Rep. Barnhart reading to a student in Creslane's
The pace of this February session has been intense. It's been an eventful week already, with lots of activity. I wish I could say it all had been good. Yesterday we saw some chicanery on the part of the House Republicans as they blocked the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange, a bill that would save small businesses money and is supported by about every major business organization and health care advocate in the state. It was clear that it was nothing but political gamesmanship, with the intent of derailing important priorities for the middle class this session. In the Senate, we saw an effort to stall the Governor's Health Transformation Bill, a bill which would work to bring down health care costs and expand access….
Unfortunately, this has been a prevailing theme this session: while I have been working with my House Democratic colleagues to support small businesses and create jobs, prioritize the essential programs Oregonians depend on, and protect the middle class, House Republicans have pursued an agenda chock-full of special interest giveaways and tax cuts for rich investors that would make even Mitt Romney red with envy.
Town Hall and Coffee
Foreclosure Town Hall Meeting with Lane County Legislators:
March 7th: Eugene
Location and Time: TBA
Grab a cup of coffee (no host) and share your thoughts and questions with Rep. Barnhart
March 6th: Creswell
7:30 AM at Creswell Coffee,
116 Melton Rd, Creswell
March 12th: Walterville
6:30 PM (Evening Event!)
at Aunt Dings Restaurant,
39297 McKenzie Hwy, Walterville
March 13th: Brownsville
7:30 AM at
Randy's Main Street Coffee,
250 N. Main Street, Brownsville
March 14th: Harrisburg
7:30 AM at Jake's Cafe
290 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg
I regularly hold coffees, town halls, and speak to other groups around the district. If you would like me to meet with your group please send me an email to arrange.
View Rep. Barnhart and Rep. Berger Co-Carry the Senior Property Tax Deferral Bill in the House
Rep. Barnhart introduced the bill and covered the technical details and Rep. Berger covered the human reality of what this bill means for Oregonians. The video is very long, but if you are interested in this subject it gives a thorough explanation.
Click here to watch!
Business Oregon has a New Finance Widget:
In late 2011 Business Oregon released their New Finance Widget. They created this new tool to help business owners determine which finance programs may be available to assist them. To find out which Business Oregon programs might be available to help your business meet its financial needs visit their website here.
Legislative Report (Written Last Friday)
As I write this we are finishing the first full week of the first short Regular Session of the Oregon State Legislature. Issues are coming fast and it feels more like the end of a session than the beginning.
Job creation, protecting the middle class, and prioritizing services citizens rely on are my top priorities as we review bills and budgets. Because the Oregon Constitution limits us to 35 days in this session you will not hear about many policy initiatives starting. But this will be a historic session. Perhaps most important will be a big leap forward in restructuring our health care system to improve general health, quality of services, and reduce duplications and inefficiencies. The high cost of health care is a huge drag on our economy and business’s ability to create new jobs. We can do better. As we reform and improve health care for Oregonians who use the Oregon Health Plan, we will be laying the foundation for overhauling the health delivery and insurance system for everyone.
One service citizens rely on, and which has been a life saver for many of our aging Oregonians is the Senior Property Tax Deferral Program. Through the program low income qualifying seniors can defer their property taxes through a state managed reverse mortgage, but in 2011 the self-funding program faced bankruptcy as the housing crisis ravaged home values and sales. Last session, I successfully fought to save the program for 5,400 low income seniors. In order to save the program we were forced to place further restrictions on who could qualify and recognize that we have entered a new housing epoch of declining and stagnant housing prices. We also had to negotiate a $19 million loan to temporarily put the program back in the black. Sadly though, we were not able to save the program for all of the truly needy and deserving people. During the interim I had many heart wrenching conversations with citizens who did not qualify under the new regulations that brought the program back to solvency. Armed with new data, I fought this session to give a two year reprieve for people who were excluded because they had a reverse mortgage. That bill has passed out of the House 59 to 0 and is now headed to the Senate. If approved, 1,664 people with reverse mortgages will be brought back onto the program for a two year period.
In other Revenue Committee news, the recent revenue forecast estimated a smaller drop than we expected. That will make budget revisions easier and less painful than we thought. It also suggests that the recession may at last be over. Job growth is underway. If you are out of work do not give up hope. Spiff up that resume and start looking again. More businesses are, and will be, hiring more employees soon.
We’re moving at a breakneck speed and will be done by the end of the month. As always bring us your ideas and concerns. We are already starting to prepare legislation for 2013.
Town Hall Meeting at UO
Students show they are registered to vote!