Senator Jeff Kruse - March 22nd, 2013

 

Senator Jeff Kruse
R-Roseburg, District 1

Phone: 503-986-1701    900 Court St. NE, S-211 Salem Oregon 97301
Email: sen.jeffkruse@state.or.us     Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/kruse
E-Newsletter                 

 Working Hard For You

 

MARCH 22, 2013

 

 

The Oregon Senate passed two significant bills yesterday, Senate Bill 470 and House Bill 2787.  I will start off with SB 470, as I was the sponsor of the bill and carried it on the floor.  This is a bill dealing with Oregon’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which was created two years ago after 8 years of work on the concept.  To put the issue in context, Oregon is fourth in the nation in prescription drug abuse.  Additionally, in the United States last year, the number of deaths from drug abuse was actually greater than the number of deaths from automobile accidents.  We clearly have a problem.

 

The two main purposes of the program are to allow doctors to be able to see what other drugs their patients might be taking from another provider to prevent possible drug interactions and also to be able to tell if someone is “drug shopping”.  I have been involved in the creation of this program from the beginning and I have been the lead member from the legislative side.  Our objective was to create a program that was easy for providers to use and also was protected from access by anyone else (including law enforcement).  The safety and the protocols around the system are working very well.  We also knew we probably hadn’t gotten everything right and would need to make further adjustments over time.

 

Last summer I was invited, as a member of the Oregon delegation, to a meeting in Alabama sponsored by the National Governor’s Association dealing with drug abuse primarily because of my involvement in these issues.  There were seven states at the meeting and we were able to share our experiences and ideas.  I find this type of meeting very valuable and I am looking forward to the next one which will be in Colorado sometime this spring.  Our small group from Oregon got together and came up with a list of modifications to the program we thought were appropriate.  When we got back to Oregon the Governor convened a much larger group to review our recommendations and the result was SB 470.

 

The changes to the program are:  clarifying personal information to make sure each person’s data is actually theirs,   allowing a doctor to check their own data to make sure nobody else is using their DEA number, allowing a doctor to assign the duty of data entry to someone in their office, a “red flag” provision so the system can inform the provider of a potential problem, the ability of the Board of Pharmacy to add non-scheduled drugs to the program, and the ability of doctors from adjoining states to be able to check on their patients who are Oregon residents.

 

The only real opposition to the bill was from the ACLU, who was opposed to the program from the beginning.  I think we are headed in the right direction and these changes will just make it work better.  I will note, however, there is a problem as the DEA thinks they should have access to the system.  We absolutely disagree as this is a state program.  I recently had a conversation with our Attorney General, as this case is now in the federal district court.  We think we can win, but we are prepared to take it to the Ninth Circuit Court or beyond if necessary.  Clearly it will be a while before this issue is resolved, but we will do everything we can to defend state’s rights on this issue.

 

The other bill, HB 2787, is also known as the tuition equity bill.  It is always interesting to see how some issues end up being labeled.  Simply what this bill does is give in state tuition to people who are not legally in this country.  The proponents say, “it is about the kids”, and I can understand that argument.  For me it is about the Constitution and the law, and based on that perspective I voted against the bill.   The bill passed, and those of us who voted against it will be labeled as anti-immigration. Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am pro-immigration, but only through the channels proscribed in federal law.  It should also be noted there are a wide variety of ways a person can be in this country legally without being a citizen.  We are dealing with people who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to avail themselves of the remedies already in law.

 

I also find the analysis of the cost to the state to be very flawed.  We know that in- state tuition is heavily subsidized by the general fund, and yet the analysis we were given states this will be revenue positive.  They also said this will impact less than one hundred students when we have over 30,000 students in the English as a second language program.  I can’t understand how this math works, but this is clearly a hit on the money we are currently spending to educate those in this country legally.  We suggested, and actually have a bill, that we give in-state tuition to veterans.  We have been told this would cost us significant dollars.  The same provision for one group costs us money and for another group generates money.  The only conclusion I can come to is the fiscal analysis we are being provided now is part of an advocacy rather than pure analysis.

 

The only other point I will make on this bill is the fact it was fast tract to the point no amendments could be offered and an “emergency clause” was put on the bill to prevent anyone from taking the issue to the ballot before it was implemented.

 

Most of the work we do in Salem is good work.  Unfortunately, with the passage of HB 2787, this is not one of those times.

Sincerely,

 

Senator Jeff Kruse

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in reading my past newsletters please click on my webpage link below:

 

http://www.leg.state.or.us/kruse/

Update your subscriptions, modify your password or e-mail address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your User Profile Page. You will need to use your e-mail address to log in. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact support@govdelivery.com.