National recognition, bridge commitment, and improving health care: week 6 update


Representative Tina Kotek
D-North/NE Portland
District 44

Phone: 503-986-1444    900 Court St. NE, H-269, Salem Oregon 97301
Email:     Website:


It’s fitting that as winter comes to an end and we get ready for spring, this week featured some closure in the House of Representatives on a handful of big issues we’ve been working on for many years. 

Oregon makes a commitment on the I-5 bridge

On Tuesday, I joined Governor John Kitzhaber and business leaders, labor representatives, and North Portland neighborhood associations as the Governor signed HB 2800, the I-5 Bridge Replacement bill.   All of these groups have worked together for a decade to help this project reach this point. 

It was gratifying to be in that room with partners who worked so hard to reach a point of success on this important economic development project.  Completion of such a complex piece of legislation shows what we’re capable of when we all work together.  Now we’re counting on Washington State to move forward on their share of this essential project. 

Improving health care

Another component of our efforts to improve health care moved forward this week as the House passed SB 483, which creates a process for early discussion and mediation of medical disputes.   This will provide an alternative to costly lawsuits in the event of medical error.  

I believe this new mediation process will improve patient safety and reduce the cost of defensive medicine.  This bill came together with support from the medical community and the legal community.  

Helping Oregon seniors stay in their homes

This week we passed HB 2489 to add many Oregon seniors with reverse mortgages back on the Oregon Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral Program. 

For decades, this program has been successful in giving low-income elderly Oregonians the ability and means to remain in their own homes by allowing them to defer their annual property taxes until they move, die, or sell their home. It’s also saved the state millions by avoiding costly housing alternatives for seniors and people with disabilities.

During the Great Recession, declining housing values and increased enrollment threatened the program’s solvency. In order to save the program, the Legislature limited enrollment by tightening eligibility requirements, including removing reverse mortgage holders. In 2012, the Legislature, armed with more data and a brightening economic picture, was able to give a two year reprieve to this group of reverse mortgage holders.

Now, we have permanently included these seniors back into the program so they will be have certainty that they can utilize the program to remain in their homes.

To learn more about the program, please visit:

National recognition for Oregon’s work on mental health care

Last weekend I traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the 2013 State Legislator of the Year Award from the American Psychological Association Practice Organization in recognition of Oregon’s work to improve access to mental health care.

The award honored Oregon’s work on Health Transformation legislation that is leading the country in improving health care delivery.  Improving access to and the quality of mental health care in Oregon is a top priority. I’m grateful for this recognition for the Legislature’s achievements.

This award is a national award that has been presented annually since 2002 to a state legislator who has prominently championed the goals of professional psychology.  This is the first time someone from Oregon has been the recipient, so it’s an honor for our state to receive this recognition.  

Casino and bar bills get hearings

Next week two of my priority bills introduced on behalf of Hayden Island will be up for a hearing.  HB 2007 and HB 2008 will receive a hearing at 8am on Wednesday in the House Business and Labor Committee. These bills seek to address challenges to neighborhood livability presented by problem bars, taverns, and lottery parlors. These bills could go a long way toward addressing the problems facing neighborhoods in North Portland and around the state.

As always, it is a pleasure to represent you.

Tina Kotek

State Representative

House District 44

Speaker of the House