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Legislative Committees Provide a Preview of the 2016 Session

Legislative Update 1/19/16

Hello Friends,

Members of the Legislature were at the capitol in Salem last week for the latest round of committee days. The meetings were held for the sake of developing proposed legislation for the upcoming short session, which begins February 1.

Every Senator and Representative has two priority bills that they can introduce for the session. January 11 was the deadline for bill drafts to be completed by Legislative Counsel, the team of attorneys who writes the laws, and returned to legislators. From there, we had until Tuesday, January 19 to submit those drafts for consideration.

The committee hearings held during legislative days give us the opportunity to hear about some of the bills that are being proposed, as well as the funding requests that state agencies are putting forth. Four of the six committees to which I am assigned met last week, and a wide variety of topics were discussed in each of them.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Joint Interim Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development held a meeting. Along with the other members of the committee, I heard presentations from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on transportation of veterans in rural areas and from the Housing and Community Services Department on Oregon’s Foreclosure Avoidance Program. We were also briefed by the Department of Aviation on the state’s Aviation Plan.

To watch a video of the committee hearing, click here.

The House Interim Committee on Revenue met the following day, on Thursday, January 14. We heard from the Legislative Revenue Office about the implications of 2015 federal tax policy changes and the pricing of transferable energy tax credits. The Secretary of State Audits Division presented a report about a delinquent debt collection audit, and Rep. Andy Olson (R-Albany) and Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) discussed the extension of a tax credit for a university venture development fund.

Three specific legislative concepts were also talked about in the committee hearing. They include a tax expenditure review, a modification of the state’s liquor revenue system and a reconnection to the federal tax code.

Click here to view footage of the Revenue Committee meeting.

Later on that day, the House Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources held an informational meeting on the state’s wolf management policies and programs. Testimony was provided by representatives of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Cattleman’s Association, the Humane Society, Defenders of Wildlife and Oregon Wild. We also heard presentations on bills that will be introduced for the 2016 session and held a work session on legislative concepts that are set to be considered by the committee.

Footage of the committee meeting can be accessed here.

The Joint Interim Committee on Ways and Means met on the morning of Friday, January 15.

In that meeting, we heard from the Department of Education about its Preschool Promise Program, as well as the financial impact of instruction time rules and deferred maintenance at the Oregon School for the Deaf. Representatives from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) spoke about enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan. Reports were given by OHA and the Department of Human Services on efforts to rebalance their budgets.

An update was given by the Department of Corrections on the state’s inmate population. The Department of Justice discussed funding for a Criminal Justice Division Fusion Center, a traffic safety resource prosecutor, marijuana civil legal services and child support enforcement automated system.

We also heard updates from the Oregon Youth Authority about the use of isolation, and from the Department of State Lands about its wetland program development. The Department of Land Conservation and Development discussed local government hazard mitigation planning, and the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries gave a presentation on sea cliff erosion.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services talked about the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, and we also heard from the Construction Contractors Board about its staffing levels and quality of service, and from the Department of Administrative Services about its ongoing efforts involving information technology reorganization.

To watch the meeting, click here.

As you can see, there will be many important issues to be considered in the upcoming session once it starts. The Legislative process depends on the participation on the citizens who will ultimately be affected by any new laws, rules and regulations passed by this body. Fortunately, the Legislative website, www.oregonlegislature.gov, contains a wealth of information about the proposals that will be considered, and also allows citizens to watch committee hearings live as they happen and contains archived footage of meetings that have already taken place. I strongly urge you to keep up to date on what will be happening, and let my office know how you feel about the various bills so that I can better represent you as a constituent.


Yours Truly,


Representative Gail Whitsett

House District 56


- Ag & Natural Resources
- Conduct
- Joint Ways and Means
- Revenue
- Tax Credits
- Transportation and Economic Development

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email: Rep.GailWhitsett@state.or.us I phone: 503-986-1456
address: 900 Court St NE, H-474, Salem, OR 97301



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              Page Updated: Wednesday January 20, 2016 08:11 PM  Pacific

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