State Representative Gene Whisnant Newsletter
  February 11, 2013

Dear Friends,

I can report to you that we have completed the first week of the 77th Legislative Session.


First, I want to briefly discuss my two weeks in District after we were sworn-in on January 14th.

I had very informative meetings with constituents and community leaders. Senator Tim Knopp and I held Town Hall meetings in Redmond and South Deschutes County. We also joined Congressman Greg Walden's Bend Town Hall with Rep. Jason Conger. Senator Knopp and I also attended the Bend-La Pine School Board meeting, visited the new Redmond Ridgeview High School, and met with Superintendent Mike McIntosh and Principal Lee Loving to discuss education and "safe school" issues. We met with Redmond Mayor George Endicott and Redmond Economic Director John Stark. We also visited Three Rivers Elementary School with Principal Gayle Vidal. Later, we had a meeting with Principal Vidal, Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills, Sunriver Fire Chief Art Hatch, and La Pine Fire Chief Mike Supkis about public safety issues and "safe school" policy and action plans. The Town Halls and meetings are very important, providing me the opportunity to listen to people's concerns, issues, and suggestions. They energized me for the tasks and responsibilities I'll be facing in Salem. Please monitor our work on your behalf and give us your inputs.




Gene Whisnant

State Representative


Town Hall

Congressman Walden's Town Hall

Sitting at table Rep. Conger, Rep. Whisnant and Senator Knopp




I began my work at 8 AM on Monday, February 4th as a member of the House Higher EducationCommittee. The chair reported that our focus will be on higher education "access, affordability, and success." I support these objectives but may have different opinions on how to achieve them than the chair. However, Chair Michael Dembrow and I have successfully worked on bi-partisan legislative in the past and both did serve as Oregon Commissioners on the Education Commission of the States. I completed the first day as a member of the House Education and Human Services and Housing Committees. I have all three of my committees on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The first week of committee meetings was spent organizing and introducing committee bills which committee members are expected to vote for with the understanding that "your vote does not commit you to support the bill in future committee votes or floor votes."


House Higher Education Committee: On Monday and Wednesday; we held information hearings on the Oregon Department of Community Colleges by Commissioner Cam Preus and Oregon Community College Association Director Andrea Henderson. On Friday, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler presented his proposal to create the "Oregon Student Opportunity Fund." HJR 6 proposes amendment to the Oregon Constitution to allow indebtedness to corpus of Oregon Student Opportunity Fund. We will have further hearings on his proposal and SB11 which implements the fund.


House Education Committee: On Monday and Wednesday, the committee introduced committee bills, organized, and heard reports from committee members describing school districts each member represents. With short notice, Bend-La Pine Superintendent Ron Wilkinson and Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh provided me information to make an informative report. On Friday, we began to work bills with Public Hearings on HB 2099, HB 2184, and HB 2193 and scheduled work sessions for Monday on these bills.


House Human Services and Housing Committee: On Monday, we received testimony from the lottery commission on gaming addiction programs. On Wednesday, we received testimony by Human Services Director Erinn Kelley-Siel and Housing and Community Services Director Margaret Van Vliet. Director Van Vliet briefed that her agency only has a one year budget and she is charged with trying to develop a plan to disband her agency and move its functions into other organizations. On Friday, we held public hearings and possible work session on five bills.

Legislative Items of Interest



bridge sunset
I 5 Bridge

Columbia River Crossing: A Joint Committee has been formed to develop legislation for the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project. This will be fast tracked because the Washington State legislature adjourns before Oregon. The total estimated cost is $3.5 billion. Both States are expected to contribute $450 million each over the course of construction. Oregon will meet its obligation by issuing revenue bonds. Both Oregon and Washington must agree to provide their share of the cost for it to go forward.


OSU-CC 4 Year Program: Governor Kitzhaber announced his priority list for $242 million State Investment in Higher Education Construction with the OSU-CC Campus expansion identified as priority # 3 for $20 million. This is part of the Governor's overall $1 billion investment in Oregon's infrastructure.



I was informed by Legislative Council that they are expecting the normal number of about 4,000 bills to be drafted. Each legislator now has only five bills which can be drafted. We will keep you informed about our bills and other important bills as they work their way through the process.

Vistitors to the Capitol


Head Start Visit

Head Start

Danielle Wyeth, Brooke York, Joshuam Garrett, Melissa Lutz and Betty Shuler


Contact Information


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Office phone number: 503-986-1453

Vicki Olson, Legislative Assistant



Mailing address: 900 Court Street NE H-471, Salem, Oregon 97301


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Legislative Items of Interest
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