Honorary 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.

May 23, 2007



At the Capitol

Bills, 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:

  • HB3466 eliminates tallying of write-in votes for Soil and Water Conservation District Director election when no qualified nominee appears on the ballot.
  • HB2036 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.
  • HB2781 to advise Department of Consumer and Business Affairs on data needed to monitor availability and affordability of construction contractor liability insurance.
  • HB2776 increases the time for disadvantaged, minority, women or emerging small businesses to operate before requiring a public works bond.
  • And 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.



Highlights since my last newsletter report …


More 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. 


Prescription drugs. 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.

Environment. Public 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.


Recent 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!  


In the District


Town Hall

Last 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:


Legislative process. Deadlines to keep legislative business moving at a brisk pace, and ethics reform including travel and gift bans, mentioned in my first newsletter. 


Service 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.


New 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.”


Questions 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 in public.

Honorary Pages on the floor of the House.



Personal note 

We welcome 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.



I’ll be visiting River Road Elementary School on Friday afternoon May 25 for a close-up view and to learn about their school garden.

Click here for my legislative website.

May 2007