Coburg Town Hall Meeting held in June at the
Flossie and I are about to take a short vacation after five months of very long days in the 2013 Regular Session of your Legislature. In my report to you below, I describe a few of the many actions the we took. Overall the session was very successful. I was able to pass a number of my priority bills, mostly suggested by constituents. Some are included in the Legislative Report, most not.
I will be writing with less frequency during the summer. We will be continuing work through interim committee hearings, Task Forces, and informal work groups to get ready for the 2014 Regular Session in February. If you have ideas you would like me to pursue, get them to me right away. The longer we have to prepare, the more likely we can pass them.
Enjoy your summer,
September 16th to 18th
November 20th to 22nd
January 15th to 17th
Short Session Starts:
BILLS THAT PASSED
HB 3296 – Will protect student athletes from the unscrupulous behavior of athlete agents looking to make a quick buck.
HB 3301 – Will ensure that electric vehicle owners will be able to charge their vehicles at home, if they have a condominium or home owners association.
HB 2385 – Requires insurance companies to cover the cost of treatment for an addiction even if the addiction is discovered when a crime is committed. (For example: a person is caught driving while under the influence). Getting people into treatment at the time of crisis is more likely to have a successful outcome.
HB 2386 – Requires the Department of Education go through a rulemaking process to create safeguards before radio frequency identification (RFID) technology could be used to track students in schools.
HB 3294 – Protects citizen’s email accounts from unintended uses. You may have heard that an individual submitted a public records request to obtain citizen email addresses to add them to his own e-newsletter list. This bill will protect citizen’s personal email accounts from being used outside of doing business with the state agency they shared them with in the first place.
HB 2384 – Gives police another tool to go after people who drive with a suspended license. The worst offenders could face forfeiting their vehicles under this new law.
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The 77th Oregon Legislature has adjourned. Here are a few of the things we did during the last five months. Your legislature started on time and ended five days early in mid-afternoon. I am proud of the work we did in many areas to make the lives of Oregonians better and your state government more efficient and effective.
Education --We are turning the corner on education in Oregon, the most important long term driver of our economy and of the success of our children. Locally, the University of Oregon will have its own institutional board ensuring that it is able to build on its strengths to educate Oregon's students and help grow and sustain our economy. We also reduced the increase in tuition our students have to pay. We guaranteed that all who grow up in Oregon and have high school diplomas from Oregon pay in-state tuition.
Statewide, early childhood programs will be better coordinated so that all our children arrive in school ready to learn. We have added back a billion dollars in k-12 school funding, not enough, but a good beginning, to hold down class size and maintain school days. One of the objects of a good education is the ability to get a good job and strengthen our workforce; we invested in Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.
Strengthening our economy and growing jobs--The legislature ended its session this year by approving a billion dollars of construction bonds that will bolster our educational capacity by constructing science buildings at UO, classrooms at OSU and PSU, and aid in the effort at nearly every state university and community college. These projects will put thousands of Oregonians to work on the construction and then for 50, or 75, or 100 years provide our students with the wherewithal to study, learn, invent, and discover. We also enhanced our transportation system, availability of industrial lands, and support for Small Business Development Centers. We doubled our support for local agriculture and provided better nutrition for our kids through the Farm to School Program.
Health Care--The fastest growing cost driver for government, business, and our families has been the rapidly increasing cost of health insurance and health care. Most of the basic reforms were instituted in the last legislature, but we continue to monitor and update the necessary reforms as they develop. The success of our economy and the health of our citizens depends on our ability to reduce costs, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care delivery system while bringing its benefits to all Oregonians.
We passed two major reforms focused on children’s health. Senate Bill 132 will improve vaccination rates and protect our most vulnerable from dangerous diseases. If you aren’t addicted to tobacco by the time you’re 21, you probably won’t be. We dedicated $4 million to tobacco prevention and cessation.
As we reform mental health care in Oregon, we need a new mid-sized hospital in addition to the new State Hospital in Salem. The Legislature decided that hospital will be built near Junction City. In addition to improving mental health care for our part of the state, the hospital will provide hundreds of construction and staff jobs for people living in the area, including our district.
Access to health care in rural communities continues to be an issue of concern and that is why we created a forgivable loan program and renewed the tax credit for rural doctors. Furthermore, we will have an interim study to learn how best to attract health care providers to rural parts of Oregon.
Public Safety--The Legislature strengthened community public safety with investments in community policing, community mental health, and other preventive measures that will make our communities safer.
Veterans--We secured the funding needed for the Lebanon Veterans’ Home. This is a very important local project and I am glad we will be able to support our Veterans. I appreciate Commissioner Nyquist bringing the issue to my attention.
Revenue--I have been working to increase revenues to pay for schools and other basic services and to improve tax fairness for many years. Fairness means, among other things that taxpayers pay what is due, and that those who can afford it pay more than those who cannot. This session the legislature made some great strides in tax compliance. Very large mostly out-of-state businesses incorporate part of their operations in small tax havens. They then attribute part of their American operations to them and fail to pay the income or other taxes due. We closed that loophole this year to the chagrin of conglomerates, small Grand Duchies, and island nations everywhere. In addition, businesses that hire subcontractors are required to report payments to them, the IRS, and the Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR); but until now there has been no penalty for failing to file. That means that tax cheats have been able to underbid honest businesses. We added a penalty for failure to file these reports and expect to collect more revenue to pay for schools and other basic services and even the playing field among business competitors. Competition should be based on the ability to work efficiently and produce higher quality, not on whether you pay your taxes or not.
Over 2500 measures were introduced this Session. If there are issues of interest to you that I couldn’t write about, please let me know. Stay tuned.