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May 21,  2013

 

Dear Friends,

It is a fact that you can find and use numbers in ways to support your point of view. I am afraid that is the case with our Federal and State leaders concerning the "employment picture." We see reports that the US and Oregon unemployment rate is improving and that 6.8 million US jobs have been created in the last 38 months. Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist for the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank said, "Most of the improvement that we've seen in the unemployment rate hasn't been due to increased job opportunities. It's been due to people dropping out of or never entering the labor market because of weak opportunities." "The fact is that we're 2.6 million jobs short of where we were at the start of the recession. And that doesn't even count five years of population growth," said Chad Stone, chief economist for the Center Ford Budget and Policy Priorities, a center-left think tank. We are 10 million jobs short of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected 10 years ago. Keith Hall who was commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and now a researcher at George Mason University's Mercatus Center stated, "There are 16 million families where nobody has a job. That just seems to me to be remarkable." I would use another adjective to describe the situation for those 16 million families in the US and Oregon.

 

I am disappointed in the lack of attention the leadership of the 77th Legislative Session has directed in helping create private jobs for Oregonians. However, I and several legislators have joined a bipartisan "Jobs Caucus" initiated by Senator Tim Knopp to seek ways to help create private sector jobs. We hope this bi-partisan and bi- chamber caucus will be successful.

 

Sincerely,

 

Gene Whisnant

 COMMITTEES

 

 

House Higher Education Committee:

On Monday, we passed unanimously three bills: SB 225 A, SB 267, and SB 802 B.

On Wednesday, we had informational testimony on the subject of "helping Oregon students plan and pay for college." First, we received a briefing by Oregon Student Access Commission (OSAC) Director Bob Brew on the status of opportunity grants and other scholarship opportunities managed by the OSAC. Next we learned about the successful efforts to help control the cost of higher educations by representatives from Portland State University, Western Oregon University, and Oregon State University. I was very impressed with the Western Oregon University approach which includes the "Tuition Promise" and "Tuition Choice" programs. Also, they have programs to try to control the costs of room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. These expenses exceed the costs of tuition.

House Education Committee:

On Monday, we received testimony on Oregon Department of Education English Language Learners (ELL) programs. Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton said, "The results are clear; we need to change direction and change how we do business at every level to ensure our English Language Learners are receiving what the need and deserve. Continuing down our current path is not an option." We heard from Latino community members that they also were not satisfied with the education.  

On Wednesday, we had an informational meeting concerning re-establishing the Brothers School District for children in the Brothers area.

House Human Services & Housing Committee:

On Monday, we passed SB 91 A which allows landlords to require tenants to maintain liability insurance. Then we received presentations on Oregon's Community Corrections programs and county transition programs. DOC, Marion County, Clackamas County, Klamath County, and Multnomah County community corrections directors, staff, and former clients briefed us on their re-entry programs. The testimony by citizens who successfully completed the re-entry programs and are back in the communities was very informative and encouraging.

On Wednesday, we received informational testimony on the Oregon Youth ChalleNGe Program (OYCP) and Mental Health Care Coordination Services in our schools. I am very supportive of the OYCP and their successful program with "at-risk" high school students. You may learn more about this program located near Bend at www.oycp.com.

 

 BILLS

 

school house rock 

 

I joined Rep. Mike McLane in testifying in support of HB 3130 before the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation. HB 3130 allows Deschutes County to use economic development funds to Install a traffic light in La Pine for safety and help the La Pine industrial Park grow.

HB 3109 A (Pole Creek fire) received a hearing last week. On September 9, 2012; the Pole Creek forest wildfire broke out in the Deschutes National Forest. The Pole Creek Fire began sending smoke into "Central Oregon" communities on September 11, 2012. The town of Sisters was severely impacted by smoke quickly reaching "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" air quality levels. Smoke intrusions into Central Oregon continued through October 12, 2012. DEQ monitoring equipment in Sisters registered the air quality in Sisters at "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" levels for 5 days. This bill is about suppressing fires before they grow large enough to inflict serious damage to natural resources, threaten public safety (public health), or run up millions of dollars in costs for landowners, the General Fund, or both. The bill's
intent to increase public awareness of the impact of forest wildfires.  

 

HB 3315 A (H2B Visas) had a work session last week and is on its way to the House floor for a vote. On this bill, I worked with the Oregon Employment Department on this issue since the major abuses occurred in Oregon in 2009 using the Federal stimulus funds to employ foreign workers and not Oregonians, Charles Pope reported on the H2B visa abuses in an October 20, 2011 Oregonian article, "Stimulus money of Oregon jobs hired foreign workers." He reported "at least $7 million in federal stimulus money intended to provide jobs to unemployed Oregonians instead paid wages to 254 foreign workers, federal investigators have concluded." Oregon's federal elected officials are working on this issue and the federal government must find a total solution with Oregon and other states to completely prevent all H2B visa abuses. HB 3315 places in law the Oregon Employment Department's recommended actions to address this issue.

 


 
In This Issue
Committees
Bills
May Revenue
Visitors
Floor Session
Contact Info
OLIS
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MAY REVENUE FORECAST  
  
 

On Thursday, we received the May Revenue Forecast with a projected $115 million increase for our 2011-2013 budget and $156 million increase for our 2013-2015 budget.   The total increase projection is $271 million which happens to closely match the amount of new revenue which the Ways and Means co-chairs were seeking from the elimination of tax deductions like mortgages, charities, and deduction caps. The total 2013-2015 budget calls for $16.9 Billion. That is a 10.5 percent increase over the $15.3 billion 2011-2013 budget which ends June 30, 2013. The economists presenting the May Revenue Forecast explained the reason for the increase was attributed by an increase in tax collections, stock market gains and by taxpayers choosing to cash in their assets ahead of federal tax increases scheduled for 2013.

VISITORS 

Tom McCall Elementary
Tom McCall Elementary visiting Rep. Whisnant in Salem

 

Rep. Whisnant Mitchell's Shooting Range
Rep. Whisnant with the Oregon Sportsmen Caucus at Mitchell's Shooting Range
SPECIAL ITEMS 
  
Jim Fleming
Jim Fleming wins raffle prize at Midstate Electric Cooperative, Inc.

 

Josie and I were in District this weekend and had the pleasure of attending the annual Mid-State Electric Coop meeting in La Pine and the Sunriver Rotary annual fund raiser.

 

Josie and I attended the Oregon Federation of Republican Women event in Salem. Former Senator Bev Clarno was the featured speaker.

 FLOOR SESSION

 

On Tuesday, I was proud to continue my support of military veterans with YES votes on SB 34 and SB 35 both related to military veterans home and farm loans.

Contact Information

 

Please monitor our work on your behalf by signing up to receive our "Legislative Updates" and press releases. Provide us your email address at rep.genewhisnant@state.or.us. Also, you may use that email address to contact us.

 

     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.

Family Corner 
  
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Colby Todd Whisnant action poster.
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