E-Newsletter Volume 7, No. #7




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
State Seal
March 14, 2013                 E-Newsletter              Volume 7, No. 7

 Join us on Facebook


Hi Everyone,


The Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral is a program that benefits many of my constituents and its precarious circumstances over the past two years have generated a lot of anxiety and, therefore, a lot of mail.  One of the bills that passed the House this week, HB 2489A, will help alleviate those fears by re-extending participation in the Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral Program to those who had previously been disqualified solely due to the presence of a reverse mortgage. 

As many of you know, a reverse mortgage occurs when homeowners sell their homes to a bank and the bank then makes payments to them at an agreed upon sum.  Many senior and disabled citizens, who are on limited incomes, take advantage of this opportunity because it gives them the additional income that they need to be able to stay in their homes.  Unfortunately, this puts the State in second position to the bank when it comes to reimbursement for these deferrals upon the sale of the property.  This looming liability threatened the solvency of the entire program.

In 2011, due to Oregon’s budget crisis and the deteriorating housing market, the Legislature changed the qualifications to make them more stringent, effectively eliminating those with a reverse mortgage.  As a result, about half of the program’s participants were disqualified.  In 2012, the program was granted a two-year reprieve.  Now, in 2013, with an improving economic climate on the horizon for the housing market, we felt that this program could safely be preserved and most of those with reverse mortgages could be reinstated.  I was pleased to be able to support HB 2489A and it is now on its way to the Senate for their review.

Thursday in Agriculture and Natural Resources we had a long and fruitful discussion on HB 2259. This bill would increase certain fees the Water Resource Department levies. It also removes the sunset on the overall fee structure that the department put in place during the 2009 Legislature. At that time, 30% of each transaction was paid by the one who requested the department’s action. The other 70% was paid through the general fund, as the Department's objective is based on protecting the interests of the public and other water users that might be affected by the change. In 2009 that split was moved towards the 50/50 mark.

There was both broad support and opposition to this bill from the stakeholders. Municipalities, irrigation districts, and the Nurseries' Association supported the bill saying it was important that fees be increased with the cost of doing business for the Department. The Oregon Cattlemen, the Dairy Farmers Association, small miners, and small water co-ops are opposed to the bill. They stated that industry and agriculture are still trying to right the ship after the great recession and that further increases in their fees might overburden their recovery. This issue is complex, so the committee is organizing a work group to try and find a compromise between the stakeholders and gather more detailed information for the members of the committee.

Finally, I was honored to carry HB 2233A, which creates a more streamlined process for the seizure of abandoned and derelict vessels in our state’s waterways.  Columbia County has over 70 miles of river frontage so this bill is especially important to our legislative district.  It authorizes law enforcement personnel, the State Marine Board, or any other public body with responsibility for land or water, to seize these vessels.  It also provides for the following:

  •  Makes vessel owner liable for net costs of salvage, towing, storage and disposal
  •  Provides the owner the opportunity to request a pre-seizure hearing
  •  Provides the owner the opportunity to reclaim the vessel, subject to certain costs
  •  Allows DEQ to board the vessel in order to manage oil or hazardous materials

I’m pleased to say that the bill passed unanimously and is now on the Senate side for their consideration.

This evening is the 7th Annual Empty Bowls fundraiser to benefit the Columbia Pacific Food Bank.  It will be held at McBride Elementary School from 5-7pm.  You will receive a lovely hand-crafted ceramic bowl and delicious soup all for the cost of just $10…hope to see you there!

Please enjoy the pictures and have a great weekend!



crab feed
Enjoying crab at the Kiwanis Crab Feed in Clatskanie!

credit union
Employees from St. Helens and Wauna Credit Unions were in the Capitol to advocate for their members and to oppose several bills that would change credit union tax status.


Last week, I met with several advocates for the National Association of Social Workers, including Dana Fleming.  We discussed the importance of having neutral experts available to assist people in the selection of health plans most advantageous to their individual health needs.

Serving as a member of the Legislative Panel at the Oregon Women for Agriculture
annual meeting.

Carrying HB 2233 on the House Floor.  The bill governs the seizure of abandoned or derelict vessels, and passed unanimously.