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Senator Doug Whitsett
R- Klamath Falls, District 28

Phone: 503-986-1728    900 Court St. NE, S-302, Salem Oregon 97301
Email: sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us     Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/whitsett
E-Newsletter                       February 4, 2008 

Dear Friends,

       Today began the 74th Oregon Legislative Assembly special session. Many of the issues that have been declared as priorities for this special session are issues that Republicans raised during the 2007 regular session but were denied by the majority party for one reason or another. Democrats have now included these issues in their agenda for the special session touting many of them as “new”. There is no reason that many of these issues should not have been addressed in 2007, but the much needed attention now is better late than never. Regardless of who takes, or receives, the credit, these critical priorities need to be funded. The House and Senate Republicans have teamed together to make sure these listed priorities receive the much needed attention during the February special session:

  • Provide 24-hour Oregon State Police coverage
    This is an issue that I introduced in the Senate and fought for during the 2007 regular session. Although our bill did not make it through the legislative process it did result in the Democratic leaderships allowing at least enough funds to hire 100 more troopers and in a resolution that the rest of the money to fund 24/7 coverage would be found later in the biennium.
    Unfortunately, in a press conference earlier this month, House Majority Leader Dave Hunt (D-Gladstone) said leadership would not fund more State Police Troopers because the agency is incapable of achieving 24/7 coverage this biennium. That is not the understanding that I had when I talked with Oregon State Police Superintendent Tim McClain last month. Let the political games begin!
  • Stricter documentation requirements to secure Oregon driver’s licenses to end ID theft and help stop the methamphetamine trade
    A proposal similar to one from the 2007 session to require stricter documentation in order to obtain an Oregon driver’s license has returned for the special session in the Senate Transportation Committee. The legislative concept would require the DMV to verify both an individual’s social security number and proof of legal presence in Oregon before issuing a driver’s license. Because Oregon currently has no requirement to demonstrate legal presence and because the state issues drivers licenses for 8 years, it has become a nation-wide destination to obtain drivers licenses for undocumented aliens. The fact of the matter is that a lucrative criminal industry now brings undocumented folks to Oregon and walks them through the process of obtaining a license for a significant fee.
  • Protect in-home care for seniors
    During the 2007 regular session General Fund dollars for Oregon Project Independence from the Governor’s Recommended Budget was cut and Republicans intend to see that funding gets restored. OPI allows seniors to continue to live in their own homes where they want to be, results in less sickness and longer life, and costs about 80 percent less than alternative care. I have also co-signed a letter sent to the co-chairs of the Ways and Means Committee, requesting $580,000 in funding for the Centers for Independent Living (CILS) during the February session.
  • Expand water resources available for eastern Oregon economies and agriculture
    Governor Kulongoski has developed a plan to recharge failing groundwater aquifers in northeastern Oregon with water diverted from the Columbia River during winter months. This plan is a variation of the Oasis Project introduced by Senator Nelson (R - Pendleton) during the 2007 session that passed the House but died in the Senate when the Governor threatened a veto. This bill has real potential, but as always, the devil may be in the details.
  • Reform Oregon’s land use laws
    The passage of Ballot Measure 49 did little to either clarify Oregon’s land use planning or to make the planning scheme more equitable. The “Big Look Task Force” was in the midst of reviewing the entire land use planning effort when it was essentially defunded during the 2007 session. The committee had recognized that the one size fits all centralized land use planning system is broken and is in much need of repair. They were particularly critical of the lack of recognition of the different planning needs of rural and urban communities. There now appears to be a bipartisan understanding that this effort needs to be funded and completed.

       This special session must adjourn by February 29th and there are a lot of bills and issues in the system that have not yet been fully revealed. Our office will do its best to keep you updated in the weeks to come. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

Take care,


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