Nancy speaks to an enthusiastic group of students from
Eugene's Gilham Elementary School.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Earlier this week a wise person said in testimony at a Ways and
Means committee meeting, referring to the difficulty of our work: “this is character building.” We had a chuckle, but
only briefly. As you know, the current state of the economy has left us with a projected budget shortfall over $3 billion for the next two
years. Budget committees are finishing work on small agencies, and starting to move into the big budgets. For example, I carried
the Board of Accountancy Budget to the House floor on Tuesday; it passed and will now go to the Senate. Here’s a link to the latest information about
developing the budget for 2009-11, and here's a link
to Oregon’s work on state and federal money for economic stimulus.
Meanwhile, we’re racing to beat the April
28 deadline to pass bills out of committees for consideration by the House. Last month I mentioned that I have introduced
bills in several areas, and described a few: Earned Income Tax Credit (HB 2970), small business tax credit (HB 2777), veterans (HB 3104), and
re-structuring state and county services (HB 2920). In this letter I’ll describe a few more.
Thanks for reading my
An electric car prototype being developed by Arcimoto- a Eugene company.
At The Capitol
In the past two weeks, four of my bills received a public
hearing. You can click on the title or number of the bills below to see my testimony.
Plugging in to the future
A typical combustion engine car built in 2009 emits 90 percent
less tailpipe pollution than one built in the 1960s. But the benefits to the atmosphere are offset because the average
person drives three times as much. I have introduced HB 3253 to the House
Transportation Committee, a bill that establishes a tax credit for plug-in electric vehicles, similar to the successful credit for hybrid
vehicles. By providing incentives for consumers to purchase electric vehicles, we’ll be supporting clean air, a healthier environment, and
Oregon jobs – since there are Oregon companies already working on developing and building these cars and their components and related
technology such as battery recycling.
There are tens of thousands of unidentified veterans in Oregon. Many of these would benefit
from services that the state or federal governments provide. Meanwhile, Oregon is losing millions of dollars in federal
assistance, and the benefit of circulating that money in the Oregon economy. HB 3104, which
I introduced in the House Veterans Committee, provides that agencies ask at appropriate times whether a person is a
veteran or would like information about veterans’ services. Agencies would also include a link to the Oregon
Department of Veterans Affairs on their websites, to provide one-click access to a website
Putting a stop to metal
I have worked with information provided by EWEB and other
utilities and law enforcement agencies to propose legislation (HB 2423) to stop the easy sale of stolen metal. Key elements of the bill (such as no cash
payment) and others have been combined with a bill that was already underway in the Senate, to increase penalties and dry up the market for
Reducing the cost of health
One of the top concerns for people all across Oregon is the cost
of health care and health insurance. I introduced HB 2755 to the House Health
Care Committee to try to bring down the cost of health insurance by taking a look at how reinsurance is provided. (Reinsurance is
essentially insurance for insurers.)
Nancy speaks to a bill to the house floor on April 16th.
In addition to these, I am chief sponsor of several other bills
that are making their way through the process, such as helping residents of manufactured home parks (HB 2383) which had its first hearing in
February. To see the current status of these and all other bills, visit this link: Bills/Laws.
State sues Oppenheimer over college savings
Acting on behalf of families whose college savings suffered big
losses, the Attorney General filed suit for the State Treasurer against Oppenheimer Funds Inc. and two affiliates to seek the repayment of lost assets
in the Oregon College Savings Plan. Click here for more
If you enjoy “reality TV” this won’t be as
interesting, but here’s how I spent 45 minutes at the start of one day last week.
7:45 arrive, put away coat, bag, distribute papers marked up from
7:50 elevator to lounge to get breakfast
7:51-8:00 eat breakfast with colleagues
8:00 talk with lobbyist in hallway about a bill in
8:03 arrive at office, meet with staff; get updates on
bills, appointment requests, and visiting students
8:10 rewrite amendments for bill being heard next day
8:15 agency director drops by (no appointment) to brief me on
8:20 instructions to staff for writing letters
8:25 telephone call with agency staff
8:30 to General Government subcommittee hearing room
Nancy tours the site of the future Delta Ponds pedestrian and bike
In the District
Monday, March 23 was reserved for representatives to spend time
in the district instead of at the Capitol. I met with agency staff at Department of Human Services McKenzie Center and
the unemployment insurance call center. Next was a briefing and tour of the site for the new pedestrian and bike bridge over Delta
Highway, connecting the Valley River and Delta ponds area and the Cal Young neighborhood. I invited neighborhood leaders, planning, and bicycle
representatives to join me for a briefing from Eugene, Lane County, and state Transportation staff.
Sources of help for people with challenges related to
mortgage payments and other financial stresses
A couple of weeks ago, I met with representatives from several
Eugene-area credit unions. (Credit unions operate on a not-for-profit basis for their members/customers). They described the
services they offer their members, especially during these tough economic times, to help with their finances, such as repayment solutions
for past-due loans or extending loan terms to reduce monthly payments, reducing interest rates, or allowing interest-only payments for up to 9
months. One CU has recently modified more than 200 loans totaling over 5 million dollars.
I was also pleased to receive a letter from the Oregon Bankers
Association. In that letter they point out that “traditional banks are part of their communities, serving as a primary source of capital and as
a safe depository for their customers’ hard-earned dollars. Few Oregon banks ever made a ‘subprime’ mortgage
loan and are subject to robust oversight by both state and federal regulators.”
Next Town Hall
I will be with a group of Lane County Legislators on Saturday May
16th for a town hall meeting to discuss the latest revenue forecast that should be released by then. Watch for an
Nancy has an animated conversation last month at Lago Blu Gelato.
Do you wonder whether we read the mail? Yes,
we really do. We sometimes receive well over a hundred separate communications in a day. Some of those are
“blast” messages that are identical, have been mailed to several or all legislators, and some even come from out of state.
We also receive letters, announcements, reports, brochures, magazines, and requests for appointments.
And last week, a tea bag. And that survey a couple of months ago? I’ve
reviewed the results and read the individual comments. They are many, and varied, and as you might imagine, not all in 100%
agreement with each other! It’s fascinating, and I do my best to keep a sense of what’s important to you, and to work
for on your behalf.
From my office window I can see rain starting to come down hard,
hitting the tree buds and camellia blossoms on the campus at Willamette University across the street. Spring in Oregon!
Click here to
access my legislative website.