Dear friends,

With warmer temperatures this year come more bills passing through the legislature. We are well on our way through the 2013 Legislative Session and my colleagues and I in the House and Senate are working hard on funding public education and career training, championing the needs of small businesses, and standing up for the middle class. And as a nurse and chair of the Senate Health Care and Human Services Committee, I am also focusing on protecting vulnerable Oregonians and improving health care delivery. If you’d like to hear more about the work we are doing down in Salem, please join Representative Greg Matthews and I for a Healthy Communities Town Hall later this month. The town hall will be held in the Gresham Council Chambers (1333 NW Eastman Parkway) on Thursday, May 23rd at 7 pm. Please come with your questions and suggestions. It is so important to hear from you. 

In the Capitol with constituents from Mount Hood Community College

In the Senate Health Care and Human Services Committee, we have been paying a lot of attention to reducing costs and improving access to quality care, especially in rural and underserved areas. As more Oregonians become insured under the Affordable Care Act, it is important that we have enough quality providers to care for all of us. Here are some bills that passed out of my committee that I am especially proud of:

SB 569 streamlines credentials for providers who want to practice telemedicine at Oregon hospitals. In the last few years, it’s become clear that medical experts, such as stroke neurologists, pediatric, and neonatal intensive care physicians (among others) can effectively treat patients through teleconferencing systems. Telemedicine has allowed hundreds of patients to receive medical care from the comfort of their own communities and saved more than $2 million in transport costs for patients and providers. This bill removes barriers for their practice so they can focus on treating patients. 

SB 136 expands 10-day prescribing authority to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. When this bill becomes law, it will allow CRNA’s to prescribe medications to their patients so that people receiving care in rural areas will face fewer barriers to receiving appropriate medications before and after surgery.

SB 365 creates requirements for insurers to cover treatments for autism spectrum disorders. A huge body of evidence shows that early intervention with ABA therapy has tremendously positive benefits for children with autism spectrum disorders. With this passage of this bill, insurers would have to cover this treatment, improving life outcomes for many Oregon children and their families.

There is no shortage of other great legislation aimed at improving lives of middle class Oregonians. SB 558 helps families who are facing foreclosure by giving them access to mediation with their lender. In the current foreclosure crisis, one in thirteen Oregonians is behind on her home loan repayments. SB 558 gives those Oregonians a voice and a seat at the table when it comes to discussing their foreclosures.

HB 3436 addresses the often unacknowledged, but extremely serious, retirement crisis facing Oregonians. Oregon’s senior population is growing, and nearly half of working Oregonians do not have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. When people cannot afford to retire, we all pay the price. This bill is a bipartisan, responsible approach to solving the growing retirement crisis so that middle class Oregonians who have worked hard their whole lives can live comfortably as seniors.

To hear about more of the work we are doing down in Salem, ask questions, or give us suggestions for legislation, please join Representative Greg Matthews and I at our Healthy Communities Town Hall on Thursday, May 23rd at 7 pm at the Gresham Council Chambers (1333 NW Eastman Parkway). We will discuss a whole range of issues affecting East County, from community safety to health and wellness. I hope you can join us!

As always, even if you cannot attend the town hall, I want you to stay in touch. You can always reach me by calling 503-986-0725, emailing, connecting on Facebook, or simply stopping by my office in Salem! It continues to be a pleasure and an honor to serve East County as your State Senator.