Nancy on a working lunch with Senator Winters and staff from the Legislative Fiscal Office.

June 2009

Dear Friends and Neighbors,


As always, there is never a dull moment in Salem. We are heading into the final stages of the session and all legislators are on one hour notice. Our schedules can change at the drop of a hat. Despite this busy schedule I have been able to spend time with several visiting school groups from the district and enjoy a little bit of the spring weather by taking 20 minute "walking staff meetings" around the Capitol with my legislative assistants.


This may be crunch time, as we try to balance the budget and pass important legislation before Sine Die (our official way of saying end of session), but I am more committed than ever to make sure that we are being thoughtful and thorough. I welcome any of my constituents to share their thoughts on the budget or any legislation that is important to them.




Nancy chairs a lively discussion about the Secretary of State's budget.

At the Capitol


Health care reform underway


Every week I receive emails, letters, and phone calls from constituents with messages like, "health reform is economic recovery," and "please bring health care to thousands of Oregonians." As we are nearing the end of the session, with less than four weeks left, I want you to know that we hear you and we are taking concrete steps to do just that. We have made real progress in passing legislation that achieves our triple aim of increased access, improved patient safety and privacy, and reforming the system to cut costs. Many of you may know that my bill, HB 2755, aimed at reducing the cost of health insurance, has passed in both the House and the Senate and is waiting to be signed into law.


Additionally, two more bills have passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, creating a charitable prescription drug program to distribute donated prescription drugs to needy or uninsured individuals and allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines to persons who are at least 11 years of age. Two more bills have passed the House and are now waiting for Senate approval: to require health benefit plans to provide coverage for hearing aids for children and to allow dental hygienists to provide routine preventative services .


Just this past week, the House passed Senate Bill 24, a step toward increasing access and containing health care costs. The bill requires health benefit plans to provide coverage of medically necessary, evidence-based telemedical health services, if the health service is otherwise covered by the benefit plan. Telemedicine allows a two-way video communication in which a health professional can directly see and talk with the patient, thus eliminating long commutes by patients and helping reduce needless and expensive transport. Telemedicine will help reduce the number of hospitalizations, emergency department visits, critical care transports, and other related care costs, and eliminates or reduces duplicate medical testing.


We understand that we must begin to rebuild the Oregon Health Plan.  With thousands of Oregonians going without health care and federal dollars available to provide care for Oregonians, we do not have the option to do nothing. As we move forward, two of the biggest pieces of health care reform legislation, HB 2009 and HB 2116, have passed on the House floor this week and now head to the Senate for approval. In my evaluation of this legislation, I continue to be committed to improving both access and affordability to health care while maximizing the use of federal matching dollars. This would also boost Oregon's downturned economy by providing new healthcare sector jobs throughout the state.

Nancy and Representative David Edwards discuss important upcoming legislation on the House floor.

Reforming the initiative process


The state Constitution of Oregon was adopted in 1867 by a vote of more than two to one. It remained unchanged until 1902, when voters approved an amendment establishing the initiative and referendum process. The initiative process gives direct legislative power to the voters to enact new laws, change existing laws, or amend the constitution. With the frequency of use during recent years, many Oregonians have begun to notice problems with the initiative process. A recent poll suggests that 70% of Oregonians believe the system needs to be reformed. The legislature worked with Secretary of State Kate Brown on legislation to restore trust and fairness in the initiative process. The changes will protect the rights of grassroots Oregonians to voluntarily collect signatures and put some limitations on the paid signature gatherers. The bill has passed in the House and is waiting for Senate approval.


Fixing the ethanol mandate


I'm reporting this topic after concerns were voiced about "new gas" not working in lawnmowers and old cars, at a recent Saturday coffee. In the 2007 legislative session a Renewable Fuel Standard for biodiesel and ethanol was established. The ethanol mandate made it difficult for ATVs, watercraft, and other special engines to buy suitable gas. The passage of HB 3177 addresses this problem by allowing service stations to sell premium, higher-octane gasoline without ethanol. The bill passed unanimously in the House and is now in the Senate.

Nancy and staff with Joyce, our receptionist for the House 2nd floor.


District Information


Bright Spot for Employment


Although most of the news related to employment is about high unemployment rates and the loss of thousands of jobs since last year, there is one bit of good news to report. Food manufacturing is one industry that has continued to grow in Lane County and statewide over the last few years, even during this recession. From March 2009 to April 2009 the number of food manufacturing jobs held steady and was up 1,900 jobs statewide since April 2008. The most recent data available for Lane County shows a modest increase as well.


FYI: Oregon Child Support Program – Recession Response Project


On May 5th Governor Kulongoski signed into law a bill allowing the Department of Justice to respond to the current economic crisis by making temporary modifications of child support for parents who have experienced an employment-related loss of income. If you are a parent, or know a parent, who pays or receives child support and your income has been reduced due to the recession (lost job or reduction of hours), you may be able to get some temporary assistance from the Oregon Child Support Program through a more streamlined process. Please contact the Oregon Child Support Program at 1-800-850-0228 if you need assistance and are interested in this option. You can also visit the DOJ website to read more information about this project.

Nancy discusses difficult budget decisions in a joint town hall with other Lane County legislators.

Upcoming Events


Heading into the final stages of this legislative session means possible floor sessions in the evenings and weekends, making it difficult to plan an event for this month. Don’t worry; I will be back out there soon. Be on the look out in the next newsletter for events this summer.











Click here to view my legislative website.

June 2009