E-Newsletter Volume 7, No. #14




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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May 3, 2013                 E-Newsletter              Volume 7, No. 14

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Hi Everyone,


After almost ninety minutes of thoughtful debate on Wednesday, April 30th, the House passed SB 833 on a 38-20 vote. Even though it might seem that the obvious purpose of the bill is to provide a clearly defined pathway for undocumented workers to be able to obtain a driver’s license, the ultimate objective of the bill is to reduce the number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers on Oregon’s roads. It is also a bill that generated a lot of mail and a lot of controversy, so let’s look at what it really does.

First of all, SB 833 was the product of a two-year workgroup consisting of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Republican and Democratic leaders, law enforcement, business leaders, the insurance industry, faith communities, and farm labor and immigrant advocates. When it was introduced as legislation, it was sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats; in fact, a total of 26 members in both the House and the Senate signed on. Here is a broad outline of the bill:

  • Creates a distinct 4-year card for persons whose documentation would not qualify them for a standard license, including elderly Oregonians, immigrants and the homeless
  • Requires applicants to prove their identity and date of birth to DMV using such documents as unexpired passports or consular cards
  • Requires applicants to pass all written and behind-the-wheel driving tests and to obtain insurance
  • Requires applicants to prove that they have lived in Oregon at least one year
  • Provides that this short term card may not be used to purchase firearms, obtain a concealed handgun permit or apply for state and federal benefits

Opponents of the bill remained unconvinced that anyone without a legal presence in the US should be able to obtain a legal right to drive, regardless of the restrictions imposed or any positive effects that might ensue. Nonetheless, our state bases license eligibility on residency rather than citizenship, and SB 833 is intended to hold all drivers accountable for their actions behind the wheel, thus improving the safety on our roads and highways. I found these arguments, along with the broad array of supporters (many of whom are seldom in agreement), warranted my support of the bill.

Oregon joins 4 other states, including Washington, that allow alternatives to driver licenses. We can only hope that bills like this one will prompt Congress to proceed with due diligence toward a comprehensive immigration reform package. Governor Kitzhaber has signed the bill and it becomes effective January, 2014.

We often wring our hands when we talk about the economy in Oregon, but we really have more to celebrate than we think. Here are a few gems that I picked up recently that makes me want to clap my hands rather than wring them: 

  1. Oregon ties N. Carolina for the lowest business tax burden in the nation (Cost Study)
  2. Oregon ranks second in the nation for business tax competitiveness (Cost Study)
  3. Oregon ranks ninth in the nation for the best states for business (Forbes Magazine)
  4. Oregon ranks tenth in the nation for best states for jobs (Forbes Magazine)
  5. Oregon ranks 13th in the nation for our business tax climate (Tax Foundation)
  6. Since 1991, worker’s comp costs in Oregon have declined by 60 percent
  7. Oregon has various tax incentives that encourage the growth of new and existing businesses, including Enterprise Zones and Oregon Investment Advantage

Here is a Business Oregon website that contains excellent resources for entrepreneurs who are looking for some help to either maintain or expand their businesses:


We have a bill coming through the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee,  that deals with a vicious animal that has been terrorizing urban and rural communities…the dreaded raccoon!  SB 474 adds raccoons to the list of animals that are “potentially habituated wildlife” along with bear, cougar, coyote, and wolf. This means that law enforcement can direct a person who feeds or otherwise knowingly attracts this wildlife to cease and desist within two days of notice.  Although this may appear humorous to some, when large numbers of raccoons congregate around homes or neighborhoods, problems arise when these people are no longer willing or able to feed the animals.

Raccoons that are in the habit of regular feeding often become hostile, creating a danger to both people and property when those feedings end. Having this many raccoons in one place at the same time is dangerous for both raccoons and pets.  Diseases such as distemper and rabies are spread rapidly in areas that are densely populated. This bill was supported by wildlife advocacy groups; state agencies were neutral, and various raccoon feeding hobbyists were opposed...some rabidly!

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



fallen workers