Buena Vista Elementary School students visiting the House of Representatives

 June 2013

Dear Friends,

The legislative session is winding to a close, with a constitutional deadline of July 13.  Almost all policy committees have been shut down, and remaining bills are working their way through close-out committees or Ways and Means. My assignments are primarily Joint Ways and Means, so I'm still in the thick of it, working on bills, chairing hearings, helping craft compromises, etc.  


This is also the time - the closing days of a session - where some 'dark horse' bills appear, thought to be dead or inactive but now revived and put back into play.  Last-minute negotiations might clear up objections.  Or a bill might be "stuffed" with a solution to a different problem. 


Many constituents have been contacting my office to let me know their thoughts on a variety of issues like protecting the environment, budget priorities, and criminal justice system reform. Sometimes I get dozens or hundreds of identical "blast" emails, and sometimes I get individually written notes.  I appreciate hearing your concerns and ideas.

As I write this on Tuesday, June 25, the House has passed more than 760 House and Senate bills.  Of all the bills passed by both chambers, the Governor has signed 446 bills.  Twelve of my bills have been signed, three more have passed one or both chambers, and at least three more are "live" with a possibility of passing.  Examples of my successful bills so far: streamlining criminal background checks and closing loopholes to protect the public, streamlining credentials for local children and adult service providers, fix-it ticket for road safety


In This Issue
Legislation:bills passed
Consumer protection:Payday loans
Bicycle tourism
Free online books for youth
Fraud alert
State funds at work in Eugene
Working on the budget
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Legislation: bills passed (a selection of 700+ passed by the House)
(Note: 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.)


Lydia Hale, thank you
for helping in the office!
Retirement savings: Passed earlier this session and already signed into law, HB 2316A helps more Oregonians save for retirement. It raises the pension limit from $20,000 to $60,000 for Oregonians participating in the Individual Development Account Initiative (IDAI).  The IDAI program provides participants with skills to manage their own finances and save for retirement. IDAI also helps by matching every dollar saved when a participant reaches their financial goal.  The match comes from a fund of private donations.  People who contribute to that nonprofit fund receive up to 75% tax credit.
Closing loopholes on out of state banks: A handful of out of state banks are not required to pay any income tax in Oregon.  The legislature is closing that loophole now with House Bill 3477, eliminating the specific exemption that creates the loophole and requires those out of state banks with locations here in Oregon to pay their fair share of taxes. 
Home foreclosures.  Mediation: Last year the legislature created a program to allow homeowners to resolve a foreclosure through mediation.  Senate Bill 558A strengthens that program to help more Oregonians stay in their homes, and hold lenders more accountable. Vacant home nuisance: As foreclosures increase in frequency, and the number of foreclosed houses continues to mount, many are falling into states of disrepair or are being neglected, creating nuisance and crime problems in the neighborhood.  HB 2662 prohibits owners from neglecting empty properties, and should help keep many of these homes maintained. If the properties are not brought into compliance, then eventually a lien on the property is put in place to pay for basic maintenance services.
Cutting red tape. Helping local organizations focus on helping people and less on paperwork: another of my bills has passed and been signed by the Governor. Streamlining will help Coordinated Care Organizations and insurers, too. Recently reported in The Lund Report as one of three bills improving the process to credential health care providers.
Consumer protection legislation is working for Oregonians

I was pleased to support a consumer protection bill in a previous legislative session, and now we're hearing about the positive benefit for Oregonians! Oregon consumers are keeping an extra $41.25 million in their pockets instead of spending it on predatory payday loan fees, according to a report released yesterday, Payday Lenders Lose Interest; Oregon Consumers Pocket Savings. U.S. Senator Merkley and Congresswoman Bonamici attended a news conference highlighting the impact of Oregon's Payday Loan Reform Act and called for national action.

The 2007 law drastically reduced the prevalence of payday lending in Oregon, and made short-term lending more affordable and less predatory by lowering borrowing costs, increasing the loan term, and limiting loan renewals.  Collection lawsuits were reduced 99% between 2006 and 2011.

Around the state


A Thank You from Oregon Housing Alliance

Bicycling in Oregon. A recent study commissioned by Travel Oregon highlights the economic impacts of bicycle tourism in Oregon. The report includes details like how much bicycle tourists add to the economy through spending on accommodation and food services, groceries, event fees, and bicycle repairs, clothing and gear. Bicycle Tourism Development in Oregon. 


Bridges. ODOT recently released a fact sheet on bridges in response to concerns about a Washington state bridge that collapsed after being struck by an oversized truck load. An excerpt from an ODOT report:
Washington's Skagit River Bridge on Interstate 5 is a Steel Through Truss style bridge. Oregon has about 65 Steel Through Truss bridges on highways, county roads and city streets. Three are on interstate highways; two make up the north and south portions of the Interstate bridge crossing the Columbia River, and the third is on Interstate 82 in Umatilla (and is maintained by Washington).  The Interstate 5 Columbia River Bridge between Portland and Vancouver, Washington, is maintained by ODOT. Both Steel Through Truss portions are "fracture critical." If one of the members is impacted or removed, then the whole span could collapse.

The recent ODOT report on bridges has much more information.  (Earlier this session, the legislature passed a bill that would fund the Columbia River Crossing project to replace the I-5 bridge, add a passenger light rail link between Portland and Vancouver, and improve several interchanges in Oregon and Washington.)

Summer reading and free online books for Oregon students
The Oregon Department of Education is partnering statewide with libraries, schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, scout troops, schools, faith-based organizations, United Way and other non-profits to promote reading over the summer months.  Students and their families will have unlimited access to thousands of digital books through a service called myON.  The services includes more than 3,000 digital books  ranging from illustrated and picture books to chapter books, literary non-fiction, photo and informational texts spanning multiple eras and cultures.  The collection includes 70% nonfiction, 10% Spanish or dual language, 20% high interest books for struggling readers, and is continually growing. The Oregon summer reading partnership with myON will be available at NO COST until September 15, 2013.

Information about access to myON BOOKS and logon instructions. If you have questions or need additional assistance, please contact Carla Wade ( or Drew Hinds (
For even more reading opportunities, take advantage of the magazine, newspaper, and reference book content on OSLIS, the Oregon School Library Information System.
Life Alert telephone scam: Fraud alert
Older Oregonians and retirees are targets of recently increasing fraud cases.  People have been receiving pre-recorded telephone messages claiming to be a medical alert company, often using the company name Life Alert.  The message often claims that someone has purchased a Life Alert subscription for the person, they qualify for the service for free, or pretend to be calling from a shipping department trying to confirm an order. The actual company Life Alert has confirmed that they themselves have been making no such calls, meaning that all of these are in fact fraudulent. (Find out more:
"Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum urges Oregonians to simply hang up the phone if they receive a recorded call saying they are with Life Alert or the "I've fallen and can't get up" people. "DO NOT press a button to talk to a sales person, and never give personal information or credit card numbers over the phone unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with."
If you think you have fallen victim to these medical alert imposters, contact the Oregon Department of Justice online at or call 1-877-877-9392."
Local area
Habitat for Humanity
A recent home dedication,
Habitat for Humanity
Here's a good example of how state funds go directly back to the community, and how we see the results. A note from a local organization that helps persons with Developmental Disabilities (DD).
Dear Representative Nathanson: 
I am writing to sincerely thank you for supporting the restoration of nearly $14 million for the DD Comprehensive service delivery system.  It has been a long few years, with many struggles, for DD organizations across the state which experienced the 6% reduction in 2010.  It may sound a little obvious, but I just have to say that this appropriation really matters to us.  ... it will mean, minimally, the infusion of over $125,000 in next year's budget.  I can assure you that these funds will be devoted almost exclusively to improving staffing ratios for the people we support and for raises in wages and benefits for the Direct Care Professionals who will occupy those positions of support.  Every cent that helps us to professionalize those positions, retain staff and contribute to health, safety and quality.  Sincerely,  ...
Working on the budget 
Along with Senator Alan Bates, I co-chair the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services, which includes budgets for Oregon Health Authority, Department of Human Services, Oregon Medical Board, and several other agencies. Public health, child foster care, aid to needy families, long term care for seniors and disabled, and vocational rehabilitation are examples of programs included in these agencies. The proposed budget includes funding increases in almost every area, and significantly expands services for mental health treatment.
I'm pleased that this budget restores many of the cuts made during the economic downtown. Nevertheless, I'm concerned about inequities in reimbursement rates to local providers for services to children, seniors, the disabled at home or in clinical offices or in residential care settings. And beyond the specific dollars shown in the budget, I have authored a budget note asking the department to report to the legislature on the relationship between rates that we pay to providers and employee wages.  This year we are starting to make up for many years of stagnant or reduced reimbursements to provider agencies, but we don't know how much of those increases will be making their way to the people working in those care and treatment jobs - like the good example we have in Eugene.
Representative Nancy Nathanson | PO Box 41895 | Eugene | OR | 97404