Rally to save US Postal Service jobs
and offices including Gateway.
With Congressman Peter DeFazio

 May 2013

Dear Friends,

Legislation on policy issues is moving right along, with bills that passed in one chamber (House or Senate) now getting their hearings in the other. The focus is now on wrapping up the budget. The May revenue forecast is in, and the budget subcommittees are finalizing recommendations in their budget areas. 


To have a balanced budget, the legislature passes dozens of separate budget bills, covering each state agency, commission and board, and other specific programs.  For example, some of the budgets going to the Transportation and Economic Development subcommittee are Employment, Veterans Affairs, and Aviation.  The Human Services subcommittee agenda includes the Health Authority, Commission for the Blind, and Nursing Board. The General Government subcommittee handles budgets for the Governor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Department of Revenue, and Construction Contractors Board. Budgets that cover state prisons, courts, and emergency management are handled by Public Safety subcommittee. 


These are just examples to show the wide array of separate budgets and programs or services handled by each subcommittee.  Oregon Budget Basics

In This Issue
Legislation starts with bills
Budget: we're not done yet
Ballot measures
Media Day at the Capitol
Software business and Student robots
Creative thinking-World Junior Championship 2014
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Legislation starts with bills
To get an idea of all the kinds of bills that a state legislature handles, you  may want to peruse this alphabetic index, by topic, of all the bills introduced in the 2013 session.  To look up a specific bill by number, go to the Legislative Information System and click on "Bills" in the top bar near the right edge.


A few of my bills have been passed by both chambers and signed by the governor; a few more are making progress in the Senate now:


Streamlining government: House Bill 3168 starts work to develop standard criteria for background checks, so someone cleared for one job won't have to get a second or third background check to do similar work. We have heard tales, for example, of people subject to the time and expense of separate background checks to work in a school, volunteer as a coach, and provide child care in the summer; or to provide health care as a doctor, to teach (medicine), and to be a foster parent. After passing the House unanimously, the bill was passed in a Senate committee and is now headed to the full Senate for a vote.


Lane County comes to talk about food processing and economic development. (Photo taken from behind
Rep. John Lively, also on the committee with me).

Getting more money to work in local communities: House Bill 2140 allows local governments including schools and community colleges to invest their income in a state interest-earning investment pool. It passed the Senate unanimously and it's on the way to the Governor's desk for his signature. (See April newsletter for more.)


Safety on the road: On foot, on bicycle, or in another car ... have you ever been annoyed when you can't see the driver through darkened windows, and don't know if it's safe to cross the street or make a turn?  More than annoying, it's not safe, and it's also dangerous for law enforcement officers approaching a car. House Bill 3136 adds window tinting to the list for a "fix-it ticket."  Too-dark front windows join a few other vehicle operating problems like missing or broken mud flaps, burned out headlights, and noisy mufflers for judicial discretion to waive the fine.   When the owner shows that the problem has been "fixed" to comply with state law, they may avoid a costly fine. The aim is to encourage compliance, not just collect revenue, and make it safer for everyone.  The Senate Business and Transportation Committee passed the bill unanimously; it's headed to the full Senate, too.

Budget: we're not done yet

The state economist delivered an updated forecast about economic conditions, employment, and projected revenue from income taxes, lottery, and other sources. PowerPoint slideshow


The forecast is good: continuing slow economic recovery and a little more revenue than was forecast three months ago. 


On the other hand ... The challenge will be to balance the budget at a spending level hoped for by thousands of Oregonians.  The Ways & Means Co-Chairs' recommended budget stabilized funding in most areas and provided for increases in several areas.  K-12 education, mental health treatment, and child welfare were at the top of the list. We know how important it is to make those investments to avoid costly public safety and health expenses in the future, and increase the state's economic well-being.  The commitment to K-12 education is a big improvement, with $1 billion more than last biennium.  It's still not enough, however, to avoid teacher furlough days, large class sizes, and a shortened school year in many schools around the state. Without some additional revenue, we will need to scale back in other areas as well.  Community college and higher education will lag behind, facing large enrollment increases and higher tuition for students. Mental health treatment won't get the support we know is needed to increase care in local settings and help for troubled students in school. There are other examples where we know we should do more.




Since the federal government implemented the budget sequester earlier this year, the effects have begun to make their way into local communities. Here's one example of an automatic federal budget cut right here in Lane County: Senior and Disabled Services received $54,000 less to cover 3 months of service for Meals on Wheels and Senior Connections.

Ballot measures in the works

It might seem early to talk about initiative measures for future elections, but several are already being planned and filed with the Secretary of State.  Some would increase taxes on Oregon's C-corporations.  For example, one would change the corporate minimum tax on very large corporations to a gross receipts tax of .01 percent on revenues over $100 million. Three filed measures would change laws related to public employee union membership and payroll deduction for membership dues.  The Secretary of State Elections Division publishes a list of initiative measures.  Initiative, referendum, and referral search

Learning and fun at 4-H

4-H is back! When Lane County's 4-H program closed in 2010, about 400 students were enrolled.  Thanks to grants and community donations, Oregon State University Extension is hoping to have 1,000 students enrolled in the Lane County program.

Lane County is home to six community 4-H clubs, open to students in grades 4-12.  There's also a Cloverbud program for youth in grades K-3. 4-H members will decide what they want to learn about, including topics like woodworking, public speaking, entomology (insects!), and leadership development.


Here in North Eugene: The next meeting of the Eugene Community Club will be at the Willakenzie Grange on Thursday, May 30th at 6:30 pm.  The group will be playing team building games, learning about small animals, and working as a group to complete entry forms for the Lane County Fair.  New families are welcome-the group is just getting started.  Lots of fun summer activity opportunities coming up.  See the website (and Facebook: Lane County Extension 4-H Oregon). 

Lane County Extension has trained 45 adult volunteers to lead the clubs.  To learn more about the programs, volunteering, or enrolling youth, contact Kate Hammarback, Lane County 4-H Coordinator. or 541-344-5043

All in a day

Norman & the Judge
My day starts with a quick check-in with staff, at least one brief office meeting, and then the first committee hearing of the day at 8:30.  Various office meetings, hearings, and sessions in the House chamber happen throughout the day. 
Sometimes something a little unusual fills a few minutes between scheduled meetings.  For example, "Media Day" at the Capitol.  Characters from the stop-motion animated film ParaNorman visited us, I met with several actors and producers about the use of film and TV production tax credits, and I talked with principals from downtown Eugene's Pipeworks Software.
Another day I visited with young people demonstrating their robotics projects and advocating for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education.


This robot really works.
Talking about the future of entertainment, games, and instructional technology with Pipeworks Software -- and with a smart student.
Pipeworks Software
Pipeworks Software

Showing ideas for "telling the story" - World Junior Championships, 
2014, Eugene

Weekends often include meetings and other activities.  On a Saturday in April I had a great time watching the results of the day-long session to "reinvent the way we tell the stories of track and field and to rethink the technology we use to immerse the audience in the events."


Filmmakers, social media creative artists, Track Town USA organizers, and other innovators and tech geeks met in Eugene for the day. They worked on ideas for story-telling before, during, and after the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships - another international event for Eugene, at Hayward Field! Picture a global web-based platform for potential competitors to submit information; self-created content by athletes and fans; mobile apps bringing real time and historical info to fans; video walls, a photo mosaic, on-site board posting fan tweets supporting the athletes, more.