Members of the Oregon Legislature will convene in Salem the week of November 16 for the next round of committee days.
Throughout most of the state’s history, the Legislature has met only in regular sessions during odd-numbered years. That changed as a result of Measure 71 passing in the November 2010 general election with nearly 68 percent of the vote.
Now, the Legislature also meets for shorter, month-long sessions in February of each even-numbered year. As part of a larger movement towards professionalizing the body, committees are kept intact in the interim times between sessions. Those meetings often consist of informational hearings, and allow committee members to develop legislative concepts that can then be introduced in either the short or regular session of the Legislature.
I am currently assigned to six committees. Of them, three did not meet during the committee days held in late September. Committees typically meet at the call of the legislators who chair them. As such, the House Interim Committee on Conduct, Joint Emergency Board and Joint Interim Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development did not have any meetings scheduled during that time.
The other three committees to which I am assigned did meet.
On September 29, the House Interim Committee on Revenue held informational hearings on a series of topics. They included a presentation from the Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) analyzing the first year results of reforms that have been made to the state’s Senior Medical Deduction. LRO also provided background information to committee members on non-profit property tax and tax credit transferability issues. Representatives from Legislative Counsel, the team of attorneys who draft bills on our behalf, joined LRO in the discussion regarding the transferability of tax credits.
We also heard an update from the Department of Revenue (DOR) regarding its Core System Replacement Project, Fraud Prevention Actions and Preparation for Point of Sale 911 Tax Collections.
Anyone interested in reviewing the written testimony that was submitted, or watching a video of the meeting, can do so by clicking here.
Also meeting that day was the House Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
A fire season update was provided by representatives of the Association of Oregon Loggers, Oregon Forest Industries Council, Small Woodlands Association, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the federal Bureau of Land Management. There was also a discussion regarding the changing dynamics of Oregon Agriculture. Speakers included representatives of the Oregon Wheat Growers League, Oregon Cattleman’s Association, Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), Oregon Farm Bureau and the Oregon Association of Nurseries.
Footage of that meeting, and the assorted materials for it, can be accessed here.
Finally, the Joint Interim Committee on Ways and Means met the following day, on September 30.
Although my other two committees that met during Legislative days had informational hearings, Ways and Means voted on a number of grant requests from several different state agencies and heard presentations from others. Those include ODF, DOR, ODA, the Oregon Health Authority, Department of Human Services, Higher Education Coordinating Commission, Department of Education, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Department of Corrections, Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Consumer and Business Services.
The topics that came up involved a plethora of issues important to Oregonians from all throughout the state. They include workforce innovation, charter school development, health insurance, natural disaster resilience, immunization programs, prevention and treatment of HIV and other STDs, mental health and addition services and many others.
All of the materials for the Ways and Means Committee meeting are available here.
Agendas for the November committee meetings have yet to be posted. However, they will be made public through the Legislative website, www.oregonlegislature.gov, prior to the first meeting date of November 16.
The Legislative website is user friendly and contains a wealth of information about proposed legislation, the process and laws that were passed in previous sessions.
As you know, the Legislature deals with issues that have the ability to affect every man, woman and child in the state. It is therefore critical that citizens participate in the process in order to ensure the best possible outcomes. I strongly urge you to take the time to familiarize yourself with the legislative website so we can develop policies that can improve the lives of Oregonians for years to come.
Representative Gail Whitsett
House District 56
Permission to republish granted by Representative Gail Whitsett’s office