E-Newsletter Volume 8, No. #2



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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February 5, 2014              E-Newsletter              Volume 8, No. 2

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Hi Everyone,


The Oregon Legislature is back in session this week and we are already working hard to move important issues forward.

Late last month the Capitol was buzzing during Legislative Committee Days.  Committee Days is an opportunity for lawmakers and staff to come together to check in with government agency heads and experts on initiatives underway and results of past legislation.  Here is an update from the committees that I serve on:

Business and Labor Committee (meeting jointly with the Senate Business & Transportation Committee)

In January we heard from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) on distribution of distilled spirits in Oregon.  This is an issue getting lots of attention and several initiatives are in the works to reform liquor sales.  The OLCC has convened interested parties including: current licensed liquor agents, craft distillers, public safety, large retailers, bar & restaurant owners and others to craft a concept.  The model proposed by this group is a hybrid of what is working in the current system with an expansion for retailers with outlets larger than 10,000 square feet. 

I am one of many who do not support this concept.  I have grave concerns that this model threatens our small, community oriented liquor stores and it most certainly threatens the emerging small distilleries in our state.  Finally, experience in Washington has shown difficulty in securing the product against theft and access by minors.  Tax revenue from these sales is not inconsequential, with about $450,000 in liquor sales going directly to Columbia County between 2011-2013.  Figures for Washington County for the same time period were $4,878,333. Nevertheless, we can’t ignore the potential side effects to these proposals and I am going to proceed skeptically on this issue.  Click here to read the proposed bill and view the OLCC presentation: http://www.oregon.gov/OLCC/Pages/index.aspx
There will be a lot more discussion around this; please let me know your thoughts and email me at rep.bradwitt@state.or.us or call 503-986-1431. 

Agriculture and Natural Resources – I chair this committee and the issues we address are critically important to our state, given that these industries comprise the largest single sector in Oregon’s economy.

  • Oregon State Forester Doug Decker addressed the increasing mortality rate on federally held forest lands, which amounts to 60% of Oregon’s 30 million acres of timber.  He also outlined the Board of Forestry’s four-point action plan designed to improve relationships among all of the stakeholders, both private and public, who share an interest in better outcomes.
  • We heard an update on the Klamath Agreement.  The Agreement is a landmark partnership between the tribes and ranchers enabling them to continue to use water for irrigation while they work to improve the local ecosystem and riparian habitat.
  • The committee also heard from a panel of scientists, working together as the Watershed Research Cooperative, present findings from a multi-site long-term study of the effects of timber harvest on water quality.  The findings presented show that lands managed in accordance with the Oregon Forest Practices Act have proven to be very effective in managing stream sedimentation and contribute to healthy fish populations.

Veterans Services and Emergency Preparedness –

  • We heard a presentation on the Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe).  This is a Portland State University project funded by the Department of Defense with the goal of retaining Veterans in private employment.  The study teams are training private employer supervisors to best understand and work with veterans. The SERVe team is recruiting up to 500 supervisor-employee pairs to participate in the study and participants may receive compensation.  If you are an employer or veteran interested in participating visit: www.servestudy.org or contact my office at rep.bradwitt@state.or.us.  We are lucky to have a private employer near our district that could mentor:
    **Shout out to the GP Wauna Mill for the amazing support that they provide to veteran employees.  In September they received the “Patriot Award” and the “Above and Beyond Award” from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).   About 10 percent of mill employees, 120 individuals, are veterans or active military reservists. **
  • We heard an update from Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on the Fusion Center.  This is an initiative from the Oregon Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Division that serves as a clearinghouse of information on foreign and domestic extremists.  The 4 officers are funded through a US Department of Homeland Security Grant to assist local law enforcement through intelligence analysis and on the ground assistance with cases involving potential extremists.
  • The office of Emergency Management provided an overview of 911 communications in the state and better explained how state and local funding are blended to keep our communities safe.

Speaking of Veterans…this past Saturday, Community Action Team (CAT) hosted a Stand Down event at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.  This community-based intervention program is designed to help active duty, reserve military and veterans by hosting a single location that provides access to community resources needed to begin addressing the everyday challenges faced by our present and former military members. State, local and federal veterans’ service agencies were on hand to deliver goods, services and information.  Local volunteers also made a delicious lunch and gratefully welcomed our service members.  It was a great event and offered the vets in our county the opportunity to come together.

Bills of Interest …

HB 4136:  Permits district school board to enter into written agreement with federally recognized Native American tribe to identify acceptable name, symbol or image of mascot…behavior expectations…training in cultural diversity.

HB 4069:  Establishes Oregon Task Force on Career & Technical Education Teaching for purpose of increasing availability and quality of teachers of career and technical education courses.

HB 4115:  Amends laws related to consumption of tobacco products by minors to include references to consumption of vapor products (often referred to as “e-cigarettes”), and imposes criminal and civil penalties.

Please keep in touch and engaged as we move forward, doing the right thing for Oregon.  The new Legislative web site is a great place to track bills that interest you: www.oregonlegislature.gov.  Contact me with ideas and comments at any time: rep.bradwitt@state.or.us or 503-986-1431.


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