Weekly Review
Righting Wrongs  

I'm sure many of you are aware after WWII, the United States conducted dozens of atomic bomb tests in the Marshall Islands. To be exact, there were 67 different atomic bomb tests. Like many Navy veterans who participated in these events, the Pacific Islanders are suffering from bad health as a result of these tests. Their health is not only suffering because of the tests, but because after the tests they were not allowed to eat their native foods. They were supplied with canned foods which also contributed to poor health.

 

In the late 1980's, the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) was formed, which opened the gateway for Islanders to live in the United States. Unfortunately, the Islanders are treated as non-citizens and have not been entitled to certain benefits even though they are required to pay state and federal taxes.

 

To give an example, in 2013, the Legislature passed HB 2517 which allows COFA Islanders to receive regular Oregon driver's licenses rather than the temporary permits that were issued. This has opened the door for COFA Islanders to live more freely in Oregon to make it easier to get apartments, bank loans, and even jobs.

 

This session, HB 2522 was introduced, which intends to extend Medicaid coverage to COFA Islanders. The Islanders need access to health care coverage as they suffer high rates of endocrine diseases and cancers due to testing from the 1950's. The bill would ensure about 1,000-1,500 COFA Islanders receive the proper health care they are in dire need of.

 

Loyd Henion, a constituent from Albany, became involved when he learned about the health care issue from his mother's caregiver who is a Marshall Islander. I very much appreciate Loyd bringing this bill forward, educating the legislature, and advocating for this group.

 

Earlier this week, Senior Master Trainer of the US Army, Kalani Kaneko who actually lives in my district, informed me why this bill was so important to him. He says, "HB 2522 is all about equality...if COFA citizens are qualified to fight for our freedom, why can't they qualify for medical benefits?" I appreciate Kalani's perspective, especially after his 20 years of service in the US Army.

 

This week, HB 2522 passed out of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services, but as an amended version. Since the majority of the policy will be federally funded, we need to wait until next session to ensure we receive the federal match.

 

This is a great first step in the right direction and I'm looking forward to working on this further in the February Short Session.

  
                        Welcome Home

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Demobilization Ceremony of 2nd Battalion 162nd Infantry in Linn County. I felt extremely honored to be a  part in welcoming these troops home. The Democrat Herald did a great job recognizing the troops for their service, which you can read here. 

The Final Countdown

Since my first session in 2005, Sine Die (the end of session) has a strangely familiar consistent routine every biennium...floor sessions are never ending, caucus meetings are scheduled with no moments notice, and staffers are hard at work getting last minute paperwork in for the final budget bills.

 

Constitutionally, the legislature is required to Sine Die by July 11th, although our target date was June 26th. Well, we won't be finished today, but it appears we're on track to Sine Die by next Friday...just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July.

 

On another subject, HB 3400, the main marijuana bill, passed through the House Chamber earlier this week, which also brings the legislature closer to an ending. Although I did not support Measure 91, I was assigned to serve on the Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91. As a member of this committee, I worked extremely hard in crafting the finalized version in such a way to protect Oregonians as much as possible. I fought to fix the hole of the black market within the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) while ensuring medical marijuana patients were not hindered.

 HB 3400 does the following:

  • Provides for testing of all marijuana items, and regulatory authority to establish testing standards

  • Requires testing laboratories be licensed by the state

  • Provides for packaging, labeling and dosage standards

  • Requires registration of designated grow sites and processing sites

  • Requires designated growers, processors and dispensaries to submit information to a database regarding amounts possessed and transferred

  • Authorizes OHA to inspect grow and processing sites and their business records

  • Limits the number of plants that may be grown at a single address

  • Prohibits marijuana extract processing sites in residential zones

  • Allows local tax on sale of retail marijuana items if approved by local voters at a general election

  • Provides for local opt out options

In wrapping up, the main bills left to vote on will be budget related. I know the Full Committee on Ways and Means have been working tirelessly to best balance the budget.

 

Until next week,

 

 

Andy Olson

 

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