Hello Friends

Last week was an incredibly busy week at the Capitol during Legislative Days, the last we’ll hold before next month’s short

Legislative session. Legislative Days are typically held every couple of months during the interim for committee meetings, agency updates, task and work group reports, and information on legislation implementation. This week in committee we focused on legislation we plan to consider at the February short session.

On Tuesday in the House interim Committee on Economic Development, we discussed Opportunity Zones. The Opportunity Zone program was passed as part of the 2017 federal tax overhaul and purported to bring investment and economic benefit in low income communities. This is done with capital gains tax deferral, reduction and elimination for investment within designated Opportunity Zones. If the investment is held for at least five years, the taxes on the capital gains are discounted by 10 to 15 percent. But if they keep the new investment for at least 10 years, the taxes are waived.

In our Economic Development Committee discussions, we heard the program described as “a giveaway to wealthy investors” with no requirement that these investments benefit the low-income residents of these arbitrarily designated Opportunity Zones. In essence, Oregon taxpayers are subsidizing luxury developments in the metro area. The entire Portland downtown area has been designated as an Opportunity Zone, and currently federal and state tax breaks will go to wealthy investors for high-end projects in Portland, an area where investment would happen without these tax incentives.

So, we are going to look more closely at this tax scheme. House Bill 4010 is being introduced as a House Revenue Committee bill and will direct the Legislative Revenue Officer to study this program and make recommendations, if appropriate, for legislation to put side boards on these tax breaks. Oregon is the only west coast state that is connected to these federal tax breaks, both Washington and California are not.

As Chairman of the House Interim Committee on Natural Resources, we discussed three issues that will become committee bills. The first is LC (Legislative Concept) 129, which will amend residency requirements for wildlife license, tag, and permit application. LC 129 defines “resident” as a person who has resided in Oregon for at least 6 months prior to applying for license, tags or permits. Residency does not include a person who merely owns property or pays property taxes in the state, or who claims resident privileges in another state or country for any purpose.

If adopted, this measure would provide a tool for the Oregon State Police and prosecutors to deal with individuals who have been arrested for wildlife poaching who claimed out-of-state residency. We have had a history of some rather heinous examples of poaching in Oregon, with out-of-state guides engaging in illegal trophy hunting, and we need to provide whatever is necessary for law enforcement to successfully deal with this negative behavior.

LC 139 would remove the prohibition of issuing a dog license or tag without proof of rabies vaccination. This was requested by Multnomah County because when pet owners have tried to license their animals via the internet, uploading the rabies vaccination verification has been a barrier, causing some owners to abandon the licensing procedure. In Multnomah County, when a pet receives the rabies vaccine, the vet is required to send a certificate of rabies vaccination to the Multnomah County Animal Shelter.

The pet owner is contacted if they need to renew the pet license, or if a license has not been issued. If LC 139 is adopted, any Oregon county would still be able to keep their current system. Or to move to the Multnomah County model, where veterinarians are required to report dog vaccinations for rabies to the county.

Finally, the committee approved LC 169, to deal with wildfire notification by landowners. The concepts have not been fully determined, this bill will be a placeholder, giving us the opportunity for legislation dealing with wildfires in the coming short session.

I am expecting the February session to include robust discussion and legislation covering a variety of issues important to Oregonians. In order to best represent the people of House District 31, I need to hear from you as measures are introduced and taken up for consideration. It is my privilege to represent you in the Oregon House of Representatives, so if you do have an issue or concern regarding a state agency, please contact my office.

If you are planning to visit the Capitol during the February session, please call in advance to see if we can arrange an appointment, I always enjoy seeing constituents from the district when they visit Salem.

Brad Witt serves as State Representative for House District 31. He may be reached at 503-986-1431, and at Rep.BradWitt@oregonlegislature.gov. Rep. Witt’s website is http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/witt.

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