pages from Kelly Middle School continue to walk up the marble
steps into the Capitol for an inside view and a morning
in the House Chamber.
bills, bills. We are carrying 50 to 80 bill
files to "the floor" (jargon for the House Chamber) every day
now. Using statistics provided by a reporter, as of May 4: 2,877
bills introduced, 1,158 voted out of committee (roughly 40%).
Six of my bills have had a hearing, and five have already
passed the first hurdle, that is, passed out of committee.
There's still much work to do. You probably
read or hear plenty about the notable or "high profile" proposals.
Here are some samples of those dozens of other bills we
hear and vote on each day:
eliminates tallying of write-in votes for Soil and Water Conservation
District Director election when no qualified nominee appears
on the ballot.
allows Department of Transportation to issue group plate for
group that promotes prevention of wildfires, and to seek approval
to use image of Smokey Bear.
to advise Department of Consumer and Business Affairs on data
needed to monitor availability and affordability of construction
contractor liability insurance.
increases the time for disadvantaged, minority, women or emerging
small businesses to operate before requiring a public works
some more: requiring an amount of cost-effective solar electric
or solar thermal energy systems in public projects; requiring
state agencies to reduce the amount of energy used at least
20% by 2015; adding crisis intervention training for public
safety officers to help them recognize mental illness.
since my last newsletter report …
on health care and reducing the costs of health insurance coverage:
since the last newsletter, my bill to increase public access
to information about insurance rates –HB 3103– passed
the House, and yesterday the Senate Committee Health Policy and
Public Affairs voted it out to be heard by the Senate.
This bill, together with HB 2002, will provide Oregonians
with more oversight for health insurance costs. Health insurance
companies will be required to submit proposed rate increases
to the state insurance division for approval, and the process
will be more "transparent" as those proposals are posted on the Web.
With the Prescription Drug Pool expansion (Senate Bill 362) passing
both chambers and signed into law, the number of Oregonians benefiting
from lower cost prescriptions is growing rapidly, from 12,000
in February to over 18,000 this month, saving an average
of about $28 per prescription. This is great
news! For more information about the program and whether you qualify,
visit the Oregon
Prescription Drug Pool website.
health and energy independence are both getting a lot of attention
this session. A recent bill would make Oregon a leader in a new
area called e-waste. What to do with all of those electronic
devices like computers and televisions we no longer use? Many
contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium which
can leach into the water. This bill increases recycling and decreases
hazardous materials in landfills by requiring those manufacturers
to support recycling programs for televisions and computers.
meetings. A partial list of visitors and
activities at my office and elsewhere: EWEB and renewable energy
advocates, nurses, judges, teachers. Also, representatives of
relief nurseries; Head Start; railroads; district attorneys; small
business development centers; and cultural and performing arts.
Since the last newsletter, the Joint Ways and Means Committee
held the remainder of its field hearings to hear from the public
on budget priorities, traveling to Corvallis, Eugene, Bend, Medford,
and North Bend (Coos Bay). In all we heard
testimony from about 430 people in the seven hearings.
And back in Salem we took time out for photos with the
Beaver and Mighty Duck!
Saturday, May 19th, I hosted a Town Hall meeting with
Senator Vicki Walker at Oregon Community Credit Union headquarters.
Sen. Walker concentrated on the latest budget information.
I discussed "innovation and progress" in three areas of
this 74th Legislature:
process. Deadlines to keep legislative business moving at a brisk
pace, and ethics reform including travel and
gift bans, mentioned in my first newsletter.
to Oregonians. Improving service, accuracy, and speed while
reducing cost through more “e-government” such as
online (via the Web, or Internet) applications, licenses, and
straightforward construction permits.
policy directions and ideas in several areas. Environment and Energy
Independence: expanding production of biofuels and reducing
exposure to toxic emissions from diesel engines; decreasing use
of energy use in state office buildings (20% by 2015).
Consumer protection: cracking down on cyberbullies
at school; enforcing the Do Not Call Registry for telephones and
cellphones; protecting consumers from predatory lending practices;
putting a lid on price gouging in event of an emergency. Public
safety and business: substance abuse (drug addiction) is
leading some people to steal metal from our communities at places
like construction sites, bridges, parks, and cemeteries; a recent
bill would put up barriers to make it more difficult to sell this
so-called “scrap metal.”
and comments from those attending included funding for community
colleges, university faculty salaries, and public health; support
for Womenspace and responding to domestic violence; family gun
safety; health care system reform; and smoking and tobacco use
Honorary Pages on the floor of the House.
another intern this month! Natalie Ornelas from Oregon State University
joins Marilen Delgado (LCC) and Shannon Judge (LCC).
I appreciate your understanding as my legislative staff
answer your calls and letters and sometimes meet with you while
I’m in committee.
be visiting River Road Elementary School on Friday afternoon May
25 for a close-up view and to learn about their school garden.
here for my legislative website.