February 2015 
Dear Friends,

Our office has hit the ground running the past month. With my two legislative aides and three interns, we've already made great progress preparing bills for hearings. Two of my committees meet four days a week, and others less often. The House has had quite a few "floor sessions" already to vote on bills, and budget hearings are underway. You can track the progress of bills, watch live sessions of the House and Senate and all committee meetings, and get recordings of previous meetings, through this website: OLIS

The deadline to file bill drafts with the Chief Clerk of the House was Feb. 25.  I have filed 25 bills; I've prepared a short description of most of them here.  I'll describe a few in this newsletter, and a
My typical breakfast at the Capitol: oatmeal, fruit and yogurt
few more next month. For example, one of my bills would distribute grants to schools for summer reading programs, and provide access to Learning, Lunch, and Libraries (the three L's).  It was heard in and passed by the House Education committee. Another bill helps direct Oregon's veterans to benefits and services; it, too, was recently heard, and has now passed the House with unanimous support.

If you are particularly interested in a topic or would like to be more involved in the legislative process, I encourage you to read information here, including how an idea becomes law, visiting the Capitol, submitting testimony to a committee, and  how to use OLIS.

In This Issue
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Oregon's new Governor
On February 18th, Kate Brown was sworn into office as Oregon's 38th governor. I was encouraged by Governor Brown's remarks at the ceremony, and her commitment to re-establishing trust in the executive branch. Feb. 18 speech. I believe that she is starting off her administration with the right tone of accountability and responsibility to the people of Oregon. I am confident that Governor Brown will do an excellent job in leading Oregon along the continuing path to economic recovery, and look forward to working with her.
A few major bills already passed: consumers, e-cigarettes, environment
Class action lawsuits: who gets the money. Until this bill was passed, unclaimed damages awarded in a class action lawsuit in Oregon stayed with the corporation determined to be at fault. Oregon is one of only two states that allowed those found by a court to be at-fault to keep these damages and not pay full price for the harm they have caused. HB 2700 allows the unclaimed damages to be directed by the court to fund legal aid and other non-profit services in Oregon. This change would direct money toward legal assistance for seniors, domestic violence survivors, individuals with disabilities, tenants facing eviction, and others in need.
Veterans advocates
Before testifying at the committee
hearing on my veterans services bill

Protecting health of young people - regulating E cigarettes:  Another significant bill passed by the House prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes ("inhalant delivery systems") to minors. While there are recognized differences between normal cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the Surgeon General has cautioned that exposure to nicotine in minors has a negative health impact, and could potentially cause "lasting deficits in cognitive function." HB 2546 is in the Senate now.

Clean fuels: The Senate and House have both now passed SB 324, commonly known as the Clean Fuels Program. This bill continues an existing policy by removing the sunset date.  Oregon has a standard for low carbon fuel, and requires that oil companies gradually reduce carbon pollution from their gasoline by ten percent over the next ten years. Extending the Clean Fuels Program will give investors and entrepreneurs the certainty they need to expand production of alternative fuels and build additional facilities.  From a letter we received from the Main street Alliance of Oregon and Oregon Business Association: "At a time when the state faces so many economic and budgetary challenges, our business organizations see great opportunity in this industry for both job growth as well as broader economic prosperity for the state. Because Oregon doesn't produce or refine oil, we spend more than $6 billion a year importing gas and diesel, sending dollars to out of state companies."
My legislation: veterans, schools, wage theft, runaway and homeless youth
In addition to my bills to close the achievement gap and stop the summer learning loss (HB 2650), and connect more veterans with services they've earned (HB 2230), I'll describe a few more here, and others in the next newsletter.

Bill Board
My "bill board"
Combating Wage Theft. In an effort to ensure that employees are paid accurately for the hours they worked, this bill would make it illegal for an employer to force an employee to sign a time statement that does not accurately reflect the hours worked.

More streamlining: Consolidated Human Service Application Process. Continuing my legislative theme of government efficiency, my staff and I have been poring over pages of forms and applications that many Oregonians fill out every year for various types of assistance. There is an astounding amount of replication and redundancy between the applications, so I am working to simplify the process and make it easier for both applicants and providers.

Runaway and Homeless Youth. In order to help prevent homelessness and help youth achieve their full potential, I am working to re-convene a now-defunct advisory group that would help advise policymakers and state officials in their work to better serve Oregon's runaway and homeless youth. 
Cool stuff: Game Jam -- and Megabits
Fertilab Thinkubator recently hosted the Eugene Area Game Developers for Eugene Global Game Jam.  Over 30 game developers, designers, and artists came together for 48 hours to create new games.  My staff had a great time testing a few of the games - they assure me it was on lunch break! Given all the meetings, bills, and constituent mail they're handling, I know that's true.

The Eugene-Springfield area has more than 200 professional game developers, far more than in other areas in the state.   Add in all the other software developers and tech-dependent businesses, and you know why I believe we must think of high speed internet access as essential infrastructure to support economic development, as well as education, health care, public safety, and daily commerce.  I recently convened a meeting of local entrepreneurs and local and state agency staff to discuss how to improve broadband and fiber optic capacity, and spoke to our Regional Solutions team, convened by Sen. Lee Beyer, about the need. We don't all need to know how to calculate Mbps (Megabits per second) but we know what happens when communication grinds to a halt, or when business can't compete, for lack of bandwith.  The internet is a highway for our economic future, and improving this component of our infrastructure should be a priority focus for our region.
Beltline Highway update
Several of you who receive this newsletter wrote to me to let me know about your experiences and concerns related to improvements needed along Beltline Highway, between River Road and I-5.  I have continued to monitor ODOT's efforts for short- and long-term improvements.  On one specific topic, ramp meters, I asked ODOT about the performance to date, considering objectives of improving safety and reducing travel time.  Here is some recent information: 

Since the system has been activated there has been up to a 30% reduction in the crash rate along Beltline. However, there are still improvements that can be made. For example, ODOT continues to work with the city of Eugene on the signal timing of the intersections near the River Road ramp, and additional operational adjustments to address queueing on that ramp.

Green cleaning
Pie day
Disability Awareness pie day: home made peach pie from a constituent
get dozens of reports each month. One of the recent ones is from the Oregon Environmental Council, and it has a particularly interesting article on "green cleaning." The OEC encourages green cleaning rather than conventional cleaning products for use in homes. OEC provides a cost-benefit statistical analysis between conventional cleaning products (glass cleaner, scouring powder, air freshener, floor cleaner, disinfectant, etc.) and green cleaning products like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, castile soap, and mint oil.   The analysis included environmental and personal health costs. The results conclude that it is both safer and cheaper to use green cleaning products in your home. This Consumer Reports article also recommends several DIY concoctions to help clean with the environment in mind. I've used baking soda to pull out counter-top stains, and vinegar and water to clean windows (avoiding tromping down the tender plants in my garden beds!); they work just fine. Additionally, OEC lists the top three ingredients to avoid which include triclosan, fragrance, and aerosol.
Reminder: Free tax prep help. EITC for working people.
The Tax-Aide program will be available throughout Oregon again this year to help people prepare tax returns. 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. AARP Tax Aide website with information about the service, what information you need to bring with you, when and where,  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
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Representative Nancy Nathanson | PO Box 41895 | Eugene | OR | 97404