Representative Nancy Nathanson
April 2011
City Councilors

Eugene City Councilors visit with Rep Nathanson
at the Capitol.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I'm sending this short newsletter to you at the end of a long week, to explain a bit about what's been going on.  Friday was the deadline for a bill to be scheduled for a committee "work session" where the committee will decide whether to move it out of committee, or end discussion.  We have been working hard to persuade colleagues to schedule a work session on the bills to improve our work on passenger and freight rail, increase access to primary care, protect children from abuse, and other topics.

While tempers could have flared this week and the mood darkened throughout the building, it was pretty calm as we just took care of business - even though we were pleading and advocating to get hearings scheduled and committee action on bills.  The communication challenges, and logistics, are somewhat more complicated due to the nature of shared governance which requires both committee co-chairs to agree on scheduling.  There are a couple of other mechanisms that may be used to keep a bill moving, but those should be used rarely, and with caution.  I want to emphasize that from my perspective, and my work with colleagues, this week has gone well.

For those of you who look at voting statistics, there are days when almost every vote is unanimous in the House, or nearly  unanimous. Wednesday was one of those.  We heard 13 bills. Eleven passed without a "no" vote, and the other two passed with 59 and 54 votes (out of 60).  You hear much about major disagreements, but there's also a lot of business we get done in a bipartisan manner.


In This Issue
It is alive? Meeting the first bill deadline
Voter Registration & K-12 Education Budget
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links

Capitol News

Is it alive? Meeting the first bill deadline

Prep testimony
Rep Nathanson, joined by an advocate and staff, prepares for a hearing on one of her bills.  

By the end of Friday, any bill that remained in committee and was not scheduled for a work session was probably dead for this session.  As of Friday afternoon, we have determined that four of our bills have died in committee.  Here's the fate for the rest:  Four have already passed the House, and another to be voted on next week; two passed out of committee and are waiting to be heard in Ways and Means; we abandoned two because the ideas were incorporated into a live bill in the Senate; we abandoned two others to continue work in the interim; and 10 more bills will have hearings and work sessions next week.  We are still "working the bills"!

Background: A bill, or proposed legislation, generally follows this path: legislator develops the idea, often working with interested parties;  specific language is written by Legislative Counsel; look for sponsors and co-sponsors; introduce the bill in the appropriate chamber (House or Senate); bill is assigned to a committee; committee co-chairs decide whether to schedule a hearing; co-chairs decide whether to schedule a work session to consider, amend, and vote on the bill; if approved by committee, bill goes for vote first in the originating chamber (House or Senate) or to Joint Ways and Means Committee if there is a cost to the state. At each step, there may be deadlines, or hurdles to overcome.

Voter Registration.  K-12 Education Budget

Two of the important pieces of legislation this week:


The House passed HB 2880 to ensure that Oregon complies with the National Voter Registration Act and to continue improving the security, accuracy, and efficiency of voter registration.

On Friday morning, he Joint Ways and Means Committee (the budget committee) passed the first major budget bills, those that direct dollars to school districts. Those bills will now go to the House and Senate.


The Governor's recommended budget provides K-12 funding for the 2011-2013 biennium at $5.56 billion. During negotiations, by the Ways and Means Co-Chairs, that number was increased to $5.7 billion, partly by using $100 million from the Education Stability Fund. This assures schools a higher floor for education funding as 2011-2013 budget negotiations proceed. Despite these gains from the Governor's recommended budget, that level of funding is inadequate for our schools.


I voted for this budget as the right thing to do on Friday, so school districts can start working on their budget for next year. I know from our school district, and hearing about others, that schools are closing, teachers will be laid off, and way too many kids will be crammed into classrooms. The cuts we'll need to make also in human services and public safety will hurt, deeply. We're sitting on a big reserve fund. After we hear the next revenue forecast I'll help work on a way to use some more of the education stability fund or rainy day fund to reduce the cuts to education and human services.

Families know the value of putting away some money in savings when they can afford it - and they'd sure spend it if the car broke down or the roof was leaking into the family room. This is one of those times. We were smart to save the money; now it's time to spend some of it to prevent some of the most awful consequences.