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Rep. Gail Whitsett (House Dist. #56) Update

We are 16 weeks into the legislative session, with 6 left scheduled before we are supposed to sine die (adjourn).

Very little has been accomplished to date regarding the most pressing issues at hand. We have passed a very minimal PERS adjustment, and essentially no significant budget bills.

The House and Senate have not brought forward for a vote any major jobs bills, no statewide education budget bills, and no substantial PERS reformation.

It is important to note that hundreds of bills have crossed the floor and been passed out of the House of Representatives to date, but the Senate has heard very few of them so far. With only 6 weeks left, it seems improbable that the vast majority of bills will be heard, which may be good or bad, depending on the bill content!

As a first session Representative, it is disheartening to see which bills were scheduled for a committee hearing and which bills were left to languish. To date there have been 251 Democrat and committee-sponsored bills passed; 73 at the request of the Governor and state agencies; and only 39 Republican-sponsored bills passed.

The legislature seems to be more concerned with animal rights, commissions and subsidies for questionable green energy programs than with the $2 billion of PERS reform we need to pass in order to retain our educational and public safety infrastructure and personnel. A plethora of union-enhancing bills, fee increases, and water/property rights restrictions have been passed mostly along party lines. I am hopeful the remaining weeks will bring about the changes needed to bring Oregon back to a business-friendly, job-creating environment that will ultimately provide the additional revenue the state needs and reformation of the PERS shortfall – but I am not holding my breath.

Oregon has over $2 billion more resources available to use this biennium than last due to an improvement in the economy, but projected expenditures due to the government’s insatiable spending appetite still makes a budgetary shortfall.

SB 199 – Leasing of in-stream water rights

The following is my testimony on the House Floor on May 9 against SB 199:

“I am a no vote on this bill because it has the potential to wreak economic havoc on many areas of rural Oregon.

If the program is expanded across the state, what it does is remove water that should be used for agriculture and leaves it in-stream for non-agricultural use, flowing down the stream for fish.

Now, I’m all for fish, but I am more for agriculture in this state. I see this as a potential de-watering of agricultural lands for part of the summer growing season.”

SCR 14 – Designating twin minerals for Oregon

The following is my speech while carrying Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 to the House Floor, which designates oregonite and josephinite as this state’s twin minerals.

“Colleagues, I bring you a bill that really… rocks!”

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