SALEM, Ore. -

Legislation introduced by Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) and Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) received a hearing Friday in the House Business and Labor Committee. HB 3315, they said, will help prevent abuses of the H2B visa program and provide more jobs for Oregonians.

“I have worked with the Oregon Employment Department on this issue since the major abuses occurred in Oregon in 2009 using the Federal stimulus funds to employ foreign workers and not Oregonians,” Whisnant said.

Charles Pope reported on the H2B visa abuses in an October 20, 2011 Oregonian article, “Stimulus money of Oregon jobs hired foreign workers.”  He reported “at least $7 million in federal stimulus money intended to provide jobs to unemployed Oregonians instead paid wages to 254 foreign workers, federal investigators have concluded.”

Witt testified, “At a time of record unemployment, when federal stimulus dollars were intended to hire locally unemployed Oregonians, when job openings in other fields were attracting tens if not hundreds of local job applicants, not a single Oregonian was hired for any of the 254 jobs. Not one.  The H2B abuses took away high-paying jobs from many Oregonians who would have accepted these jobs.”

Oregon’s federal elected officials are working on this issue, and the federal government must find a total solution with Oregon and other states to completely prevent all H2B visa abuses.

HB 3315 places in law the Oregon Employment Department’s recommended actions to address this issue.

For more on the bill, visit: http://legiscan.com/OR/research/HB3315/2013