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Issues to watch.

Byline: The Register-Guard

COLLEGE COSTS: Paying for college and university tuition will get plenty of attention. The governor wants to raise taxes on corporations to expand the Opportunity Grant financial aid program, which is running out of money because of high demand. Also, lawmakers plan to investigate recent losses in the state college savings plan in funds intended to be safely invested in low-risk bonds and equities. The new treasurer has proposed prepaid tuition as an alternative.

EDUCATION: Although the governor's budget would modestly increase appropriations to public schools from $6.2 billion to $6.4 billion for the biennium, boards and administrators say it's not enough to maintain current offerings. Head Start would expand to 700 more eligible 3- and 4-year-olds.

GREEN ENERGY: Lawmakers will debate whether to increase a business energy tax credit from 35 percent to half the cost of industrial-scale investment in energy efficiency. The governor also wants to combat global warming by joining a regional effort to establish a "cap and trade" system limiting carbon emissions and allowing polluters to buy and sell carbon credits.

HEALTH CARE: A legislatively created task force has recommended Oregon take another step toward universal health care coverage by extending medical insurance to 80,000 children and at 75,000 low-income adults. The governor wants health care providers and insurers to pay for much of this expansion through higher taxes.

LAND USE: The Legislature-created "Big Look Task Force" has recommended that lawmakers change Oregon's statewide planning system by increasing flexibility for local governments to avoid what it calls a "one-size-fits-all" approach to protecting farm and forest lands.

PUBLIC SAFETY: Lawmakers and the governor want to avoid a repeat of the state police layoffs of six years ago and retain the 112 recently added troopers. The governor also has budgeted for half the $120 million cost of the voter-passed Measure 57, which increases sentences for some property crimes and expands drug treatment for those convicted.

PUBLIC WORKS: The governor has proposed borrowing $2 billion through bond sales for public works. The money would pay for transportation projects, building construction, and maintenance projects. Local projects include campus improvements at the University of Oregon and beginning construction of a psychiatric hospital and state prison in Junction City.

SOCIAL SAFETY NET: The Legislature must decide whether to accept the governor's proposed cuts, which would reduce in-home care for some 6,500 seniors and the disabled, cut child care subsidies for 3,500 families, turn 3,000 people away from community-based mental health and drug treatment programs and eliminate dental and vision benefits for 100,000 poor adults on the Oregon Health Plan.

TAXES: Lawmakers will decide what to do about the governor's recommendations before tackling their own ideas. He wants a health care provider tax (4 percent for hospitals and 1.5 percent for insurers), a 2-cent increase on the gas tax, higher vehicle fees, an added 60 cents-per-pack for the cigarette tax and a raise in the corporate minimum tax from $10 to between $25 and $5,000.

TRANSPORTATION: The governor's gas tax and vehicle fee increases, if approved by lawmakers, would pump more than $3 billion into roads, bridges and other transportation projects over five years. Lawmakers say they want to go in that direction but haven't settled on the details of the increases.

Lane County is represented by eight House members and four senators. What you'll need to know to track their work and get in touch with them:

Bruce Hanna, Republican Leader

House District 7 (Cottage Grove, Oakridge, Sutherlin, Lowell)


Capitol Room H-395

Administration (vice chairman), Land Use committees

Paul Holvey, Democrat

House District 8 (Eugene, Veneta)


Capitol Room H-275

Consumer Protection (chairman), Business & Labor,

Arnie Roblan, Democrat

House District 9 (Coos Bay, Florence, Reedsport)


Capitol Room H-272

House Administration (chairman), Rules (chairman), Education, Agriculture, Natural Resources & Rural Communities committees

Jean Cowan, Democrat

House District 10 (Elmira, Blatchley, Mapleton, Newport, Lincoln City)


Capitol Room H-376

Veterans & Emergency Services (chairwoman), Consumer Protection, Human Services, Land Use committees

Phil Barnhart, Democrat

House District 11 (Eugene, Springfield, Coburg, Creswell)


Capitol Room H-383

Revenue (chairman), Environment & Water committees

Terry Beyer, Democrat

House District 12 (Springfield)


Capitol Room H-277

Transportation (chairwoman), Agriculture, Natural Resources & Rural Communities committees, Transportation & Economic Development Ways & Means Subcomittee

Nancy Nathanson, Democrat

House District 13 (Eugene)


Capitol Room H-280

Joint Ways & Means Committee (vice chairwoman), General Government (co-chairwoman), Public Safety, Capital Construction and Information Technology Ways & Means subcommittees.

Chris Edwards, Democrat

House District 14 (Eugene, Junction City, Cheshire)


Capitol Room H-283

Rules (vice chairman), Business & Labor, Natural Resources Ways & Means Subcommittee

Floyd Prozanski, Democrat

Senate District 4 (Eugene, Veneta, Cottage Grove, Oakridge, Sutherlin, Lowell)


Capitol Room S-417

Judiciary (chairman), Commerce & Workforce Development, Environment & Natural Resources committees

Joanne Verger

Senate District 5 (Coos Bay, Florence, Reedsport, Elmira, Blatchley, Mapleton, Newport, Lincoln City)


Capitol Room S-401

Joint Ways & Means, Business & Transportation, Human Services & Rural Health Policy committees, Public Safety Ways & Means subcommittee

Bill Morrisette, Democrat

Senate District 6 (Springfield, Eugene, Coburg, Cresswell)


Capitol Room S-207

Human Services & Rural Health Policy (chairman), Health Care & Veterans' Affairs committees

Vicki Walker, Democrat

Senate District 7 (Eugene, Junction City, Cheshire)


Capitol Room S-309

Joint Ways & Means Committee, Natural Resources (co-chairwoman), Public Safety Ways & Means subommittees.
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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 11, 2009
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