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Roblan, Barnhart to Chair Rules and Revenue House Committees

Nathanson to Serve as Vice Chair of Ways and Means

     Speaker-designee Dave Hunt announced today that State Rep. Arnie Roblan will chair the Oregon House Rules Committee and State Rep. Phil Barnhart will serve his second term as chair of the House Revenue Committee. Hunt also said that State Rep. Nancy Nathanson will serve as vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee for the second straight session.

     “These are critical committees as we work on important areas of reforming government to make it more responsive to the needs of Oregon citizens in these difficult economic times,” said Hunt (D-Clackamas County). “Representatives Barnhart, Nathanson and Roblan are experienced leaders who will help guide the work and shape the agenda of what we expect will be a very productive legislative session.”  

     Rep. Barnhart (D-Central Lane/Linn counties) was first elected in 2000. As chair of the House Revenue Committee last year, Barnhart was instrumental in crafting Oregon’s first Rainy Day Fund, giving tax relief to Oregon’s farmers, fishers, and nurseries and in passing the landmark Business Energy Tax Credit that is a cornerstone in Oregon’s plan to establish itself as a leader in the renewable energy sector.

     “Oregon faces tremendous challenges with the declines in state revenues,” said Barnhart. “How we handle this crisis will largely determine the future of our education system, health care for children and the speed with which we rebound from this economic downturn.”

     Rep. Roblan (D-Coos Bay) was previously chosen as Speaker Pro-Tem by his Democratic colleagues.  As chair of the Rules Committee, Roblan will hear legislation concerning initiative and campaign finance reform, ethics issues surrounding legislators and lobbyists and other significant legislation.

     “Last session we passed some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation,” said Roblan. “This session, we need to look at helping local elected officials and volunteers who serve on local boards and commissions navigate through our ethics system. We also need to look closely at the issue of initiative reform in light of the fact that two individuals put a seven issues on the ballot this year alone. While every one of those measures was defeated by voters, it points to some clear abuses of the system that we’ll take a look at fixing.”

     Rep. Nathanson (D-Eugene) will play a key role in managing the overall state budget process, serving as vice-chair of the Ways and Means Committee alongside Chair Peter Buckley (D-Ashland).

     “This will be one of the toughest budget s we’ve ever crafted in Oregon. Our ability to find savings in government and protect vital public services while we work to create new jobs and educational opportunities will take every bit of our creativity and talent,” said Nathanson. “It’s a challenge all of us are ready to take on.”