Legislative Update


Senator Lee Beyer
Brownsville, Coburg, Creswell, Eugene, Sodaville, Springfield

District 6

Phone: 503-986-1706 900 Court St. NE, S-419, Salem Oregon 97301
Email: sen.leebeyer@state.or.us Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/beyer

The Beyer Bulletin - March 13th 2013

Four weeks into Oregon’s 2013 legislative session and already we have seen 92 bills passed through the Senate and 121 passed the House. Subsequently out of my Senate Business and Transportation Committee we have approved 28 bills to be referred to the floor for a vote. We have already made great progress in enacting valuable legislation. Here is an update on the significant issues at hand for Oregon and Senate District 6:

Co-chairs Budget

The Co-Chairs of the Legislative Budget Committee released their 2013 budget framework on March 4, an important step that will guide budget deliberations for the duration of the session. For me, the highlight is the $6.75 billion targeted for schools – nearly $1 billion above 2011-13 schools budget.

After a half-decade of economic instability causing teacher layoffs, increased class sizes, and shrinking school years, I’m very happy to see a budget that begins to stabilize school funding and allows us to begin rebuilding our education system.

I will continue to push budget efficiencies, selective adjustments to tax expenditures, and smarter use of tax dollars so we can get more money into our schools and other critical services.

Foreclosure Bill Update

I was one of the architects of legislation on foreclosure issues during the 2011 and 2012 Sessions, which passed legislation creating Oregon’s Foreclosure Avoidance Mediation Program (FAMP) protecting homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

After the implementation of FAMP in July 2012, the overall foreclosure rate started to drop, and the amount of judicial foreclosures started to rise. In December 2012, lenders reported filing 681 judicial foreclosures, up from 446 in November 2012. Data from the program indicate that we clearly need to address rising judicial foreclosures.

Last Wednesday, the Senate Committee on General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection held a public hearing on Senate Bill 558, sponsored by Senators Boquist, Senator Rosenbaum and myself. Passing SB 558 will help ensure that we hold big banks accountable. Prior to the foreclosure mediation program, homeowners had very few options to avoid ultimately losing their homes. SB 558 is about giving all Oregonians the opportunity to avoid foreclosure, no matter what legal procedure the bank employs. SB 558 also gives the Attorney General the authority to take legal action against lenders who do not comply with Oregon’s foreclosure reform laws.

By passing Senate Bill 558 this session, we can act swiftly to give homeowners options they need in order to stay in their homes, and stop lenders from bypassing much-needed mediation.

Interstate 5 Bridge

The Oregon Senate voted last week with bipartisan support to approve the project to replace the aging Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River (HB 2800). The current I-5 Bridge is 96 years old and has been determined by engineers to fail in an earthquake. Passing HB 2800 demonstrates to Washington State and Washington, D.C. Oregon’s willingness to move forward on its efforts to build a safer crossing and reduce traffic congestion. This is a $3.4 Billion project with Oregon’s share at $450 million.

I am focused on the positive influence this project will have on the economy and jobs in Oregon. The bridge replacement project will boost Oregon’s economy in the short-term by putting people to work, and in the long run the new bridge will relieve traffic congestion and improved freight mobility providing lasting economic benefits. It is projected that the project with create 19,000 new construction jobs. Furthermore, the economic impacts from replacing the bridge and the interchange are projected to create 4,200 jobs and $231 million in additional wages in 2030.

Building a safer bridge across the Columbia will benefit all of Oregon. Wheat growers from Umatilla County, timber companies from Southern Oregon, and trucks on Oregon’s highways are counting on less congestion and greater freight mobility to ensure that their product gets to market.

The legislation includes strict standards to ensure that Oregon doesn’t get left holding the bag. Provisions in the bill ensure that our investment in the project is contingent on financial commitments from Washington State and the US Department of Transportation.
House Bill 2800 also adds standards to the bridge replacement project that will benefit Oregonians, including requirements for use of materials made in the United States, opportunities for apprenticeships, and a process that will give a fair shot to small businesses that bid on contracts.

Business Accelerator - R.A.I.N. Regional Accelerator Innovation Network

A majority of startup companies in Oregon originate from technology research at University of Oregon and Oregon State University. I am part of a group of local business owners and academic leaders who support accelerating the “spin out” of these homegrown companies from University Research.

Senate Bill 241 would direct funds from the existing University Development Fund to a fund that provides tax credits to Oregonians who invest in the project. This will help with one of the largest obstacles in the region, startup capital. In addition to matching University support with state funding, our plan would provide incubator facilities and virtual assets to startups, such as management advisors and informational resources. The objective is to provide a support structure for new ventures, and by helping these new programs, cultivate and strengthen our regional economy.

Upcoming Town Hall

Please mark your calendars for a newly scheduled Town hall with Representatives Barnhart and Lively on April 9th 6:30pm at the Springfield City Hall Council Chamber. It’s always a privilege to hear from my constituents on issues important to you, and I hope you can make it.

Keep in Touch and Stay Informed!

Your feedback is incredibly important, as I consider public policy. To weigh in, just email sen.leebeyer@state.or.us or call me at the State Capitol (503) 986-1706.

You can also follow along during the Legislative Session by liking my Facebook page!

Finally, here’s my contact information at the State Capitol - please be in touch:

~Senator Lee Beyer

State Senator Lee Beyer
900 Court Street NE S-419
Salem, OR 97301