rep.bradwitt@state.or.us    Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/witt
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January 16, 2013              E-Newsletter              Volume 7, No. 1

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Hi Everyone,


As required by our Constitution, the 77th Legislative Assembly was called to order on Monday, and I was sworn in for my 5th term representing District 31, which now encompasses Columbia County and portions of Multnomah and Washington Counties.  I look forward to a robust interaction with my constituents as we work through the many challenges ahead.

After the swearing in ceremony, we elected the House leadership team for the coming session that begins on February 4th.   Committee assignments were also announced, and I will be chairing the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, as well as serving on the Veterans Committee and the Business and Labor Committee.  I am especially excited about my chairmanship, which fits perfectly with some of my own priorities and with the largely rural nature of my new district.

Following these preliminary actions, a joint meeting of the House and Senate listened to Governor John Kitzhaber deliver his State of the State address.  He laid out his vision for the coming biennium, a vision that includes many of the priorities that I have heard expressed over the last several years from both my constituents and my colleagues as we struggled through some very lean years.  Here is the essence of his remarks:

  • Increase funding for education at all levels. This increase is tied to reductions in PERS pension costs and anticipated savings realized by the full implementation of health care reforms under the new Coordinated Care Organizations.
  • Curb the high cost of the criminal justice system by reexamining the most effective ways of holding criminals accountable.  The Legislature has created a bipartisan Joint Committee on Public Safety to consider a variety of proposals.
  • Continued implementation of The Oregon Business Plan. This has guided our work over the past two years and is built on three pillars: Creating 25,000 jobs per year through 2020; raising Oregon’s personal income levels above the national average by 2020; and reducing Oregon’s poverty rate to 10 percent by 2020.
  • Comprehensive reform of Oregon’s system of public finance. It’s going to take time, it’s going to take a strategic approach, it’s going to take discipline – and over the past eight months, we have begun to build the coalitions and the infrastructure necessary to make that happen.

In ending his remarks, Governor Kitzhaber left us with a very appropriate quote from the author Wallace Stegner:

“One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is still the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”

As we go through the 2013 session, I encourage you to contact my office with your questions, concerns and observations.  You can always email me at rep.bradwitt@state.or.us, or call 503-986-1431.

In District…

This Saturday, January 19th, I will be holding a Town Hall on the subject of Wage Theft.  Wage theft is the failure to pay workers for their labor.  It occurs when employers pay workers less than agreed or less than minimum wage, do not pay workers overtime, fail to pay workers for all their hours, force workers to work off the clock or under the table, deny and fail to pay legally required meal and rest breaks, steal tips, or do not pay workers at all. 

Wage theft is a big problem in Oregon.  During a recent five year period, workers filed 8,558 wage claims with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, totaling $24.5 million in unpaid wages.  But this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Most people who experience wage theft do not file claims, fearing retaliation.

Joining me at the Town Hall will be Rep. Ben Unger (D-29) and Rep. Joe Gallegos (D-30), as well as Scappoose-based Rural Organizing Project and the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project.  We are eager to hear from our constituents so that we can further define the problem and discuss solutions, including legislation.  Here are the specifics of the Town Hall:

                                       Event: Wage Theft Town Hall
                                       Time: 10:00am to 12:00pm
                                       Date: Saturday, January 19th
                                       Location:  PCC Rock Creek Campus, Bldg. 9, Section A
                                                       17705 NW Springville Rd., Portland

Thanks again for taking the time to read my newsletter.  Following are some pictures taken over the holidays at my farm in Clatskanie, as well as a photo from the Capital…enjoy!



Rep. Witt's photos