“A true Oregon gem…”
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s description of the new Secretary of State.

News of the week

And the new Secretary of State is…Jeanne Atkins

Gov. Kate Brown picked her new successor as Secretary of State on March 6. Jeanne Atkins, had served as the state director for Sen. Jeff Merkley from 2009 until her retirement last December. Prior to that she served as chief of staff to Merkley when he was the Speaker of the Oregon House. The new secretary will be sworn in on Wednesday, March 11. http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2015/03/kate_brown_appoints_veteran_go.html#incart_related_stories


The big bill this week: Clean Fuels Legislation

In a close vote (31-29) and a five-hour debate on the floor, the House passed the controversial Clean Fuels Legislation. This bill removes the 2015 sunset on Oregon’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Republicans have said they will pull out of the transportation work group if this bill passed. A bipartisan group of legislators has been in discussions about a proposed gas tax to fund roads and other infrastructure. 



Other major legislation that passed this week:

Class action legal-aid (HB 2700). This bill redirects unclaimed class-action damage awards to the state’s legal aid fund. Right now, companies are allowed to keep unclaimed funds. This bill failed in the senate last session by one vote. This time the margin was 17-13.The Governor has already signed it. 

HB 2711 the ‘Motor Voter’ bill has passed the Senate and is now on the way to Governor Brown for her signature. This will automatically register people using the data that the Department of Motor Vehicles currently collects for drivers’ licenses. The bill is expected to add 300,000 new voters to the rolls. 


Bill Count: 2,616

Several hundred new bills were introduced by legislators by the February 25 deadline. Most of these were released this week. Remember: each legislator has five priority bills they may use at any time between now and the end of session.



April 10 – Deadline for Chairs to SCHEDULE Work Sessions for First Chamber Measures 

Policy committee Chairs must post agendas with first chamber measures (House bills in the House, Senate bills in the Senate) that they intend to hold a work session on by the April 21 deadline. This will not apply to Ways & Means, Revenue, Rules, and other joint committees. Bills in a policy committee that are not scheduled for a work session by this deadline will not receive further action. However, the bill may return in the form of a ‘gut and stuff’. See ‘Thing to Know’ section at the end of this newsletter.

“White Coat Invasion” OMA Day at the Capitol, March 12, 2015 —Last Chance to Register.

The Oregon Medical Association is organizing a lobby day for physicians, PAs and students on March 12. You don’t have to be an OMA member to attend. It’s an opportunity to hear from legislative leaders, receive message training and to meet with your legislators. Appointments are being made now for people who have registered. Learn more at www.theOMA.org/Day.


Upcoming bill hearings and other activities

HB 2022, case management services to assist individuals discharged from facilities to outpatient mental health treatment, HB 2023, protocols for discharge of a patient who presented with a behavioral health crisis and HB 2948, disclosure of protected health information under certain conditions, will be up for a public hearing in the House Health Care Committee on Wednesday, March 11. These bills are all intended to improve the system of care for people in mental health crisis. Amendments are still in the works for HB 2022 and 2023, to ensure the provisions won’t delay discharge or treatment of the patient.

SB 626, allows additional persons, such as public health researchers or the state medical examiner, access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Amendments will be introduced to remove the requirement that physicians check the PDMP prior to prescribing certain prescription drugs. A public hearing is scheduled on March 11 in the Senate Health Care Committee. 

Status update

SB 442, eliminating the non-medical exemption for school immunizations, was scheduled for a work session in the Senate Health Care Committee on March 9. This bill will be rescheduled. Supporters are working to ensure the votes are in place to pass the bill in the Senate.

Thing to Know: What’s a Gut n’ Stuff bill? 

The glossary to the Oregon Legislative Guide describes this a ‘gut and stuff’ as the “slang term that refers to removing the text of a measure and inserting entirely new language, which while it make change the nature of the measure completely, still must fall under the measure’s title, also known as the ‘relating-to’ clause.” This practice is a good reason to pay attention to the relating clause listed by Legislative Counsel at the beginning of each bill. A relating clause of ‘health care’ can accommodate almost any subject in the health care arena.

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

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