E-Newsletter Volume 7, No. #13




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 26, 2013              E-Newsletter              Volume 7, No. 13

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Hi Everyone,


A couple of weeks ago, I outlined the plan being recommended by the Co-Chairs of Ways and Means to reconcile a state budget that is $275 million out of balance.  It was part of a carefully crafted bill, HB 2456A, which  involved modifications to tax brackets for the top 3% of corporations and the 2.4% of the wealthiest Oregonians, plus a number of reductions in benefits to PERS retirees.  You know what they say about best laid plans…

On April 24th, after lengthy debate, there was insufficient support to pass the full $275 million package.  Instead, a scaled down version of the bill passed overwhelmingly.  We passed a bill that will end off-shore tax havens for large corporations that do business in Oregon but stash their profits in tax havens in places like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.  The revenue from this action is estimated to be $18 million.  Although this is a worthy objective, and it was part of the original package, it is far short of the rebalance that we were aiming for. 

We also passed SB 822, which, among other things, modifies cost of living adjustments under the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).  It also requires PERS retirees living out of state to begin paying Oregon income taxes, and it directs the PERS board to recalculate employer contribution rates to lighten the burden on school districts and other public employers.  Finally, the bill provides for an expedited review by the Oregon Supreme Court should this measure be challenged by an adversely affected party.

SB 822 now goes on to the Governor for his signature, and HB 2456A goes over to the Senate for their concurrence, or as is more likely, substantial revision.  I sincerely hope that members of the Senate and House, from both sides of the aisle, will show the leadership that is needed to rebalance Oregon’s budget quickly and fairly so that schools, human services and public safety can continue providing the services that all Oregonians rely upon.

This week in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee we began hearing bills that have passed the Senate.  Much like the beginning of the Session, we begin by hearing the bills that were introduced by the Governor and State Agencies.  Most of these bills deal with removing outdated or seldom used statutes, ending programs that are old or ineffective, closing loopholes, or fixing some unintended consequence of prior legislation.  Some examples of this type of bill are:

SB 25A:  Changes the definition of Charter boat to any vessel carrying 7 or more passengers for hire.  Allows state to regulate some types of Charter vessels.

SB 26:  Allows State Marine Board to make grants from funds received through federal Boating Infrastructure Grant Program.

SB 31:  Allows representatives of certain landowners to serve on forestland classification committees.

SB 194:  Repeals obsolete produce regulations.  

SB 195:  Repeals the Milk Audit and Stabilization Act.

SB 198A:  Allows Courts to order Fish and Wildlife Commission to revoke commercial fishing licenses or permits for up to two years if person is convicted of violating commercial fishing or wildlife laws.  Allows officer discretion, for infractions committed without intent, to lower Class A misdemeanor to Class A violation.

The House will soon be hearing a Memorial urging the Congress of the United States to direct the Pentagon to reopen and review Leonard DeWitt’s nomination for the Medal of Honor for heroic actions during World War II.  HJM 17 is sponsored by 58 members of the House and 13 members of the Senate.  Mr. DeWitt, an Oregonian from McMinnville, served with the 41st Infantry “Sunset” Division of the Army National Guard in the Pacific.  He defended a ridge in New Guinea, engaging in hand-to-hand combat to protect his fellow soldiers.  Although he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, his nomination for the Medal of Honor unaccountably languished on General Douglas MacArthur’s desk.  Now, 70 years after his heroic actions, the Oregon Legislature joins with others to press for this belated recognition.  It’s an honor for me to be able to support this Memorial.

Please enjoy the pictures that follow and thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter…have a great weekend!