Teens with the Northwest Youth Corp grill Representative Nathanson with tough questions.

August 2009

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I find myself two months into the interim and the pace still hasn't slowed. As soon as the session ended, I attended a couple neighborhood association meetings and enjoyed some wonderful summertime cookouts with constituents and local advocates. I am starting to settle into a new schedule, spending a few afternoons a week in the district office to take meetings and process emails and letters. I have also enjoyed doing tours with local organizations. I met a great group of Eugene teens working with the Northwest Youth Corps. They were out in over 100 degree weather harvesting native grass seed and building perches for raptors, all while having a good time and learning valuable skills for future jobs.I look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming coffee events. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hi, feel free to email me at rep.nancynathanson@state.or.us or call my office at 541-343-2206.


In this Newsletter             
  • Capitol News  
    • Protecting Consumers in 2009
    • A Legislator's life after session
    • What are "green jobs"?
  • District News
    • Local Employment and Labor Trends
    • Helping our community heroes and volunteers
    • Eugene Energy Efficiency Programs
Capitol News                                                             

Protecting Consumers in the 2009 Legislative Session

As many as 19,000 Oregonians were in the throes of foreclosure through the second quarter of this year as reported in a recent newsletter from Oregon Housing and Community Services. Many families, never before out of work, now face the loss of their home. The legislature recognized the need to provide greater protections for Oregon homeowners and Oregonians doing their best to reduce personal debt. During the 2009 legislative session we passed several new consumer protection laws that help Oregonians who are facing foreclosure or struggling to pay their mortgage and other bills, provide better protections to those subject to garnishments, and ensure that renters living in foreclosed homes are not unexpectedly evicted. They also strengthen mortgage lending standards to treat borrowers fairly.

Here are two important consumer protection bills I supported and helped pass this session:

-- Senate Bill 628 helps homeowners facing foreclosure by bringing them together with their lender to discuss options. The bill requires that mortgage lenders notify homeowners facing foreclosure of the right to a meeting, and to assess whether the borrower is eligible for a loan modification. Oregon Housing and Community Services is working with the Department of Consumer and Business Services to implement this bill by October 1st.

-- House Bill 2191 protects financially vulnerable Oregonians who are increasingly turning to consumer debt management services for assistance. This bill requires all providers of debt management services to be registered with DCBS, including debt settlement companies and loan modifiers who have been especially prolific during the economic downturn and were not previously subject to state regulation. It also limits fees that can be charged, gives debtors the right to cancel contracts, prohibits misleading advertising practices, and requires providers to analyze a consumer's budget to determine the actual benefits of the proposed services.

For more information on consumer protection legislation passed in 2009 click here.

A Legislator's Life after Session

Do you wonder what happens after the legislative session adjourns? Some people might think that the pace will slow, but not for me. Even though the legislative session is over I continue to hear from constituents daily and try to address problems, meet with organizations and advocates, explore potential policy or budget ideas for the next session, read reports, attend community events, and get to know local businesses. Along with help from my staff, I set up a district office and we stay busy responding to meeting requests, constituent concerns, and research ideas.
Here is a sample from my calendar the past few weeks: attended a United Way briefing on their latest community survey to learn about problems facing Lane County's families; met with representatives of Relief Nurseries and the Commission on Children and Families at their Eugene facility, I even tasted the great lunch they offered to kids (including sweet potatoes!); shared a pot-luck picnic and conversation with residents at a neighborhood association picnic; discussed energy conservation and neighborhood improvement ideas at another neighborhood association meeting; and spent a while at the Beltline Highway planning open house to see the latest maps and talk about solutions with area residents and ODOT staff.

What are "green jobs"?

When most people hear the phrase green job, images of wind farms, electric vehicles, and solar panels often come to mind. However a recently completed survey by the Oregon Employment Department shows that Oregon green jobs are distributed across every industry and occupation, with more concentration in industries and occupations related to construction, production, natural resources, and transportation. The report, entitled "The Greening of Oregon's Workforce," finds the five occupations with the most green jobs were carpenters, farmworkers, truck drivers, hazardous materials removal workers, and landscaping and groundskeeping workers.

While there are many competing views regarding the definition of green jobs, business, or industries, for purposes of this survey, the Employment Department defined a green job as one that provides a service or produces a product in any of these categories

1. Increasing energy efficiency
2. Producing renewable energy
3. Preventing, reducing, or mitigating environmental degradation
4. Cleaning up and restoring the natural environment
5. Providing education, consulting, policy promotion, accreditation, trading and offsets, or similar services supporting categories 1-4

You can read the complete report here.
Representative Nathanson talks with a group of kids from Adams Elementary.

District News                                                   

Local Employment and Labor Trends

Lane County has a history of large employment swings related to lumber and wood products. In the 1990's the industry mix diversified, helping to lessen the severity of the swings. Lane County is home to high-tech companies such as Datalogic, a homegrown recreational vehicle manufacturing industry, the University of Oregon, and a Federal Courthouse. These employers add to the industry employment mix, so that currently Lane County is very similar to the statewide mix. Like the rest of the state and country, Lane County has been hit hard by the recession with employment down by 8,000 jobs. Some industries, like construction and manufacturing, were hit first and hardest. While some, such as health and social assistance, continued to grow, adding 604 jobs, despite the recession or perhaps because of the recession.

Just last week, the employment department released the new unemployment numbers showing the state of Oregon at 11.9% for the month of July, this is essentially unchanged from the revised June rate of 12.0%. While this is still quite high, it is early evidence that employment may be stabilizing. Trade, transportation, and utilities added 3,100 jobs throughout the state in July, more than double the expected seasonal gain.

The most recently released numbers for Lane County show that unemployment fell to 13.2% in June from the revised 14.0% in May. Despite the high unemployment rate, there are some glimmers of hope. There was a gain of 700 jobs from April to May, which is a bit higher than the usual. Additionally, employment in manufacturing, both durable and nondurable goods, held steady.

Helping our community heroes and volunteers

While we continue to weather this economic recession, we all recognize the important role nonprofit organizations play in all of our communities. They provide access to healthcare, cultural opportunities, education, outreach and recreation. Now, a new financing opportunity offered through the State Treasurer's office can help our nonprofits better serve our communities, by reducing their cost of doing business.

The Oregon Facilities Authority helps nonprofits of all sizes - from the very small to the very large - to qualify and benefit for tax-exempt bonds, which translates into lower interest costs. That bonding opportunity can help them remodel, expand or construct a new facility, at a time when many nonprofits are realizing that owning their own facilities makes good business sense. Working with the Office of the State Treasurer, the Authority oversees these transactions, a reliable, cost-effective process for issuance, and a process for preventing problems arising from audits or compliance problems.

If you'd like to help your community nonprofits, or if you represent a nonprofit and want to learn more, please give Executive Director Gwendolyn Griffith a call at 503-802-5710, or visit the website.

Representative Nathanson helped bring the Kill-a-watt Program to the Eugene Public Library.

Eugene Energy Efficiency Programs

Did you know that computers in idle/screensaver mode use 20-50 times the power of computers in standby mode? Or that CFLs (compact florescent lightbulbs) use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer? How about phantom energy, energy used by electronics even when they appear turned off; it accounts for 5-8% of all home energy consumption and costs the average household $60-$100 a year.

Here are a few local programs that you can use to reduce your energy use and utility bills.

EWEB Online Energy Analysis

This quick online analysis will help you find ways to lower your energy bill for your home, business, or property you are evaluating. The energy analysis will provide you details on how you use energy in your home or business; how your property compares with others; and how you can save on your utility bills. Visit EWEB's website to access the online energy analysis.

Kill-a-watt Program

Some of you may already know that I initiated this program to loan energy monitoring devices to patrons of the Eugene Public Library. By identifying how much energy each device is using and turning off those that use significant amounts, you can cut down the cost of monthly electricity bills.

It's easy to get started, simply check the monitor out for free with a library card and plug it into an outlet at home. By plugging household electrical devices into the Kill A Watt monitor, you will be able to see how much energy each device is using per kilowatt-hour to determine the cost of each appliance by the day, month or entire year. Contact the Eugene Public Library at 541-682-5450 to check on the availability of a device.

The Northwest Institute for Community Energy (NICE)

The NICE is an institute that coordinates Think and Do Programs across the Northwest. The Eugene NICE works toward bringing students, community members, professionals and elected officials together around community scale sustainability projects. Their current focus project is the Energy Equity Project. One hundred low income households will receive an Energy Checkup and Assistance Prescription. The Whiteaker neighborhood has been the focus community so far. You can contact the NICE at 541-683-0786 to learn more.


More information on energy efficiency programs and energy saving tips are available through EWEB and the United States Department of Energy.


Click here to access my legislative website.

August 2009