Rep. Brad Witt, a Clatskanie Democrat, discusses legislative actions regarding the housing crisis, as well as efforts to protect vehicle owners' privacy.

OREGON STATE LEGISLATURE - Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie Housing has certainly become a focal point for Oregonians in the last couple of years, and it hasn't just been in the urban areas. The small towns in my district have also seen vacancy rates plunge.

Most cities, both large and small, have started to adjust their ordinances to allow for "accessory dwelling units," or ADUs. Although this increases density, it also allows some creativity so that family members can share space, or people can rent out a "tiny home" in their back yard.

Last week, we passed HB 3012A that will also allow counties to permit an ADU to be sited outside of the urban growth boundary if there is the presence of an historic home, defined as one built between 1850 and 1945.

In this event, the process works backwards: The historic home becomes the ADU and the owner may build a new home. The measure prohibits the subdivision of the lot or parcel, which must be at least two acres in size, and it limits modifications to the ADU. The bill is not intended to circumvent land use laws, but rather it is a creative way to provide additional housing in rural areas.

Another bill of interest is HB 2162A, which requires a contractor, who is awarded a state public improvement contract worth at least $5 million, to employ apprentices to perform 10 percent of the work hours that those occupations perform. Apprenticeship programs are typically 2-5 years long, and they are a natural segue for high school graduates interested in technical and/or mechanical careers who need to earn a living as they learn a trade. In the face of an aging workforce, this bill should help fill the growing need for well-trained, educated workers.

HB 3158A authorizes the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to implement a program to encourage persons to report violations of wildlife laws by offering preference points toward future hunting tags or cash rewards for information leading to citations or arrest for unlawful take, possession or waste of wildlife species. Since 2012, there have been an average of 764 incidents of poaching, mostly for deer and elk, but also big horn sheep and antelope. In many instances, these animals were killed and left for waste. The bill passed unanimously and is now over in the Senate.

Finally, the Senate passed a bill that gives Oregonians a means to protect their personal privacy when it comes to vehicle registration and insurance documents that they commonly carry in their vehicles. SB 930 allows the registered owner to black out or obscure the residence address, business address or mailing address shown on these documents. Thieves breaking into cars, stealing the information and even the garage door opener, then breaking into the driver's home, led the DMV to permit this alteration.  

The bill is now in the Transportation Committee on which I sit, where I expect it will be well received.

Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, represents House District 31. He can be reached This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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