Travel Lane County Opens!

A new resource to boost tourism and show off what our great region has to offer

Greetings,

As promised in last week's e-newsletter this week's Legislative Report focuses on jobs.  Even with the news that Oregon's unemployment rate has fallen again to 10.7%, many people are still out of work or have stopped looking for work.  I hope that businesses take advantage of the opportunities these bills create and as always if you have questions on these programs or any others please don't hesitate to contact my office.  We will do the best we can to get you pointed in the right direction.

Also if you have questions you want to ask me in person, join me and Senator Floyd Prozanski and Representatives Paul Holvey and Terry Beyer for a Town Hall Meeting TOMORROW!   Don't miss your opportunity to talk about jobs and the economy, consumer protection, transportation, taxpayer dollars, public safety or other topics that matter most to you!

Phil

 


2010 Census:

The federal government distributes more than $400 billion in tax payer dollars to support community programs each year.  They use information from the census to help determine which communities get those funds.  Accurate census data gives us the best opportunity to bring funding to our community.  Census data can help fund services for people in poverty, establish services for people with disabilities, determine locations for hospitals and senior centers, and forecast transportation needs. You should receive your census survey between March 15th and 17th.  Please make sure to "Take 10" to fill it out.  Also check out this interactive map to see how we did in 2000 (it will be updated with our regions statistics once the survey's are distributed).

2010 Bill Highlight:

Senate Bill 1062 requires "survey" ballots to include printed in boldface, 36 point type "THIS IS NOT A REAL BALLOT. DO NOT USE TO VOTE". This change will ensure that voters will not confuse survey ballots with official election ballots and will maintain the integrity of our election process. - Passed with broad bi-partisan support

Tax Minute:

Help Filing: If you make less than $57,000 a year you likely qualify to use the industry's top tax software for free for your federal tax return.  Visit www.irs.gov to find out more.  For other free resources contact AARP Tax Aide at 888-227-7669 or visit their site here. Lastly you can find a local tax aide location near you by calling 1-800-SAFENET (723-3638). You may also qualify for free e-filing of your Oregon tax return: http://www.oregon.gov/DOR/

AG's Scam Alert: "Last year, the Oregon Department of Justice and the Board of Tax Practitioners teamed up to stop an unlicensed tax preparer that violated the law 534 times. Attorney General Kroger and the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners offer the following tips when choosing an income-tax preparer:

•    Check here to ensure the preparer is licensed.

•    Never give out personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account or mortgage receipt to a tax preparer unless you have determined they are licensed.

•    Be wary of tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger than normal refunds than others.

•    Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund."


Stop by the new visitor information center located at the Crossroads Shopping Center, 3312 Gateway Street Springfield

Town Hall Meeting:

Join Senator Prozanski and Representative's Barnhart, Beyer and Holvey for a Town Hall meeting.

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


Watch Rep. Barnhart's speech on
the "BOOST" Bill

Legislative Report

During the Special Session my colleagues and I passed bills to stimulate job creation and give surviving businesses the extra support they need.  The recession ravaged our economy like a forest fire.  It took months to get the blaze under control, but now that most agree the fire is smoldering out, it is time to promote growth. 

We passed four key bills to help remove funding barriers and increase capital for Oregon's businesses to give them the support they need now.  First, House Bill 3644 appropriately creates an Oregon Economic Gardening Fund to raise and leverage private foundation, federal, and other dollars to support Oregon businesses that have fast growth potential.  Next we passed Senate Bill 1017 to get funding to small businesses faster.   The bill does this by changing how the Oregon Business Development Fund approves small loans (under $250,000).  These loans can be used for land, buildings, equipment, and even working capital.  House Bill 3627 nicknamed the Small Business Investment Act helps ease the financial obstacles that investing in a new business pose and will encourage the development of new small businesses throughout our state.  The bill allows Oregon residents to claim an income tax subtraction of up to $500,000 for investing their severance pay into a new or existing Oregon small business.  The tax credit offered in this bill will encourage Oregon's hesitant entrepreneurs to make the leap from idea to action, strengthening the core of our economy, encouraging innovation, and more importantly - putting Oregonians back to work.  Lastly we passed the "BOOST" bill (House Bill 3698) to give small business loans and grants for creating new jobs and hiring Oregonians.
       
The Legislature also passed several pieces of legislation to increase investment in alternative energy technology, creating the high-skill, high-wage jobs Oregon needs.  According to Pew Charitable Trusts research based on data from 1998 through 2007, jobs related to the clean energy economy grew 2 times faster than traditional jobs. Oregon has always been a leader in the renewable field, but now we have even more of an incentive to promote this type of expansion in our state.  House Bill 3633 adds wave energy to the type of energy that counts towards our renewable portfolio goals and House Bill 3690 gives more strength to a pilot program which provides incentives for producing solar energy.  Passed unanimously out of the House and the Senate, House Bill 3674 classifies biomass as an alternative energy technology, helping to create new jobs for Oregonians while obtaining energy from our forests.  Biomass facilities use waste material generated from logging or thinning activities in forests, as well as wood waste generated at Oregon sawmills and other wood products plants, to produce electricity.   Lastly we bolstered the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Technology Act (EEAST) established by the 2009 legislature.  This landmark program helps home and business owners make energy efficient upgrades to their properties, adding thousands of job opportunities.  EEAST uses no taxpayer money and is financed through a combination of federal stimulus funds, state bonding and private loans.  The loan is paid back through the energy savings as a part of utility bills.

Oregon businesses will now have more of the soil, sun and water they need to grow.  When a fire burns out in our forests it is easy to think that the blackened ruin is the future, but in a surprisingly short time signs of new life appear as fire-stimulated seeds germinate and grow. Soon, the new growth is developing faster than the old. If we work and plan well, our economy and job recovery can too. For the unemployed, work on your skills, keep your eyes open for that new chance and keep your hope.