State Representative
Nancy Nathanson
January-February 2023
The first weeks of the legislative session are done. Those early days of discovery are in the past, when new members and staff discover how to find the hearing rooms and how to file a bill. For returning members (me) this year started out much more unusual than any other. Besides a third of the House members being new, demolition and construction work for the seismic upgrade is noisy and disrupts patterns that had been in place for decades (see photos below). Many of the public areas for meeting, finding a snack or lunch, or simply waiting for a hearing are gone. Some of the pathways and shortcuts to move between House and Senate are closed off. The Governor and many of our staff are in other buildings, and the route to those buildings is “the long way around” since the west and north exits are closed off. To visit a senator or consult with economists I add on an extra 5-10 minutes to get there. Nevertheless public access is available and I’ll include a few photos to show constituents who made their way to Salem to visit us or testify at hearing.

The big themes for the first couple of months have been preparing the initial package of bills to work on affordable housing and homelessness, and positioning Oregon to remain a leader in semiconductor chip manufacturing, and helping businesses compete for federal grants. Maybe not so well known is that Oregon is currently a world leader in semiconductor development, on the same playing field with Taiwan and South Korea. National economic security is a key concern, reducing America's dependence on foreign production and vulnerability for supply chain disruption in everything from credit cards to cars. Congress passed the CHIPS Act in 2022 and is making a significant investment to grow the domestic industry. The White House statement explains, "The bill requires recipients to demonstrate significant worker and community investments, including opportunities for small businesses and disadvantaged communities, ensuring semiconductor incentives support equitable economic growth and development."

Proposed legislation (bills) on a gazillion other topics is now starting to make it through the many different policy committees in the House and Senate. A tiny slice of the variety: in Thursday's committee hearings legislators considered ATV's, doulas, self-service gas, wills and estates, rural multifamily housing, pesticide application on lands adjacent to tribal lands, and dozens more items. Here's where you can see everything scheduled for a particular day.

My full team is now in place, with two legislative aides and three interns working to respond to the hundreds of emails each week and calls and drop-in requests to schedule meetings. The days are long with a few meetings , including some hearings until 6:30 PM. I stay in Salem for the week to cut down VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and wear-and-tear (on me!). My committee assignments have me in meetings and public hearings Monday through Friday: Revenue (Chair), Information Management and Technology (co-chair), Audits, Transportation, and Joint Ways and Means Capital Construction (mostly working on hundreds of funding requests from state agencies, local governments and community organizations). In this newsletter I'll write mostly about what you don't already get from regular daily news sources.
 Photo above: Here's the team for the 2023 session. Olivia heads it up as Chief of Staff, joined by Legislative Aide Aden next to me, and interns Ellie, Sofia, and Spencer.

If you missed my last e-news, here's the link to December 2022.
At the Capitol
This week the House passed 49-8 a bipartisan Opioid Harm Reduction Policy package in response to the dramatic increase in accidental deaths and hospitalizations related to the use of opioids. In House chamber debate, several members spoke from the heart about the tragic death of family and friends from accidental overdose. Legislators have been working with a variety of community stakeholders including emergency room physicians, first responders, harm reduction experts, public health professionals, students, educators, and community-based organizations serving people suffering from substance use disorder and family members of people lost due to accidental overdose. This bill makes short-acting opioid antagonists like Naloxone more widely available, and allows for Oregon Health Authority to bulk purchase and distribute to qualifying entities; bolsters overdose reporting requirements and ensures cross-county notification when a youth who lives in one county and dies in another due to overdose; clarifies that public school staff are legally protected in an emergency to administer Naloxone to an unresponsive student without parental consent; and includes several other major new policies. Rep. Dexter, a mother to two teenagers explained, children are “growing up in this reality where counterfeit pills, often laced with illicitly-manufactured fentanyl, can be purchased on Snapchat and delivered to a home without ever having to leave a bedroom. The tragic number of youths in our state who have died as a result of unintentional opioid overdoses after taking such pills is a downstream effect of the opioid policies of the past.”
My bills
One of my bills has already passed in the House and Senate and is headed for the Governor's signature. Olivia sat with me in the chamber as we passed our first bill to make it through the process in the House (see her reaction on the right). Oregon Society of Certified Public Accountants alerted me to an opportunity to help students by streamlining licensing without compromising professional standards and I stepped in. This bill will allow students to sit for the CPA exam during their final year of baccalaureate coursework, accelerating entrance to the profession by up to 18 months because of timing for multiple tests. Here's my explanation and testimony on HB 2523.
Several more of my bills have already had a public hearing, and we’re working to gain support to pass them out of committee. And most of these bills requiring a "heavy lift" are developed with bipartisan support which you'll see by looking at the list of bill sponsors or testimony in support. Here I write about a few of the most notable.

PBMs, trains, early learning, and school accountability

A set of bills will rein in some of the predatory business practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) that put the squeeze on pharmacies leading to closures and buyouts and not passing on cost savings for customers. I'm working closely with a colleague in a bipartisan effort to shine a light on pricing and contracts and bring regulatory reform. My testimony to committee describes the problem.

I'm working with colleagues in Oregon and Washington on promoting better rail infrastructure to support passenger and freight rail for the future; it makes sense for economy, environment, and efficiency. A couple of bills focus on enabling collaboration for regional planning and investment in freight and passenger infrastructure, and investing to move more quickly to high performance rail (see testimony to committee): "more, better, faster."  More daily departures, better on time performance, and faster speed.

Addressing an urgent workforce issue for Relief Nurseries, my bill would help certify early learning professionals who received their degree or certification in another country.

Listening to educators and parents about school accountability, my bill would broaden accountability measures from just looking at test scores, to gauging other factors that contribute to student success, including a healthy school environment.
prescription pills
Relief Nurseries Kelly S
train in Bolzen
Cybersecurity, cyber crime and ransomware

In the works for more than two years, another major effort is underway to establish a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

With the tap of a gavel, I launched HB 2049 on its way to Joint Committee on Ways and Means for consideration. In my remarks to the committee, I said, “just in the past month, since the committee began consideration of HB 2049, two [Oregon] school districts and one city have experienced cybersecurity incidents; two were ransomware attacks. Oregon law requires a business or state agency to notify any Oregon consumer whose personal information was subject to a breach of security. Just in the past month, 10 new breach notifications were submitted to the Oregon DOJ Consumer Protection Division."

This bill would establish a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence jointly operated by PSU, OSU, and UO to grow the workforce pipeline (there are now over 7,000 unfilled, high paying cybersecurity jobs in Oregon) and help local governments, school districts and other public and private entities prepare for and defend against cyberattacks. The “teaching hospital” model of learning would allow for students to learn on the same equipment as they will use after completing the program and entering the workforce.

The scale of this issue requires a whole-of-government approach, which is exactly what the Cybersecurity Center of Excellence has been designed to offer. A coordinated effort across the board is necessary to protect against, mitigate, recover and respond to cyber-attacks.

Over several days of hearings the committee heard from schools, local governments, and private businesses about the dire need and threats. Many public, non-profit and private sector organizations have signed onto a flier supporting this effort.
Seismic retrofit and renovation
A recent "behind the scenes" tour took us around and down to see the digging and structure work close-up. Cross tension beams, marble slabs, and dirt. Temporary bracing around permanent columns. Info from the project lead: A significant portion of the seismic upgrades occurring under the 1938 building and the center of the 1977 building will require the structures to be on pendulum discs, which will help stabilize them in a seismic event. This means the building will not move while the surrounding earth shakes and rolls. (short video on how the pendulum disc system works)

And a moat! Not the kind with water and ducks. The moat will be 25’ deep, 4’ to 5’ wide, providing space for the building to move back and forth while the earth is moving during a seismic event. Excavation will remove 37,000 cubic yards of dirt, taking 4,500 truckloads. If distributed in an even 3” layer it would cover roughly 85 football fields.
Capitol construction
Capitol seismic retrofit
Capitol seismic retrofit
Capitol seismic retrofit
Capitol seismic retrofit
Capitol seismic retrofit
House pages
House Honorary page program: an opportunity for youth ages 12-18

The Honorary Page Program is an opportunity for students ages 12-18 to learn how the legislature functions and to work in a professional environment. Honorary pages spend a day at the Capitol assisting legislators and committee staff with their various legislative tasks. Email here for more information: [email protected]
Meetings, briefings, events
Every week I meet with constituents and people representing organizations advocating for a wide variety interests. Here's a selection of just a few.
Town Hall with Oregon League of Conservation Voters

Last week I participated in OLCV’s virtual town hall meeting with my colleagues Sen. James I Manning Jr. and Rep. Julie Fahey. The OLCV organized the meeting which was attended by over 60 people. They presented their legislative priorities and asked us to answer questions on topics including energy sources for residential and commercial buildings and trains transporting hazardous materials.

OLCV’s priorities include passing bills to promote healthy, affordable, and resilient homes and buildings that run on clean energy; toxic-free children’s toys and products, school environments, and personal hygiene and cosmetics; “zero waste” policies like supporting local businesses' right to repair; a moratorium on large industrialized livestock farms; reducing plastic by phasing out polystyrene foam foodware (styrofoam); and “natural climate solutions” such as funds for farmers, forest owners, and ranchers to remove pollutants from the atmosphere to be stored in natural and working land.
credit unions
Credit Unions

In a meeting with credit union representatives we talked about their work with youth and adults on "financial literacy" and our shared interest in helping first time homebuyers, and the use of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).

Oregon Library Association's annual legislative day brought librarians from around the state, including Eugene and Springfield, to the Capitol. Conversation included a request for state funds to help public libraries apply for federal funds to expand broadband internet access to reach more of Oregon's 125 public libraries.
State Treasurer Tobias Read
Treasurer Read
A walking meeting with an advocate for airport employees and Oregon's many airports (including 26 state-owned)
walking meeting
Oregon Library Association Day: I picked out a book to donate to Eugene Public Library. This one is for young people who might consider being a journalist.
Eugene and Springfield Mayors Vinis and VanGordon
testifying in committee
Pre-law students pitching me on their bill, and it was a good bill

Officials from Canada, Idaho, Washington, and PNWER (Pacific Northwest Economic Region)
Tax season | Tax prep assistance | Money you may be eligible to claim
Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers to file electronically for faster service and potential refunds. On their website, you can use an interactive map to locate tax preparation assistance, and find free tax filing software. DOR also provides a list of resources for free tax preparation assistance for low- to moderate-income taxpayers.
Money you could claim?
You may not be required to file a tax return, but if you don't you may miss out.

First, the federal tax return. The IRS says: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) helps low- to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. If you qualify, you can use the credit to reduce the taxes you owe – and maybe increase your refund. Who Qualifies. You may claim the EITC if your income is low- to moderate. The amount of your credit may change if you have children, dependents, are disabled or meet other criteria. Military and clergy should review our Special EITC Rules because using this credit may affect other government benefits.

And Oregon DOR says: If you qualify for the federal earned income tax credit (EITC), you can also claim the Oregon earned income credit (EIC).

 (This is a refundable credit; that means it’s payable to you, not only a reduction in taxes owed. If you owe no taxes, you still may be eligible to get money!)
Internships for high school juniors and seniors

Connected Lane County is a non-profit organization that works with underrepresented youth and provides them with pathways to success through education and employment opportunities. Their paid summer internship would pair students up with a company that aligns with their personal interests where they will spend around 40 hours a week working, allowing them the opportunity to learn about future career paths and build up their professional skills.

Paid internships are available to current Lane County high school juniors and seniors. Over the course of seven weeks, interns will begin with an orientation and a financial foundations course. Interns will then begin working 40 hours per week with a local company and will end with a celebration and showcase event. The entire internship experience totals approximately 220 hours of valuable hands-on experience and work-based learning.

The 2023 Summer Internship application is currently open through March 30 and requires one letter of recommendation. Those selected to move forward will participate in one interview before final interns are chosen. View the internship flyer in English or Spanish for more info.
The Office
staff walk at Willamette
Sometimes I go on walking meetings, and that will occasionally include a staff meeting. Here we are just a couple of blocks away from the office, at the Willamette University campus.

Aden (behind Olivia) joins us from prior experience in the Governor's Office, and Ellie (in front of me) does a masterful job with just about anything we throw at her. Pictured in the photo at the top of this newsletter: Sofia works mostly behind the scenes but comes in some mornings, and Spencer comes to Salem by train from Eugene to spend Fridays with us.