The legislative process continues to move slowly in the House Chamber, and bills are now being read in their entirety instead of the usual process of being identified by title only.
However, we did have bipartisan agreement to finish some important budget bills during a night floor session last week to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in students and in communities impacted by the pandemic and wildfire devastation.
Summer learning, child care
HB 5042 includes $250 million to fund Summer Learning and Child Care programs throughout the state, $18 million for emergency housing shelters and nearly $5 million to help wildfire-impacted communities across Oregon. HB 5042 received a unanimous House Floor vote and is now in the Senate awaiting consideration.
While the work on the House Floor seems to be moving at a snail’s pace, I was able to carry HB 2693 my “Food Box” bill in the chamber. It allows non-profits to use apprentice trust training facilities for no more than seven consecutive days, or 30 cumulative days in any tax year under a rental agreement without jeopardizing the facility’s property tax exemption. This problem came to my attention last year when the Plumbers and Steamfitters wanted to facilitate collection and distribution of food boxes for people in need. As Chief Sponsor of HB 2693 I was gratified to see the bill receive a unanimous floor vote. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Another bill, HB 2298 authorizes voluntary stream restoration and habitat improvement projects in small Eastern Oregon streams through the construction of environmental restoration weirs. This bill came out of my House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee, and I signed on as a sponsor because I believe this bill will help landowners address erosion and riparian degradation, while providing ecological and economic benefits. This bill was approved on the House Floor and it moves to the Oregon Senate.
There is now a backlog of more than 100 bills waiting for House Floor votes. It’s important to note that 90% of those bills coming to the floor had bipartisan, unanimous support coming out of their committees, but procedurally, the bills are being read in their entirety until a 2/3rds majority of Representatives agree to waive that requirement and allow the bills to be read by title only.
There is so much work to be done to protect Oregonians struggling under the weight of the pandemic, our economic downturn, the housing crisis, wildfires and so many other issues. It is frustrating to sit on the House Floor for hours at a time, and feel that our time and taxpayer dollars could be better spent getting things done for the people of our state. In an effort to get the people’s work done, each day we hold morning and evening floor sessions, and are scheduled to convene this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s House Floor Session means I will have to miss the 100 year celebration of the Rainier City Hall. The Rainier City Hall officially opened for business April 13, 1921 and although a few days early, the 100 year anniversary will be celebrated this Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. There will be tours, historic displays and presentations of the Rainier Oregon Historical Museum and a chance for friends and neighbors to celebrate the city’s rich history. The city does ask that those attending wear masks and adhere to social distancing protocols.
Keep in touch
As always, please remember that I can best serve your interests when I hear from you. If you have a comment or concern about pending legislation, please reach out to my office. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Capitol building remains closed, so email is probably the best way to have your opinions recorded. If I can help you navigate an issue or problem with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Rep. Brad Witt serves House District 31. He may be reached at: