Representative Nancy Nathanson
Late May 2011

Rep Nathanson works with Nick, a new intern, between meetings.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's around this time every session when policy committees like Health Care, Education, and Transportation start to wrap up their work as the final deadline for moving a bill out of committee approaches. After June 1st only bills in a Ways and Means, Rules, or Revenue committee can move forward this session.

The past few weeks have brought some surprises my way. On May 17th I was honored to receive an award for my efforts to support public health and decrease health care costs.  In one year alone, nearly 60,000 Oregonians had to be revaccinated due to improperly stored, and spoiled, vaccine.  My Vaccine Stewardship bill (HB 2371) is designed to reduce errors that lead to wasted vaccine, avoid the costs to providers and the state for replacing spoiled vaccine and re-administering vaccine to individuals, and eliminate the burden on individuals who must return for revaccination. The bill has successfully passed the House and is headed to the Senate floor for a vote.
There is still more work, and I'm sure a few surprises, in store for the next several weeks. I'm also planning events in Eugene after session. Keep a look out for more information in the coming weeks.

In This Issue
The next phase of session
A more transparent and efficient government
Life as a legislator
Delta Ponds Restoration
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Capitol News

The next phase of session

Howard Elementary

Fourth graders from Howard Elementary learn about life at the Capitol.

Policy work is being wrapped up, and budget work continues going strong. The state constitution requires us to have a balanced budget, and also to complete all legislative work by June 30th. Some of the 50+ separate budgets have already been approved by the House and Senate, but others are still being negotiated.  To give you an idea of the kind of separate budgets that must be reviewed and adopted:  Budgets already approved by both chambers (House and Senate) include, for example, the Board of Dentistry, State School Fund, State Marine Board, and Public Utility Commission. Others that have already passed subcommittees and full Joint Ways and Means include Water Resources Department, Oregon Racing Commission, and Office of Secretary of State. Several of the "major" budgets that take longer to get through the process include departments such as Forestry, State Police, Business Development, Transportation, Energy, and Education. 


Meanwhile, since policy committees are now completing their work, members are being asked to suggest topics that would be discussed in the interim, before the next legislative session.  That's a good opportunity to complete work on ideas started but not finished in just four months, and delve into new ideas or concerns still not addressed.  One that I'm eager to continue work on is putting a damper on the easy market for stolen gold jewelry ("cash-for-gold").  After hearing from a constituent who was the victim of a home burglary, I followed up with law enforcement to learn about what we need to do to plug the holes in current law.  I drafted an initial bill, and we'll keep working on refining it to bring to the next session.

A more transparent and efficient government

I have written and spoken publicly many times about the need to make government work smarter and better. In 2009 I championed legislation to create a Government Efficiency Task Force that ultimately identified nearly two dozen practical recommendations for how to reduce red tape, save money, untangle bureaucracy and improve public services for Oregonians.


KVAL interview

KVAL news interviews Rep Nathanson about emergency preparedness.

A number of bills introduced this session were based on the recommendations of the task force. The legislature has already passed three, and this week two additional bills, including the bill to re-authorize the Task Force, passed the House and are heading to the Senate. Several more are still working through the process.


As Co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means General Government Subcommittee I have the opportunity to dig into certain agency budgets and ask questions. During testimony on the Department of Administrative Services budget I became concerned about some questionable, costly contracts and suggested to the new head of the Department that he review the testimony. At a time when we're looking at serious cuts, we can't afford to pay for things that are not necessary or that we're paying more than we need to.

The Department launched an investigation, which was covered by both the Oregonian and the Statesman Journal, and ultimately decided to remove two employees from their jobs. The department did the right thing. It takes appropriate oversight by the legislature and leadership dedicated to improvement -- and we can make government work better.

Life as a legislator

Here's a quick look at the past couple of weeks, not including regular committee meetings, hearings, and routine appointments about budget requests, policy bill advocates and foes:

  • Testified to Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee about using abandoned federal property and infrastructure for new high energy output solar power production.
  • In touch with District Attorney and retired Judge on public safety policy issues.
  • Interviews with Oregonian editor on improving information available for voters.
  • Disappointments: losing an important protection for mobile home park residents, losing proposals to ramp up Oregon's work on improving freight and passenger rail.
  • Cheers: Bills passing in the House or Senate; some were my individual ideas, some I championed for the GETF, and another at the request of Lane County. Appreciation for support from City of Eugene on several bills!

District News

Delta Ponds restoration

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of touring the newly restored Delta Ponds. About 20 constituents and Eugene area residents joined me, with Eugene Parks and Open Spaces staff describing the project which reconnects the Delta Ponds Natural Area with the Willamette River.


Delta Ponds

Eugene Parks & Open Spaces staff show a map of the Willamette River and Delta Ponds area.

Over five decades ago gravel mining cut off the natural area from the flow of water from the Willamette River. Now water once again runs freely, creating 2.2 miles of valuable habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon and a variety of other species. Habitats for a variety of animals and native vegetation have been restored with 70,000 plantings. A tour participant explained the benefit of replacing blackberry bushes with other vegetation, since blackberries are in fact a very poor habitat for birds, since they don't provide either nesting opportunity or year-round nourishment.

We saw ducks and geese, of course - also osprey and a mink!  Another of the participants made a great comment to sum up our walk and what we learned: We're here; we need to learn to live harmoniously with this environment.