State Representative
Nancy Nathanson
February-March 2020
Working at table
Over the past few weeks I've been sending news and information in a special series of updates specific to the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I also owe you one of my routine legislative reports, so that's what this issue will cover.

The legislative session ended in limbo, without even adjourning "sine die" since the House and Senate lacked quorum to take official action to end. So the constitutional deadline of 35 days was reached at midnight on March 9, and no further action could be taken. That left more than 200 bills on the table, including funding for wildfire disaster relief and policies concerning adoptions, broadband for rural areas, and capping the cost of insulin. More about that below.
I'm working from home now, and the "office team" (James, Lindsay and I) meet by conference call and instant messaging throughout the day. We work full days and often more on various aspects of COVID-19 response and fielding questions and suggestions from constituents.

Thank you for subscribing to my enews. I'll write with legislative news again after any special sessions, if they occur, or every couple of months.

Wash your hands!
The 2020 Short Session
What I worked on
Five weeks in Salem: I spent the time working on bills, attending and chairing committee hearings, and meeting with lots of people: students advocating for school-based health, and for science curriculum in high school; housing advocates; dairy farmers; local residents concerned about gambling addiction; and advocates for fair tax policy, passenger rail, gun violence prevention, and other community programs.

One of my bills aimed to safeguard the worker protections and high-quality instruction in registered apprenticeship programs. Another bill related to Oregon's tax code, because Oregon is linked to the federal tax code and automatically allows tax breaks even when the public benefit is not in Oregon.
IRAP workers
What we could have accomplished
Shake Alert proclamation
When the legislature adjourned, more than 200 bills were already in the works: passed out of committee, and ready for a vote in the House. Many of them had bipartisan support in committee. Some were budget adjustments, and some others had some immediate relevance because they pertain to tax law or critical housing needs. Here is a selection of those bills, the "unfinished business."
  • Capping the cost of insulin; Making school breakfast available to more kids; Speeding up delayed adoptions.
  • Broadband for rural areas; Community mental health treatment; Care of foster children; Safe gun storage.
  • Wildfire reduction: Improving forest health with prescribed burns and controlled thinning.
  • Clarifications requested by business and agriculture regarding the new business tax. 
  • Funding to renovate UO's Heustis Hall. I visited Huestis Hall a few months ago and was appalled by its condition, and amazed at the world-class science research coming out of a leaking, inadequate, dysfunctional building. Imagine what researchers and students are capable of doing in a suitable building.
  • Funding for housing and homelessness, including shelters with appropriate services
  • Funding for ShakeAlert, enabling Oregon to join California and Washington in providing critical early warning so Oregonians have the chance to get to safe places, hospitals can switch to generators, and utilities can shut down systems before the quake, critical infrastructure can be preserved, and emergency responders can prepare to deploy as soon as the shaking stops. (photo at right: Governor signing "ShakeAlert" proclamation)
I've been an elected official for a long time. Over the years, I've passed some really good legislation to protect consumers and seniors and workers, improve healthcare, promote a more responsive government, exercise prudent budgeting and establish reserve funds. I've always tried to stay in the background, not get political, not be partisan, and just do my job. But under the situation of a walkout, I wasn't able to do the job that you sent me to do. Of course disagreements occur (even though 92% of the bills we passed in 2019 were bipartisan); still, the members stay and participate in committees, work to amend bills as desired, and then vote for or against them. I could not make sure my constituents' voices were being heard if I were not there. I hope that future sessions will not be influenced by - or repeat - what happened this year.
Special sessions
At the time of this writing, there is no specific plan for a special session but there is certainly a lot of interest. A special session can be called by either the legislature (a majority of members of both House and Senate) or the Governor. Here's a short description of legislative sessions.

Oregon Constitution: Article IV, Section 10a. "Emergency sessions of the Legislative Assembly. In the event of an emergency the Legislative Assembly shall be convened by the presiding officers of both Houses at the Capitol of the State at times other than required by section 10 of this Article upon the written request of the majority of the members of each House to commence within five days after receipt of the minimum requisite number of requests." And Article V, Section 12: "Governor may convene legislature. He may on extraordinary occasions convene the Legislative Assembly by proclamation, and shall state to both houses when assembled, the purpose for which they shall have been convened."
St Paul Parish class
Class visiting from
Saint Paul Parish School
Being lobbied in Salem
Churchill HS health
students advocating for
school health care
Lobbied by workers
building and construction
trade workers
Stand for Children
advocating for
public education
Around the State
Drought this summer?
H.S. advocates for climate
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, roughly 80% of the state is in either abnormally dry or drought conditions. A mild winter and below-average snow pack is contributing to concerns about possible drought, especially in Southern Oregon. As of March 4th the Klamath Basin snow pack was 65% of normal. This snow is critical in providing a lasting water supply in the dry summer months.

Gov. Kate Brown issued an Executive Order on March 2 declaring drought in Klamath County, stating that the extremely low water supply is causing natural and economic disaster conditions heading into spring and summer.

(Though both Rogue and Umpqua counties also have low snow levels around 70-71% they have not requested applications for a drought designation. Conditions are better in the northern coast and northeast regions, where the Umatilla, Walla Walla and Willow basins still have 121% of normal snowpack.)
Drought map OR 2020March
Here at home: around the district
Meeting with constituents and educators, and a visit to see "tiny homes" at Sponsors
constituent coffee
educators teachers
Sponsors Housing