January 2015 

Dear Friends,

Our office has been abuzz preparing for the start of the 2015 session next week. The 78th Assembly was sworn in on January 12. During the opening ceremonies, Governor Kitzhaber gave his inaugural address, which can be viewed here. After nearly two full days of organizational meetings, the legislature adjourned until this Monday, when things really kick into high gear. The coming months will be full of committee meetings, hearings, and work sessions as we work to pass bills. I have been assigned to seven committees; the list can be viewed here.
Delta Ponds in January
A walk at Delta Ponds in winter

In the past few weeks, I've filled my calendar with meetings where I'm asking for help in preparing legislative or budget proposals, or others are asking for my help with their priorities.  A sample: I visited a local neighborhood group home for disabled adults; met with attorneys working on civil liberties in court; talked with health care professionals at a community health center, and local organization staff working toward better mental health services for youth; and I put together a meeting of entrepreneurs and local and state agency reps to discuss improving internet access (broadband) to serve the local economy.

I did set aside an hour here and there to visit the downtown and Sheldon branch libraries to borrow books for recreational reading and to help me select a new tree for my front yard.

I'll begin reporting on legislative action and progress of my bills and committee work in the next issue.

In This Issue
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Health care transformation, Oregon style
Health Care Transformation: one year in, it's working.  Earlier this month the Oregon Health Authority released its Mid-Year Health System Transformation Progress Report, which describes recent developments in Oregon's Coordinated Care Organization system since July 2013. Some of the noteworthy indicators that have been apparent since the 2011 baseline data: fewer visits to emergency clinics, fewer hospitalizations for short-term complication from diabetes, and fewer hospitalizations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Overall, Coordinated Care Organizations are succeeding in keeping costs down across the board, except for the intentional additional spending in primary care and preventive treatment.  This all  means that Oregon is meeting its health care aim so far, the "Triple Aim": better health, better care, and lower cost.
Introducing bills
In anticipation of the 2015 session I have filed 13 bills regarding a wide array of topics including student financial aid, services for veterans, and creating better accountability for public contracts. As the session starts gaining momentum, I will continue to introduce legislation that will help build a better Oregon. I will periodically include updates on the status of my bills. You can find a more detailed overview of the legislation I will be introducing and follow their progress using the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS).
Opportunity Agenda: Supporting families, jobs, and economy
House Speaker Tina Kotek recently addressed the City Club of Eugene, speaking on the increasing barriers faced by women and working families striving to join Oregon's middle-class. Kotek's "Opportunity Agenda", the focal point of her speech, addresses these issues by focusing specifically on reducing barriers to upward mobility by expanding opportunity, rewarding the hard work of women and families, and ensuring basic fairness. Expanding opportunity works to strengthen public education systems and access to reliable and affordable child care while rewarding work seeks to ensure paid sick leave for employees and end poverty among full-time workers. Lastly, the pursuit of basic fairness seeks to provide everyone a fair shot at prosperity. You can listen to Speaker Kotek's full remarks here.
How wage inequality looks in Oregon
Housing Champion award 2014
Promoting affordable housing: Housing Champion award from Opportunity Network, including our NEDCO friends
We have been hearing a lot of focus on the national level about growing income inequality and the stagnation it causes in an economy.  I want to take a minute to look at what that means for Oregonians.  As reported by the Oregon Employment Department's Oregon Labor Trends newsletter, over the last two decades the top 1% of Oregonians saw their percentage of total wages increase significantly, by over 28%.  At the same time the middle 20% of workers saw their share of total wages fall by more than 11%.  The lowest 20% of earners also saw decreases in their percentage of total wages; they dropped more than 5% in those twenty years.  Were it not for Oregon's increases in minimum wage over this time period low wage workers, and all Oregonians, would have experienced even more drastic increases in income inequality.  As described in Gov. Kitzhaber's inaugural address, "Between 1945 (the end of WWII) and 1973 worker productivity in the U.S. increased 96% and wages increased 94%.  But between 1973 and 2011 while worker productivity increased 80% wages only increased by 10%.  In short, our workers are more productive today than ever - but they are not sharing equitably in the wealth that they are helping to create - and that trend is accelerating."
Preparing a balanced budget for 2015-17
The Co-Chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee have released their framework for the 2015-17 budget.  Usually a process that starts in March or April, this is the earliest one ever, allowing budget committees to start working right away on preparing balanced budgets that reflect important priorities.  The budget framework we're starting with reflects Oregonians' values by expanding opportunities through education investment, rewarding work, and promoting small business.  As the co-chair for the Human Services (and Health) budget, I will focus particularly on child welfare, supporting strong families, and improving wages for Oregon's workforce. 
Free tax prep help. EITC for working people.
The Tax-Aide program will be available throughout Oregon again this year to help people prepare their tax returns.  AARP Foundation has been providing this service for 48 years. You don't need to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use the service. Volunteers are trained and IRS-certified to ensure knowledge of revisions to US Tax Code. Helpful to many low and moderate income working people, they can identify when an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will bring a refund. Oregon Department of Revenue tax help information. Oregon taxes, filing online.   AARP Tax Aide website with information about the service, what information you need to bring with you, where and when.  I used the locator on the website and found 11 locations near my zipcode, including the downtown Eugene Public Library, United Way at Gateway Loop, ShelterCare on W. 4th, and Campbell Community Center on High Street. Lots of choices of days, times, and places.
Do you know a young person who'd like to visit the Capitol?
Oregon youth from ages 12-18 can serve as an Honorary Page for a day in the House of Representatives. The time-honored page program gives youth an opportunity to learn about, and witness first-hand, the legislative process.  Pages have the opportunity to work briefly with their Representative in their office as well as assist Honorary pagesin the House chamber. 

I would be happy to welcome young students from Eugene into my office to show them what life in the legislature is like.  If you know a child who is interested in serving as an Honorary Page please follow this link
for more informatiHonorary pageson.  To apply please contact the Chief Clerk of the House.Honorary pages .
Teamwork at H-280
John Bain internH-280 is my office number at the State Capitol.  We've got a great team to try to keep up with all the email, phone calls, and requests for meetings on top of assisting me with bill research and preparing for committee hearings, votes, and budget work.  In previous newsletters you've met my legislative aides Gillian, Audrey, and Emily.  I'll have three interns during the legislative session to help with the load.  They've already been working in the office, learning the ropes.  One of the new interns is John, a UO Law School student.  John has a B.A. from George Washington University.  In addition to a term studying in India, he has held intern positions with Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Kurt Schrader. 
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Representative Nancy Nathanson | PO Box 41895 | Eugene | OR | 97404