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Legislative Update

by Gail Whitsett, House Representative 56


       Mar. 22, 2013

This Week in Salem:

Rep. McLane shared statistics today in caucus related to the bills that have passed the House Floor.
Through Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Bills Passing House = 119
Only Democrat Chief Sponsor(s)  = 37
At Request of Governor = 33
By Interim Committees = 27
Democrat & Republican Chief Sponsors = 10
By Committee = 6
Only Republican Chief Sponsor(s) = 4


A Message from Representative Whitsett

At last count there are 38 bills relating to PERS introduced this session. Republican legislators have introduced 36 of those bills. I believe that all of the bills have been referred to the Rules committees in each chamber. The significance of that referral is that the bills can remain in those committees until the Legislature adjourns without action or can be scheduled for a hearing up until the last day. To date the Democrat leadership in each chamber has failed to schedule a single PERS bill for a hearing.

The Co-Chairsí budget proposes to make more than $400 million in unspecified PERS reductions, postpone or collar the liability on another $350 million, and make up the rest with tax increases apparently from eliminating tax expenditures. To my knowledge they have introduced no bill that would make those changes.

The Governorís plan is to cap the COLA for all PERS recipients at the first $24,000 of benefits, and to eliminate the out of state tax benefit reducing PERS costs by about $855 million. Those reductions are inculcated throughout his Recommended Budget. To my knowledge the Governor has introduced no bill that would make his proposed changes.

SB 754 includes the Governorís reductions as well as eliminating the ability to ďspikeĒ final ending salary, reducing the annuity calculation from 8% to 4%, and redirecting the IAP to the Trust Fund. Total savings to the taxpayers would be between $1.8 and $2.0 Billion. The bill also creates direct appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, has a clause that makes each section severable from all other clauses, and a clause that creates standing for any Legislator to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

The Senate Republicans have pledged 14 votes, and there appears to be adequate Democrat votes to pass SB 754 in the Senate. However, that cannot happen until the bill is scheduled for a hearing and passes out of the Rules Committee without being amended.

The bill is unlikely to be allowed to be scheduled for a hearing in the House, which is also controlled by a Democrat party majority.

Other bills are largely dealing with the six percent pick-up and do not appear likely to have hearings at this time. 

I believe that Senator Whitsett is either chief sponsor or co-sponsor of nearly twenty of the PERS bills. He was one of the primary architects of SB 754 working with the Oregon School Boards Association and both House and Senate Republicans.


Spotlight On: HB 3323

Every week I will be focusing on one of the bills I have introduced this session.
Last week's focus was breast density notifcations (HB 2015). This week's spotlight is on HB 3323, which would prevent Oregonís Department of Environmental Quality from implementing rules and regulations which exceed the Environmental Protection Agencyís (EPA) federal standards for Clean Air and Clean Water.

In 1974, the US government under the Richard M. Nixon presidential administration instituted guidelines for cleaning up our airsheds and waterways. Over the ensuing 40 years the Clean Air (CAA) and Clean Water Acts (CWA) have become more restrictive, imposing extreme conditions and regulations on states, counties, municipalities and private landowners in the US.
Nixon is also the president that brought us the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has devastated Oregonís forest industry and created the Klamath Basin water problems as a result of the USF&W Biological Opinions on the spotted owl, and conflicting listings for salmon and sucker fish.

Oregonís Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has been the regulatory agency charged with enforcing the CWA and the CAA in Oregon. In 2009, the ODEQ arbitrarily elected to write proposed rules for water quality toxics that are about ten times more restrictive than the Federal EPA requires anywhere else in the United States. The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) adopted those proposals into administrative rules that have the full force of law. Republican lawmakers carefully negotiated a bipartisan bill that would have largely exempted agriculture from having to comply with those draconian regulations. The bill passed in the House with broad bipartisan support (42-18). When the bill was referred to the Senate committee on Environment and Natural Resources, it was immediately amended to make it less than worthless. The bill was then allowed to die in committee.

HB 3323 has the potential to be a job saver for Oregon. What business or industry would chose to locate or re-locate to a state with the nationís strictest non-scientific and unjustified natural resource laws?

We do not have any idea how much of Oregonís present unemployment could have been prevented by not having passed or implemented these stricter standards.

As legislators we must not be a party to passing additional statutes which will drive businesses and private tax paying citizens from the state, with capricious and unnecessary rules and regulations that  exceed the already stringent federal requirements.

To date my House Bill 3323 has not been scheduled for, nor received a hearing. 
Best regards,

Representative Gail Whitsett
House District 56


Committee Updates


Agriculture & Natural Resources

Tuesday 3/19/13 - Thursday 3/21/13

Tuesday's bills:

  • HB 2992 - Authorizes OR Health Authority to operate Farm Direct Nutrition Program enabling WIC participants to purchase fresh produce at farmers' markets

  • HB 2427 - Prohibits raising canola within Willamette Valley

Thursday's bills:

  • HB 2530 - Prohibits importation of genetically engineered fish into Oregon

  • HB 2175 - Makes foods that contain or are produced using genetically engineered material subject to labeling requirements

  • HB 2532 - Makes foods that contain or are produced using genetically engineered material subject to labeling requirements

  • HB 3177 - Requires signage in area where genetically engineered fish are sold, displayed for sale or offered for sale at retail for human consumption

Energy & Environment

Tuesday 3/19/13 - Thursday 3/21/13

Tuesday's bills:

  • HB 2048 - Repeals sunset on architectural paint stewardship program

  • HB 2813 - Declares plant commonly known as Giant Cane or Giant Reed to be noxious weed, plant pest and invasive species meriting eradication

  • HB 3251 - Provides that person may not operate motor vehicles with gross vehicle rating greater than 200 pounds or specified all-terrain vehicles in beds or banks of certain waterways

  • HB 2105 - Requires State Department of Energy to study issues related to Energy Facility Siting Council and to report to certain interim legislative committees on or before November 1, 2013

Thursday's bills:

  • HB 2894 - For purposes of tax credits for energy conservation projects, increases amount of eligible cost for which credit may be claimed using informational filing system in place of certification and for which entire credit may be claimed in first allowable year

  • HB 3171 - Creates exemption from state preemption for local laws designed to prevent or control presence of pesticides in potable water

  • HB 2016 - Requires Director of State Department of Energy, after consultation with other state agencies and parties, to develop map that identifies areas east of summit of Cascade Mountains that are appropriate for siting of energy facilities and any related or supporting facilities

Human Resources & Housing

Monday 3/18/13 - Wednesday 3/20/13 - Friday 3/22/13

Monday's bills:

  • HB 2349 - Extends sunset for single-unit housing property tax exemption to 2025

  • HB 2872 - Directs Oregon Department of Administrative Services to submit report related to outstanding bonds issued at request of Housing and Community Services Department, and programs and efforts supported by outstanding bonds, in event of reorganization or abolishment of Housing and Community Services Department

  • HB 3220 - Directs Housing and Community Services Department to submit report regarding status of current projects and programs that promote housing stability for low-income individuals and families in state

  • HCR 26 - Urges Oregonians to ensure that all families have means to raise their children in healthy environment

  • SB 203 - Specifies, for provisions related to Oregon's telephone assistance program, that "low income customer" is defined by Public Utility Commission by rule

  • SB 22 A - Removes references to Eastern Oregon Training Center and references to operation of state training center by Department of Human Services

Wednesday's bills:

  • HB 2055 - Extends sunset on changes to temporary assistance for needy families program

  • HB 3440 - Requires Department of Human Services to provide aid necessary to prevent family from qualifying for temporary assistance for needy families program due to temporary loss in earnings

  • HB 3007 - Requires owner of residential facility to offer tenants opportunity to purchase facility before owner offers to sell facility to third party

Friday's bills:

  • HB 2890 - Repeals provision that prevents local governments from imposing conditions on approved permits that effectively establish sales price for residential development or limit purchase to class or group of purchasers



- Ag & Natural Resources
- Energy & Environment
- Human Services & Housing

Latest Third Readings List
Rep. Whitsett's Record
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Past Newsletter Issues




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