Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Winter Message from our House Rep. Tina Kotek

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the holiday season. I am honored to have been re-elected to serve you for two more years. Thank you.

With the campaigns behind us, my colleagues and I are focused on preparing for next year's legislative session. As you may have learned by now, the election left the incoming Oregon House of Representatives tied with 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans. Oregon's Constitution does not provide rules for this situation, so a bipartisan negotiating team has been meeting to create a shared governance model that will allow us to get the business of the people completed in the four-month time frame we have set for ourselves.

The Legislature's job is to balance Oregon's budget - projected to have a $3.5 billion hole - while protecting Oregon's most vulnerable and the vital services we all depend on. This challenge will test us and the state. We must also create jobs and help the state's economic recovery. I look forward to working with my Republican colleagues to find solutions to our shared challenges.

Save the Date! Join Me for Coffee and Conversation on January 8th

Coffee and Conversation with Rep. Kotek
Saturday, January 8, 2011
9:30 a.m. to 11:30
Arbor Lodge New Seasons Market (Deli Seating Area)
6400 North Interstate Avenue

I hope you'll join me and your neighbors on Saturday, January 8th to talk about the upcoming legislative session and other important issues. We will meet in the deli seating area of the Arbor Lodge New Seasons Market from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The Legislature will convene the following Monday, so we'll have a timely conversation. So, please mark your calendars and join the conversation in the new year!

Preventing Foreclosure- Funds Available!

The Hardest Hit funds Oregon received from the federal government to help homeowners avoid foreclosure are now available. The Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative starts its first program this Friday, December 10th. The Mortgage Payment Assistance program will help 5,000 unemployed or financially distressed homeowners in Oregon pay their mortgage for up to one year. You can fill out the application and learn more at the Oregon Homeowner Help website.

Bill Ideas in the Works

While the main focus of the legislative session will be passing budgets and protecting essential services, I am nonetheless working on a few pieces of legislation in response to constituent concerns. They include addressing public safety concerns at problem bars and taverns, protecting manufactured home community residents from unfair costs, and removing barriers for people with criminal histories from applying to work for the state. Here's an update on the first issue:

I have heard from many of you since I was first elected that we need to do more to curb problems that arise when local bars have repeat noise and violent offenses. Currently, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) can't do much to stop them unless the problem location meets a very high threshold of "serious and persistent" incidents. Over the past year, I have worked with Senator Jackie Dingfelder (NE Portland), the City of Portland, and others to revisit this issue once again. Our legislative package this year will seek to provide:

* Better upfront protections against problems, such as more efficient guidelines for who cannot get licensed by the OLCC so we can stop problems with poor ownership before they begin;
* Enhanced ability to confront licensees if there is a problem, such as giving cities the option to temporarily suspend operations at a licensed location for up to 72 hours if a particularly dangerous crime has occurred there; and
* Public safety expertise to the OLCC, by designating a spot on the five-person Commission for a law enforcement officer in order to bring a crucial public safety perspective just as there is a current designation for someone from the food and alcoholic beverage retail industry.

As always, I look forward to your feedback and assistance on this bill and others affecting our district.
It's an honor to serve you in the Legislature. Please contact my legislative assistant Alex Berke at our district office, by phone, 503-286-0558, or email, if we can be of any assistance to you.

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