March-April 2014


The Legislature adjourned within the constitutional time limit (5 weeks), we balanced the budget, passed some bills, and now I'm back at work in Eugene.  

South end of Delta Ponds 


During the interim (between sessions) and in addition to my committee assignments, I'm also participating on work groups developing recommendations for long term care for seniors and disabled persons, regional delivery of education services, and state library services.  Some of the other issues I'll be working on include: child welfare, housing programs, passenger trains, and energy conservation. 


While I'm back in Eugene I'm looking forward to visiting with local businesses and organizations, following up on legislation that I passed earlier to see what progress has been made, and getting in touch with constituents. It was great to see some of you at the Delta Ponds tour back in March! More on that below.


In This Issue
Session wrap-up
My bills
Good ideas stalled
Noteworthy budget actions
Tax return phone scam
Delta Ponds
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Wrapping up the short legislative session
Job apprenticeship (HB 4058): Oregon's "40-40-20" education goal is that by 2025, 40% of adults will have earned a bachelor's degree or higher, 40% will have earned an associate degree or post-secondary credential, and 20% will have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. This bill supports job apprenticeship as a career pathway in the education goals. These credentialed apprenticeship programs include math, science, language, and other educational curriculum along with specific and marketable job skills.

Crop donation tax credit
(SB 1541): This credit is an excellent way to encourage farmers to donate to local food banks, and will help provide nutritious food to low-income Oregonians. The bill reinstates the tax credit for crop donation, and increases the amount of the credit to fifteen percent of the wholesale price.

Pollinator protection (HB 4139): The "bee bill" calls for best practices to avoid adverse effects of pesticides on bees and other pollinators, an increasing concern for farms and the environment.

Working with
Oregon Alliance of Children's Programs
Home care worker registry (SB 1542, my speech in the House): Many Oregon seniors and those with disabilities rely on access to in-home care, which makes it possible to live more independently. This bill allows all Oregonians to buy home care services from the Home Care Commission's registry of trusted workers. Previously, only individuals covered by Medicaid were eligible to hire caregivers through the registry. Access to the registry increases safety by ensuring that Oregonians are hiring qualified caregivers who have passed criminal and abuse background checks, rather than hiring off of Craigslist or community bulletin boards.

Supporting emergency response: Almost everyone who uses a phone pays an automatic charge (75 cents a month) to help support 9-1-1 emergency service. People using pre-paid cell phones have been off the hook, until HB 4055 established a fee on those phones, too.

Several bills will protect seniors and vulnerable Oregonians from abuse in their homes or other facilities-including physical, mental, and financial mistreatment. These bills include: a public guardianship program for adults who have nowhere to turn (SB 1553); court appointed special advocates for seniors (HB 4114); and improved investigations of elder abuse (HB 4151).

A selection of other bills we passed: allow veterans to attend graduate school at Oregon public universities at the resident rate for tuition and fees; expand access to capital for small businesses looking to grow and create jobs (SB 1563); improve air quality through financial assistance to businesses in high air pollution areas to reduce heavy truck emissions (HB 4107); help injured workers to be treated in a timely manner (HB 4104); and increase access to refurbished medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, or ventilators (HB 4108). For medically high-risk individuals who had insurance coverage, another bill (SB 1582) allowed time to make sure that they will continue to be covered.
My bills: what I wrote and passed, sponsored, and advocated
In my last newsletter I wrote about two of my bills that had already passed: expedited vehicle titles, and property tax deferral for seniors.  After that newsletter, two other bills I worked very hard on also passed: contract accountability and manufactured home parks, described below. In addition to those, I carried a few other bills that passed, including  Citizens' Initiative Review (SB 1544) and the Home Care Worker Registry (mentioned earlier).
Carrying a bill
One of my bills passes 60-0

Preserving affordable housing: Manufactured home parks provide affordable housing for many Oregonians. The current process by which the owner of a manufactured home park may sell the park to its tenants is complex and cumbersome. HB 4038 streamlines the process, providing better notice to tenants, more flexibility for owners, and a greater opportunity for tenants to buy their park and preserve their investments and neighborhoods.

Improving accountability, oversight on public information technology (IT) projects: HB 4122 requires Independent Quality Assurance review from an outside, third party for all IT projects over $5 million and any others that meet specific requirements. To make sure that oversight leads to appropriate action, the bill also requires that the reports are sent to people who can review them promptly and then do something about any problems that are identified, not just a single manager who could simply put it away in a drawer. Read more: speech notes for House debate, and in this Oregonian article.

Some good ideas that didn't make it
Talking with high school students
visiting the capitol
Class Action Lawsuits: This bill passed in the House but failed in the Senate by a vote of 15-15. I voted with a majority in the House to require damages awarded in a class action lawsuit to be paid up, and for anything not collected by individuals to go to Legal Aid to assist low-income Oregonians. HB 4143 would have held wrong-doers accountable, and required the guilty party to pay up on court-ordered damages. Currently, Oregon is one of only two states that allow at-fault corporations to keep what was unclaimed.

Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act stalled and was in committee on adjournment. SB 1569 would have established a list of 19 chemicals that harm children's health and required manufacturers to notify health officials when their children's products contain these chemicals.

GMO labeling also stalled and was in committee on adjournment. The bill would have referred the question to voters in the upcoming general election, and sought approval to require labeling of genetically engineered raw agricultural commodities and packages of genetically engineered processed food offered for retail sale in Oregon. Governor Kitzhaber recently announced the kick-off of his Genetically Engineered Agriculture Task Force to study the issue. See the news release.
Noteworthy budget actions
Support for seniors: Appropriated $13.3 million to support Senior & Disabled Transit services, long-term care provider training, and public guardian services for seniors throughout the state.

Housing for vulnerable Oregonians: Added $10 million to address housing issues in the community mental health system, and $4.5 million for affordable housing, emergency housing, and homeless assistance.

Education: Added $2 million for Career Technical Education and $2.3 million for Oregon Opportunity Grants, need-based support for college-bound Oregonians.

SNAP meal program: Added $200,000 to help expand summer meal programs for kids in need.

Alcohol and drug treatment: Added $50,000 to establish a pilot project for the Buckley sobering center at Willamette Family Treatment Services in Eugene.

Capital construction: Approved funding for five of the most urgent, safety related construction projects for the Oregon University System. This includes $2.1 million in bonds to repair a University of Oregon utility tunnel under Franklin Boulevard that is at risk of collapse.

Beware of telephone scam about your tax return!
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is warning consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting Oregon taxpayers during this tax season:

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue and they must pay immediately through a temporary debit card or wire transfer.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue, here's what you should do:
 - If you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 and/or the Oregon Department of Revenue at (800) 356-4222.
 - If you do not owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.
 - If you have lost money as a result of this scam, file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice online at or by phone at (877) 877-9392.
Delta Ponds, late winter
DeltaPondsTourOnBridge Nearly 40 people toured Delta Ponds in March, on an unusually fair day -- sunny, chilly, windy, and dry. We reviewed the history of this restoration project that  re-established hydrological connections between the main stem Willamette River and the Delta Ponds so that the Delta Ponds system serves as a side-channel to the Willamette River, as it did historically. The project reconnects 2.2 miles of side channel habitat to the Willamette River. We heard about the invasive weed called South American Creeping Water Primrose (or Ludwigia Hexapetala), which resulted from unwanted pond materials dumped there, and heard about last year's efforts to contain it to this small area before it escapes and travels downstream to invade the entire Willamette River. As soon as the weather warms, we'll be able to see how much of it returns.