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Rep. Gail Whitsett has several bills planned. Whitsett also plans to submit an updated version of the groundwater bill HB 4044

by LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 11/9/14

  In 2015, State Rep. Gail Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, will enter her second term as representative of House District 56.

   Whitsett was unchallenged in her bid for the district, which encompasses southern Klamath County and   southwestern Lake County.

   Whitsett said she plans to introduce several bills during her new term.   One consumer protection bill she is developing could require automotive repair shops to post signs notifying customers of their rights.

   Another bill Whitsett plans to submit will open more avenues for ending alimony payments. She noted several individuals in Klamath County have been awarded lifetime alimony. She said it’s not uncommon for payments to continue even if the alimony-receiving ex-spouse has remarried, or the paying exspouse is retired.  

   The alimony bill has been submitted to the House twice before, but has not been heard, she added.

   Whitsett also plans to submit an updated, less complex version of the groundwater bill she introduced earlier this year. The bill, HB 4044, intended to protect landowners by requiring that groundwater well shutoffs are supported by sound science. The bill previously failed in the state Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  

   Whitsett said she is concerned the Legislature is more urbanized than ever.

   “The rest of the state is basically left out,” she said.

   She said her focus will be on addressing rural issues, and would like to see big tax breaks to draw industry to Klamath County and   southeastern Oregon.

   “I’m very interested in helping to lift rural areas out of the recession,” Whitsett said.

   She also noted House Republicans are just one vote away from being a super minority.

State Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, said he will continue advocating for rural Oregon in his third term.

   He maintained his seat representing House District 55 with 67 percent   of the vote during Tuesday’s election.

   McLane was reelected Friday to be Oregon House   Republican Leader in the 2015 legislative session.

   McLane said he has drafted bills to submit during his next term, but he declined to reveal their goals.

   McLane said he plans to work hard for District 55 communities by supporting small business, ensuring schools have funding, and promoting government accountability so constituents know tax dollars are being spent well.  

   McLane said he plans to maintain the same advocacy for businesses and schools that earned him the “Legislator of the Year” award in 2012.

   McLane said leading up to the election, the climate at the state capitol was contentious. He believes by the next legislative session in 2015, officials will be ready to buckle down and work together.

   McLane said political balance serves best, but the state legislature is not currently balanced.

   “We have one party running Oregon,” he said.

    ljarrell@heraldandnews.com  ; @LMJatHandN  


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