Representative Nancy Nathanson

July 2011  

Always a difficult task, Rep Nathanson spends time reviewing budgets carefully as Vice Co-Chair of Joint Ways and Means.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
About the 76th Legislative Assembly that met this year, February through June: Some said we wouldn't get anything done. Some said it would be awful.  We proved them wrong! There may have been a few bumps in the road, but legislators worked together to solve common challenges.  Although we faced the first evenly divided House (30-30), Democrats and Republicans worked together and had a number of accomplishments including increasing the budget for K-12 schools from the Governor's recommendation, increasing government efficiency, and passing a plan for the first time since 1981 that re-draws the legislative boundaries for the 60 House and 30 Senate Districts. This is the first of a two-part newsletter sharing the accomplishments and a few disappointments of the legislative session that adjourned on June 30th.

New joins old at the Capitol on a day where Representative Nathanson sees Eugene's latest electric vehicle from Arcimoto and meets with constituents showing off their Model A's.

I want to take a moment and thank all of my constituents who emailed, called, and visited me this session.  I received over 1,000 emails, was visited by nearly 100 constituents, and received countless phone calls this session.  These communications are informative and helpful as the legislature works through difficult issues and makes decisions that will impact Oregonians well into the future. It is always a privilege to represent you in the Oregon House of Representatives.

In This Issue
Making history with redistricting
Education Budget & Reform
Jobs & the Economy
Government Efficiency & Accountability
What we didn't do
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Capitol News - 2011 Legislative Accomplishments: Part One

Making History with Redistricting 

For the first time since 1981 the Legislative Assembly has agreed on a plan to redraw legislative and congressional districts to reflect population changes, as required after every federal census. This was a bipartisan effort led by Representative Chris Garrett (D-Lake Oswego) and Representative Shawn Lindsay (R-Hillsboro).  In previous years the legislative boundaries have been redrawn by the Secretary of State when the legislature could not come to an agreement. In 1981, part of the redistricting plan was thrown out by the court after passing through the legislature, and had to be revised by the Secretary of State. The redistricting bills this year passed both the Senate and the House with bipartisan support. This historic collaboration and agreement could save about $1 million for the state by avoiding a lawsuit.

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter House District 13, which I represent, had some changes, although most of the district remains the same. Now included are some neighborhoods on the far north, downtown (including Eugene Depot train station and the Public Library), and Trainsong, and small sections elsewhere are now drawn into other districts. For a look at the new House District 13 map and maps from around the state, you can visit the redistricting website.

Education Budget & Reform

UO Duck at capitol

The UO Duck and Representative Nathanson enjoy showing their Eugene Pride.

Fulfilling a promise to increase K-12 education funding from the Governor's recommendation of $5.56 billion, I joined my colleagues in securing an education budget of $5.7 billion. Although an improvement on the Governor's recommendation, I know this is still an insufficient level of funding and would like to see a further investment in our kids as revenue forecasts continue to improve along with the economy.

Education is crucial to the development and progress of this nation and state. That's why I supported a number of education reforms that includes:

  • Career and Technical Education (CTE), HB 3362: Increases collaboration between school districts on CTE skill centers and charter schools, and establishes a $2 million grant program to fund CTE-centered programs across Oregon.
  • Expanded Options Program, HB 3106: Makes it easier for at-risk students to make college education a reality by allowing more students to participate in Expanded Options, a program that allows them to earn high school and college credits simultaneously, and gain early entry into post-secondary education.
  • 40/40/20 Goal, SB 253: Sets goals- 40% of Oregonians will have bachelor's degrees or more by 2025, 40% will have some post-secondary education, and 20% will have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Early Learning Council & Education Investment Board, SB 909: Establishes Oregon Education Investment Board to oversee a newly unified public education system that begins with early childhood and continues from kindergarten to post-secondary education.
  • 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. 

Jobs & the Economy 

I was pleased to support a number of bills this session that were aimed at spurring job creation and making it easier for Oregon's small businesses to grow and expand. Here are a few bills that passed with bi-partisan support:
  • Oregon Innovation Council, SB 5528: As part of the Business Oregon budget bill, "Oregon InC" was provided $16 million. Oregon InC brings dollars to Oregon by partnering the private sector with Oregon's universities, expected to generate $7 for every dollar the Legislature has invested.
  • One Stop Shop, HB 3247: Creates a "One Stop Shop" to help  businesses register and begin the permitting process with state and local governments.
  • Buy Oregon First, HB 3000: Allows state agencies to give preference to goods and services produced in Oregon when bidding out contracts.
  • Enterprise Zones, HB 3017: Extends the sunset date of the successful enterprise zone program.
  • Winery Bill, HB 3280: Allows large wineries to develop activities, such as restaurants, where their primary purpose of agriculture and wine production is well established and their size mitigates potential impacts to surrounding areas.

Government Efficiency & Accountability 

GETF bill signing

Members of the Government Efficiency Task Force join Rep Nathanson as Governor Kitzhaber signs the bill to continue the work.

One of my top priorities this session was to pass legislation reauthorizing the Government Efficiency Task Force that I chaired during the 2009-2010 interim. I worked hard to pass 14 bills that were introduced on behalf of the task force, aimed at saving money and improving service by increasing efficiencies in both state and local government. Here are a few that we were able to pass, along with some others that will improve accountability and efficiency:
  • Government Efficiency Task Force Reauthorization, HB 2855: The task force continues its work reviewing local and state government shared services in natural resources, education, elections, human services, and criminal justice.
  • Special Population Inmate Housing, HB 2482: Creates a task force to explore a regional approach for using parts of local community correction facilities to house special populations of inmates, like those with physical or mental health issues.
  • Motor pools, HB 2854: State and local governments must work together to consolidate use of vehicles or motor pool scheduling and maintenance services.
  • Human Service Duplicative Audits, HB 2856: Requires state agencies to work with local governments to reduce administrative burdens, particularly duplicative audits, on human service program providers.
  • County Law Libraries, HB 2367: Provides flexibility for counties to provide law library services and partner with associations or entities such as university libraries. 
  • Oregon Transparency Website, HB 2825: Requires state agencies to submit information about recipients of tax credits for posting on the Oregon transparency website.
  • Email Notification, HB 2321: Allows public agencies, such as Department of Human Services or Department of Revenue, to send notices by electronic mail if recipients consent.

What we didn't do 

In every session there are always a few disappointments and this was no exception. A bill can fail to pass for many reasons. Sometimes the concept behind the bill needs more time to develop, other times there isn't the political will to pass a bill, and occasionally a bill falls victim to political strategy tied up with other bills.  I supported some very good bills this session that weren't able to make it through the process before adjournment. Here are a few:
  • BPA Ban, SB 695, to prohibit manufacturing, distributing, and selling children's beverage containers or reusable bottles made or lined with bisphenol A (BPA) or a BPA substitute that is a carcinogenic or reproductive toxicant.
  • Foreclosure Protection, SB 827, to stop the foreclosure clock during the loan modification process and provide real accountability by giving the Oregon Department of Justice and individual homeowners the legal recourse they need to remedy mortgage servicer violations.
  • Good Neighbor, HB 3639/HB2002/HB2957, to require owner of a foreclosed property, usually a bank, to keep the property in good shape and not allow it to become a neighborhood problem.
  • Economic Development Finance Authority, HB 3452, to coordinate and more strategically use public funds already identified for economic development to increase opportunities for small business and farms.
Although many of my bills passed, a few of were met with opposition and didn't make it through.  One  (HB 2860) would have created a Rail Advisory Council with members appointed by the Governor to plan for long-term improvements for freight and passenger rail services, and look into the feasibility of a bi-state passenger rail authority.
Bill testimony, Rep Nathanson and Sen Prozanski

Rep Nathanson is joined by Sen Prozanski to provide support for her relief nursery bill.

A second (HB 2858) was designed to offer early intervention in preventing child abuse and neglect, by creating a partnership between the Dept.of Human Services and relief nurseries.  I will continue to work hard on the issues addressed by these the bills. 

A final example: House Bill 2653, developed from a recommendation of the Government Efficiency Task Force to enable local justice courts to use the collection services of the state Department of Revenue (DOR). There are millions of dollars in uncollected court-imposed fines owed to local governments and the state. DOR collection services are already used by circuit courts and other local governments. After passing in the House Revenue Committee and the Capitol Construction Subcommittee of Joint Ways and Means, the bill faced late-developing business opposition, or lobbying, and died in the Full Joint Ways and Means Committee at the last meeting. This was particularly disappointing because the revenue could have been used to offset budget cuts.  I mention this one just to illustrate the ups and downs of a session that includes wins and losses, and the need to acknowledge practical considerations and "move on" to work on other ideas with colleagues.
In the next newsletter I'll review some legislation in the areas of environment, health care, public safety, seniors, veterans, and families.

I had a terrific team led by Legislative "chief of staff" Dorothy Waller, Legislative Assistant Tess Milio, interns Lindsay Cason and Lauren Kamachi from Willamette University, and Daniel Strauss and Nick Balthrop from University of Oregon.  We worked really hard to keep up with all the incoming communications, schedule umpteen appointments weekly, and prepare bill files as meeting agendas were posted. I made new friendships and collaborated with legislators and "issue advocates" I hadn't had the opportunity to work with previously.

The session has ended, and now we transition to committees and work groups for legislative policies and other activities. And hoping the tomatoes and blueberries will produce fruit before the end of fall!
Representative Nancy Nathanson | 900 Court St NE | Salem | OR | 97301