State Representative
Nancy Nathanson
January 2022
The legislative session is underway, starting on Feb. 1. With a maximum of 35 days allowed by the constitution, it will be a whirlwind of activity.

The furniture is back in our office. Lindsay, Lauren, and I have unpacked all the boxes, and we're able to work again in the West Wing. Other legislators' offices which were just "off limits" are all accessible again, too. Some of the seismic work has been completed, but there’s more to go, so hearing rooms on the first floor are still cordoned off, and other areas are still closed for renovation. The project is described here by Capitol Accessibility, Maintenance, and Safety (CAMS).

I'll be back in Eugene in March after the session. Until then, best wishes from Salem,
COVID test
(photo: free community
COVID testing at UO)

If you missed my last enews, here's the link.
At the Capitol
2022 Regular (short) Session
NN speaking-Chamber
This will be the "short" legislative session, limited to no more than 35 days. In 2010 voters approved the constitutional amendment to enable the Legislature to meet in a regular, shorter session in even-numbered years. These short sessions were envisioned primarily to finish business started the previous year, fix what needs to be fixed, consider uncomplicated and straightforward proposals, address urgent needs, and re-balance the budget. But that’s morphed over the years: there's always pressure to solve more problems. Ideas for new programs and new policies will be heard in committees.

Because we're on a very tight timeline, each representative is limited to a maximum of two bill ideas, senators to one bill, and each committee is limited to only three. Some bills will not make it through this short session. Sometimes bills stall because, for example, complex and detailed issues were not fully worked out or controversies not resolved. Some bills are introduced recognizing that they're not ready for "prime time" but it's an opportunity to explain the idea and start a discussion that could continue in the next long session, next year, in 2023. Most bills will have a single public hearing, and need to be passed quickly by the policy committee in the first chamber to make it through the full chamber, move to the second chamber, and do the whole process there: get assigned to a committee, have a public hearing, have a work session.

And all of this work is taking place in the context of a political and partisan environment, where legislators in the minority can be wary of what the majority will try to pass, and take actions similar to recent previous sessions to slow down or stop the process. We have put a lot of work into our bills, but we don't know whether we'll be able to see them get finished. There is a lot to consider, balancing urgency, interest, and keeping the legislative process running smoothly.

Legislators have identified some of the top priorities, which include affordable housing, access to quality childcare, family wage jobs, mental and physical health care, protection against climate change, and a strong education system. More investments could include workforce development, especially health care and cybersecurity, broadband, transportation, drinking and wastewater systems, and other public facilities. Such investments can spur recovery and position communities for future growth.

Capitol Security Update. In order to better ensure the safety of the public, employees, tenants and Legislators in the Capitol, security checkpoints have been added. Anyone entering the Capitol, including legislators, will be required to pass through a security checkpoint.
Find out about what's going on at the Capitol
How to find out about a bill, or watch a hearing or a "floor session" live or a recording

The 2021 legislative session was the first to hold committee meetings online. Due to the continued spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the 2022 committees will also be held online. You can see the full list of committees here, in the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) pages: click on "Committees" near the top right. If you wish to testify remotely at a committee, the legislature has posted a guide. You can also submit written testimony online by filling out the form on OLIS.
My two personal bills
Rental application fees

People looking for housing often need to submit multiple applications in the hopes of securing a rental; the repeated application fees are a financial burden. Each one can cost $50 or more for each adult in the household, and the total cost can be hundreds of dollars for people when they can least afford it. This cost burden has been a problem since well before the pandemic-related housing problems, and will remain a problem after this period has passed unless we act.

HB 4125 will help renters who aren’t getting fees refunded when they apply for a rental unit and their application and screening report isn’t processed – usually because the landlord rented to someone else. The bill identifies a few changes to law to help renters and landlords navigate requirements for accepting application fees and refunding them when the application and background screening isn’t processed. Details include a landlord requirement to let the applicant know the fee is returnable, and defining a reasonable time – two weeks – to return the money.
Testing in public K-12 schools

Standardized commercial testing is useful, but when is it too much? I've been hearing from teachers and parents saying enough is enough, telling me about time away from classroom learning, time spent planning for testing and giving make-up tests, stress and anxiety on students, and wasted effort. Some tests ("formative tests") do a good job of helping to identify students’ progress, need for additional help in specific areas, and barriers to reading and learning, such as dyslexia. Teachers and parents are frustrated, however, that some tests are not helpful, with information or progress not even reported until the following year. These tests add a lot of strain on students and teachers, take time from classroom work, and can be costly. HB 4124 calls for objective data on non state-mandated tests given in each school district, including time and cost. With that information, legislators can review testing policies and ODE can give guidance on best practices, to reduce unnecessary and less useful testing.
And a third priority
Cybersecurity and Ransomware
This proposal is the outcome of my work as co-chair of the joint Legislative Committee on Information Management and Technology, following extensive public hearings that I called in 2019-2021. Testimony over several meetings in the past few years included, for example, a small business owner who had been the subject of a ransomware attack, an FBI agent, and representatives of local governments and schools. The bill will establish a (virtual) Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, to be administered by the state’s three largest universities, OSU, PSU, and UO. The CCOE’s mission will include three responsibilities: public awareness and education; services for local governments, schools, libraries, and special districts; and workforce development. Experts tell us that Oregon has 300-400 unfilled cybersecurity positions each month. To learn more about the situation facing these entities, I recommend listening to this recent meeting.
Ransomware is ...
"... a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim's personal data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system so that it is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion. It encrypts the victim's files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.

"In a properly implemented cryptoviral extortion attack, recovering the files without the decryption key is an intractable problem – and difficult to trace digital currencies such as paysafecard or Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are used for the ransoms, making tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators difficult." --Wikipedia (the emphasis is mine)
cyber hacker ransomware
Cybersecurity is ...
"... the practice of protecting critical systems and sensitive information from digital attacks. Also known as information technology (IT) security, cybersecurity measures are designed to combat threats against networked systems and applications, whether those threats originate from inside or outside of an organization." --IBM

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) explains, "Sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services. Cyberspace is particularly difficult to secure due to a number of factors: the ability of malicious actors to operate from anywhere in the world, the linkages between cyberspace and physical systems, and the difficulty of reducing vulnerabilities and consequences in complex cyber networks. Of growing concern is the cyber threat to critical infrastructure, which is increasingly subject to sophisticated cyber intrusions that pose new risks."

Several well-known Oregon businesses have been hit by ransomware, including McMenamins, Yoshida Foods and Bob's Red Mill. InfoSecurity magazine says "Researchers have recorded a 935% year-on-year increase in double extortion attacks, with data from over 2300 companies posted onto ransomware extortion sites."

Beyond the costs to the private sector including discovering and responding to the breach, downtime and lost business, public institutions are increasingly victims as well.  Just a few examples of recent cyber attacks on public institutions: Public schools in Albuquerque NM closed for 2 days; Bernalillo Co. NM buildings closed to public and jail in lock down; in Dec. 2021 a cyber attack on the Maryland Dept. of Health resulted in the department’s website being taken offline, a pause in COVID-19 metrics, and an interruption in sharing data with local health agencies. EdScoop reports "Since the beginning of 2020, the education sector as a whole rushed to support remote learning and IT modernization initiatives to meet student needs. However, these rapid shifts piled workloads onto IT teams, who sometimes favored convenience and speed over security. Threat actors turned their attention to these weaknesses, and as a result the sector witnessed the highest level of ransomware attacks than any other industry in 2020..."

Another national resource at U.S. National Security Agency - Cybersecurity
Around the state
Watch out for suspicious COVID-19 testing sites

With the growth of the highly contagious Omicron variant and the demand for Covid-19 tests rising throughout Oregon, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum reminded Oregonians to watch for testing sites that seem suspicious, or vendors that are selling at-home tests for sky-high prices.

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) asks Oregonians to report any dubious testing sites or vendors selling at-home tests at inflated prices to the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 or www.OregonConsumer.Gov
A glacier gone
Glacier-Mt. Thielsen
The Lathrop Glacier, which sat on top of Mt. Thielsen, has melted away entirely. Oregon’s severe drought conditions and the excessive heat in recent years led to its disappearance. Still, it's possible that the glacier might return. Portland State University professor Andrew Fountain, a longtime glacier researcher quoted in a Willamette Week article, says that “it’s common for smaller glaciers like Lathrop to disappear and then reemerge at another time—say, during a good snow year.” Climate change poses a risk to all glaciers in the Pacific Northwest. This is one more tangible illustration of how climate change is affecting us in Oregon. The Oregon legislature has been working on climate change response for several years, including passing laws to require compliance and/or provide incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and manufacturing activity. Most recently in 2021 we passed HB 2021, the Clean Energy Act, which sets one of the most ambitious timelines in the country for moving to 100% clean electricity sources. (photo credit: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives)
Our local area
Northwest Youth Corps
Join the Northwest Youth Corps! Applications open

Since 1984, Northwest Youth Corps has provided opportunities for tens of thousands of youth and young adults opportunities to learn, grow, and experience success. Through partnerships with land management agencies, participants gain the personal and professional skills needed to carry out a variety of stewardship projects for which they earn a stipend and may also be eligible for school credit. Equally important, these young people gain skills needed to become economically and socially self-sufficient, to benefit their communities as citizen stewards, and to recognize that they can make a positive difference.

NYC is taking applications now for summer programs and jobs.
Open House
ODOT Open House

From ODOT: Whether you walk, drive, ride or roll — ODOT is making improvements to provide better quality roads and a safer, more accessible system for all users.
Explore ODOT’s online open house to see what construction is coming to your area!
Visit now! ODOT’s construction online open house is live through February 1.
The Beltline-Delta Interchange project Track the project here.
OR 569 (Randy Papé Beltline), River Rd. to Delta Hwy Status of planning phase
The Office
Lauren Jin
We continue to do most of our work from a "virtual" office, but during the session I'm required to be in Salem for voting in the House Chamber. To reduce risk to everyone working at the Capitol, including me, many meetings will continue to be virtual instead of indoors in a small office.

Lindsay and I welcome the newest member to the team, Lauren Jin. Some of you have already met Lauren, at our recent Town Hall. Lauren, who graduated from UO in June 2021 with a B.A. in Advertising, is a lifelong Oregonian and "huge fan" of the Portland Trailblazers and the Ducks. She also is a fan of our district’s breweries (and has the merch to prove it!). In college, she completed her honors thesis on gentrification and the Golden State Warriors, and recently interned in Congressman Peter DeFazio’s D.C. office. She says, "I'm excited to help the Representative get her priorities through during this jam-packed short session and hope to get to know HD-13 better.