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March 19, 2013

Dear Friends,

There is a House floor tradition that when a member is the only NO vote, he gets a "don't tread on me" desk flag. Last week, I was the only NO vote on SB 483 A.

I voted "No" on SB 483 A relating to "adverse health incidents," because the action created by the bill is not "tort reform." The Governor promised the members of the 2012 Legislative assembly that if we passed SB 1580 he would "deliver tort reform."

A bi-partisan advisory group met in the interim to create legislation proposing "tort reform." The product which they created is described as "voluntary mediation." We tried voluntary mediation as a solution to the housing foreclosure crisis and it is not working.

A member of the advisory group during floor debate on SB 483A on March 12, 2013 stated,

"This is not tort reform in any traditional sense. There are no caps on noneconomic damages, or medical review panels, or other reforms that have been proposed in the past and implemented in some parts of the country."

I believe adequate and minimum "tort reform" requires a limitation on noneconomic damages suits like the State of Oregon and Oregon Health Science University have.

In the Senate, the bill passed 26 to 3. The three No's were Senators Ferrioli, Girod, and Whitsett. Senator Ferrioli stated on the Senate Floor that this is not "tort reform and that the members should not issue their press releases claiming credit for providing "tort reform."

Thus, I cast my "don't tread on me" vote.


House Higher Education Committee:On Monday, the committee had public hearings on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs, associate transfer degrees, and common course numbering. On Wednesday, we heard two bills, HB 3015 & HB 3025 and passed SB 104. Also, Oregon University System Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jay Kenton presented a very informative report on "Higher Education Cost Drivers." He reported that PERS and health benefits contribute about $1,900 of the average tuition cost of $8,900 per student in the OUS system. On Friday, we continued to receive testimony on HB 2149 from the Oregon Treasurer about bonding and testimony from students, professors, and union representatives. The Senate is working SB 270 which is similar to HB 2149 and the leadership will decide which to move to Ways & Means. Thus, one chamber will not have a policy committee vote on this issue. One witness stated that this legislature will decide the future of Oregon higher education.     

House Education Committee: On Monday, we had public hearings on bills related to State School Fund distribution. On Wednesday, we passed SB 529A unanimously which allows school districts to opt out of education service districts and eliminates the sunset on the pilot project enacted by HB 3184 (2005). High Desert, Northwest Regional and Willamette Education Service Districts participated in the pilot project and want to continue the new governances established by HB 3184. Without this bill, the County Clerks would have initiated elections for the ESD boards at a cost of about $150,000. On Friday, we heard testimony on bills to add a parent and school board member to the Oregon Education Investment Board (HB 3231 & HB 3234). Also, we heard testimony about establishing Youth Development Division and Early Learning Division in the Department of Education (HB 3231 & HB 3234).             

House Human Services & Housing Committee: On Monday, Early Learning Council and the Department of Education testified on HB 2013 which will assist school districts in implementing a process to assess children to determine their readiness for kindergarten. On Wednesday, the committee received another informational presentation on the Oregon Housing and Community Services agency and further information on earned income tax credit (EITC). House District 53 has 12,300 people including 6,000 children receiving EITC. On Friday, we passed out of committee, HB 2477 and HB 2417. Oregon House Alliance presented a power point stating many renters in Oregon are unable to afford a two bedroom apartment at fair market rents.

Floor Session


On Tuesday, I voted NO on SB 483 A. (Please see explanation of vote above)

On Wednesday, we passed HB 2489 A which extends the ability to participate in the Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral Program to those who have been in the program prior to the changes in 2011 and who have been disqualified solely due to a reverse mortgage. On Thursday, Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1 passed unanimously which supports adoption of the State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias in Oregon. I am a chief co-sponsor of the SCR 1.




Credit Union Board Members and staff from Central Oregon


March 19

Central Electric Coop Board Members and Director Dave Schneider and
Mid-State Electric Coop Board Members and Director Bill Kopacz

In This Issue
Floor Session
Visitors to the Capitol
Meet and Greet
Contact Info
Other Visitors
Red Shirt 
On Thursday, March 28, 2013, from 4 to 5:30 PM, Rep. Whisnant will have a "meet and greet" at the Redmond City Library at 827 SW Deschutes Avenue. Please drop by and discuss the legislative session.
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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.


  school house rock

On Tuesday, I testified in support of HB 3096 allowing River Meadows HOA to combine their water and sewer LLC under ORS 554. The bill would amend ORS Chapter 554 relating to non-profit water improvement companies to allow such companies to own and operate sanitary sewer systems in existing developments where domestic water is already supplied by the ORS Chapter 554 corporation. Remember that the Co-Chairs budget calls for $275 million of new taxes/revenue. Please review HB 2001 for possible tax increases proposed by House leaders on you. HB 2001 eliminates many federal deductions that count against state income taxes: your mortgage interest deduction, medical deductions and deductions for charitable gifts. HJR 28 calls for a 5 percent sales tax.  

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Mid-State Electric Coop Board Members and Director Bill Kopacz

Former Texas State Representative Jerry Madden with "Right on Crime"

Georgia State Representative Jay Neil discussing "prison reform."

Oregon Tech President Chris Maples