Legislative Accomplishments

Since I was elected to the legislature, I have introduced and passed a number of bills covering health care and health insurance, education, public safety, consumer protection, and untangling bureaucracy … and more. Some of those ideas came from meeting with constituents, visiting local organizations, and paying close attention to local news and events.

During the 2015 legislative session I focused on ensuring fairness and access to government and opportunity for all Oregonians. In order to do this, I passed legislation protecting college students from predatory practices of financial aid disbursement companies, worked to ensure manufactured housing tenants are able to sell or rent their home without facing unfair competition from a landlord, and guaranteed a minimum standard of justice statewide by creating educational standards for local judges. I also initiated a process to make applications for human service assistance programs easier and more streamlined, tightened regulations for the public contracting process to increase both accountability and transparency, and protected passenger rail service by ensuring adequate funding to keep our trains running.

In previous sessions, I passed several dozen bills, for example to protect consumers from odometer fraud, improve and support school health clinics, cut red tape for local mental health service providers, allow schools more flexibility in using funds to serve their students, discourage metal theft, make public any health insurance company requests to increase rates, and get more services to veterans. 

Here’s a selection of bills covering health, consumer protection, public safety, transportation, and more that I’ve authored and passed, with links to my testimony explaining the bill (in no particular order):

Increasing accountability in the public contracting process: HB 2375 (2015) raised the bar for drafting and administering public contracts. It added uniformity in contract language that will benefit Oregon businesses and simplify the process, and required training for administrators to ensure adequate contract management.

Ensuring minimum standards of justice statewide: HB 3399 (2015) establishes a baseline standard for local court judges and court procedures to ensure consistent practices, with the objective of ensuring equal access to justice across the state. It ensures that all municipal and justice court judges will meet minimum education standards before presiding over criminal cases, and increases courtroom transparency and accountability by assuring every party the right to record proceedings.

Protecting people who buy used cars: HB 3137 (2013) ensures that used car buyers can find out if the car’s odometer is correct. Rolling back the odometer subjects buyers to inflated sales prices and unexpected expenses for repair and maintenance.  My testimony describes why we should be keeping odometer readings for all automobiles, not just those under ten years old.

Improving passenger rail: HB 3401 (2015) directs the Oregon Department of Transportation to report on actions to improve on-time performance of passenger rail and increase ridership.

Making roads safer: HB 3136 (2013) helps protect pedestrians, cyclists, other motorists, and law enforcement against the dangers of encountering a driver’s window tinted so dark you can’t see in. Owners of such vehicles will get a “fix-it ticket” and have an incentive to fix the problem instead of paying a fine and keeping the illegal tinting.

Protecting consumers and law enforcement: HB 4108 (2012), the “cash for gold” bill, requires stores to make a record of precious metal items and people who sell them, enabling law enforcement to monitor and track stolen goods.  In 2011 my metal theft bill was incorporated into legislation that eliminates same-day cash for selling scrap metal, and increases penalties for theft that threatens public health and safety, like stealing phone lines.

Helping connect Oregonians to relief programs and services: HB 2219 (2015) directs the Department of Human Services to work with other agencies covering housing, employment, education, and child care to study a consolidated application process for services such as SNAP (food assistance), Employment Related Daycare, low income housing assistance, unemployment insurance, and health insurance. Rather than filling out redundant applications and forms, a consolidated process will reduce the hassle, and save time and money.

Making criminal background checks more accurate: HB 3198 (2013) requires local justice and municipal courts to notify the State Police of criminal convictions, so that this critical information will be available for background checks. Accurate background checks help keep Oregonians safe at school, at home, and when doing business.

Putting more money to work in local communities: HB 2140 (2013) gets more money to work in local communities by allowing local governments, schools and community colleges to invest in a state interest-earning pool and earn a better rate of interest.

Putting students ahead of corporations: At many colleges across Oregon, to access their financial aid, students are stuck using a debit card, arranged by their school contracting with a third party financial firm. These contracts often include predatory fee structures including swipe fees, transfer fees, and ATM fees. HB 2832 (2015) requires all public and private higher education institutions to consider federal guidelines when entering into college card contracts with third parties. It also prohibits certain fees such as transaction and inactivity fees.

Protecting students from financial loss: HB 3516 (2015) requires regulated for-profit colleges to file a surety bond or a letter of credit allowing students to recover their pre-paid tuition in the event that the school closes or fails to deliver courses. This guarantees that Oregon’s students don’t lose the money they have invested in their pre-paid tuition. 

Supporting school health clinics: HB 2445 (2013) provides support, oversight, health system collaboration, and additional funding for school health clinics.

Cutting red tape for local government, business, and nonprofit organizations: two bills remove outdated laws, HB 2141 (2013) about county fairgrounds, and HB 2142 (2013) about county treasurers. HB 2143 (2013) eliminates duplicate auditing of local correctional facilities. HB 2856 (2011) requires state agencies to work with local governments to reduce administrative burdens, particularly duplicative audits, on human service program providers.  HB 2859 (2011) increases public and private collaboration to preserve Oregon history and reduce duplication of effort.  HB 2367 (2011) provides flexibility for counties to provide law library services and partner with associations and university libraries.

For veterans: HB 3104 (2009) helps provide more veterans with services, and bring more federal dollars to Oregon. HB 2230 (2015) helps connect veterans with services for which they qualify, whether it’s education, housing, food, health care, or something else. It requires the Oregon Health Authority to take that simple step: ask people who apply for health care services or benefits whether they’ve served in the military and if they’d like to be contacted by ODVA to help direct them to benefits and information.

Helping low-income people with taxes:  HB 2970 (2009) expands the number of people who hear about and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working people and families, and expands awareness of free tax preparation assistance from trained volunteers.

For Seniors: I helped pass the CARE Act (stands for Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable), HB 3378 (2015) which ensures that family caregivers are appropriately trained and able to care for patients when discharged from a hospital.

Making government work smarter: HB 2854 (2011) encourages state and local governments to consolidate use of vehicles or motor pool scheduling and maintenance services.  HB 2698 (2013) eliminates sunset on provisions for training, qualifying and certifying specialized building inspectors.   HB 2629 (2013) allows alternative methods for local government to publish expenditures for public notice.

Reducing bureaucracy and cost for individuals and employers:  In 2012, I passed a bill to put the wheels in motion for a series of bills to straighten out Oregon's 50+ different criminal background check processes. (HB 4091 Passed the House and Senate unanimously).  The following year I passed three bills: HB 3168 (2013) starts work to develop standard criteria for background checks, so someone cleared for one job won't have to get a second or third background check to do similar work.  HB 3330 (2013) makes electronic fingerprint capture the new standard instead of paper and ink.  HB 3331 (2013) establishes a voluntary central criminal records check registry. HB 2250 (2015) continues the process of streamlining background checks.

Encouraging more primary care health providers: HB 2366 (2011) calls for a strategic plan for recruiting primary care providers to the state. 

Reducing cost and protecting public health: HB 2371 (2011) reduces errors that lead to wasted vaccine and ineffective vaccinations, avoids costs to providers and the state for replacing spoiled vaccine,  and reduces inconvenience, cost and risk to individuals who must return for revaccination when vaccines are spoiled due to improper storage.

Health insurance rate transparency: HB 3103 (2007): requires health insurance companies ‘proposals to increase rates to be made available to the public immediately and posted on the web.

Getting money to classrooms: HB 3401 (2013) allows school districts to request State School Fund dollars from education service districts to be directly available to schools.

Preserving affordable housing: HB 2383 (2009) helps people remain in their manufactured or mobile home park by establishing the right for a residents’ association or co-op to make an offer when a park owner plans to sell the park.

Protecting residents in affordable housing: HB 3016 (2015) ensures that when a tenant (homeowner) in a manufactured housing park chooses to sell or rent their home, they can do so without fear that their landlord or park owner will steer away prospective buyers or renters with false information or double standards. 

Watching new Talgo train come through SalemHelping the local community: HB3224 and HB3223 (2008) encourage the state to provide funding for improvements in Alton Baker Park and along the Willamette River corridor and to support security and logistic needs for the 2008 Olympic Track Trials. In addition to funding for those priorities, the state also helped with improvements to Hayward Field. Those investments have paid off: Eugene’s status as Track Town USA has been re-established, and national and international events, benefitting the local area and the entire state, have been secured for eight consecutive years.  In 2013, I secured state funding to help preserve important archaeological and anthropological collections at the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History, and to store the Jensen Arctic Collection being moved from Western Oregon University to UO.

Improving the rail system: HB 2370 (2011) helps preserve existing rail right of way, and HB 2918 (2013) establishes the Oregon-Washington bi-state passenger rail planning effort to jointly plan and operate the Cascadia rail corridor.

Affordable health care: HB 3642 (2010) increases access to affordable health care by allowing more flexibility for operating health care clinics and supervising physician assistants.