Brief Updates from HD45



Rep. Michael Dembrow 
NE Portland, Maywood Park & Parkrose

District Phone: 503-281-0608


Twitter: @michaeldembrow

E-Newsletter                              October 14, 2013

Friends and Neighbors,

This is a quick newsletter, whose main purpose is to remind you of the town hall that Senator Dingfelder, Representative Keny-Guyer, and I are doing this Wednesday evening.  But I also want to take the opportunity to mention a couple of things that have occurred in the last couple of weeks:  an award that means a tremendous amount to me, and an important national conversation about the Pay It Forward method of paying for college that Oregon initiated by passing landmark legislation in July.

Today, by the way, is my birthday, and I’ll be spending much of it on a plane with my wife heading back from a visit with my grandchildren.  Sad to leave, of course, but there’s nothing like waking up to birthday greetings from those adorable little ones.

Hope to see you at the town hall or at the next coffee on the first Saturday of November.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns or suggestions about anything related to state government, please don’t hesitate to write or call.

Town Hall: Oregon & the Affordable Care Act

I know that many of you have questions about the federal Affordable Care Act and Cover Oregon, the health insurance exchange that is rolling out this month.  Alissa, Jackie, and I have invited Bruce Goldberg, the head of the Oregon Health Authority, David Barenberg, a spokesperson for Cover Oregon, and others to provide information and answer your questions this Wednesday evening.

In the short run, the exchange and the ACA in general will be extremely beneficial for individuals and small businesses looking for decent coverage.  I do believe, however, that this is just a step towards a more permanent solution to our health insurance crisis.  I’ll probably say a few words about the growing statewide organizing effort around “single payer” (aka improved Medicare for All), following up on HB 3260 and HB 2922 from the 2013 session.  Some really exciting things are happening on that front, though none of that detracts from the important immediate work being done around the exchange and the implementation of the ACA.  It’s important that Oregonians in need of coverage understand their options and proceed in a way that will be beneficial to them and their families. 

If you can’t make it to the town hall, please consider us a resource to help you get answers to the questions that you have.

ACA Town Hall

Wednesday, October 16th

6:30 to 8:00pm

Immigrant Refugee Community Center (IRCO)

10301 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97220

Pay It Forward Goes National

En route to visit my grandchildren, I made a stop in Philadelphia for a day-long meeting on the exciting new program known as Pay It Forward, Pay It Back.  You’ll recall that this was a proposal that came from a group of students at Portland State University last fall, which would allow students to attend a public college or university tuition-free and commit to paying a percentage of their monthly salary (approx. .75% for each year they were in school) after graduation  into a fund that would pay for the next generation of students to do the same. 

Their proposal became HB 3472, which charges the Higher Education Coordinating Commission with studying and creating a pilot program that would try out a Pay It Forward strategy.  I helped move it through the system, and it eventually passed—unanimously--both chambers of the Legislature.

Word about this innovative concept spread like wildfire and generated interest around the country among educators and legislators, at the state and federal level.  Senator Merkeley has drafted federal legislation that would facilitate implementation of the pilots.  Bills modeled after ours have been or will be submitted in a number of legislatures.

So, it made sense to bring together legislators and others interested in Pay It Forward to take stock of where we are and exchange ideas.  Thanks to a grant secured by the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle, that happened last week.  We had legislators from both parties and/or their aides from Washington, California, Illinois, Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Ohio, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, along with a number of organizations representing higher education, philanthropy, student and worker advocacy, and others. 

I did a presentation on our experience here in Oregon, along with Sami Alloy from the Oregon Working Families Party, which was a very important ally in this effort. 

Needless to say, Pay It Forward—while innovative and exciting—has a number of practical hurdles and questions to be answered ahead of it.  Many of those were articulated at the meeting in Philadelphia, and that was very helpful as we move forward.  Everyone there agreed (a) that we need to find a way to make higher education more affordable to young people and those returning after years in the workforce; (b) that states need to find a way to increase their commitment to higher education funding; and (c) that Pay It Forward or anything similar that promotes access to higher education should not be a partisan issue—higher education is a shared responsibility and a shared benefit for individuals and for society at large.

Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission will begin work on this concept right away.  I’ll let you know how things are going.

AFL-CIO Legislator of the Year

One of the things that I’ve loved to do over the years is represent the Portland Community College Faculty and Academic Professionals at the biennial convention of the Oregon AFL-CIO.  It brings together people advocating for worker rights from around the state, building trades and public-sector unions alike.  This year, along with representing the PCC Federation, I was also asked to give an opening-night speech about what it’s like to be a legislator coming from a union background.  

Little did I know that this speech would be accompanied by something particularly special—my being named the Oregon AFL-CIO’s Legislator of the Year. 

Part of that honor was a result of my voting record, which is pro-worker, pro-social justice.  Part of it was due to my leadership as Chair of the House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development.  And part of it was due to the ongoing support that I try to give workers in their struggles for dignity and better treatment in their workplaces each and every day. 

I deeply appreciate this honor.

For Your Calendar: Hollywood Senior Center Turns 40!

The Hollywood Senior Center is celebrating its 40th Birthday this week, a big milestone for an organization that serves as a real community resource.  There will be several opportunities to celebrate this week: 

For those who are involved with the Center, there is an event this afternoon from 3-6 that will include live music and entertainment, special remarks and cake.

This Wednesday, the Center will host a Health and Wellness Fair from 9am to 12:30pm, featuring free health screenings for vision, diabetes, glaucoma, blood pressure, and hearing.  Portland Urgent Care will be offering flu shots.

For those of you who aren't as familiar with the Center, they're hosting an Open House this Thursday from 5 to 7pm, featuring door prizes, live music and wine tasting.  It's a chance for you to learn more about the services the Center provides to older adults in our community.

Finally, the Center is capping the week off with a pancake breakfast from 8:30am to 11am on Saturday.  Eggs, bacon and all-you-can-eat pancakes for just $4!

To learn more visit

See you in the district,


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