Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last Thursday, February 25th, the Legislature adjourned a month long special session. We took action to continue to help struggling families and protect education, while leading a partnership with business and labor to bring Oregon’s economy back stronger than ever. In addition, I am pleased about legislation I passed to increase access to affordable health care by allowing more flexibility for operating health care clinics and supervising physician assistants. Click here for to view the testimony I gave to the House Health Care Committee.
The next month will bring a number of exciting events including a rail summit in Eugene and a town hall meeting. On March 9th I will join local, state, and national representatives for the Northwest Corridor Rail Summit to discuss the improvement of passenger and freight rail in the Pacific Northwest and development of a high speed rail corridor. You can join the discussion by registering online. The following weekend on Saturday, March 13th, I will join Senator Chris Edwards and Representative Val Hoyle for a joint town hall to discuss the February legislative session. Details are provided in the
upcoming events section below.
I hope you can join me at at the town hall or one of my coffee and conversation events in the district. You are always welcome to email me at email@example.com and share your thoughts.
Representative Nathanson speaks to her colleagues about increasing access to affordable healthcare.
February Session Highlights: Part One
Supporting Oregon business
We created jobs and continued to make Oregon an attractive place to open and grow small businesses – the backbone of our economy and the engine of our recovery. Key legislation includes:
- New loans and grants to small businesses that create new jobs and hire Oregonians. (HB 3698, BOOST Credit for Small Businesses)
- Expand lending capacity of Oregon credit unions by allowing schools, state, and local governments to make deposits, where funds can be loaned to entrepreneurs and businesses to create jobs and strengthen our economy. (HB 3700, Investing in Local Communities)
- Quicker approval of Oregon business loans less than $250,000 for land, buildings, equipment, machinery, and working capital. (SB 1017, Streamlined Business Loans)
Belt-tightening to balance the budget
Following last year's work cutting about $2 billion from the budget, once again we swept through various budgets and reduced operating reserves and other budgets, and gained $57 million this biennium and $97 million next biennium by reducing a major business tax credit. This includes:
- Stringent new controls to reduce costs and prevent abuses of the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) program, while keeping its best features; it has created 1,800 direct jobs since 2006. (HB 3680)
And a few more …
- Expanded access to affordable, quality health care with increased flexibility for local health clinics with physicians supervising physician assistants (my bill, HB 3642)
- Discounted rates for small group and individual health insurance allowed when insurance company offers voluntary use of electronic communication, forms, etc. The bill increases efficiency and promotes cost containment (HB3666)
- Continued ban on oil or gas drilling in coastal waters for another 10 years, to protect Oregon coast (HB3613)
The next newsletter will continue with part two of February legislative highlights including recent legislation to help Oregon's struggling families.
Joined by fellow Lane County legislator, Sen Floyd Prozanski, and other members of the House and Senate, Representative Nathanson speaks to increasing public safety at a press conference.
Annual Session Referral to Voters
Also during the special session, the Legislature prepared a proposal for voters to consider at next November's election: a change to the constitution that woudl allow annual legislative sessions. As I reported in my last e-newsletter, Oregon’s constitution limits regular sessions to odd-numbered years. However, over the decades, Oregon has been called into special sessions over 36 times during even-numbered years to address urgent state business, balance the budget, and make critical changes to Oregon law. The proposed change to set annual sessions would allow the Legislature to meet for 160 days in odd years and 35 days in even years. This change will actually mean the total days spent in session over each two year biennia would be less than in recent history. Because this is a change to the state constitution, the decision must be approved by the voters.
Achieving Government Transparency: New Government Websites
Over the past couple months the Department of Administrative Services has worked together with a number of different agencies and offices to develop websites for Oregonians to access important information. Here is a short list of websites already up and running:
Steve Miller, president of Bulk Handling Systems in Eugene, discusses his business' success and growth while giving Representative Nathanson a tour.
Free Tax Filing Assistance
With just a little more than a month until the filing deadline, April 15th, I want to share some important information and free resources for tax filing assistance if you have not had the opportunity to file your taxes yet.
Oregon is one of 24 states with a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC can provide a significant amount of help for individuals and families. In 2007, about one in seven taxpayers in Oregon – more than 220,000 households – benefited from the federal EITC. On average, these taxpayers received about $1,700. Besides qualifying for the EITC, Oregonians may also be eligible for the federal and state Child and Dependent Care Credits, the federal Child Tax Credit, the Making Work Pay Credit and the state Working Family Child Care Tax Credit. If you need help determining your eligibility for these tax credits or filing your tax return you can call AARP Tax Aide at 888-227-7669 or 1-800-SAFENET (723-3638) for information on a LOCAL tax aide
Additionally, the Oregon Department of Revenue website, offers a listing of free tax preparation software to file your state tax return online. The Internal Revenue Service also offers free filing of federal tax returns for taxpayers making less than $57,000. Taxpayers can visit the IRS website and use the industry’s top tax preparation software for free. In addition if a taxpayer chooses to use Free File with direct deposit they can receive refunds in as little as 10 days.
Mortgage Counseling and Foreclosure Prevention
Oregonians have been hit hard by this economic crisis and many have had a difficult time making ends meet. If your family has been one of those hit hard and facing a loss of income, you should know that foreclosure is not inevitable. Oregon Housing and Community Services provides a variety of information on how to prevent foreclosure, new laws to help homeowners and renters, and a listing of mortgage counselors in Oregon.
Here in Eugene there are two organizations that offer mortgage delinquency and default resolution counseling.
CCCS OF MID-OREGON, DIVISION OF MMI
1200 High St., Ste. 150, Eugene, Oregon 97401
O.U.R Federal Credit Union
325 Blair Blvd., Eugene, Oregon 97402
Join me along with Senator Chris Edwards and Representative Val Hoyle for a town hall to discuss the accomplishments of the February legislative session.
When: Saturday, March 13, 2010, 10:00 – 11:30 AM
Where: Willamette High School Cafeteria, 1801 Echo Hollow Road, Eugene 97402 (map)
Contact: Dorothy Waller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-343-2206