Representative Nancy Nathanson
EIFF Award
Representative Nathanson presents the lifetime achievement award to Tom Sawyer at the
Eugene International Film Festival.
November 2010
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I bet you're relieved that campaign season is over! You may already be inundated with the latest political news about election results so I won't "pile on" with yet more analysis of the same events.  I'll focus on just one aspect: the work of planning for a new Legislative Assembly.

The House of Representatives will be evenly divided, 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans. This is an uncommon situation for any time period. This Assembly faces an even larger burden of responsibility, facing a continued high unemployment rate for Oregonians, and severe revenue shortfalls requiring severe cuts in the budget. The even split poses questions for both parties, on two fronts. How will the legislature's business be accomplished?  From selecting a Speaker of the House to determining committee structure and committee membership, there's a lot to work out.  And the second: how will the even split affect the kind of legislation -- the ideas, policies, and bills -- that will be considered?  There are no answers to these questions yet, but I'm eager to participate in a constructive way.  This is NOT the time for obstruction and partisan games. It's a perfect time to demonstrate collaboration, even where there are natural policy differences, to come up with solutions to Oregon's great challenges.
And one of the best paths to solving challenges of providing services in a time of shrinking budgets: make government work better.  I will press even harder now to convince my colleagues in the Legislature to continue the work I began in the last session: the government efficiency task force.  We need to work quickly and firmly to fix the "small things" that can be fixed right now (operational efficiencies), and to start the effort to re-design the structure of government to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, eliminate silos, and improve service.
As I began writing this a week ago, I wondered whether that was one of the last dry, sunny days of November, and marveled at the glorious fall colors, the brilliant yellows, oranges and reds against the rich green conifers.  I hope you were able to take a moment to be outside, or look outside, and enjoy that beautiful fall season.


In This Issue
Reshaping Court Fees
Businesses going Green
Food For Lane County
211 info for social services
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Capitol News

Reshaping Court Fees: How do we pay for our court system?

I have spent the past year and a half co-chairing an interim committee working toward simplifying our court fees system and ensuring access to justice. This experience has been illuminating for me and I want to share with you some of what the committee has had to tackle.

An Oregonian may be surprised to learn that a municipal, county, or state law enforcement officer might issue a citation that could be handled by one of several different courts. The amount of the fine may differ based on whether the officer sends you to a circuit court (part of the state system), or a justice court or municipal court (not related to the unified state system). While there are a few "constants" such as a base fine, there may be different fees, and the minimum amount to be paid may differ.

Food For Lane County
Rep. Nathanson tours Catholic Community Services Food Pantry, a partner with Food For Lane County.  (story below)

Criminal and civil justice in Oregon is addressed in 36 circuit courts, 38 justice courts, 141 municipal courts and 7 county courts.   They cover different but overlapping geographic areas, and handle various but somewhat overlapping types of cases.  There are hundreds of statutes and many administrative rules to apply various fees and fines in the justice system, such as divorce and probate cases and driving with a suspended license.

After fees are paid, the money is distributed. That's not simple, either, with money paid to multiple recipients: private individuals, and various local and state government agencies, sometimes for specific dedicated purposes.  Sometimes it's a flat rate, other times it's a percentage.  Money goes to the court system generally, local government, and also to crime victims, law libraries, public defense, legal aid, local jail operations, dispute resolution and mediation, children's advocate, domestic violence, and other programs.

So there are challenges with both the fines and fees structure and process: determining and charging the appropriate fee or fine, collecting the money, and distributing the money.

This committee is looking at ways to simplify, clarify, and achieve uniformity in these fees, and ensure fairness, or access to justice.  Simplification will cover both the complicated list of fees, fines and surcharges, and the process of applying the fees and making payments.  One example: an attorney may stand in line for a half hour or more to write a check for $10 to proceed to the next step in the case; the check is accounted for and handled by the client, the attorney, and the court.  That adds up to lots of time for one $10 check, just one of several for a court case.  It's important to bring down the cost of administering the system so that we can maximize the money available for the courts and reduce what's spent on cumbersome "paperwork."  

Funding for Transportation

On Nov. 2, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded ODOT $3 million to help 13 transit providers across the state, including LTD, to buy new and replacement vehicles and to provide accessible transportation for veterans.  LTD will receive funds for two 14-passenger buses and a van.


Additionally, the US DOT is awarding Oregon money to help fund completion of studies necessary for improving Oregon's rail system, both the passenger corridor from Portland to Eugene and the statewide Rail Study.

District News
Supporting local families with Food for Lane County

For 22 years, Joe Softich has been working with Catholic Community Services, providing food boxes and other vital services to some of Lane County's less fortunate families.  Over the years, Joe, his fellow workers, and an army of volunteers, have literally touched thousands of lives and continue to make a positive impact on a daily basis.  "All we can do is try to instill hope," says Joe, "we are working with people, not food."

After visiting Food For Lane County's main distribution site, the primary food supplier for this center and about 20 similar sites in the county, I recently toured The Catholic Community Services' newest food bank.  The new center, located in West Eugene, distributes food boxes and other essentials three days a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  They provide low income families access to necessities that many of us take for granted including clothing, rent assistance, personal hygiene items, prescription drug assistance, emergency temporary shelters, Internet access to look for jobs, and of course, food boxes.  While, on average, the center assists about 4000 households a month, due to a lack of funding they are not able to help everyone and turn away about a hundred families a week.  The center receives state grants and donations from organizations like The United Way of Lane County and Catholic Charities, but a large portion of the funding comes from private donations.  There is still a lot of work to be done... you can help!  For information on how to donate, please visit Food For Lane County's website at

Businesses going Green

Oregon's "green technology" is not all about the future. Some local companies are already contributing to the local and state economy with green technology and jobs. For example, in my last newsletter I highlighted Bulk Handling Systems, which has patented systems that recover recyclable and compostable materials from commingled household and commercial waste to maximize resource recovery and minimize landfill content -- and other system to sort, separate, or use various scrap or recovered products.  Since then, they have won the Emerald Award for Innovation.

Paint Recycling

Receiving old paint at

Forrest Paint Co. Eugene store 


Forrest Paint Co. is another local business that has been ahead of the curve in business practices that protect and preserve our environment. Even before the state set up a program, the company was recycling their own paint, as well as collecting and recycling paint from other manufacturers. The Eugene Chamber of Commerce recognized their efforts with a nomination for the Emerald Award for Environmental Values.

2-1-1 and 211Lane: Connecting to community services

211Lane is a great resource to connect people looking for help with over 900 social services, and for those wanting to give help with over 400 community opportunities. In times of personal or community crisis, 211 is a go-to source for valuable information. Looking at the website, I saw topics ranging from clothing, shelter, and food to financial assistance, job training, dental care, and much more ... even fishing licenses, bicycle repair, and where to find a computer to use.

As both a web (Internet) information place and a call center, 211 provides information about community services for eight counties in Oregon, covering 60% of the state's population. You can use the web site, or just call 2-1-1 and they will help you.  I just tried it out, and asked about help with gleaning (collecting food left in fields or on trees, that will go to waste).  211info is a national non-profit organization that has been around since 1980 and came to the Portland Metro area in 2004. About a month ago, Lane County joined the list of areas with 211 phone service. United Way recently announced this new service, a big step in moving toward the goal of providing coverage to all of Oregon by 2013.

Representative Nancy Nathanson | 900 Court St NE | Salem | OR | 97301