Nancy speaks to a bill on the House floor on May 7th.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Well if we thought things were moving quickly before, we just
jumped to warp speed here in Salem. After wrapping up our series of public hearings throughout Oregon, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means returned
to Salem to continue to work on the budget, using the comments and concerns of Oregonians to inform the difficult decisions that lay ahead. Tomorrow,
May 15th, the state’s economists will present the Legislature with an updated revenue forecast, telling us how deep the budget hole is expected
to be. With this update we will begin making budget decisions and it’s important for me to make sure your voice is heard in this process. I
invite you to share your budget priorities by completing my online survey.
Not everything is doom and gloom in Salem. In fact, we have had a
little time to celebrate. Our hard work paid off and three of my bills have recently passed in the House. HB 2755 aimed at reducing the cost
of health insurance, and HB 2970 which increases awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit, passed with bipartisan support, were approved
by Senate committees today and are heading to the Senate floor for a vote. HB 2383, which provides help for residents of
manufactured home parks, was also passed.
If you would like to view previous newsletters, please go to my legislative website, scroll down to select the news section and then click the
Nancy gets ready to cruise around the block in an electric vehicle prototype.
Creating accountability from banks receiving taxpayer
The public expects lawmakers to provide careful oversight over the use of public funds, and monitor institutions that are entrusted
with their money. HB 2784, which passed on the House floor last week, has just that intent. The bill set up a process for the legislature to ask
state-chartered banks that received funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) how these funds are being spent. However, I caution
Oregonians not to draw unfounded conclusions about our solid, well-run state-chartered banks simply because the legislature is asking for information.
Helping Oregonians pay for health insurance
Increasing access and affordability to health insurance continues to be a major concern for Oregonians. HB 2433, which ensures
Oregonians can take full advantage of the health insurance premium assistance made available by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,
was recently signed into law by Governor Kulongoski. The federal stimulus package will pay up to 65% of premiums for workers who lost their jobs and
choose to stay on their employer's health plan. For employers with 20 or more employees, the right to continue coverage after you lose your job is
provided by the federal COBRA. For smaller employers, Oregon's "state continuation" law provides similar rights. Prior to the
passage of HB 2433, those who were covered under COBRA could continue coverage for 9 months, but those who were covered under Oregon's continuation
plan could only continue coverage for 6 months. This legislation will ensure that Oregonians who worked for small employers can receive the help
they need paying for health care. If you worked for a small employer (less than 20 employees) and have lost your job since Sept. 1, 2008, you should
receive a notice in the mail about your potential eligibility for the subsidy and instructions on how to sign up by June 1, 2009.
Expanding access to mental
A concern that was discussed in
last month's Saturday neighborhood coffee related to HB 2702, which would allow psychologists to prescribe medication. The bill recently
passed in the House. I received several emails and phone calls, both in support and opposition to the bill. My "yes" vote was based on the
feedback I received from constituents and discussions I had with a number of individuals in the industry. Expanding mental health treatment continues
to be a top priority for me and HB 2702 works to achieve this. If an individual is seeing a psychologist who believes they will benefit from
medication, a call and addition appointments must be made with the primary care doctor to prescribe the medication. In many cases, patients who need
treatment go for several months without medication while they are being shuffled between their psychologist and their doctor. Currently,
primary care providers are acting as mental health providers, despite that 50% of Oregonians live in Health Professional Shortage Areas and primary
care providers lack specialized mental health training. By allowing the psychologist to prescribe medication it will not only expand treatment but
also increase patient safety.
It is important to note that not
all psychologists will have the ability to prescribe medication. HB 2702 requires additional training for psychologists including over 800 hours of
clinical supervised training. In addition, the bill will require prescribing psychologists to collaborate with a patient's primary care physician.
This bill was developed with the input and suggestions of psychiatrists and psychologists who met several times with a workgroup that also involved
legislators, family practice physicians, and nurse practitioners.
Nancy attends Go Oregon Event at Lane Community College announcing the creation of 250 jobs using
Oregon's state stimulus funds.
In the District
Alert: Automated Calls
From time to time organizations arrange a "phone" campaign using automated dialing technology to tell you about an issue they want you to
know about. Some of these calls go a step further. Using "dial-through" technology, the recording suggests that you push a button, such as the number
one, and then a *new* call is placed directly from your phone -- while you are still on it -- with another number. One of those "campaigns" happened
last week, and both you and I were surprised. Without knowing who your phone was calling, you were connected to our office in Salem. We are sorry that
this was confusing, and in come cases even made you angry - we were just as surprised and confused by this! I called the organization as soon as we
had received the third angry call in less than an hour. They say they were testing this new technology and will "improve the calling process" for the
next time around.
Growing your own food
During these difficult times, we have seen an unprecedented increase in interest
among Oregonians across the state in growing their own food. As many of you may know, home gardens will produce the best yields when planted with
vegetable varieties adapted to the local growing conditions. The Oregon State University Extension Service recently published the 2008 Vegetable Variety Trials Report that
recommends seeds and varieties for each area of the state. The OSU Extension website also has a comprehensive, practical guide on growing your own food.
Record numbers of Oregonians need assistance and support with
employment, food, and health care. I would like to share with you some resources for anyone seeking help during these tough economic times.
Submit anonymously your financial information to find out if you are eligible to get help from 28 different services.
Oregon Helps Website -
Food for Lane County - 541-343-2822
Receive immediate assistance to alleviate hunger and food
211 Lane -
Listing of over 900 social services for those seeking help and
400 community opportunities for people looking to help others.
Prescription Drug Program - 1-800-913-4146
Free enrollment for all Oregonians to receive a prescription
discount card and save up to 60% on prescription drugs.
I hope that you will find this information helpful and share
with your fellow Oregonians as we continue to help each other weather the storm.
Nancy joins honorary pages from Marist High School.
Joint Town Hall
I will be joining fellow Lane
County legislators to discuss Oregon's budget crisis after the next revenue forecast.
When: Saturday, May 16th from
10:00am - 12:00 pm
City Council Chambers, Eugene City Hall, 777 Pearl St # 105