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May 14,  2013

 

Dear Friends,

Improving civic literacy is a legislative priority for me. I believe that for a democracy to work; the citizens have to be civic literate and knowledgeable of our republic form of government.   The fact is too many citizens are not knowledgeable of civics. On Wednesday, the House Higher Education Committee invited testimony to discuss improving civic literacy in our education system. We had Rob Wagner with Portland Community College and Jim Gorter, the past chair of the City Club of Portland Civic Engagement Advisory Committee, discuss the issue and then we had middle school, high school, and university students testify on their involvement in different civic competition and their interest in civics.   I was very impressed with the students' testimony on their successes in civic competition events and their statements in support of civic education. Dr. Gayle Thieman, Ed.D, a past President of National Council for Social Studies, and Jan Christensen, the City Club of Portland Civic Engagement Advocacy Committee Chair, discussed their budget request in the ODE budget to improve civic literacy.

 I and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici introduced bills in the 2005 and 2007 sessions which would add to the required state high school graduation requirement of 24 credits: credit of civics and of personal financial management. The bills did not move forward because opponents stated that it would cost too much to add teachers to provide this curriculum.   As a concession, the State Board of Education added civics and personal financial management as essential skills required for graduation and the subjects would be embedded in other required curriculum courses. This policy helped but not as much as a required credit. Later, I learned that even our colleges were failing to provide civic literacy in their courses. Thus, I introduced HB 3108 to require the State Board of Higher Education to report to the legislature on efforts to integrate civic literacy into their curricula and improve the civic literacy of their graduates. This effort was unsuccessful.

 

School districts may add to the states 24 credit requirement for graduation. I hope many school boards will add civics and personal financial management to provide our students with the necessary education to be good citizens and leaders of our communities, states and nation.

 

In addition to the City Club of Portland; others involved in improving civic literary include "Classroom Law Project," "CivicsFirst," and American Legion's Boys State and Girls State programs.

 

Sincerely,

Gene Whisnant

 COMMITTEES
Josie and Rep Whisnant  Committee
Josie giving Rep. Whisnant information for committee

 

 

House Higher Education Committee:

On Monday, we received a presentation on the "Career and Technical Education Revitalization Grant Program." ODE Director Laura Roach, Chemeketa Community College Executive Director Trisha Conlon, Mark Twain Middle School Principal Dandy Stevens, and Central Electrical Training Center Director David Baker described the program and the successes. I commented that I supported CTE programs; however, this is an expensive education program and we must have school districts and community colleges seeking ways to work together and share facilities to control the taxpayers' burden.

On Wednesday, we had testimony on one of my legislative priorities, civic
 literacy which I discuss in detail above. We also heard about the Oregon "
Dual Credit Initiatives." Oregon University System Vice Chancellor Karen Marongelle, Oregon Education Investment Board member Michael Seelig and Lary Cheyne with Oregon Department of Community Colleges discussed the benefits of this program including that in 2011-2012: 3,562 students earned a total of 30,198 credits which is a total savings of $5,102,955 or $1,433 savings per student based on 2011-2012 average OUS tuition and fees.  

House Education Committee:

On Monday, Assistant Superintendent Brian Reeder briefed the committee members on the Quality Education Model.

On Wednesday, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instructions Rob Saxton provided information on Oregon School for the Deaf and the committee toured the Oregon School of Blind on Friday.

House Human Services & Housing Committee:

On Monday, we had an informational meeting with invited testimony on the Tobacco Master Settlement program and tobacco prevention programs. Also, we heard two bills, SB 601 and SB 91 A.

On Wednesday, the committee heard invited testimony on Oregon's Long Term Health Care program. We heard from Department of Human Services, caregivers, case managers, facility managers, consumers and the State's Long Term Care Ombudsman Mary Jaeger.

REVENUE FORECAST  
 
    

On May 16th we will receive the May Revenue Forecast which will be used to complete our budget. The chart above indicates that we have over $2 billion more for this budget without an anticipated increase from the May Revenue Forecast. Like 2011, we need to work in a bipartisan manner to build a budget that enhances education funding to protect the classrooms, provides for adequate reserves, and does not raise taxes on Oregonians. We had the courage to do it in 2011; we must to it again in 2013. Further, almost all agree that "PERS lite" (SB822) which really only takes from PERS retirees will not fix PERS." We need to address the PERS liability and fix PERS for the State and its employees.    


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In This Issue
Committees
Revenue Forecast
Bills
Visitors
Events & Items of Interest
Contact Info
OLIS
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 BILLS

 

school house rock 

 

On Monday, I voted for HJM 15 which encourages Congress to pass the "Postal Service Protection Act of 2013." I believe that the Postal Service must become more efficient; however, it is not right to keep only large city postal service facilities open and not those in rural communities. The "Postal Service Protection Act" would prioritize keeping local post offices open. It would remove the burden of pre-paying retirement costs for future workers who are not hired yet, return postal service budgets to the black and allow the postal service the flexibility to become an innovative agency again.

VISITORS 

Andy High and Alison Hohengarten  Central Oregon builders Association
Andy High, Alison Hohengarten Central Oregon Builder's Association and Rep. Whisnant

 

Kristin and Sawyer Weignant  Robotic Day

Rep. Whisnant, Kristin Weigant, Sawyer Weigant and Senator Knopp

Robotics Day

 

 Chief Delvis Heath of the Warm Springs Tribe

EVENTS & ITEMS OF INTEREST

 

On Thursday, Legislators and staff attended a "Tactical Debriefing on the Clackamas Town Center Shooting Incident on 12/11/12". Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts presented the information on the incident and lessons learned. Deschutes County Larry Blanton was in attendance.

Contact Information

 

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     You can also review our work on our official website: www.leg.state.or.us/whisnant.

 

     If you want to actually view legislative floor sessions and committee meetings; go to the link:  www.leg.state.or.us/listn.

 

SALEM CONTACT INFO

Office phone number: 503-986-1453

Vicki Olson, Legislative Assistant

Email: rep.genewhisnant@state.or.us

Website: www.leg.state.or.us/whisnant

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

 

  OLIS
  

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.

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