Town Hall Schedule
Please join me at one of these following times/dates, as we discuss the issues facing Oregon's 77th Legislature.
We had great town halls in Halsey, Springfield, Eugene, Creswell, and Marcola. I am so glad to have had the chance to discuss Oregon's future with these communities.
Topic: Overview of the Budget
Date: Tuesday, May 28th
Time: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Location: LCC Downtown Campus-Room 112-101 W. 10th Ave, Eugene
Click Here to RSVP
We have changed locations for our Coburg Town Hall. The new address is below.
Topic: General Information
Date: Tuesday, June 11th
Time: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm
Location: Coburg Rural Fire District Building
91232 North Coburg Road, Coburg, 97408
Click Here to RSVP
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The Revenue Forecast
Perhaps the most important responsibility that we have, as legislators, is to balance the budget while protecting core services. So we were pleased to learn that the most recent revenue forecast predicted more funds for our budget. On May 16th, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis reported that based on the available data and certain trends, Oregon could expect to bring in an additional $272 million.
One of the main reasons why we can expect to add $272 million to our budget is our improving economy. With the economy slowly emerging from the recession, more businesses have more income, and pay more taxes. This will help to balance our budget and prevent more devastating cuts.
While this is good news, we still have work to do. We still have to increase school funding, keep police and firefighters in their jobs, and provide services for children and senior citizens. We still have to work for tax fairness, to ensure that out-of-state corporations and the wealthiest families pay their fair share, so our tax burden doesn't disproportionately fall on the Middle Class. These are my priorities, and I will continue to work to balance our budget and protect state services.
Click here to read the revenue forecast.
In the news, we often hear about how divided and contentious Washington DC can be. Congress is embroiled in gridlock and partisan warfare. Even the simplest bills are blocked from passage because many politicians are more concerned with campaigning than with governing.
Oregon is different. While the Democrats and Republicans in Salem do have major differences on policy proposals, there are plenty of times when we all come together to get things done. I may not always agree with my counterparts across the aisle, but I do believe that every person elected to the Legislature, regardless of their political party, cares about our communities. That is why I chose to report on some of the bills that we have passed together. These are simple but important bills that help Oregonians in their day to day lives. And they had strong bipartisan support because both Republicans and Democrats came together to find a good solution.
House Bill 2950 allows people to have time off when a loved one dies. Unfortunately there have been instances when an employee lost a loved one, and did not get the time off from his or her employer to grieve. In times of tragedy, people need to have the chance to be with their families, to care for others affected, and to heal. However, an employee might not take leave because her employer will not let her, or she fears that taking that leave will be held against her in the future. HB 2950 allows eligible workers (who work for an employer which has more than twenty-five employees) to take that time off without fear of being fired. It lets employees take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in case of an illness, or a death. The bill also guarantees an additional twelve weeks for maternity or childbirth disability leave. Both of these provisions give families the flexibility that they need. The bill had strong support from both Republicans and Democrats, and passed out of the House recently. It is now in the Senate.
House Bill 2060 was another popular bill that passed the House. This bill requires charities to provide services and to report them to potential donors. HB 2060 allows the Attorney General to revoke a charity’s tax deductible status unless that charity spends at least 30% of its budget on charitable services. For instance, if a charity spends 85% of its budget on advertising and fundraising consultants, and only 15% on the direct program services, it does not get tax-exempt status. People donate their hard-earned money to support the charity’s mission, not to hire more consultants or pay the CEO a great salary. Charities which lose their non-profit status will have to disclose that to donors. Donors have a right to know how their contributions are used, and this bill makes that possible. Both Republicans and Democrats came together to support this bill and passed it almost unanimously in the House. It has recently passed the Senate as well.
House Bill 2992 allows low-income mothers, children, and seniors to use their food assistance to buy produce at farmers’ markets. Unfortunately, low-income children and infants often do not have access to local fresh fruit and vegetables. This bill removes barriers and helps ensure that our people can lead a healthier lifestyle. It also supports small business owners and local farmers who sell their produce at the markets, which benefits Oregon’s economy. House Bill 2992 is simple, effective, and achieves a great deal at no additional cost. That is why every Republican and Democrat in the House voted for it.. HB 2992 also recently passed the Senate, and was signed by the Governor in May.
Oftentimes, you only hear about the fights and the partisanship in government. And those elements do exist in Salem. But there are plenty of times when we all come together, and do what is right for Oregon. There will be many more of these to come, so stay tuned!
Speaking to H. Royce Saltzman, co-founder of the Oregon Bach Festival. That day the House passed HCR 22, a bill I sponsored, which honors Dr. Saltzman's work on the Oregon Bach Festival.