“The end of session: fewer bills, more mischief.”
Quip from high-ranking government official

News of the week: Policy committees close today

Today is the last day for policy committees to move measures that originated in the opposite chamber out of committee. Any bill that has not been voted out of committee by today is dead. The deadline does not apply to Ways & Means, Revenue, Rules and other joint committees and from now until sine die (adjournment) that is where the action will take place. The state budget must be completed (all 90 state boards and agencies) before the constitutional adjournment date of July 11.

Watch list

One bill that is still in play that is of concern to physicians is SB 409, the medical liability bill which increases the $500,000 limit on noneconomic damages recoverable in wrongful death actions to $1.5 million. At the current time, the bill is in Senate Rules and the votes aren’t available to pass it out of committee to the Senate floor. If you are an OMA member you may have received an action alert urging you to call your senator. Katy King is meeting with key senators on behalf of OCEP, urging them to vote ‘no’ on this bill.

Transportation package talks (still) continue

Talks are reportedly at an impasse with Republicans insisting that the carbon fuel standard bill passed earlier this session be repealed. They say this will cause big price increases at the gas pump. Supporters of the bill disagree. If the issue of how to pay for crumbling roads and infrastructure isn’t resolved before adjournment, the governor may call legislators back for a special session.

Big Bill of the Week: Women’s health and access to birth control

Oregon is garnering national attention for two bills that passed this week to expand access to birth control. The Senate unanimously passed HB 3343 which would require all health insurance providers to reimburse a provider or pharmacy for dispensing a full 12-month supply of prescription contraception. The House passed HB 2879, a bill sponsored by Rep. Knute Buehler, a physician from Bend, that would allow women over age 18 to obtain birth control directly from a pharmacist after a risk-screening assessment. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/04/us-usa-birthcontrol-oregon-idUSKBN0OJ34W20150604

Ways and Means Hearings

Policy bills awaiting final budget priority decisions are starting to move in the Ways and Means subcommittees. Public hearings in Ways and Means next week include: SB 478, the children’s toxics bill that requires the Oregon Health Authority to establish and maintain a list of designated high priority chemicals of concerns for children’s health used in children’s products. This bill, championed by Rep. Keny-Guyer, hasn’t advanced in the last several sessions because of the fiscal impact and opposition from manufacturers. SB 469, an ONA hospital nurse staffing bill, is up for a public hearing and work session. SB 900, a cost transparency bill backed by the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, will have a public hearing on 6/8. SB 757, appropriates funds to the Oregon Healthcare Workforce Institute and Oregon Center for Nursing for analysis of effectiveness of state programs designed to encourage practice of healthcare providers with underserved populations or in rural areas.

Revenue Hearing

SB 663, a bill to require licensure of retail sales of tobacco and e-cigarette products, is up for a work session on Monday.

Thing to Know: Blue Sheets

The Governor is signing the hundreds of bills that are coming her way from the House and Senate Chambers. Her decisions are informed in multiple ways (besides her decades of experience) by staff, legislators, the public and by state agency experts. A blue sheet is the colloquial term used for a recommendation from a state agency as to whether the Governor should sign or veto a bill. Insider thing to know — the recommendation is no longer blue and it’s sent electronically.

For more information about the legislative process, please contact Katy King.

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