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Legislative Update

 Feb.17th, 2014

A Message From Representative Whitsett

Summer Lake, Lake County Oregon


2014 Legislative Session Week 3 Update

The third week of the short legislative session found bills that have not already been passed out of the House, either dead or unscheduled for hearings in the alternate chamber, with a short two weeks left in the session.                                                              

The Senate was placed on one hour notice for bills to be heard in committee and voted out to the floor. This system, which was adopted by the majority party, does not predispose the state’s citizens or minority legislators to adequate time to thoroughly read bills or amendments to bills.

Bills are often “gut and stuffed” with amendments, a nomenclature which suggests that the entire meaning of the original bill may have been changed, with only the "relating to" clause remaining the same. These bills are then quickly read and acted upon in committee and the public never has a chance for citizen input. Often even the non-leadership legislators of the opposite party do not have time to read the amended bills either, as they see the bill in its new form only minutes before having to vote.

It is critical in my opinion for the public to have full participatory access to the legislative process. This is not occurring when a member of the public is restricted to two minutes of testimony time on a given bill.  If the bill is so controversial that dozens of people show up to provide citizen input, then the committees should be extended to accommodate them.  It is a simple concept- entitle those who show up to at least five minutes to testify.

We are citizen legislators in a republic form of government and only when we listen to the public and then make completely informed decisions, can we do our jobs by making the best decisions for all of the people.  We are not elected to force our personal agendas onto the state's citizenry, which is what is happening with some regularity.  We are seeing a consistent blurring of the lines of separation between the Executive (administrative), the Legislative and the Judicial branches of government in this state. No members of one branch of our government should wrest power from another, under any guise. It is a disabuse of the entire elective process.

HB 4065 - A Eng

The methamphetamine testing notification bill was heard in Senator Shield's Senate Committee on General Government Consumer and Small Business Protection on  Wednesday afternoon.  HB 4065-A Engrossed was unanimously voted out of the committee after testimony was presented .

Three days later, HB 4065 was third read on the Senate floor and passed unanimously, with Senator Whitsett and Senator Baertschiger speaking on behalf the bill. It now awaits the Governor's signature to become law, or after 91 days without the Governor's signature it will automatically become law.  It will become the first bill in the United States dealing with foreclosed auction homes and methamphetamine posting notifications.  I would like to thank the Jonathan Hankins family of Klamath Falls for bringing the concept forward and testifying for the bill in the 2013 session. With an estimated 2.5 million homes contaminated with excessive meth residue nationwide, the bill is long overdue.  I view it as a consumer protection and health issue.

Click on picture below to view HB 4065 A Eng testimony starting 6 minutes in video to minute 17 (This video is 17 minutes long) 


Click on Picture above to see Representative Bentz and Representative Whitsett's testimony on Greater Sage Grouse Zero to 6 minutes. 

HB 4093 B Eng

Representative Cliff Bentz of HD 60, drafted HB 4093-A, regarding the potential ESA listing of the Greater Sage Grouse.  Senator Whitsett and I were also chief co-sponsors of the bill, with Rep. Bentz.

Senate District 28  and part of  House District 56 are located in Lake County. Many thousands of acres of Lake County and most of far central and southeastern Oregon will be under extreme economic hardship if the US Fish and Wildlife lists the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered species. This bill should help private landowners and the sage grouse simultaneously. The Oregon Farm Bureau supports the bill, and it passed through both the House and Senate.  By encouraging landowner involvement in habitat improvement projects, while not putting private ranch information in the public domain, this should be a win-win for the birds and the ranching economy of Lake and other potentially affected counties. This bill simply strengthens an existing law already in statute. It will be up for a concurrence vote motion in the House next week.

Oregonian Article on Greater Sage Grouse Listing
Rep. Whitsett is a Co-Chief Sponsor of this Bill

Oregon lawmakers pass new public record exemption to save sage grouse. 
Read Oregonian Article

Barry Point Fire Update Heard In Senate Committee

The Senate Committee on Rural Communities and Economic Development heard lengthy testimony from the Oregon Department of Forestry regarding issues related to the 2012 Barry Point Fire in Lake County, as well as the Pole Creek Fire in Deschutes County.

A white paper entitled "The 2012 Large Fire Review  Committee Report to the State Forester Feb 20, 2014" can be viewed through OLIS (by clicking the picture below). It is my opinion that although we have recommendations for the future, the landowners affected by the Barry Point Fire are still not receiving proper information on causes of personal property destruction by backfires set by either state or federal forest fire fighters during the event.

I questioned if the individuals responsible for setting the backfires had been identified and we were told they were not.  

I also asked the Michael Jordan of the Department of Administrative Services how many tort claims had been paid to private landowners by ODF over the last ten years.  He said he did not know, but would get back to me with an answer.   

Click the Picture to Read Report


This Week In Salem: 
Education Bills Clear Senate, on to Governor
Read Statesmen Journal Article 
Legislator's Quotes of the Week
'A rigged game of blackjack': Oregon politics, the week in quotes
Read Oregonian Article

Best Regards, 

Representative Gail Whitsett
House District 56

Committee Updates


Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agendas: Tuesday 2/18/14 No Meeting Thursday 2/20/14

Energy & Environment
Agendas: No Meeting Tuesday 2/18/14 Thursday 2/20/14 Special Meeting Friday 2/21/14

Human Resources & Housing
Agendas: No Meeting Monday 2/17/14 No Meeting Wednesday 2/19/14 Friday 2/21/14


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

Rep Whitsett's Record 
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