Speaking to the Emerald Empire Kiwanis Club


The Legislative Session is now over.  It went quickly but we accomplished what we came here to do - rebalance the budget, make technical fixes, and deal with emergency needs.  There is no greater emergency in Oregon than the need for job creation.  Business Oregon's Director, Tim McCabe wrote a response letter to the Mayor of Chicago on Oregon's business climate I couldn't resist sharing. Click
here to check it out.  Next week's e-newsletter will highlight and summarize the jobs bills we passed.  Stay tuned.



Town Hall Meeting:

Join Senator Prozanski and Representative's Barnhart, Beyer and Holvey for a Town Hall meeting to discuss the accomplishments of the Special Session.

March 6th
9:30 am to 11:30 am
Springfield Council Chambers
225 5th Street
Springfield, OR 97477

Bill Updates:

Business Energy Tax Credit

HB 3680 - Reforms the business energy tax credit. Passed in the House and Senate and now moves to the Governor.

Mortgage Lending Regulation

HB 3656 - Protects borrowers of 80/20 loans from being sued for the second loan once their home has already been taken by foreclosure. Passed unanimously out of the House and Senate.  It will now go to the Governor's Desk.

HB 3706 - Gives the Attorney General the ability to prosecute lenders for fraudulent and misleading lending practices by adding lenders to the list of industries regulated under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.  Gives additional protections to consumers and gives Oregon the ability to prosecute national and out of state lenders. Passed the House and Senate and now goes to the Governor.

Insurance Provider Regulation

HB 3666 - Encourages insurance companies to provide discounts to small employer groups and individuals who choose to get insurance notifications electronically.   The bill increases efficiency and promotes cost containment. Passed the House and Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

Watch Rep. Barnhart's speech on
Oregon's Job Friendly Business Climate

Legislative Report

I have received emails, heard from voters by letter, and been stopped by voters on the street who want to know what is happening with permanent funding for the Rainy Day Fund.  Pretty much everyone who understands our state budget and revenue system recognizes our current system is flawed.  A system by which one year revenue underestimation results in refunds to tax payers followed by years in which basic services are seriously weakened when they are needed most is unstable and harmful to our economy.

During the Measure 66 & 67 campaign I thought we would be moving rapidly to propose a constitutional amendment to take underestimated revenues and deposit them into a real rainy day fund to help provide basic services when the economy and revenues are down.  Such a plan would keep the best feature of the current law - the limitation on legislative spending provided by the revenue estimate, while changing the existing law so that we can save for a rainy day.  If such a law had been in effect in 2007 we would have had $1 billion more in the Rainy Day Fund and would have been in much better shape for weathering this crisis without a tax increase.

What happened?  I greatly regret not going ahead with that referral, but I also agree with the decision.  We have learned from long often bitter experience that to win such an election we need several things to come together.  The most important: a very significant majority of voters, as reflected in good polling data, need to favor a change for it to pass.  In June polling data for Measures 66 & 67 showed likely voters favored the ideas by 68 - 70% with about 20 % opposed.  The final vote was roughly 20% less at 54%.  The current polling in favor of creating a robust Rainy Day Fund using surplus revenue is about 58%.  Accounting for a 20% shrinkage rate leaves the "yes" side with less than a majority.

In order to pass this very necessary change in our Constitution, hard work will have to be put into educating Oregonians so more people understand that giving up a few dollars in good times can help protect safety nets and basic services for their families in bad times.

When I came to the Legislature I thought school funding could be fixed in one session.  It turned out to be much harder than I thought.  We must be smart, patient, and hard working to pass reforms to create a robust Rainy Day Fund.  Let's get to work and not give up until it is done.  Our state, our children, and our grandchildren depend upon it.