November-December 2014

Dear Friends,

Campaign season is past us, and I'm honored to have been re-elected to another term in the House of Representatives. Our office is now working hard to finish the drafting process for some of the bills that I plan to introduce in the 2015 legislative session.  Members of the 78th Assembly will be sworn in on January 12, and attend a few days of initial meetings.  The session begins in full swing on February 2.  

The Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, announced appointments to committees late last week.  I have many of the same assignments, plus a couple of new ones.  I continue my appointment as Vice Co-Chair of Joint Ways and Means, the combined House and Senate committee responsible for the budget.  I will chair the Human Services Subcommittee, and also the new subcommittee on Information Technology, and will serve on the new Audits Committee.
Greetings from Our Office

I will serve again on the General Government Subcommittee, which handles budgets for a variety of offices and departments including the Secretary of State, Governor, State Treasurer, boards and commissions, Revenue, and Administrative Services.

Best wishes to all for a peaceful holiday season, and Happy New Year.  

In This Issue
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State budget: the revenue forecast
Oregon's Office of Economic Analysis recently released its revenue forecast for the State of Oregon.  A few points about the state of the economy:
  • Middle income jobs are returning, for example construction and education.
  • Oregon was 8th in the U.S. for job growth in September, according to Arizona State University Carey School of Business study, primarily in the service sector, including  business, health, and hospitality.
  • Our high tech industry employes about the same number of workers as the forest industry did in the 1970's.

Anna Staver of the Statesman Journal put together a list of 14 quirky facts from the revenue forecast.  

Help proposed for Beltline and Delta Highway area
Oregon Department of Transportation presented information at last week's legislative hearings about projects happening around the state.  One of the items was specifically about our area: Beltline Highway.  The big I-5/Beltline project was designed to address significant growth in the Springfield area, but there is also significant growth and congestion in Eugene at Delta Hwy. The question was: are all the improvements envisioned 10 years ago still necessary in light of other priorities? As the ODOT information officer explains:

"ODOT conducted a Value Engineering study of Unit 4 of the ongoing I-5/Beltline Project to reevaluate the design elements for cost savings and reduced impacts on right of way and utilities.   The Value Engineering study concludes that I-5/Beltline will have adequate capacity to handle projected traffic volumes without the need of one additional auxiliary lane on eastbound Beltline, and without one additional lane for the ramp from eastbound Beltline to southbound I-5.  Likewise, there is no need for an extra auxiliary lane on I-5, which means there's no need to rebuild the Harlow Road bridge over I-5.  The bridge will be retrofitted, however, to accommodate the extension of the southbound multi-use path.

"The reduction in scope would realize approximately $6 million in savings, and before construction is completed, there could be additional savings.  ODOT is suggesting that the funds be applied to improvements at Delta and Beltline..."

Improvements could include: the Delta Highway Bridge overpass, road improvements on Delta south of the interchange, better Beltline on and off-ramps, and ramp metering for westbound Beltline.  I will advocate for legislative approval of this recommendation to move the money saved to fund Delta Highway area improvements.

The economy: food, beverage, and brewing
Lane County has the highest concentration of food and beverage businesses in the state. Information from the Eugene Chamber of Commerce shows that while the industry had always been prominent, a 2010 Lane County Local Food Market Analysis highlighted why development of the food and beverage industry was a good economic strategy. The average annual wage for this industry in Lane County is $38,000, a full $3,000 more per year than the average of $35,000.

Oregon's brewing industry is growing rapidly, fueled by a variety of sources. According to the Beer Institute, Oregon craft breweries as a portion of the U.S. domestic beer industry increased from 2.6% in 2001 to 5.7% in 2011. Potential reasons for this increase are a growing interest in craft beer by Oregonians, the increased interest in "beer tourism," recognition of our breweries as industry experts, and professional brewing classes at educational institutions such as Oregon State University and Central Oregon Community College. Eugene has the third largest number of breweries in the state, trailing behind Portland and Bend as #1 and #2 respectively.   I've toured several facilities brewing beer and making wine in District 13.  Several are growing and adding jobs rapidly.

Ninkasi Brewery
Consumer complaints to Oregon Department of Justice
The Oregon Department of Justice released a list of the Top Ten consumer complaints of 2013. Topping the list were complaints about health spas, followed by telecommunications: cellular and long distance phone, satellite and cable TV, internet service; motor vehicle sales, primarily used cars; financial services, like credit cards, banking, investment, credit bureaus, and others; collection agencies; home ownership issues; and health care. See the full list.

Report a complaint by mail or online,or call the consumer hotline: 1-877-877-9392.
Legalizing recreational marijuana
Oregon voters, and a majority of voters in House District 13, passed Measure 91, which legalizes recreational marijuana use for Oregonians 21 and older. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the entity responsible for overseeing and implementing the measure, has outlined a plan to move forward "with a great amount of accountability through a transparent and public process." Because the task will be complex, involving a variety of important aspects including health, law enforcement, land use and zoning, a special Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91 has been appointed by the Speaker of the House. 

Affordable housing in manufactured home parks
MH-OSTA_groupThe annual meeting of Manufactured Homes-Oregon State Tenants Association (MH/OSTA) was in Lane County last month. My legislative aide Emily and I attended the meeting, at which multiple issues were raised about living in manufactured housing or mobile home parks. I spoke about the legislative successes we have seen in the past few years, and listened to their concerns. CASA of Oregon provided information on assistance available to residents who wish to purchase their park as a cooperative.

A few days later, I met with several residents of Falcon Wood Village to hear their concerns about business relationships between tenants and park owners, the challenges of selling or renting a home, and neighborhood hazards like falling tree limbs and cracked pavement.
FalconWoodWalk1 FalconWoodWalk2
Every week is interesting
A sample of some of those interesting items on my calendar in the past couple of months: Looking Glass annual meeting, neighborhood association meeting, Oregon Passenger Rail Leadership Council, Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council, Ballet Fantastique gala; meetings with the Police Chief, a county commissioner, and United Way Executive Director, and I filmed a public service announcement encouraging people to get a flu shot.

Community Providers Association of Oregon is a wonderful group of people who provide housing, services, and employment for people with disabilities. They presented me with their 2014 Legislative Champion Award, for "exceptional commitment and support to individuals with disabilities."

Community Providers Association
(and me in the middle)
With Oregon's 34th governor, Barbara Roberts
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Representative Nancy Nathanson | PO Box 41895 | Eugene | OR | 97404