E-Newsletter Volume 7, No. #11




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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April 12, 2013              E-Newsletter              Volume 7, No. 11

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Hi Everyone,


When I’m out in the district discussing state policy with my constituents, one of the comments that I hear quite often is, “If we need to raise more revenue, why don’t we do away with some of the tax breaks that are currently on the books?”  On Tuesday, April 9th, the House Revenue Committee began that discussion by proposing to end or reduce select tax breaks for corporations and wealthy households in order to find the funding needed to stabilize schools and maintain vital services.


As you know, our schools have been particularly ravaged by this recession and diminished state funding has resulted in the loss of both teachers and programs. In an effort to reverse this trend, the Co-Chairs of Ways and Means have set their sights on $6.75 billion for schools for the two-year biennium starting in July.  When they proposed that number, they knew that they would have to fill a $275 million gap with new revenue; hence the need to turn a more critical eye on our tax policies.  Here is a brief description of what the Revenue Committee will be considering:

  • Examine corporate tax shelters that shift profits to offshore tax havens
  • Reduce the cap on the corporate minimum tax for corporations that make over $100 million in annual Oregon sales
  • Means test and reduce deductions and exemptions for individuals in the highest earning tax brackets

In the next couple of weeks, the Revenue Committee will couple these discussions with how to also assist school districts in reducing internal liabilities caused by increasing contributions to PERS retirement accounts.  In spite of all the headlines generated by this subject matter, please be assured that the Revenue and Ways and Means Committees are just beginning a long process that will require focus, patience and mutual respect.  I will keep you posted as we work through these issues.

This week in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources we heard HB 3109, which requires the Director of Oregon Health Authority to prepare a report on the impacts of the 2012 Pole Creek forest wildfire on public health, fish and wildlife and aquatic habitat, and submit the report to the Legislative Assembly no later than February 10, 2014. This report is meant to increase public awareness of the damages from forest fires that go beyond lost timberlands and revenue.  Further, with a report of this nature, the State would be better able to petition the Federal government to increase their funding for fighting fire and improving management on Forest Service and BLM lands.

Our committee held a work session on HB 3441 which establishes the Oregon Hatchery Research Board and details membership and duties of the board. The Research Hatchery is on Fall Creek, near Alsea. Joe Rohleder, who represents Seafood Oregon and the Oregon Salmon Commission amongst others, submitted written testimony stating:

 “The commercial and recreation harvest of salmon and steelhead are an important part of the culture and economy of Oregon. A large portion of the salmon and steelhead harvested in Oregon are of hatchery origin. HB 3441 with the dash 3 amendment will insure that the OHRC continues its valuable research and provides recommendations to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding hatchery operations.”

We also heard a House Joint Memorial and a Joint Resolution:

HJM 2 urges United States Secretary of Interior to allow enhanced management of cormorants by the state of Oregon. During the discussion the supporters of this memorial stated that there are 15,000 breeding pairs of cormorants on East Sand Island at the mouth of the Columbia River that experts say will eat 30 million, or 15% of all hatchery and wild smolts this year.  24 other states have received permission to manage their cormorant population.

HJR 16 proposes an amendment to the Oregon constitution establishing the right to hunt, to fish, to trap and to harvest wildlife. It also refers this proposed amendment to the people for their approval or rejection at the next general election. Supporters suggested this resolution was necessary to protect a piece of Oregon’s historic culture. They cited the importance of hunting, fishing, and trapping to Oregon's families, communities and economy.  Opponents argued that while hunting and fishing, etc. are important to our state, enshrining them as rights in our state constitution may not be appropriate.  They worry about how the Department of Fish & Wildlife will weigh policy when one segment of activities is a right and the other activities are privileges.     

Bills of Interest…

SB 838: Imposes moratorium on certain mining using any form of motorized equipment
SB 850: Creates offense of failure to keep vehicle out of far left lane
SJR 36: Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to adopt 5% sales tax
HB 2748: Establishes standards and goals for school policies related to discipline, suspension or expulsion
HJR1: Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution prohibiting the death penalty
HB 2115: Expands offense of DUI to include any drug that adversely affects physical or mental faculties to a noticeable degree

Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter…have a great weekend!



 BW NL 4-12