Legislative Update

Much is happening in the state right now, and I’d like to bring your attention to some important information.

Redistricting

Every 10 years the United States Census is taken to determine population growth or decline, and where people are currently living. This information is used to determine how to redraw electoral lines to reflect population shifts and changes in demographics. In Oregon the state legislature will redraw the electoral lines using Census data and input from public testimony.

Redistricting is important to ensure fair and equal representation in government and to allocate resources. How a district is drawn will impact how a community’s voice is heard and represented in our government.

The Oregon Committees on Redistricting was to release draft maps on Sept. 3 during a committee hearing. These maps are not final, but will be used during the public hearings to give feedback and input to the Committees’ members.

Public Hearings on Redistricting will be held September 8-13. Due to COVID-19, all hearings will be virtual.

Here is the schedule:

Wednesday, Sept. 8

• 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. (residents of Congressional District 1)

• 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. (residents of Congressional District 2)

• 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. (residents of Congressional District 3)

Thursday, Sept. 9

• 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. (residents of Congressional District 4)

• 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. (residents of Congressional District 5)

• 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. (residents of Congressional District 1)

Friday, Sept. 10

• 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. (residents of Congressional District 2)

• 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. (residents of Congressional District 3)

• 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. (residents of Congressional District 4)

Monday, Sept. 13

• 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. (residents of Congressional District 5)

• 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. (statewide: open to residents of any district)

• 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. (statewide: open to residents of any district)

If you would like information on signing up to testify, go to this link: bit.ly/TestifySignUp.

Record breaking tax licker

State economists have released Oregon’s quarterly Economic and Revenue Forecast. Oregon taxpayers will get a record $1.9 billion taken off their personal income taxes next year under the personal income tax kicker.

This means that for the median household, with earnings between $35,000 to $40,000, the estimated savings is $420. For the average taxpayer with household income of $67,000 the savings will amount to $850. The top 1% of Oregon income earners, who bring in more than $442,700 annually could receive average kicker rebates of $16,880. And for the highest income earners, there could be a kicker worth $100,000.

The tax relief comes at a time when Oregonians are feeling the impacts of the pandemic, drought conditions and wildfires. It signals that Oregon’s economy remains strong and puts us on a path for rapid economic recovery.

Oregon COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations at all-time high

As we head to the beginning of the school year we are seeing a serious surge in COVID-19 infections due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

In Oregon, the Delta variant is now tied to 90% of new cases. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) the Delta variant is more contagious and may cause up to twice as many infections as previous strains.

The pandemic has now reached the highest levels ever experienced in Oregon, and as a result, at this time, there are only 43 ICU beds left in the entire state. This means that people suffering serious injury or illness, may not be able to access the live-saving medical care they need.

In response to the dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections, and to keep our children safe and schools open, the Governor recently announced vaccination and masking mandates. Healthcare workers, K-12 educators, school staff and school volunteers will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval of the vaccines. As a further safety measure, the Governor is requiring that educators, students and school staff wear masks at schools. In a school setting, because children under 12 are still not eligible for vaccination, masks are a critical mitigation measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Making sure all adults around students are fully vaccinated adds another layer of protection for students. The goal is to ensure our children, as well as our teachers and school staff, are able to safely return to in-person learning this fall, five days per week.

The surge in COVID-19 cases is overwhelming Oregon’s health care system. In response, the Governor has deployed the National Guard and nurse strike teams, established temporary decompression units to free up bed space, and has formed a Hospital Crisis Prevention and response group to problem solve in real time during this ongoing hospital crisis.

Vaccines are the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19 and the Delta variant. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to get the information you need to make an informed decision. According to OHA and the CDC, all authorized vaccines are effective and work very well to protect you from getting very sick or dying from COVID-19. Everyone in Oregon age 12 and older is eligible to receive the vaccine, but it is your choice. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a vaccination you can follow this link: COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon

Stay in touch

Even when I am not in Salem, I’m still working with constituents, community leaders and other elected officials on matters that impact our lives. We check our messages daily, so if you have a concern, comment or need help regarding a state issue or agency, please contact my office. I am honored to represent you in the Oregon House of Representatives, and look forward to hearing from you.

Rep. Brad Witt serves House District 31. He may be reached at:

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