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Remaining budget bills are up for votes, a few interesting bills you probably didn't hear about, and reflections on sponsoring bills.
June, 2015
We are in the final days of the session. We are working mightily to shepherd my bills through before closing day.
Dear friends,

Butterfly on lily
Home for the weekend:
butterfly on a lily
Some of you ask me what it's like to be in Salem, and how I deal with "the politics." To a person, every legislator I have worked with sincerely has the best interests of their constituents, or Oregonians, in mind.  Politics can be tough, people have strong opinions, and yet self-interest just doesn't come through.  We eat breakfast and lunch in the lunchroom together, share stories, and sometimes talk shop, disagreeing respectfully, or finding places to agree and work together.  Still ... there are big issues that pass with split votes. We all recognize this, and keep working.

I'll come away from this session with a number of "wins" - bills that I authored, or championed as the chief person responsible.  And a few of my bills didn't make it through.  The process is not perfect, and each of us gets frustrated at times, but the process works.

In the sections below I'll provide some insight into the process, bill stats, and a reflection on gauging legislative success - since a number of other sources are already starting to sharpen their pencils on those reports.  I'll be back in Eugene soon.

Education budgets

With the session winding down, final budget decisions are being made.  Here are some of the highlights of the education budget ranging from early learning to higher education. These increases show Oregon's commitment to investing in our future through education.
NN and Bill Board
Keeping track of bills on our "bill board"

Early Learning and K-12: Early Learning budget increases $52.5 million.  One specific example is home visits, which are proven to reduce child abuse and improve parenting skills.  
Due to the early passage of a base level minimum for K-12 education funding, and a revenue forecast showing an increase, we added $105 million more to reach a total K-12 budget of $7.36 billion.

Career training: An additional $35 million has been targeted toward Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Innovation Grants, STEM Hubs, CTE (Career Technical Education) Revitalization Grants, and Invest in a Career Pathway Fund that will provide incentives to school districts to develop programs that will increase the number of students who earn industry-recognized credentials.

Higher ed: Community colleges receive $500 million -- $95 million more, or 21% over what it would have been to simply continue their current program into the next biennium. In other words, this is a boost, and allows for improvement. Public universities got a big boost, also, $700 million - almost 30% over current service level. The Oregon Opportunity Grant for college students was increased by over 20%, adding an additional $23.6 million over the current service level.
A few of the recent interesting bills

Islanders and health care. 
Marshall Islanders in House Chamber
Bikini Atoll Choir singing their anthem
in the House Chamber.
During the Cold War between 1946 to 1958, the United States used the Marshall Islands as a nuclear weapon testing site, where nearly 70 nuclear weapons were detonated, including the largest ever conducted by the US (code named "Castle Bravo"). The combined impact of the 67 nuclear weapons tested was 1,000 times larger than that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. As a result of this excessive testing, Marshall Islandersare still experiencing negative health impacts. We are working on legislation to help address health concerns of islanders, including Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of the Marshall Islands, living in Oregon.

Marshall Islanders
Greeting Marshall Islanders and
Japanese Minister after a hearing.
Music therapy: yes, it's real, and it works.  Music therapists requested legislative approval to require licensing for their profession, enabling students who graduate from Oregon's lauded music therapy programs to practice in Oregon and receive appropriate reimbursement for their work.  I was happy to support HB 2796 through the Ways and Means committees and vote for it in the House.  Music therapy has a number of documented benefits, including enhancing the effectiveness of pain medication and aiding children with severe behavioral issues.  Music therapy can improve the lives of individuals and their families, and save money by avoiding more expensive services, such as hours of medical professional time, expensive pain medication, and one-on-one assistants in the classroom to manage behavior. I asked for, and received, a report documenting real life examples as well as studies in other states.

Protecting your digital privacy

K-12 students:
The Legislature has passed bills protecting privacy for K-12 students: Oregon Student Information Protection Act (OSIPA): SB 187 prohibits educational sites and services from using student information for anything other than educational purposes, such as selling the information for marketing and advertising.  It also requires these educational sites and services to implement security measures and delete student information upon request.  This means that educational sites cannot be collecting information on students in order to target them with pop-up or banner ads on their sites.  This legislation is designed to protect the privacy of Oregonians, in the wake of fast-evolving technology, social media, and commercial activity.

Portable electronic devices
"My life is in my phone."  People today keep an immense amount of personal information on their cell phones, like contacts with names, phone numbers and addresses, passwords, banking and shopping information, notes, etc. Currently law enforcement officers can search the contents of a phone during arrests or cell phone seizures.  Senate Bill 641 aims to protect this personal information by prohibiting the duplication of data from a portable electronic device without a warrant or consent, and makes it clear that data obtained without a warrant or consent is inadmissible in court and cannot be used to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
Passing bills, gauging success

Note: As of this writing, there are still a few dozen bills waiting for action in one or both chambers.

Bill Board
Our bill board last month: bills passing
Gauging success.  It's not easy to figure out an accurate and impartial way of evaluating legislative effectiveness.  Some may say it is how well a legislator works across the aisle with the other party. Others may look up statistics for how many bills that they introduced actually made it through the legislative process to become law. There's often an interest in the second method, so I'm going to describe why it's not that simple. Consider the following examples of bill filing statistics of current legislators:

Legislator A introduced 5 bills, 2 of which have passed (40%).  Legislator B introduced 56 bills, 26 of which have passed (38%).  Using the "success rate" method of evaluating a legislator, Legislator A was more effective, but B passed more legislation overall, 26 bills versus only 2.

Some bills are simple; for example, resolutions and memorials expressing an opinion of the legislature to communicate to the federal government, or to honor an Oregonian for their contribution to the community. At the other end of the spectrum are complex topics with vocal advocates and/or opponents, which take months or even years of work. 

I'm providing a link here to the list of bills for which I was the chief sponsor.  Chief sponsor usually means primary advocate, generally taking responsibility for authoring the bill, advocating, speaking to the bill, negotiating amendments, and more. Legislators may add their name to many other bills as a co-sponsor, to show support.  Sometimes it's just a matter of timing: whether the legislator is in the office at the time someone comes by to ask.  I signed on to 46 additional bills this session.   Not being listed as a co-sponsor is not necessarily significant; there are of course hundreds of bills that any one of us votes "yes" on that we haven't added our name as co-sponsor.

My bills that took the most work: Criminal background check streamlining, started in 2011; Local courts, started discussing in 2013; Public contracts accountability, started in March 2014; Healthcare provider incentives review and reform, started in spring 2014.

A couple of bills ran into trouble in the Senate after passing the House and we scurried to meet with interested parties to hear their concerns and negotiate reasonable amendments:  Student debit cards, and Public contract accountability (House vote: 58 Ayes, 2 Excused). 

The record for most introduced bills by a single legislator this session is 89, only 11 of which have been signed into law (12%). Per a sampling of legislators of both parties, the average success rate was around 33%. I was the chief sponsor of 31 bills, 14 of which have already been signed into law (45%), and we're hoping that three remaining bills pass in the final days.
Heisman Trophy
Lane County rep's with
the Heisman Trophy
Heisman in Salem

The Oregon State Capitol had an unusual visitor in June � the Heisman Trophy! Presented to Marcus Mariota last December, the iconic statue made a trip to Salem so legislators, staff, and visitors could see it and appreciate the impressive achievement. Marcus was honored in Senate Resolution 3. I carried House Concurrent Resolution 19 in May to congratulate the 2014 Ducks football team on their Rose Bowl victory and acknowledge their academic achievement and community service. Rep. Barnhart carried House Bill 3348, designating March 10th of each year as "Mighty Oregon" Day; this is the 100th anniversary of University of Oregon's fight song.
Nancy Nathanson, State Representative | 541-343-2206 |
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Representative Nancy Nathanson | PO Box 41895 | Eugene | OR | 97404