Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
D-NW Portland/Beaverton
District 17

Phone: 503-986-1717    900 Court St. NE, S-403, Salem Oregon 97301
Email: sen.elizabethsteinerhayward@state.or.us     Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/steinerhayward
Elizabeth's Prescription for Change

 

Dear Friends,

With the 2013 Legislative Session well underway, I’m writing to share some of my thoughts and the latest news out of Salem.  The first month of Session has taught me even more about how the legislature functions, and how I can be the most effective legislator to serve my constituents and my state.  First and foremost, the legislature, like much of the world, works best when people build strong relationships based on trust and mutual respect, so I’ve been working hard to develop these relationships within my caucus, across the aisle, and in the House.  Additionally, it’s clear that the “Be Prepared” motto applies strongly to legislative work; I’m spending a lot of time meeting with experts on various topics, and doing hours of reading to make sure I’m making informed decisions.  This is particularly true in my role as Co-Chair of the Ways & Means Sub-Committee on General Government, where it’s important to understand the issues facing each agency, and whether its proposed budget makes sense in terms of the agency’s mandated functions, its effectiveness and efficiency, and the need to prioritize core services such as education, human services, and public safety.  I’ve also been struck by how helpful it can be to make connections between seemingly unrelated topics, in particular when serving on a range of committees and considering diverse issues. Read about an example of this here.

I am happy to report that several of my priority bills have started making progress through the legislature.  Additionally, on Monday, the Full Ways & Means Co-Chairs will release their budget proposal.  After that happens, budget discussions will begin in earnest.  Those of you who, like me, are deeply concerned about our schools will want to pay particular attention to the co-chair's budget release.  Meanwhile, the tuition equity bill and a bill to move forward on the I-5 replacement bridge project have both passed the House, and the Senate will  vote on them soon.  I will write more about these issues in my next newsletter.

While almost everything I’ve been experiencing thus far has made me proud of our democratic process, I’ve been saddened by the level of venom expressed on certain controversial topics, particularly gun violence prevention.  I am always eager to engage in constructive dialog with those who disagree with me about a topic.  But when my staff answers the phone and hear nothing but profanity then our desire to engage has been blocked.  It’s clearly a passionate issue for both sides, but we must find a way to discover the proverbial “common ground.” One of my favorite expressions is “The truth lies somewhere in between,” and I believe this applies to gun violence prevention as much as any other topic. 

With this newsletter, I’m exploring a new format.  There is often more to report than any one person would want to read, so each newsletter will start with some personal reflections, and then there will be hyperlinks to sections on a wide range of  topics so that you can simply click on whichever interests you.  For starters, I’d encourage everyone to read the section entitled “Staying Up to Date”.  Please do write back with your thoughts on this newsletter and how we can engage in dialog together throughout the session. 

Thank you for reading my newsletter.  Please remember that I want to hear from you as the session progresses.  Do not hesitate to contact me with your ideas or concerns.

My best,

Signatures
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward MD
Salem Phone: 503-986-1717
District Phone: 503-277-2467


Topics

Staying Up to Date

Improving Access to Primary Care

Protecting Children from Second Hand Smoke

Liability Reform & Patient Safety

Oregon Women’s Health & Wellness Alliance

Making Connections

Staying Up to Date

The Oregon Legislature has recently unveiled a new online tool to allow Oregonians to access important legislative information.  The Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) allows anyone with an internet connection to search every bill that has been introduced, track a bill's status, and find out about key hearings or floor votes.  To access OLIS, click on the above link.

Another great way to find out about the latest political happenings is to follow me on Twitter or to like my Facebook page.  I try to post updates as often as possible.  To get connected, simply click on the icons at the bottom of this news bulletin.

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Improving Access to Primary Care

The implementation of the health insurance exchange (Cover Oregon) later this year, and the significant increase of Oregonians with health insurance starting in 2014 will increase the need for primary care providers across Oregon.  Oregon’s $1.9 Billion Medicaid Waiver includes a requirement that the state invest $4 Million in loan repayment for primary care providers over the 2013-15 biennium.  I have been working with the Oregon Health Authority for months to ensure that ‘primary care’ includes not only physicians but also nurse practitioners, physician assistants, mental health providers, dentists, and expanded permit dental hygienists.  I am the Chief Sponsor of Senate Bill 440, which establishes the loan repayment program, and it passed out of the Health & Human Services committee just a week into Session, and is now awaiting a hearing in the Ways & Means Sub-Committee on Human Services.

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Protecting Children from Second Hand Smoke

As a family physician, I’m always focused on keeping people healthy. So, one of my biggest priorities this session is Senate Bill 444, which seeks to ban smoking in cars with children.  The bill had its first hearing last week in Senate Judiciary and it seemed to have broad bi-partisan support. Some other supporters of the bill include: American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon Pediatric Society, Oregon Medical Association, Tobacco Free Coalition of Oregon, Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, OHSU, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and Oregon State Sheriffs Association.  The law will only be enforced as a secondary violation, which means a police officer can only enforce it if the car is pulled over for a separate traffic violation.  I am hopeful that the bill will leave committee late next week and head to the Senate floor a vote the week after.  KATU did a great story on the bill, which you can view here:

 

KATU Story

<Click Here to Play Video>

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Liability Reform & Patient Safety

The issue of medical malpractice has been a controversial issue in Oregon for a long time.  On one hand, most everyone agrees that we need to do more to reduce the cost of medical liability insurance in order to control health care costs.  At the same time, we do not want to deny just compensation to someone who has been seriously injured by a health care provider's mistake.  I have also long been concerned that the focus was solely on physicians, rather than on improving patient safety.  This year, however, I am pleased to report that we are finally making progress on this difficult issue.  On Friday, the Joint Committee on Ways & Means voted unanimously to move Senate Bill 483 to the floor of the Senate.  Unlike malpractice reform attempts in the past, this bill was the product of extensive discussions between both doctors and trial attorneys, and ultimately included a strong focus on patient safety.  As a result, both the Oregon Medical Association and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association are supporting Senate Bill 483.  The bill would establish a voluntary process that would allow patients who believe they have been injured due to medical negligence to have early discussions with the doctor or health system that provided the care.  I have been working hard to get this legislation passed.  My hope is that this will allow many of these disputes to be quickly resolved without resort to expensive drawn out litigation, and more importantly, will help address causes of poor care and prevent them from happening again.

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Oregon Women's Health and Wellness Alliance Introduces Agenda

The Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance (OWHWA), which I co-chair with Representative Sara Gelser, is also off to a great start for session.  On February 20th, we hosted a Legislative Breakfast and Press Conference to release the group’s priority bill list for the 2013 session.  I am very proud we are supporting so many important bills (click here to view press conference). The group’s priority bill list includes two bills to expand protections for victims of sexual and domestic violence (House Bill 2779, House Bill 2903) and a request to increase funding for the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Fund.  We are also supporting five important bills in the area of economic, equity and employment issues.  This includes bills to require all businesses to allow employees to earn paid sick leave (House Bill 3390), to protect the rights of domestic workers (House Bill 2672), expand opportunities for natural hair care practitioners to start small businesses in their communities (House Bill 3409), and increase funding for programs that support low-income working families.  In an effort to improve women’s health, the group is supporting a bill to increase slots in the breast and cervical cancer program (Senate Bill 362) and requesting that the Oregon Health Authority make early prenatal care available to all low-income women in the state.   I am also co-chief sponsor on two other OWHWA priority bills, one which improves education and notification of women whose mammograms show that they have dense breast tissue (Senate Bill 420) and one which makes care of diabetes during pregnancy more affordable to women with private insurance (House Bill 2432).  For more information about OWHWA and for a complete list of the OWHWA Priority Bills, please visit www.owhwa.org.

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Making Connections

I mentioned the importance of making connections between seemingly unconnected topics in my personal comments, and would like to share a brief example of how that can help.  This past week, the General Government Sub-Committee heard testimony from the Construction Contractors Board (CCB).  During the hearing, we learned that locksmiths have to go through exactly the same licensure and bonding process that large commercial contractors do.  I mentioned that when sitting on the Health & Human Services policy committee, we heard from the Board of Massage Therapists that they were developing a different licensing path for practitioners of very focused body work such as Reiki, so that those practitioners did not have to train or get tested in traditional Swedish Massage, wondered if the CCB could do the same, and asked the Director to bring back recommendations to the 2014 session.  The very next day the Director of the CCB approached me to say that he’d figured out a path to provide a limited license for locksmiths and home inspectors, and wanted to work with me to get an amendment into a bill being heard this coming week to make this happen.  This will open up opportunities for small business development and decrease unnecessary regulation.

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