Representative Nancy Nathanson
January 2011
2011 Opening Ceremony
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Being a legislator has year-round responsibilities, such as committee meetings, constituent work, talking with interest groups and advocates, participating in work groups, speaking at conferences, and developing legislation.  Then there's the time when we spend all day at the Capitol for special hearings occasionally during the year, and then ... continuously during the legislative session.  Tomorrow is the start of the session for the 76th legislative assembly.

The Legislature convened on "opening day" earlier this month for swearing in legislators and the Governor, followed by meetings to organize committees, adopt rules, and read the first bills for legislation into the record.  In the evenly divided House, Democrats and Republicans negotiated in good faith, in a spirit of cooperation, and adopted a fair and equitable plan for "co-governance."  More on that below. We are now just a few days away from reconvening on February 1st to begin the hard work of balancing the budget and passing meaningful legislation.

Although I will be in Salem full time for the next five months, I continue to be available to listen to and assist my constituents in the best way possible. You are always welcome to contact me at or 503-986-1413.


In This Issue
Kicking off the 2011 session
State Treasurer frees up money for lending
Increasing Insurance Rates & Protecting Consumers
Welcoming new staff
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Capitol News 

Kicking off the 2011 Legislative Session

More than 1,000 bills were introduced during the first three days of the 2011 session in January. Many of those focus on how to tackle our state's historic budget crisis. I have introduced my own set of bills aimed at ways to improve government efficiency by implementing the recommendations of the Government Efficiency Task Force I chaired during the 2009-10 Interim. For more information on these bills, click here.

2011 Opening Ceremony - NN

Representative Nathanson joins her colleagues on the House Floor for the Governor's inauguration.

I have introduced a number of other bills, as well, on topics such as health care, passenger and freight rail, public safety, and more. Click here for more information on the bills.

Legislators adopted rules to guide the first-ever equally divided House (30 Democrats and 30 Republicans).  We elected officers and had initial committee meetings. As part of the power sharing rules, all House committees will now have two co-chairs, one from each party, to lead the committee. I have the honor of serving a third session as a Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, as Co-Chair of the General Government Subcommittee of Joint Ways and Means, and as a new member of the Transportation & Economic Development Committee.

While the legislature is in an unprecedented situation, we know that now is the time to work together to solve our common challenges - creating more jobs with better wages and protecting those vital services Oregonians need.  And there will be no better time to look at NEW ways of delivering government service, not just watering down the works.  In the words of Governor Kitzhaber, "The works we must complete - and the consequences if we fail to do so - are not Democratic, or Republican - they are Oregonian. It is clear what we have to do. It is clear that we do not have much time to do it. And it is clear that we can only succeed by keeping our common goals first, and working together as Oregonians."

State Treasurer frees up money for lending

The State Treasurer hopes to free $600 million that banks can lend to individuals or small businesses looking to expand, by easing the requirement that banks hold $1 in collateral for every government dollar they take in.


One of the chief responsibilities of the State Treasury is to keep public funds safe. The State Treasurer protects the bank deposits of the state and also cities, counties and schools by requiring that the banks dedicate reserves to cover a portion of those deposits into a "collateral pool." That way, the public funds can be recovered if a financial institution fails.

The level of required reserves changes, depending on the relative strength of the bank and the economy, and the State Treasury keeps close tabs on the health of banks along with the FDIC and the State Department of Business and Consumer Services. The balance sheets of financial institutions are improving, meaning bank failures appear less likely. By lowering the reserve requirement of some banks, Treasurer Wheeler effectively "unlocked" that cash.

As a result, an estimated $600 million can now be used to make loans to homebuyers, small businesses, and other credit-worthy recipients.

Increasing Insurance Rates & Protecting Consumers

Oregon is leading the way nationally to make sure consumers are protected from unfair insurance rate increases during these challenging economic times.

In 2007, I passed legislation to give the public more opportunities to review and weigh in on proposed insurance rate increases. The legislation requires insurance company rate increase requests to be publicly posted by Department of Consumer & Business Services. Over a year after passing the bill, it had helped pave the way for the first-ever regulatory review hearing on skyrocketing individual insurance rates for health care plans in Oregon.

Under a new law passed in 2009, the Oregon Insurance Division (OID) can now push back on insurance companies' rate hikes that unfairly burden Oregon consumers. Designed to give more scrutiny to rate requests, OID can now consider an insurer's profitability, reserves, and investment income when reviewing rate requests. Since insurers' profits and earnings improved in 2010, struggling Oregonian families should benefit as well. Additionally, in August, OID received a $1 million federal grant to improve its rate review process by adding staff and studying ways of improving its reviews. 

Welcoming new staff

I am pleased to have Daniel Strauss join my legislative team in Salem as an intern. Daniel is a graduate student in the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon. He served two years with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Citizen Corps and currently volunteers at the University of Oregon Bike Program.

He will be traveling to Salem once a week to help in the office with constituent work and policy work dealing with government efficiency and transportation issues.
Representative Nancy Nathanson | 900 Court St NE | Salem | OR | 97301