December 2008


At the Capitol


A Challenging State Budget


Last week I was appointed Vice-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, for a second consecutive term. I'm honored to have the confidence of my colleagues to fill this role, and take the responsibility seriously.   You've no doubt been reading a lot about the state, national, and global economic slowdown, and what it will mean for Oregonians - and services provided by state and local government.  This will be a very tough legislative session.   The picture will likely get worse in 2009 before it gets better.  With prudent budgeting and the Rainy Day Reserve we established in '07, Oregon is facing less drastic cuts than what other states are already being forced to make.     

For right now, here's my approach: The Governor's Recommended Budget will be a starting point. Don't focus on specific budget numbers just yet; it's too soon. The problem (economy and revenue forecast) may get worse.  On the other hand, federal actions and stimulus packages may provide some help. Rainy Day reserve fund criteria may be met - for the legislature to draw on it and use it for services.  In several months we'll know more to help us determine how much might be used to cushion a current shortfall, or saved to help with additional budget gaps as the employment picture and forecast for the next 3-4 years continue to unfold. Meanwhile, we should plan for multiple contingencies.

E-Board Happenings


Among my assignments, I'm a member of the Legislature's Emergency Board, which meets to authorize funding requests when the Legislature is out of session.  Our most recent meeting was held December 5, and among the many items discussed were requests ranging from support for early-childhood education to the Department of Energy's Eastern Oregon field office. 


One topic I am particularly pleased to have acted on was the approval nearly $30 million in federal funds to support energy assistance for low income families.  Some 35,000 additional Oregon families will receive help with heating bills, assistance that will come at no additional cost to the state.  For struggling families that need some extra assistance during these tough times, using these federal dollars means families can afford to buy food and medicine; it means a little less of a burden on food banks and other service providers. These federal funds could not have come at a better time for Oregon families.


Oregon 150

Around Oregon


Birthday: Oregon 150


The sesquicentennial (ses-kwi-centennial) is almost here!  On February 14th, 2009, Oregon turns 150 years old, and a year of celebrating our great state will follow.


Right now, the group Oregon 150 is busy planning events to commemorate our state's dynamic history, beautiful landscapes and great people.  Here are some ideas to give you an advance on planning how you might want to participate in this year-long birthday celebration:

Share your personal Oregon story.  Offer your thoughts on the Oregon you cherish, the way it used to be, or your hopes for the state's future. 

Spruce up our state.  Participate in a Take Care of Oregon Days event during the month of May to make our states trails, parks and schools shine.

See Oregon.  On four wheels or two, explore the Oregon Tour Routes, highlighting our state's 24 Scenic Byways - more than any other state.

I'll look forward to celebrating our state together. 

For more information on these events and more:


February: The Big Switch to Digital TV


The transition to digital television is coming soon.  On February 17, 2009 all "full power" over-the-air television stations will change from analog to digital.  This change will improve picture and sound quality and allow local stations to offer additional channel options.  To watch these improved channels, however, many consumers will need to take some action, such as buying a newer television with a built-in digital tuner, or getting a digital-to-analog converter box.  If you have a digital television or subscribe to cable or satellite television, nothing is required as part of the federally-required transition, although coincidentally, Comcast is employing a digital transition for their analog Expanded Basic programming tier. Comcast is sending letters to customers about that and will be providing those set-top units free.


Converter boxes can be purchased at most electronics shops.  Households can request up to two $40 coupons to help defray the cost.  To request a coupon, or obtain help regarding this switch or setting up your television, visit or call 1-888-338-2009. 


To see TV in High Definition (or HDTV) is a separate decision that requires having a TV that is "HD" or "HD ready."  Many HD programs are available only via cable or satellite service.


Many consumers may not know about the switch to digital television or may be unclear how to use this new technology. You might even talk with family, friends, or neighbors about help with the switch, to enjoy better television service and, more importantly, to keep them safe and informed by TV broadcasts during emergencies.

Rep. Nathanson with a Kill A Watt device at the Eugene Public Library
Rep. Nathanson displays a Kill A WattTM at the Eugene Public Library.


In the District


Conserve energy, save money:
Kill A WattTM in Your Own Home


This year I teamed up with EWEB and the Eugene Public Library to enable cardholders to check out energy monitoring devices, just like books, to help residents and business save energy and save money.  Many electronics in off or in "standby" mode are still drawing power, and some older equipment like refrigerators can be an energy hog.  Using the Kill A WattTM device is simple: plug it into a socket, then plug the electrical device you want to measure into it.  The energy use is quickly displayed, helping you decide which devices you might want to unplug, turn off or replace to save energy, and save money.


January Town Hall


Join Rep. Nancy Nathanson, Rep. Chris Edwards and Sen. Vicki Walker in a discussion of the upcoming legislative session.  Each will present their legislative priorities and look forward to hearing the concerns of their constituents as they prepare for their work in Salem.  

When: January 8, 6:30-8:00pm

Where: North Eugene High School Library, 200 Silver Lane, Eugene


The Life of a Legislator: A month of mail


In my newsletters, I like to give a little glimpse into the life of a legislator.  Each day my office receives phone calls, dozens of e-mail messages and lots of printed mail.  For a three-week period I kept a log of printed mail and recorded 76 letters, notes, brochures, invitations and reports. 

Items that came to my mailbox included:

  • A study of outdoor lighting fixtures by the Department of Energy
  • Oregon Water Coalition's monthly newsletter
  • Oregon Employment Department, Lane County Labor Trends report
  • Constituent letter encouraging expanded support for school nursing
  • Northwest Cement Producers Group advocacy letter
  • Columbia Gorge Community College newsletter
  • Department of Human Services briefing on Medicaid

One of the benefits of being a representative is that I am constantly reminded of the rich variety of people and issues that make up Oregon, just by reading my mail every day.




Nancy Nathanson

Nancy Nathanson, State Representative

District 13


December 2008