Happy New Year!


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-417, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
Email: sen.floydprozanski@state.or.us
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski
e-Bulletin                     December 2016

If you're having trouble viewing this message, please visit my legislative web page at http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski/, click on "News" in the lower left-hand column and scroll down.

Dear friends,

    Happy Holidays! As 2016 comes to a close, many of us are taking a moment to reflect on the past year's accomplishments and thinking of the challenges and opportunities ahead. The same is true in the Legislature, and this time of year I find myself reflecting on our achievements and missed opportunities during the 2016 short legislative session. At the same time, I look forward to the upcoming 2017 regular session. This is also a time for families and friends to spend time together. I hope each of you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

    While many bills passed during the 2016 short session have already become law, there are other important new laws that take effect on January 1. Below you will find a list and summary of some of the legislation that will become effective on January 1, 2017.

    I recently received my committee assignments for the regular session that begins on February 1. I will continue to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee; I'll continue to serve as vice-chair for the Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation; I'll continue to serve on the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee; and I'll be joining the Senate Committee on General Government & Accountability. My colleagues and I will meet in Salem from January 9-11 for organizational days before the start of the 2017 regular session on February 1.

    One of the key issues for the Legislature to address is the anticipated $1.7 billion shortfall in current services. We also have to determine how to fund the recently passed Measure 98 for dropout-prevention, career and college readiness programs. This voter-approved measure is projected to cost an additional $300-$400 million.

    My next e-bulletin will discuss our projected shortfall and some options for the Legislature to consider to address this issue. I will be asking you to respond to a short questionnaire to give me some feedback. I also plan to hold community town halls in January. Please attend if you have the opportunity. As your senator, I encourage everyone to engage in this much-needed discussion on addressing the problem of funding basic services in the state. Either we need additional revenue to continue to provide the current level of services and to pay for M 98 (that voters passed in November), or we need to decide what cuts we want to make in our general-fund programs and agencies. We cannot continue to slice the pie into smaller pieces to make ends meet. That is no longer an option if we want to continue current state services. I look forward to hearing your ideas and feedback.

    Below you will find information on:

        - New Laws Effective January 1
        - Department of Revenue to Combat Fraud by Holding Tax Refunds for Data Matching
        - Oregon Cultural Trust

    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail. Happy New Year! Here's to Oregon and a great 2017.

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

New Laws Effective January 1

    The following are some of the new laws passed during the 2016 short legislative session that will become effective on January 1, listed by Senate/House bill and in numerical order:

Senate Bills

    SB 1503 - Access to Affordable Primary and Mental Health Care: In Oregon, nurse practitioners and physician assistants fill critical roles delivering primary care and mental health services, especially in rural areas. In 2013, the Legislature enacted a law to ensure that these providers are reimbursed at the same rate as physicians for providing the same services. SB 1503 ensures that these essential providers can continue to deliver quality, cost-effective care in underserved areas by making the law permanent.

    SB 1524 - Improving Ease of Access to Medical Marijuana for Veterans: Under current law, individuals with valid medical marijuana cards are required to see a physician annually to maintain their eligibility. SB 1524 creates an exception to this requirement for permanently disabled veterans, removing an unnecessary barrier by ensuring that these former service members don't have to complete this process annually.

    SB 1554 - Guidelines for Managing an Individual's "Digital Assets": In today's day and age, many of us have online lives consisting of electronic information such as photographs, correspondence and important business records or other documents with significant financial value. When an individual dies or becomes disabled, they often leave behind this digital legacy for friends, family members and other designees to manage. SB 1554 enacts the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, a national policy standard. The act lays out clear guidelines, responsibilities and directives for account users to make clear their wishes for designees who are acting on the wishes of the person they represent, and for online providers who are often the custodians of these important digital assets.

    SB 1567 - Criminal Impersonation: This legislation closes a loophole in existing law by making it clear that it is a crime to impersonate someone with the intent to humiliate, harm or harass a person. SB 1567 provides an important mechanism to hold offenders — particularly those who use technology for violence or other harm — accountable for these kinds of abusive tactics. SB 1567 builds upon necessary work that the Legislature has undertaken in previous sessions to ensure that victims are protected in a fast-paced digital age.

    SB 1600 - Eliminating the Statute of Limitations for First-Degree Sex Crimes with New Evidence: This legislation authorizes the prosecution of first-degree sex crimes at any time after the crime is committed, if the prosecuting attorney obtains additional, corroborating evidence including non-DNA physical evidence, such as a video or audio recording; confession by the defendant to that particular crime; statements by the victim made close in time to the alleged crime; or when multiple victims come forward alleging crimes similar enough to be on the same list of charges.

House Bills

    HB 4046 - Enhancing Penalties for Poaching: This legislation cracks down on poachers by increasing penalties for unlawfully taking or killing certain game wildlife. HB 4046 increases the maximum fine amount for illegally taking certain species and requires the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to revoke all licenses, tags and permits issued to those convicted of a first poaching offense. Upon an individual's second conviction within a 10-year period, the bill prohibits the individual from applying for or obtaining a license, tag or permit. Upon a third poaching conviction within 10 years, all guns, boats, vehicles, traps and other implements used in committing the offense are subject to civil forfeiture. This bill is designed to address a key problem for rural Oregon communities.

    HB 4053 - Streamlining Brewery Licenses and Applications: This legislation expands the activities covered by a brewery license to include retail sales and special events. Currently, breweries may have to receive three or more separate permits to engage in these activities. HB 4053 makes this permitting process more efficient, helping breweries expand and do more business while maintaining public health and safety.

    HB 4067 - Protecting Whistleblowers in Public and Nonprofit Sectors: This legislation creates a new set of legal protections for whistleblowers and makes clear that these protections apply to all public and nonprofit employees and board members. The bill will promote transparency, helping to ensure that employees can safely report abuse, crimes and other serious misconduct in their workplace without fearing retaliation or discipline as a result of their disclosures.

    HB 4082 - Preventing Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: This legislation closes a loophole in Oregon's laws to better protect victims of sex trafficking. HB 4082 expands the crime of promoting prostitution to include bartering goods, services or anything of value in exchange for prostitution services, rather than strictly an exchange of money, as is in current statute. The bill comes at the recommendation of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Work Group, which meets regularly with stakeholders to address the needs of sex trafficking victims, many of whom are minors.

    HB 4106 - Ensuring Agency Accountability and Oversight: This legislation requires all state agencies to report annually to the Legislature on information related to the use of temporary rulemaking. HB 4106's new requirement ensures the Legislature and Oregonians are apprised of agency rules and actions.

    HB 4128 Preventing "Notario" Fraud: In Oregon, only attorneys and federally authorized individuals can provide legal advice on immigration matters. However, some unqualified individuals advertising their services as a "notario" — a misleading term because, in many countries, "notario" refers to someone with the same training and authority as an attorney — deceive consumers and provide illegitimate services. HB 4128 cracks down on notario fraud by strengthening penalties, tightening standards for becoming a notary public and providing law enforcement and other agencies with more effective tools to protect consumers and hold fraudulent practitioners accountable.

Department of Revenue to Combat Fraud by Holding Tax Refunds for Data Matching

    According to the Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR), Oregon taxpayers will not receive state personal income tax refunds until after February 15, 2017. Since this is a departure from prior years, DOR is notifying taxpayers early to allow appropriate financial planning.

    This change in operation is a result of IRS anti-fraud initiatives, including the new federal requirement for employers to submit all W-2s and some 1099s by January 31. Holding refunds allows the IRS and state revenue departments to validate the wage information reported on returns with the correlating information reported by employers to prevent tax fraud. Tax fraud grows more complex each year and the department intends to remain vigilant in the protection of Oregon taxpayers.

    Tax return processing will remain unchanged. Taxpayers that e-file will still receive validation of acceptance of their return from the IRS and Oregon. Returns can be filed as early as the opening of tax season on January 23, and returns will still be processed in the order they're received. However, refunds will not be issued until after February 15. DOR says the department understands that many taxpayers file early each year because they rely on their refund to address personal financial concerns. Further, DOR says the department appreciates the impact that this additional anti-fraud effort will have on taxpayers and it sincerely hopes that early notification will give them time to plan appropriately.

Oregon Cultural Trust

    During times of great change, culture helps keep us centered. Regardless of what is happening in the world, we have our culture — our music, our books and our heritage — to bring us together.

    In 2016, the Legislature provided funding for 149 grants totaling $2.9 million to Oregon's cultural nonprofits by the Oregon Cultural Trust in fiscal year 2016-17, a nine percent increase over the previous year. The awards included a total of $714,045 to the Cultural Trust's five statewide partners (Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office); $714,045 to 45 county and tribal cultural coalitions; and $1,433,798 in competitive Cultural Development Grants to a record 99 cultural organizations across the state.

    In Senate District 4, the Cultural Trust awarded:

        - $8,895.00 to the Cottage Grove Historical Society
        - $6,413.00 to Elkton Community Education Center
        - $10,926.00 to Lane Arts Council
        - $16,133.00 to Oregon Mozart Players
        - $44,896 to the Lane County Cultural Coalition
        - $17,822 to the Douglas County Cultural Coalition
        - $6,488 to the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians

    The Cultural Trust envisions an Oregon that champions and invests in creative expression and cultural exchange, driving innovation and opportunity for all. It's mission is to lead Oregon in cultivating, growing and valuing culture as an integral part of communities. For more information, visit: http://culturaltrust.org/.

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