A Big Victory for Young Oregonians



Rep. Michael Dembrow 
NE Portland, Maywood Park & Parkrose

Phone: 503-986-1445

 Email: rep.michaeldembrow@state.or.us 
Website: http://www.repmichaeldembrow.com  

E-Newsletter                              March 22, 2013

Friends and Neighbors,

I’m writing this newsletter on Thursday evening.  Truth be told, there are some days when it’s no fun to be a legislator.  I won’t go into all the many obstructions and irritations and mind-hurting hard decisions that the job often entails. 

But today was one of those days that makes it all worth it.  Because today, after a struggle that has lasted for the last ten years and for all of my time in office, TUITION EQUITY HAS PASSED THE OREGON LEGISLATURE!!!!

What a great feeling it was to sit on the floor of the Senate, in between two strong supporters of HB 2787, Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward and our own Senator Jackie Dingfelder, and listen to the powerful, moving presentation of the bill by Senate President Peter Courtney, who first brought the bill to the Legislature in 2003. 

Of the eight other senators speaking in favor of the bill—Democratic Senators Dingfelder, Steiner-Hayward, Chris Edwards, Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum, and Education Chair Mark Hass, and Republican Senators Chuck Thomsen, Doug Whitsett, and Tim Knopp--only the last two spoke against the bill.  In the end, the bill passed on a 19-11 vote, with all 16 Democrats and three Republicans—Chuck Thomsen from Hood River, Bill Hansell from Eastern Oregon, and Bruce Starr from Washington County.

Governor Kitzhaber has told me that he is eager to sign the bill into law, and that will probably happen in a formal ceremony during the first week of April.

And that means that within the next month the Oregon University System will begin developing the rules that will implement this new road to opportunity for young Oregonians throughout our state.  I can’t tell you how proud I’ve been to be part of that!  Thank you all for your support and your encouragement.

And thanks to ALL the young dreamers who have been patient believers throughout these many years.  We have taken an important step towards opening the way to a better future.

I hope to see you tomorrow at the Town Hall,


Town Hall Tomorrow!

My next town hall meeting is tomorrow morning.  I’m co-hosting, as usual, with our neighboring Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, and our State Senator, Jackie Dingfelder.  With the session going full steam, it’s a good chance for us to update you on what each of our offices is working on, and get your feedback on bills and the budget.  I hope you’ll take the time to join us.


WHAT: Town Hall

WHO: Rep. Dembrow, Rep. Keny-Guyer, Sen. Dingfelder and YOU

WHEN: Saturday, March 23rd from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM*

WHERE: PCC SE Center, corner of SE 82nd Ave. & Division (Tabor Hall, rooms 139/140)


*A previous newsletter misstated the starting time of the town hall.  10 AM is the correct time.

Nurse Practitioner Parity Bill Passes the House

One of the more controversial bills of the session so far has been HB 2902, which mandates “pay parity” for primary care and mental health physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.  This is the second session that this bill has been before us, and it’s one that unfortunately pits physician groups against nurse advocate groups.  It’s the result of a recent decision by some health care insurers to reduce the payments made for procedures performed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants as a cost-cutting measure.  Nursing advocates argue that this violates the principle of equal pay for equal work, since the work being done is the same.

I side with the nurse advocates on this one.

In my floor speech on Tuesday, I tried to convey my reasoning on this issue:  if two people are both qualified to do a particular procedure, if they both have been trained to do that procedure, if that procedure is within both of their scopes of practice, and they are paid by the procedure, then the two should be paid the same for the procedure.  This is what we mean when we mean by equal pay for equal work.

As many of you know, my daughter is a family nurse practitioner, working in a practice that would not be affected by the elements of this bill.  Not surprisingly, I look to her for advice and understanding of the day to day workings of healthcare professionals.  She has helped me to understand the important concept of practicing at the top of one’s training and scope of practice, which is such an important element of healthcare reform.

She has helped me to understand that one of the most important aspects of a healthcare professional’s education is learning to recognize when they have reached the limits of their training and need to refer a patient to a clinician or to a specialist.  This bill recognizes that principle.

It’s frustrating that we are still stuck in this insane way of paying for healthcare procedure by procedure.  As you know, I would like us to move to a very different system of healthcare in this country, one that focuses on prevention and on treating the whole person and that is free of the profit motive of private insurance.  But for now, this is what we have, and that is why a bill like HB 2902 is needed.

I’m happy to report that the bill passed on a 39-20 vote and now is headed over to the Senate.

Guardianship and Fiduciary Bills Get First Hearing

Last Friday, two bills that I Chief sponsored got their first hearing in the Human Services and Housing Committee.  HB 3129 tackles the issue of professional fiduciaries who are hired by person incapable of handling their own financial and life decisions.  Currently in Oregon there are no minimum standards for serving as professional fiduciary, and very little oversight of the profession in general.  Our hope is that 3129 will lead to some basic standards that all professional fiduciaries will be held to, as well as some training and education opportunities for non-professional fiduciaries (oftentimes family members) in the future.

HB 2671 is legislation that came out of a task force that met for nearly four years on the issue of public guardianship.  Many Oregonians who are in need of a guardian or conservator don’t have the funds to pay one.  Multnomah County has a longstanding public guardian program that provides these individuals with a guardian.  The need is growing, and the hope is to create a statewide public guardian program.  If we succeed in passing 2671 this session, it will initially serve only a fraction of the need, but it will serve as an important beachhead that will help us move toward addressing this problem on a larger scale.

Stay tuned for more on both of these bills.

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