Rep. Brad Witt E-News March 13, 2015

Volume 9 Number 6

Brad Witt

E-Newsletter March 13, 2015

Hello Friends,

This week I would like to discuss a bill that I introduced to address the litany of public works snafus over the past couple of decades that have damaged the public’s faith in state government, cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and have been a source of embarrassment.  HB 2528 establishes a Task Force on Citizen Review of State Public Works Projects.  The bill would require the task force to study the need for and the feasibility of establishing a review board composed of residents of this state to provide oversight and guidance to state public works project.

Here are just a few examples of the more notorious failures to have plagued our state in the most recent past:

·         The $56 million DMV computer upgrade of the 1990s that was scrapped in l996.

·         The Eddyville Bypass of the past decade, intended to straighten a 5.5 mile section of Hwy 20 between Corvallis and Newport, the project was initially estimated to cost $205 million…it is now at 175% of that

·         The State Data Center, known as “CNIC,” which stands for the Computing and Network Infrastructure Consolidation.  This project of a decade ago was intended to house the data centers from 12 state agencies at $63.6 million.  It was a data security nightmare according to a Secretary of State’s audit and a data consolidation fiasco par excellence according to all the whistle blower phone calls I received as a 1st term legislator.

·         Cover Oregon.  The state exchange cost our taxpayers $248 million.  I will not recount the failures here in detail.  We have acted this session through SB1 to abolish the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Corporation.  We are all painfully aware of the management shortcomings involving multiple state agencies involved with no single point of control.  The result was an inability to make timely decisions.  We now know that the project’s contracts lacked strong accountability mechanisms and could not ensure delivery of a working product.  The result of Cover Oregon was a state healthcare exchange website that never enrolled a single person, millions wasted and another blow to trust in state government to execute projects of any scale.

·         Oregon Wireless Information System (OWIN). Originally projected to create a $600 million emergency-radio network with 300 new towers, the project was revised to about 30 towers, with a taxpayer loss of about $5 million.

Citizen Review Boards will be comprised of experts, hear from those affected by projects, gather relevant data and report to the Legislature.  We understand that no state government has a track record of flawless investments in public works projects, but here in Oregon we have plenty of room for improvement.  This task force is one way to include more voices and ensure more oversight of large public works projects.  We need to improve our chances to get projects right the first time and deliver results for those we serve.

We've had a few interesting bills in my Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee this week.  Here is just a sampling of what we have been hearing:

·         HB 2808/2997/2998  This is a package of bills that deals with the harvesting of Western Juniper.  These bills would provide economic development assistance for manufacturing products from western juniper, provide technical assistance and workforce training, identify marketable stands for juniper and manage wildlife interests.

·         HB 3012 This bill establishes the Oregon Hatchery Research Center Fund to be used for research projects, and establishes a hatchery construction fund.  The goal of the Center is to answer scientific questions related to fish recovery and hatchery programs, including the differences that may exist between wild and hatchery fish and how to manage those differences.

·         HB 3013 This innovative legislation would allow the establishment of wildlife food plots on small tract forestland. This program was once known as the Oregon green Forage Program, and it provides for the reservation of small areas within a small woodland tract expressly created to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat and to protect newly planted conifers.

Yours truly,

Representative Brad Witt
House District 31

Emily Braman, FACT Program Coordinator

I had a wonderful visit and learned a lot from Emily Braman of Family and Community Together (FACT). FACT is a family leadership organization based in Oregon for individuals and their families experiencing disability, working collaboratively to facilitate positive change in policies, systems, and attitudes, through family support, advocacy, and partnerships.  Emily is the project coordinator for Columbia County and the North Coast.  She runs the Family Network Programs to connect and support families with children who are affected by intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.  To get involved with FACT and connect to resources and supports check their webpage: FACTOregon or contact my office.

Oregon Hunters Association Banquet

Around our district: the Oregon Hunters Association had a sold-out banquet on Feb. 28 

Around our district: The Coastal Conservation Association's fundraiser helps support fish and anglers through year-round programs.

Coastal Conservation Association

State Seal

Chat with YOUR Representative 

Friday March 20, 2015 5:30-6:30pm

El Tapatio 

117 West A Street

Rainier, OR 97048

Come connect with Brad next Friday afternoon in Rainier. Share your concerns, ideas and maybe a margarita with your State Rep!

email: I phone: 503-986-1431
address: 900 Court St NE, H-374, Salem, OR, 97301