State Representative Gene Whisnant Newsletter
March 5, 2013

Dear Friends,

This newsletter is our continued work to inform you on what is happening in Salem. We also have a regular KBND interview with Lori Raap on Thursdays. Lori uses parts of the interview in later reports. I and the Central Oregon Legislative delegation participate in a video conference twice per month with city community leaders organized by the Central Oregon Cities Organization. Also, if you receive this newsletter, you receive press releases from our office and the House Republican Office. I would like to remind all that my work schedule begins with a Higher Education Committee meeting at 8 AM on Monday morning and concludes with a Human Services Committee meeting at 5 PM on Fridays. This committee schedule prevents any in-district events until the policy committees close in early June. Information is always provided in our newsletter to help you watch committee meetings and floor sessions. If you visit Salem; please let our office know as soon as possible so we can get you on our schedule. I will make time to meet with constituents.




 Gene Whisnant




House Higher Education Committee: On Monday, the committee had an informational meeting on a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) report and HB 2636 which proposes a STEM investment Council. Then, we had a public hearing on HB 2838 which proposed a "Pay Forward, Pay Back" pilot program to replace current system of tuition and fees required to attend institution of "higher education." On Wednesday, we passed a fee bill, HB 2185, for career schools. I will submit an amendment for the Senate to delete the authority for the fees to be raised by rule. I have fought to maintain the legislative branch of government's constitutional authority to raise fees; not state agencies which represent the executive branch of government. I was assured by the chair that he will support the HB 2185 amendment in the Senate. We also received a very informative Preliminary Report from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission Chair Betty Duvall and Vice Chair Neil Bryant. On Friday, we begin discussing "University Governances" (HB2149 & SB 759). These bills are based upon the Joint Special Committee on University Governance (HB 4061) report required by HB 4061 from the 2012 session.


House Education Committee: On Monday, we held a public hearing and work session on HB 2644, which would direct the Department of Education to ensure that statewide assessment system, or alternative to statewide assessment system is available for students whose primary language is American Sign Language. All committee members voted to move the bill to the House floor. On Wednesday, we passed bills related to several issues including funding educational technology equipment and programs. On Friday, the committee held work sessions and public hearings on several bills including our first bill (HB 2787) on improving school safety. We learned that there is at least one school safety bill being worked in the Senate.


House Human Service and Housing Committee: On Monday, we received an informational briefing on the "Seniors and Elder Abuse" prevention program directed to be created by the 2012 legislative session. We held possible work session on two bills - HB 2163 and HB 2355 which addresses gambling addiction but we did not move the bills. On Wednesday, we passed some bills and had public testimony on the importance of "General Assistance Program" to serve low-income, childless adults with disabilities. Oregon has not funded this program since 2005. On Friday, the committee held an extensive informational meeting with invited testimony on the Oregon State Hospital and the Psychiatric Security Review Board.




On Monday, I testified with Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D- Portland) in the House Rules Committee in support of HJR 2. The bill allows counties to merge with an approval vote of the counties seeking to merge. This would be an option for counties facing financial distress.


Concerning HB 3200, we have received numerous emails on this bill. I am a NRA member and a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. It is reported that the bill will not get out of committee. However, anything is possible until we end the session. I am working with other legislators to see if we can create policy, and reviewing the bills proposed to make our schools as safe as possible.


I am working with Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland) on HB 3000 calling for a screening or exam for students. I started this effort in 2008 and we did have a pilot project funded in 2009 to evaluate screenings by non-profits. With Speaker Kotek's leadership, HB 3000 and SB 274 were introduced. Working with the lobbyists for the optometrist and ophthalmologist, we believe we have an agreement to combine the two bills into HB 3000 and address this important requirement for our children.


Also, I was requested by Human Services and Housing Chair Tomei, to evaluate HB 2392 and amendments to produce a bill which the committee could pass. HB 2392 addresses changes to the Youth Development Council (YDC). As a result of the elimination of the State and County Commissions on Children & Families, the Governor established an Early Learning Council (ELC) to oversee programs for pre-natal to 6 years old and a YDC to oversee programs for youth 7 to 20. We held a meeting on Thursday with representatives from the Governor's office, YDC staff, and legislators to seek agreement on amendments to address county concerns about a transition plan and preventing gaps in services.

Floor Session


On Monday, February 25th, HB 2800 A, "the Columbia River Crossing (I-5 Bridge Replacement)," passed 38-14 and now moves to the Senate. I voted NO on HB 2800A. I was disappointed that the advocates were not transparent disclosing (1) this bill will result in tax increases for all Oregonians and (2) Oregon's financial obligation of $450 million which the state is going to borrow will result in lost revenue for other transportation requirements of $900 million including interest. I also believe other options to improve transportation needs along I-5 in Portland and over the Columbia River should have been considered. They were not because we were told that we had to rush to get the Federal funds for the light rail system planned.  "We're not in good shape and we're going to build another bridge?  It's insane." Former Governor Vic Atiyeh argues.  "And it's a fantasy that they think they're going to take care of the traffic." (Oregonian, March 3, 2013)




CASA Deschutes County

Pam Fortier, Peter Leklli,
 Rep Whisnant and Paul Ostrom

CASA Deschutes County

Other Visitors-


Mayor Endicott (Redmond)


Dr. Peter Yonan and Steve Timm, DDS


Eileen Stein, Sisters City Manager and McKibben Womack, Sisters Council President


Chris Hansen and Darlene Woods from NAMI Redmond


Don Horton, Director of Bend Parks and Recreation along with Bruce Ronning, Former Director of Planning and Development  


In This Issue
Items of Interest and Events
Contact Information
Tracking Bills and Committee Agendas
Red Shirt 
Contact Information


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Vicki Olson, Legislative Assistant



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The State has a new comprehensive system to help keep track of bills and committee agendas. That system is called OLIS, Oregon Legislative Information System.

 Items of Interest and Events


On March 4, the Joint Ways & Means Co-Chairs released their framework for the 2013-2015 budget. We'll report on the Co-Chairs Budget in the next Legislative Update.