E-Newsletter Volume 8, No. #3



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 12, 2014              E-Newsletter              Volume 8, No. 3

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Hi Everyone,


Our In-box is usually overflowing with emails, which is a good thing because it means you are paying attention to what is going on at your state capitol, and you care about the issues before us.  This week we had quite a few letters, and coincidentally the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony, on HB 4139-2, a bill that creates a task force to study the effect of certain pesticides on plant pollinators, like honeybees.

This bill is in response to several major bee kills that occurred last year, including one where around 25,000 bees were found dead in a Wilsonville Target parking lot. It was determined that the bees were poisoned by a misapplication of pesticides known as Neonicotinoids.  The bill would direct OSU and the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture to develop educational materials for pesticide users on how to best avoid pollinator kills, and it would also establish a 10 member task force to study new ways of balancing pollinator protection with pesticide use.
Witnesses testified that 35% of Oregon’s food supply is dependent on pollinators, and in some places, like China, orchardists have to hand-pollinate their trees due to bee die-off.  Other witnesses testified to the importance of maintaining the ability of farmers and nurseries to manage pests harmful to their crops, as well as ensuring that proper application of chemicals are used.

Another item of interest from the Ag Committee involves HB 4045, a bill that will reinstate the now expired continuing education program for certified well drillers.  Witnesses testified that maintaining up-to-date standards for all licensed well drillers is extremely important to the well drilling community and consumers, as an improperly drilled well can lead to contamination or wasted water.  The bill passed both the committee and the House unanimously, and is now over on the Senate side for further consideration.

In previous newsletters, I have described the compelling testimony that I have had the privilege of hearing in the House Veterans Committee.  Returning veterans continue to struggle with finding gainful employment and homelessness.  In an effort to provide some funding for these efforts, HB 4023 directs the Oregon State Lottery Commission to establish a lottery game to benefit veterans' education and economic development. It also directs the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development to establish programs to provide or facilitate education, training and economic opportunities that benefit veterans. In the course of the testimony on the bill, Stephanie Cornes, PCC veteran student and the Assistant Coordinator at PCC’s Rock Creek Veterans’ Resource Center, gave eloquent and moving testimony that I have attached for your reflection.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Constituents will often come down to the capitol to advocate for causes important to them.  Last week, three of them came to my office to advocate for Seniors and People with Disabilities.  They were Alice Redding from Rainier, Sharronne Vincent from Deer Island and Anna Young from Clatskanie.  All three of these ladies are caregivers for those with special needs.  Because of them, more and more people are able to stay in their homes continuing to be a part of the community.  What a gift these caregivers provide for us all!

Finally, we received the March Revenue Forecast today, and although it was not a thriller by any means, state economists are finding reason for optimism.  Last month, Oregon had the third-fastest rate for job growth of any state in the nation.  We are considering several bills that aim to help small businesses and expand job training programs so more people can get back to work.  But the really big news is that Oregon schools will have another $98 million to work with next year, on top of the large investments we provided during the 2013 sessions.  After five long years, we are finally back on track!

Speaking of education and training, here is a link provided by OSPIRG to information about how to pay for college…there are all kinds of ideas here from loans to outright grants.  If you know of anyone who might benefit, please pass it along.

 “Student Aid 101: How to Pay for College”

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