E-Newsletter Volume 7, No. #12




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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April 19, 2013              E-Newsletter              Volume 7, No. 12

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Hi Everyone,


Over the last couple of months, many constituents in the district have written to encourage me to support the National Popular Vote movement, which would require that Oregon’s seven electoral votes be cast for the candidates who win the popular vote for U.S. President and Vice President.  We would accomplish this by joining other states, nine of whom have already formed a compact to do just that.  Foremost among the arguments to support the bill is the feeling that somehow this would make Oregon more important in presidential elections.  Opponents feel exactly the opposite; hence the lengthy debate as we considered the bill on April 18th. 

As you know, the President and Vice President are elected, not by a general vote of the people, but rather under the Electoral College system.  This unique system is part of the “checks and balances” devised by the Founding Fathers to ensure that even small states would merit attention at the federal level.  To change this process requires a constitutional amendment, or as this bill suggests, by joining a compact that would be large enough to cast all of their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote.  Here are some arguments for and against the bill:

Proponents' arguments in favor of the National Popular Vote:

  • The Electoral College interferes with direct democracy
  • The largest states overwhelm smaller states by the sheer number of their electoral votes
  • The Electoral College disenfranchises voters in states where one political party dominates
  • Polling data predetermines Electoral College outcomes so candidates ignore some states
  • NPV is pure democracy and avoids the situation where one candidate wins the popular vote while the other wins the Electoral College (Bush/Gore 2000)

 Opponents' arguments against the National Popular Vote:

  • The National Popular Vote concept does an end run on the  process required to amend the Constitution
  • The U.S. Constitution’s Article I, Section 10, expressly forbids compacts among the states
  • Oregon’s share of the national popular vote is only 1%; our 7 electoral votes would be more important in a close election
  • The Electoral College serves to break up demographic voting blocs along state lines
  • The Electoral College protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority
  • With Oregon’s 1% of the electorate, a popular vote would virtually ignore our state and shift attention to the nation’s largest metropolitan areas

The bill passed by the rather narrow margin of 38-21.  I voted against the bill because I feel that, rather than giving Oregon more clout it would give us less, and in the end I feel that the formation of compacts to circumvent the Constitution is in itself unconstitutional.
Thursday was the deadline for bills in their chamber of origination. My Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources held two meetings on Tuesday and the normal meeting Thursday morning to get through our agenda.

Some of the bills that passed out of committee to the House floor were:

HB 3364  Integrated Pest Management
HB 2841  Requires communication between state agencies and recreational miners
HB 2624  Allows counties to hold elections to allow the hunting of cougars with dogs
HB 2615  Adds truffles to the list of special forest products
HB 2025  Adds liability to owners of bison that cause damage
HJM 2      Petitions our federal government for cormorant management

The Committees on Rules, Revenue, and Joint Ways and Means do not have a deadline for moving bills out of committee. Some of the following bills were very close to being ready for consideration by the full House and some were required to be referred as a normal part of the process:

HB 3452  Describes when gray wolves can be taken, moved to Rules
HB 2427  Canola bill moved to Ways and Means
HB 2259  Water fees for mining, to Ways and Means by prior referral
HJR 16    Amends Oregon Constitution to include the right to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife, moved to Rules by prior referral   

Next week we begin the process again with bills that have passed the Senate and now go to House committees for further consideration. 

Please enjoy the pictures that follow and thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter…have a great weekend!