Having trouble viewing this email? Click here
Representative Nancy Nathanson
May 2011

Discussing government effiency bills with Rep. Holvey.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The state budget continues to be a major focus for the legislature. We are working on budgets for each agency, and some are ready for votes in the House and Senate. The reality of a large budget shortfall is starting to sink in for the many Oregonians who have been advocating for services important to them or their family or clients. At each of the Ways and Means budget hearings around the state, about 70 people testify in a period of two to three hours, on topics such as human services, education, natural resources and local economic activity.  See the Capitol News section for more about what Oregonians have been talking about at these hearings.

In my last newsletter, I gave a brief background on the path a bill follows in the legislative process. Just a few weeks ago the legislature reached its second major deadline for bills. By April 21st the House and Senate policy committees (such as Health Care, Business and Labor,  and Judiciary) had to move bills out of the committee with an affirmative vote or the bill would no longer be considered this session. Some bills could be moved to Revenue, Rules, Tax Credits or Ways and Means committee to continue discussion. This means that bills stalled on April 21 are no longer being considered.

Sometimes it's fun to look at the numbers. So far this session, 2,960 bills have been introduced in the House and Senate; 117 have passed in both chambers.  There are many bills that have already passed in one chamber and are awaiting approval in the other chamber.  Eight of my own bills have already passed the House and are being considered now in Senate committees. You'll find out more below about some of the bills that survived and are moving forward.


In This Issue
Budgets, budgets, and more budgets
Bills moving forward
"Books for charity" donation bins
Walking tour of Delta Ponds
Around the office
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links

Capitol News

Budgets, budgets, and more budgets

St. Paul Parrish
Representative Nathanson talks about voting on bills with a group of 4th graders from St. Paul Parish School in Eugene.

I have listened carefully to Oregonians from around the state at Ways and Means budget hearings over the last several weeks.  Caregivers helping seniors and disabled persons in their home or with activities outside the home, master gardeners, food bank coordinators, and drug and alcohol treatment graduates are among the typical speakers at each meeting.

In Newport last week, we heard from people making a living in oyster farming, commercial fishing, and other ocean resource businesses, students from Linn Benton and Southwest Oregon Coast community colleges. In Bend the week before, we heard from ranchers, wheat farmers, fruit growers, and relief nurseries.  With over 90% of Oregon's discretionary funds (the "general fund" money) spent on education, human services, and public safety, there will be no way to balance the budget without touching programs in each of those areas.

Here in Salem, in meetings with advocates from around the state and in committee meetings, I have discussed tax expenditures: money "spent" on returning it to taxpayers in the form of tax credits, deductions, etc. instead of spending it on programs.  Some tax expenditures are still very important, and some are of questionable value since the time they were set up long ago. In this challenging budget environment, we must scrutinize every dollar of state spending to ensure the best use of our tax dollars, setting strong priorities that focus on job creation, education and health care while protecting our children and most vulnerable citizens. This requires balancing ideas that are designed to stimulate job creation - and examining statistics that show whether they do result in new jobs - with spending money on programs that pay for in-home care for seniors, schools, drug and alcohol treatment, and transition programs for the 95+% of prisoners who are released at the end of their sentence and return to the community. 

Bills moving forward

I am pleased that a number of my bills have already passed the House! My vaccine stewardship bill was even featured in an article by The Lund Report when it passed the House. Each of my bills passed with a solid margin, in some cases, with only one or a few "nay" votes, but they still face hurdles to be passed by the Senate.  The committee chair decides whether to hear the bill, then if the Chair agrees to schedule a work session, the committee will discuss and vote on the bill; finally, a vote in the Senate. That's what we're working on now: pushing our government efficiency, health care, and other bills in the Senate.

I've selected a few other bills to report on, based on hearing from quite a few people on the topic, to let you know what the legislature is considering.

Cool Schools - HB 2960:
Creates family-wage jobs and establishes a Jobs, Energy & Schools Fund to retrofit school buildings to make them more energy efficient. The bill is currently in the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources.

Oregon's Virtual State Bank - HB 3452:
Consolidates Oregon's economic development loan programs into a single fund and empowers the state to make loans to Oregon farmers and business owners who have struggles to get credit during the global recession. The bill recently had a public hearing and work session in House Revenue Committee.

Buy Oregon First - HB 3000:
To support the Oregon economy and keep more Oregon money circulating in the state, this bill allows contracting state agencies to pay up to 10 percent more for goods fabricated or processed in Oregon or services performed entirely within the state when bidding out contracts. This bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate General government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee.


District Coffee event

Constituents talk about school funding with Representative Nathanson over coffee in Eugene.

Business Ombudsman - HB 2770:
Directs the Oregon Business Development Department to explore the feasibility of a establishing a Business Ombudsman position and related website to provide guidance and assistance during the creation of new business and consultation to existing businesses. This bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate General government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee.


The Bottle Bill - HB 3145:

Since 1971, Oregonians pay the same 5 cent deposit on a bottle, and it's gotten more confusing knowing which bottles can be returned, with all the new juice, tea, energy, and other kinds of drinks. This bill expands the types of containers accepted for deposit and raises the deposit from five cents to ten cents if recycling rates fall below 80 percent. This bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Better Government Transparency - HB 2825 & HB 2788: 

These bills require additional information to be posted to the transparency website created from legislation passed during the 2009 legislative session. HB 2825 requires state agencies to submit information about tax expenditures connected to economic development, such as business tax credits, to be posted on the website. HB 2788 includes the State Treasurer as a state agency subject to the Oregon transparency website and requires agencies to post notices of public meetings.  Both bills have passed the House and are currently in the Senate General government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee.

"Books for charity" donation bins

ALERT: I contacted the Attorney General's office on Monday to look into an Oregonian story about big blue bins marked "Books for Charity" for donating books.  The Oregonian reports that the for-profit company managing the bins sells about 25 percent through websites, "pulps about 50 percent and then hands the remaining 25 percent to nonprofits." The AG's office Charities Division is looking into it.

District News

Walking tour of Delta Ponds

I have organized a walking tour of our neighborhood's restored ecosystem, Delta Ponds, this Saturday, May 14 at 1:00 PM
As you may know, I have been working over two decades to restore what was once a gravel pit into an ecosystem that hosts scores of chickadees, beavers, native fish, and migratory birds. The Register-Guard reported in January, "...this winter marks the first time in 50 years that water from the Willamette has flowed freely through the Delta ponds..."
The Delta Ponds project will be completed in fall 2011, and I am thrilled to take a walking tour with city officials to learn more about the transitions our neighborhood's eco system has made along the way. We will be inviting birders and other naturalists to join us for the tour.
If you are interested in joining me space is limited, so please RSVP to Dorothy Waller at dorothy.waller@state.or.us or 503-986-1413 by Noon on May 13th.

At the office: Your chance for some hands-on experience

This week we said goodbye to two fantastic interns from Willamette University. They helped enormously with processing bill files (electronic versions of bills, letters in support or opposition, staff analyses, etc.) and other work.  If you have some hours to spare and would like a close-up view of what goes on in a legislative office, and could help out once or twice a week in Salem for the next four weeks, let us know.  We will also welcome other help, in Eugene or from home, beginning in June.

Email messages received Monday May 10: 198. Tuesday May 11: 125.  Thank you for your patience.  We read every message, but cannot reply immediately to each one individually.

Forward email

This email was sent to info@nancynathanson.org by rep.nancynathanson@state.or.us |  

Representative Nancy Nathanson | 900 Court St NE | Salem | OR | 97301