E-Newsletter Volume 8, No. #7



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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March 19, 2014             E-Newsletter              Volume 8, No. 7

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Hi Everyone,

 The Oregon Legislature wrapped up the 2014 “short session” Friday afternoon, March 7th, just a little under the 35-day deadline. Overall, I think it was a very productive session with some important accomplishments, especially in the area of education. High quality education is not a luxury – it is a necessity. It is the single most important factor in promoting economic stability, both on an individual level and for society as a whole. Here are a few programs that support that effort.

Several colleagues and I created Summer Learning Grants (HB 4117) to fund programs that will add at least 60 hours of learning time for over 5,000 students at high-poverty schools. The summer learning gap is a major driver of inequality and these programs take a targeted step to close that gap.

A few weeks ago, we also learned that local revenue for K-12 schools is up by $98 million statewide for the 2014-15 school year. For District 31, that means between $84 and $88 more per child, depending on the school district. That’s in addition to the $1 billion boost that we passed last session.

We also took steps to help Oregon’s students and their families find ways to afford education beyond high school and to support adults who are returning to school to develop new job skills. The “Aspiration to College” bill (HB4116, which I co-sponsored) will support low-income and first generation community college students.   The “Oregon Promise” (SB1524) will study whether it’s realistic to allow Oregon high school graduates to attend community colleges for free.

Educational opportunities mesh well with economic development, and as Oregon’s economy continues to improve, we must provide jobs for these newly minted graduates. Our small businesses are the work engines of our state and employ over half our state’s workforce. This session, I worked with my Senate colleagues to expand access to capital for small businesses (SB1563) through the Entrepreneurial Development Fund, which helps start-ups, micro-enterprises and other small businesses expand or become established. This fund will support sectors ranging from natural resources to high tech.

The Legislature also modernized Oregon’s job training programs (SB1566) to ensure the system is meeting workers’ and employers’ needs across the state. This is an outgrowth of a Workforce Redesign Work Group established in 2013, which adopted 15 recommendations to improve services for jobseekers and businesses.

Two programs dealing with senior services came across my desk this session. In 2000, Oregonians voted to amend the State Constitution to create the Oregon Home Care Commission. The commission is responsible for ensuring the quality of home care services that are funded by DHS for seniors and people with disabilities. SB 1542B requires the Home Care Commission to enable private individuals to purchase in-home care services from the commission through the Home Care Registry. As one of the bill’s co-sponsors, I felt it was important that the legislature make it easier for Oregonians to find care for their loved ones. Our bill requires the program to be operational by January 1, 2016.

The other piece of legislation dealing with senior services is SB 1553.   This bill authorizes the Long Term Care Ombudsman to provide public guardian and conservator services to individuals who do not have relatives or friends willing or able to assume the duties of guardianship or conservatorship and who lack the financial resources to obtain these services. The program will set professional standards for certification and work with local organizations to provide services.

Finally, we are entering the election season when many of us will be approached by workers, both volunteer and paid, soliciting our signatures for ballot measures. Currently, a person may not apply for registration as a paid signature gatherer if, during the five-year period prior to the date of application, the person has been convicted of a criminal offense involving fraud, forgery or identification theft in any state or has had a civil penalty imposed for particular elections violations. SB 1515A adds a number of other violations to the list including:      

  • Making false statements regarding the contents, meaning or effect of the petition
  • Circulating or filing a petition knowing it contains a false signature
  • Attempting to obtain the signature of a person not qualified to sign it
  • Use of threats of intimidation for the purpose of extorting money
  • Circulation or printing of an imitation of the ballot or statement
  • Knowingly making a false statement, oath or affidavit under election laws
  • Violation of the constitutional prohibition against paying-per-signature.


Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that you might have.  You can call, email or write and, as always, I look forward to hearing from you.  Have a great weekend!