E-Newsletter Volume 7, No. #20




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
June 14, 2013              E-Newsletter              Volume 7, No. 20

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Hi Everyone,


We have seen a flurry of bills on the House floor lately.  After weeks of hearings, they are finally moving out of committee (sometimes two or three!) to the House floor so we can vote on them.  Here are a few bills that I thought would be of interest to you, either because they involve new requirements or because, as consumers, they provide new protections:

HB 3172B – Currently, when a person sells residential property, a disclosure statement must be provided to a potential buyer when a written offer has been made.  The disclosure statement includes information about the property such as title, condition, water and sewer, insulation, fixtures, etc.  HB 3172B revises the disclosure statement as it relates to sewage systems and includes inquiries into the repair history of on-site septic systems, septic pumps, sand filters, locations of septic system components and whether a service contract is required for the system.

HJM 18 – Currently, on-line businesses do not collect sales or use taxes.  The Market Place Fairness Act, now before the Congress, is an effort to level the playing field for brick-and-mortar businesses that are required to do so.  For states like Oregon, that do not currently collect a sales tax, the lack of infrastructure to deal with numerous sales tax jurisdictions would place an onerous burden on our business community.  Therefore, HJM 18 urges Congress to exempt certain sellers that are located in a state that does not impose a sales and use tax.

HB 2789A – This bill responds directly to the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident that took the lives of so many students and their teachers.  Current law requires school emergency drills and instruction on fires, earthquakes and tsunamis.  HB 2789A adds drills for safety threats twice per year to these requirements, and it also requires first responders to review their emergency procedures to insure the appropriate response.  Finally, it replaces the “duck, cover and hold” practice with “drop, cover and hold on.”

HB 3070B - The Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) was enacted by the Oregon Legislature in 1971.  The UTPA defines and prohibits various unfair and deceptive trade practices, but it does not specifically require the disclosure of shipping and handling charges in advertised consumer goods.  HB 3070B requires the seller of consumer goods to clearly disclose shipping and handling charges to the purchaser at the time of the sales transaction and makes failure to do so an unlawful trade practice subject to enforcement by the Attorney General or the district attorney.

HB 3047B – For those who may be driving around on a suspended license, beware!  This bill allows the DMV to suspend a license for up to 10 years, and then to re-suspend that license for another 10 years, for anyone who fails to pay their fines or who otherwise fails to comply or appear in court.  HB 3047B was passed in response to a Court of Appeals case, which held that driving privileges may be suspended only once for a period of 10 years.

Since policy committees have finished most of their work this Session, my committees have been holding informational meetings, which are often the first steps in preparing legislation for the next session. Late last week the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Services and Emergency Preparedness held a joint hearing on the effects of the expected Cascadia Subduction earthquake and tsunami. I have mentioned the Cascadia Subduction a few times this year but I may not have really explained why it has the potential to do serious and long term devastation. Most earthquakes, like those we hear about in California, often last less than 30 seconds and tend to adversely impact a relatively confined area. By contrast, the Cascadia Subduction is expected to be among the strongest ever recorded, last up to 3 minutes or more, and affect a very large area (Vancouver Island, BC to San Francisco). Such an earthquake would be of a magnitude similar to what struck Japan, along with a devastating tsunami, in 2011.

When (not if), this earthquake hits, there is the potential that thousands of people would be lost in the actual event, and that millions more will be cut off from vital services such as food, fuel, medical care and sanitation. If we are not prepared, the effects of the disaster will be multiplied many fold.

Members of the team that put together the Oregon Resilience Plan briefed the joint committees on the threat of the quake and its effects on energy and transportation. While Oregon is deficient in terms of its current earthquake preparedness, there is now a plan in place to upgrade our state’s vital infrastructure to meet present-day earthquake standards.  Here is a link to the report given to the legislature:

And here is the executive summary of the full plan:

 Finally, I'll be participating in the Kiwanis parade tomorrow, June 15th, in St. Helens - hope to see you there! Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter…have a great weekend!