Oregon forest and ocean conservation, businesses suffer during pandemic

PMG FILE PHOTO - Rep. Brad Witt

State Rep. Brad Witt has been removed from three Oregon House committees on which he had common membership with state Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson after she filed a complaint about text messages between them.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, announced the action Monday, June 7, after the House Committee on Conduct deadlocked on proposed disciplinary actions against Witt. The committee, split between two Democrats and two Republicans, concluded last week that Witt violated a legislative rule against creating a hostile work environment with the text messages.

Under House rules, the speaker has the authority to name, remove and reassign members and leaders of most committees.

Witt, 68, is a nine-term Democrat from Clatskanie who represents parts of Clatsop, Columbia and Washington counties that are within District 31. Breese Iverson, 46, was initially appointed in 2019 to the District 55 seat vacated by Mike McLane, who became a circuit judge, and was elected to a full term in 2020. She owns a real estate business in Prineville. District 55 covers Crook County, plus parts of Deschutes, Jackson, Klamath and Lake counties.

Witt already had yielded his leadership of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee after Breese Iverson filed her complaint. Rep. Zach Hudson, a first-term Democrat from Troutdale, now leads the committee.

Kotek removed Witt from that committee, plus the Business and Labor Committee and the Water Committee. She appointed him to the Economic Recovery and Prosperity Committee and the General Government Committee; Breese Iverson sits on neither panel.

As a practical matter, with the 2021 Legislature scheduled to end its session on June 27, most committees are no longer hearing bills or acting on them. They may conduct informational hearings or public hearing on legislation for consideration in future sessions. Exceptions are joint House-Senate committees, including the budget committee, and committees on revenue and rules.

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