Rep. Brad Witt E-News March 19, 2015

Volume 9, Number 7

Brad Witt

E-Newsletter March 19, 2015

Hello Friends,

This session I introduced a bill to address what I felt was a gross inequity in current statute, namely some provisions of the Oregon Tort Claims Act.  HB 2644 allows claims for wrongful death against the state in a narrow set of circumstances, more precisely probably only one, that of my deceased constituent Jennifer Warren of St. Helens.  The claim is only allowable against the state and not for claims against local public bodies. 

Jennifer was working for a non-profit when, as part of her job, she attempted to deliver medication to her assailant who killed her.  As such, Jennifer’s death constituted a workers’ compensation claim against her employer.  Her death was compensated in the amount of $16,000.

At the time she was attacked, Jennifer’s assailant was under court ordered supervision by the State of Oregon’s Psychiatric Security Review Board.  It was an established fact that her murderer was capable of extreme violence.  I would argue that under no circumstances should the State have allowed him unguarded contact with Ms. Warren, or anyone else for that matter.

But the State did, and Ms. Warren died as a result.  Her death was not an accident.  She died from an attack by someone who supposedly was under State supervision.  Hers was a wrongful death, for which the State of Oregon was immune from liability because of the Oregon Tort Claims Act.

HB 2644 fixes the anomaly whereby the State of Oregon enjoys immunity because Jennifer’s employer had workers compensation insurance.  This bill will finally bring an element of justice for Jennifer Warren’s family.

As you know, a couple of weeks ago the nation acknowledged the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma, Alabama, and we were reminded just how much was accomplished by those brave people who challenged the status quo.  And sometimes, when I study some of the legislation before us, I am reminded that there are still those who are struggling to be free from society’s pressure to be something they are not.  This may be particularly true of children who must conform to expectations, some necessary and beneficial, while others are misguided and destructive.

Such is the case with a practice called Conversion Therapy.  This is a treatment developed in the 1950's that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or sense of gender identity.  Needless to say, we have learned a lot over the past 65 years that makes this practice no longer acceptable.   As a result, HB 2307 was introduced to prohibit mental and social health care professionals from providing conversion therapy to persons less than 18 years of age.  We now know that therapies of this nature can result in life-long psychological damage often ending in suicide.  On Tuesday, the House passed HB 2307 on a 41-18 vote, and I was one of the supporters.

 Yours truly,

Representative Brad Witt
House District 31

PCC Day at the Capitol

Last week we celebrated PCC at the Capitol. Alumni were recognized at the Diamond Awards lunch and I got to hear the stories of several students and alumni myself. These individuals have overcome challenges to give back, build strong futures & families and thrive. PCC is a great resource for our state and our district.  We are looking forward to a new PCC Center in South Columbia County that will serve our district in addition to the Rock Creek Campus.  This will be a physical presence in addition to the classes going on now (the welding program is meeting employer needs today in our communities)!
PCC Columbia County information can be found here.

CAT Housing

The Community Action Team (CAT) Housing staff were here in the Capitol on Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day to share stories of families in our community. CAT is the go-to resource in our community for individuals experiencing homelessness and those who need a little help making ends meet due to unforeseen emergencies. CAT Housing also runs programs for weatherization, foreclosure prevention, rehabilitation and first-time home buyer classes as well as developing affordable housing.  CAT is an amazing resource, more information on all of their programs can be found here:

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 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