Session Wrap-up, $ for Schools, Free File & more


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 
e-Bulletin                     March 2014

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Dear friends,

    On Friday, March 7, the Oregon Legislature adjourned its brief 2014 session, "sine die." 
Below is a summary of what did and did not occur, along with the latest information on Cover Oregon. In future e-bulletins, I'll provide in-depth analyses by issue area.

    We learned this week that Oregon's unemployment rate has fallen to 6.9 percent. February was the eighth month in a row that Oregon's economy created more new jobs than it lost, and the first month since August 2008 that unemployment fell below 7 percent.

    Below you will find information on:

        - Cover Oregon the Latest
        - Session Summary
- March Revenue Forecast: More Money for Schools
        - More Funds Available to Oregon Small Businesses
        - State Grant to Support Local Students and Community Partners
New Schools for Eugene
        - IRS Free File
Highway 36 Exposure Investigation Update
        - 2014 Veteran Benefit Magazine Available Online

        - Scam Alert: Counterfeit Ticket Con
        - For Local Officials: 2014 HAZMAT Response Conference, May 12-15

    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.

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

(PS: Due to election laws, this will be my last e-bulletin until after the May primary election.) 

Cover Oregon – the Latest

     Despite Cover Oregon's many problems, more and more Oregonians have been able to gain access to critical health care coverage through the exchange. As of early March, 38,806 Oregonians had signed up for a private health insurance plan through Cover Oregon, and 84,991 more qualified for the Oregon Health Plan.

    Due to technical problems with the website, many Oregonians had to work around it and sign up directly with private insurers. We're continuing to demand that Oracle, which designed the website, and others responsible fix the Cover Oregon website so Oregonians can enroll online in a health plan.

    During the 2014 session, we took action to ensure proper treatment of people who have tried in good faith to get their families covered. HB 4154 pushes to extend the individual enrollment deadline by a month in order to increase enrollment numbers and to secure tax credits for families and small businesses. HB 4154 also gives whistle-blower protections to Cover Oregon employees and allows the Governor to fire the entire Cover Oregon board in a one-year period.

    SB 1582 provides ongoing insurance for individuals who were previously enrolled in the high-risk insurance pool due to pre-existing conditions. Finally, HB 4122 helps ensure that website failures like this don't happen again. The bill requires independent quality assurance for the state's IT projects to make sure we keep them on track and on budget.

    I am frustrated that Cover Oregon's website has failed so many people, yet I still have faith that health care reform will make a huge difference for thousands of newly insured Oregonians.
We're making progress with signups, and each enrollment will translate into critical health care access for Oregon's families.

    If you are facing difficulties with signing up for Cover Oregon, please contact me ASAP.

Session Summary

This session ended with mixed results. While partisan gridlock and shutdown politics have frozen meaningful action in Washington, D.C., here in Oregon we were able to work together to find common ground on most issues and move the state forward. During the 2014 short session, we delivered on many of Oregon's priorities: improving access to high quality K-12 and higher education, creating family-wage jobs to bolster the middle class, and making sure that state government delivers on Oregon's priorities, while still balancing the state budget.

    During the 2014 Legislative Session, we:

Accelerated Job Growth and Improved the Economy Across Oregon

  • Modernized job training programs so that more Oregonians  whether they live in rural or urban parts of the state  can get the skills and training they need to earn family-wage jobs (SB 1566, HB 4058)
  • Supported small businesses by eliminating unnecessary barriers and expanding access to loans and financial support (SB 1563, HB 4005)

Protected Investments in Education and Expanded Access to Higher Education

  • Protected our historic $6.85 billion investment in K-12 education to help stabilize school districts across Oregon and began to reverse the trend of teacher layoffs and shrinking school years (HB 5201)
  • Increased access to higher education by taking steps to make community colleges and universities more affordable (SB 1524, HB 4116, HB 4019)

Made State Government Work More Efficiently

  • Cut waste and held state contractors accountable for their work, specifically when they do not meet promises of quality or costs (HB 4122)
  • Invested in mental health programs and crucial senior services that Oregonians rely on (HB 5201)
  • Prioritized critical services that keep our communities safe and protect our most vulnerable (HB 4055, SB 1553, SB 1542) 

    At the same time, the Legislature failed to address certain concerns raised by Oregonians. HB 4143 would have directed residual, unclaimed funds from a class action lawsuit into a special account. The accrued interest would then have been allocated to legal aid. Unfortunately, currently in Oregon the residual funds are returned to the offending defendant, so the corporation that is the wrongdoer gets its money back! It appears only a few other states follow Oregon's current practice. Here's another way to look at this injustice: If a bicycle thief steals 10 bikes and the police are only able to return five of the bikes back to their lawful owners, you would not expect the police to give the remaining five back to the bike thief. That's what happens now with a class action lawsuit in Oregon.

    HB 4143 would have addressed the injustice by dispersing the unclaimed funds to a not-for-profit organization that provides legal services to low-income Oregonians. This would have assisted seniors, veterans, children, Native Americans and other other individuals' access to our court system and justice. More than ten other states designate legal aid services as the recipient of unclaimed funds in class-action lawsuits.

   HB 4143 passed the House but failed in the Senate on a party-line vote, with one Democrat, Senator Betsy Johnson, joining the 14 Republican senators for a 15-15 vote. As the Senate carrier of the bill, I will be working with Representatives Tobias Read and Jennifer Williamson, as well as newly appointed Senator Michael Dembrow, to bring the bill back in 2015.

   Another bill, SB 1551, would have closed the remaining loophole in Oregon's 24 year-old background check law that allows felons easy access to guns. This bill would have required all person-to-person transfers of guns, not just those conducted at gun shows, to go through a background check. This bill had an exception for transfers between family members. Midway through session, I proposed an amendment to SB 1551 that would have allowed the Oregon State Police's Firearms Unit to notify local law enforcement when a felon or other disqualified person attempted to purchase a gun. (Under current Oregon law, this notification is prohibited!) The second part of the amendment would have allowed a judge to prohibit a person who was court-ordered into an outpatient treatment program for mental illness from possessing a gun while experiencing their mental crisis.

    Even though we had enough votes to pass the amendment in the Senate, leadership decided to not allow SB 1551 to be amended and voted on. As a gun owner for more than 40 years, I support these gun safety policies.

A guest viewpoint that I wrote for the Register-Guard and Statesmen Journal newspapers that explains why I supported SB 1551 and how Oregon's background check system works can be viewed here.

    A third missed opportunity would have referred to the voters the question of whether or not Oregon should adopt a policy of allowing adults to lawfully possess personal amounts of marijuana and to tax it similar to how we regulate alcohol.
Knowing that voters in Washington State and Colorado passed similar initiatives in 2012 and a poorly drafted measure barely failed in Oregon that same year, I felt the Legislature should have chosen to ask voters in November 2014 if they wanted such a policy. If voters had said "yes," the Legislature would then have written the enabling legislation during the 2015 session. This approach would have allowed the state to watch how the roll-out occurred in Washington and Colorado before enacting legislation for Oregon. That, in turn, would have given the Legislature time to draft legislation that would have complied with federal guidelines, and to raise additional revenue for education, public health and public safety. Instead, the Legislature may now be faced with implementing one of three citizen initiatives written by marijuana advocates that could be on the ballot in November. The Register-Guard's editorial that raises many of my points and reasons why I supported asking the voters if they wanted to change Oregon's current policy on adults' lawful access to marijuana can be viewed here.

March Revenue Forecast: More Money for Schools

Last month, we learned from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis quarterly revenue forecast that, while general income tax revenues are up only a bit (approximately $10 million), property tax collections were up $98 million more than expected. This is primarily a result of rebounding home values, and it means more money for schools. Here's how that breaks down for the districts in our area:

Additional Funding for 2014-15 ($)

Bethel ------------------------569,369
Blachly ----------------------- 36,301
Creswell --------------------- 130,557
Crow-Applegate-Lorane ----- 36,218
Days Creek -------------------- N/A
Douglas ---------------------- 603,596
Elkton ------------------------- 41,912
Eugene ---------------------1,615,874
Fern Ridge ------------------- 148,147
Glide -------------------------- 70,123
Junction City ----------------- 167,380
Lowell ------------------------ 33,505
McKenzie -------------------- 31,637
North Douglas --------------- 40,400
Oakland ---------------------- 58,709
Oakridge ---------------------- 55,111
Pleasant Hill ------------------- 94,848
Roseburg ----------------------- N/A
South Lane ------------------- 287,100
Springfield ------------------ 1,086,300
Sutherlin --------------------- 130,926
Yoncalla ---------------------- 38,972 

More Funds Available for Oregon Small Businesses

   Governor Kitzhaber has announced that Business Oregon has secured an additional $5.6 million in funding for the state's small businesses through a third disbursement from the U.S. Treasury Department's State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI).

Oregon's third disbursement of SSBCI funds from the U.S. Treasury comes after Business Oregon successfully lent out $10.6 million, or 9 percent, of its funding in its first two disbursements. To date, the federal funds have generated more than $90 million in private sector financing to more than 160 Oregon small businesses. The state was awarded a total allocation of $16.5 million in August 2011. Oregon lands in the top 20 states to successfully put the federal SSBCI funds to work for small businesses.

Oregon's SSBCI funding is distributed through the agency's business finance programs including the Oregon Business Development Fund, the Credit Enhancement Fund and the Capital Access Program. For example, Business Oregon used SSBCI funds to make a $200,000, low-interest loan to stainless steel, beer growler manufacturer Drink Tanks, Corp. based in Bend.

SSBCI was created by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and signed into law in September 2010 by President Obama. Funded with $1.5 billion, the program is expected to spur up to $15 billion in new lending to small businesses and manufacturers as states use federal funds to leverage private investment dollars.

Grant Will Support Local Students and Community Partners  

    A new $455,000 grant to local educators will help prepare more students for health care careers, a field projected for 31 percent growth in Lane County over the next decade. The investment is part of a statewide effort by the Legislature to expand access to career and technical education to 140 Oregon middle schools serving more than 90,000 students. Local community partners will contribute an additional $114,000 in cash and in-kind support for the two-year program to provide health care curriculum training to teachers in nine regional school districts.

    This award will enable the Junction City, Lane and Sutherlin Education Service Districts to develop and implement innovative, regional healthcare pathways of study that include a two-year healthcare career evidence-based curriculum, extended internships, a hospital-based Teen Volunteer Program and a variety of healthcare career education opportunities for middle and high school students.

    The broad-based, 25-member regional collaborative also includes healthcare industry leaders, Lane Community College educators, the Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon and other community partners. The program will offer multiple delivery options designed to meet the unique needs of each district and will include regional, local, virtual and on-line classes supported by on-site personnel.

New Schools for Eugene

    Three of the 4J School District's oldest schools will be replaced or renovated in the next few years, thanks to voters' approval of the school bond measure in May 2013. Design has started on three of the new schools: Howard Elementary School, River Road / El Camino del Río Elementary School, and Roosevelt Middle School.

    Public meetings are scheduled to discuss the design of each school. At the meetings, you can take a look at design progress so far, share your comments, ask questions, as well as visit with the architects and other design team members. Here are the meeting specifics:

Roosevelt Middle School
Tuesday, April 1
5:30–7 p.m.
680 E. 24th Ave
(Discussion will include option for new YMCA building on-site)

Howard Elementary School
Tuesday, April 8 • 5:30–7 p.m.
700 Howard Ave.

River Road / El Camino del Río Elementary School
Tuesday, May 6 • 5:30–7 p.m.
120 W. Hilliard Lane

IRS Free File

Taxpayers who make $58,000 or less can consider free tax preparation services available through the Free File program at: Free File provides a list of member companies and their free tax software offerings. Users may either choose the company that fits their needs or utilize the “Help me Find Free File Software” tool. After selecting a company, users will be transferred to the company's website to prepare, complete and electronically file their federal income tax returns.

    Free File also offers basic federal e-filing services with no income limitations. This basic e-filing service, called "Free File Fillable Forms," allows taxpayers who are familiar with tax law and need no preparation assistance to complete and file their federal income tax electronically.

Highway 36 Exposure Investigation Update

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for the passive air monitors they have been working to develop. The agency is now testing the monitors under laboratory conditions and hope to deploy them in the investigation area in the fall of this year.

    The EPA Pesticide Program is seeking public comment on draft guidance documents for evaluating pesticide spray drift. These documents describe how off-site spray drift will be evaluated for ecological and human health risk assessments for pesticides. EPA is seeking to strengthen its protections for people and the environment from exposure to pesticides that drift from fields to nearby areas, including homes, schools and playgrounds. These new approaches add to these routine assessments and will allow the agency to estimate off-site drift, another step to protect communities living near fields where crops are grown from these exposures.

    The 60-day public comment period will close on March 31, 2014. For more information, see:!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0676-0001

2014 Veteran Benefit Magazine Available Online

I'm happy to provide the following link to the 2014 Veteran Benefit magazine, e-published by the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs.  To share this veteran publication:

Scam Alert: Counterfeit Tickets

With counterfeit ticketing on the rise especially for major playoff and championship sporting events  the Oregon Department of Justice is warning fans of all kinds to be on the lookout for scammers trying to swindle consumers with phony tickets.

  • Reconsider that eleventh-hour purchase. If you're looking to score last-minute seats at a big event, you're more likely to encounter a scam artist. Most counterfeit tickets are sold right before the event, online or outside concert venues and arenas.

  •  Know the seller. Anyone can set up an online store or place an ad on Craigslist. Before transacting business with an unfamiliar source, conduct some basic internet research on the seller. Avoid anyone who refuses to provide contact information or wants to conduct the transaction over the phone or email. When purchasing on the secondary market, always ask for a receipt or money-back guarantee of authenticity.

  • Put it on plastic. Avoid purchasing tickets from any seller who asks you to pay them by wire transfer, money order or a pre-paid debit card, like Green Dot Money Pack. Not only is the ticket likely to be fake, these methods of payment provide no recourse to consumers who are victims of a scam. Whenever possible, use a credit card or account-to-account transfer service such as PayPal. If the tickets you purchased aren't delivered, are not as advertised, or are counterfeit, you can dispute the charge.
  • Be skeptical of offers too good to be true. Scam artists often use the lure of cheaper tickets to swindle unsuspecting fans. Consumers should beware of any offer that sounds too good to be true. Check the seller's offer against the going rate of tickets sold directly from the venue, a promoter or an authorized ticket seller, either online or at the box office.
  • Know how to spot a fake. Real tickets will often bear certain authenticity features to distinguish them from counterfeits. Learn how the tickets you want to purchase are supposed to look and feel; watch for flimsy paper, smeared ink or uneven margins.

  •  Location, location, location. Before making a purchase, ask the seller about the seats you will be purchasing with the ticket. Check ticket agencies for views of seating charts and the dates of games, concerts or shows scheduled for the venue. Confirm that the event will take place and that the section, row and seat number on your ticket corresponds with an actual location in the stadium or theater.
  • Report fraud. If you have a problem with an online purchase or charge, try to work it out with the seller first. If you can't resolve the problem or feel you are the victim of a scam, file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice, at

For Local Officials: 2014 HAZMAT Response Conference, May 12-15

    Recent articles have highlighted the increased number of trains hauling oil in Oregon. As part of an effort to train local first responders how to respond to an incident involving a hazardous material, including oil, the State Fire Marshal and Oregon Hazardous Materials Response Teams have organized the 2014 Oregon HAZMAT Response Teams Conference in Seaside from May 12 through May 15.

    Details about the conference can be found, here:
To register for the conference, visit: There are a limited number of scholarships and reduced rate opportunities that conference organizers will be reviewing on a case by case basis. Please contact them directly to learn more about those opportunities.

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Highway 36 Exposure Investigation Update

February 11, 2014



EPA has finalized the Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for the passive air monitors they have been working to develop. They are now testing the monitors under laboratory conditions and hope to deploy them in the investigation area in the fall of this year.


In other news: EPA’s Pesticide Program is seeking public comment on draft guidance documents for evaluating pesticide spray drift. See the information below, if you are interested in providing comment by March 31st:


EPA Seeks Public Comment on Draft Guidance Documents for Evaluating Pesticide Spray Drift

Proposals Would Further Protect Communities near Fields Where Crops Are Grown

EPA is announcing the availability of two draft guidance documents for public comment. These documents describe how off-site spray drift will be evaluated for ecological and human health risk assessments for pesticides. EPA is seeking to strengthen its protections for people and the environment from exposure to pesticides that drift from fields to nearby areas, including homes, schools and playgrounds. The Agency has a long-standing history of robust, routine assessments on every chemical to protect consumers from pesticide risks from treated food, workers who apply pesticides, and consumers who use pesticides in and around homes. These new approaches add to these routine assessments and will allow the Agency to estimate off-site drift, another step to protect communities living near fields where crops are grown from these exposures.


The 60-day public comment period will close on March 31, 2014.


For more information, see Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0676-0001 at