Upcoming Short Session, 2021 Accomplishments & More


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-413, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
Email: sen.floydprozanski@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski
e-Bulletin                     January 2022

If you're having trouble viewing this message, please visit my legislative web page at http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski/, click on "News" in the lower left-hand column and scroll down.

Dear friends,

    Although the calendar has transitioned to a new year, COVID-19 continues to rear its ugly head with the omicron variant of COVID-19 driving case counts in Oregon and elsewhere to record highs. Especially troubling, Omicron seems to to spread much more easily than previous variants, sparking breakthrough infections even among the vaccinated. Fortunately, vaccines still help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and deaths. Vaccines with the added booster shot six months later work even better. Beyond that, our best defenses remain masking and social distancing, testing and staying home if we're not feeling well, as well as washing our hands frequently. Even though the omicron variant doesn't appear to be as life-threatening, it is still driving up the number of hospitalizations. That, in turn, is limiting the number of hospital beds available for individuals needing to be admitted to a hospital for other critical care.

The Legislature will meet online this week, from January 11-14, for Legislative Days in advance of the 2022 short legislative session. The "short" session is scheduled to begin February 1 and must conclude by March 7 since the short session is limited to 35 days, (unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and House). Legislators have been notified that due to the latest surge of COVID-19, committees will continue to meet virtually both during the Organization Days and the short session like we did during the 2021 regular session. The Senate and House will meet for floor sessions in-person to conduct official business and votes. Social distancing and face covering rules will be enforced when we convene.

    During this week's Legislative Days, committees will organize and introduce bills for the 2022 session. (Please see below in this e-bulletin for summaries of bills that the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair, will be introducing.) Agendas are posted and links to live streams will be available on the
Legislature's website.

    Below you will find information on:

- Legislation Preview: 2022 Short Session
        - 2021 Regular Session Accomplishments: Improving Health & Well-being
        - Roseburg VA Expands Offering of COVID-19 Booster Shots
        - More Than 30,000 Oregon Households Receive Rental Assistance

    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail. Happy New Year!

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

Legislation Preview: 2022 Short Session

    Each legislator is limited to two "personal" (member) bills for the 2022 session. Since I chair a committee — the Senate Committee on Judiciary & Measure 110 Implementation — I'm also able to introduce two bills through that committee. A third bill will be introduced since the vice-chair of the committee, Sen Kim Thatcher, agreed to its drafting. The bills I will be personally introducing for short session, and those being introduced through the Judiciary Committee, are intended to enhance equity and restorative justice.

    (Please note: The below measures will receive bill numbers after filing. Until then, they are indicated by their Legislative Concept numbers.)

Senate Judiciary Committee Bills

LC 94 - Transforming Justice: During its 2021 regular session, the Legislature passed a series of new laws addressing police accountability. (Please refer to my September 2021 e-bulletin.) Having made a commitment to continuing that work in 2022, I brought together a work group of stakeholders, from community advocates to law enforcement, that produced a measure to provide further essential reforms. LC 94 is built on the framework of HB 2002 (2021) and it includes changes to how police can conduct traffic stops and searches, updates to conditions of parole and post-prison supervision, and needed funding for criminal justice reinvestment and data reporting.

    LC 98 - Addressing Non-unanimous Jury Verdicts: The right to a jury trial means the right to a unanimous verdict but up until 2020, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ramos v. Louisiana, Oregon was one of just two states  Louisiana being the other  that allowed for non-unanimous verdicts. (Oregon voters passed an amendment to the state constitution in 1934 that allowed non-unanimous verdicts in felony criminal cases, except for first degree murder.) Under LC 98, defendants able to prove through court transcripts or recordings that a non-unanimous jury convicted them would get one year to apply for post-conviction relief. If granted, the defendant's non-unanimous conviction would be overturned and sent back to the local district attorney's office so prosecutors can consider whether to retry the case.

My Personal Bills

    LC 139 - Ensuring Acceptance of Cash at Businesses: While credit card and mobile payment options offer conveniences for many, not everyone has access to a bank account or credit cards. LC 139 would require businesses to accept cash, with limited exceptions, to ensure that everyone can have access to goods and services.

    LC 140 - Making Legislative Service Accessible to More Oregonians: Oregon needs a legislature that reflects the diversity of its population. For too long, our state assembly has consisted chiefly of independently wealthy individuals and retirees who can afford to serve without concern for their rate of compensation. Lawmakers often hesitate to propose raising their own salaries because of concern about jeopardizing re-election prospects. The result is that community members who can't afford to leave their jobs or families are effectively priced out of legislative service; these are often the same people who know better than most how state policies impact their communities. Currently in Oregon, both state senators and representatives receive $32,839 per year along with $151 per day in per diem when the Legislature meets in person. LC 140 would tie legislator compensation to the occupational mean wage estimate for all Oregonians. Last year, the annual average wage for all occupations in Oregon was $58,443. This salary would be adjusted every two years based on the current occupation mean wage.

    LC 113 - Collateral Consequences for Convicted or Adjudicated Individuals: Many individuals who have been convicted of crimes or adjudicated as youth are prohibited from applying for occupational or professional licenses in Oregon based solely on their past conviction or adjudication. LC 113 would permit these individuals to petition state licensing boards to be considered for an occupational or professional license, allowing people to move forward in life after having served their time. It would also help prevent them from burdening the social services and criminal justice systems because of not being able to secure gainful employment.

2021 Regular Session Accomplishments: Improving Health & Well-being

    Continuing my summaries of bills passed during the 2021 regular legislative session by subject area, I'm happy to share this comprehensive listing of accomplishments related to improving health and well-being of Oregonians  by Senate/House bill and in numerical order:

Senate Bills

    SB 587 - Tobacco Retail Licensure: According to the Oregon Health Authority's 2020 Tobacco Facts report, Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in Oregon. Tobacco use costs Oregonians about $2.9 billion per year in medical expenses, lost productivity, and early death. Adult tobacco use disproportionately affects Oregonians of lower socio-economic status. This legislation prohibits the retail sale of tobacco products or inhalant delivery systems in Oregon, unless the retailer is licensed by the Department of Revenue (DOR) or they hold a license with a city or local public health authority. The bill allows DOR to revoke, suspend, or refuse to issue or renew a license. The measure also authorizes DOR to establish fees, impose civil penalties, and to share licensing information with the Department of Justice (DOJ), OHA, and local public health authorities.

    SB 763 - Pharmaceutical Representative Licensure: Medical marketing influences decisions that impact quality and cost of care. From 1997 through 2016, total annual spending on the marketing of prescription drugs, disease awareness campaigns, health services, and laboratory testing increased from $17.7 billion to $29.9 billion. Marketing to medical professionals accounted for the highest proportion of spending, increasing from $15.6 billion in 1997 to $20.3 billion in 2016, with most spending for marketing of prescription drugs. This legislation establishes a licensing and regulatory program for pharmaceutical representatives within the Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services (DCBS). Pharmaceutical representatives would need to obtain a license if they engaged in marketing or sales presentations, negotiating pricing and terms and conditions for the sale of pharmaceutical product, selling, or offering pharmaceutical product for sale, among other activities. Licensees must submit annual reports to DCBS and take continuing education to maintain their licenses. The bill requires DCBS to submit an annual report to the legislature based on the information provided by licensees each year.

    SB 800 - Long-Term Care Worker Health Care Trust: A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that 14 percent of long-term care health workers lack health insurance coverage. This legislation establishes the Oregon Essential Workforce Health Care Program to provide health care to employees of qualified facility operators participating in the state's medical assistance program.

    SB 844 - Prescription Drug Affordability: Increasing prescription drug prices have contributed to rising overall costs for health care consumers. Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that prescription drug spending increased by 7.2 percent annually on average from 1991 to 2014 in Oregon. This legislation establishes the Prescription Drug Affordability Board in the Department of Business and Consumer Services to review the affordability of prescription drugs sold in Oregon.

    SJR 12 - HOPE Amendment: Senate Joint Resolution 12 refers to voters an amendment to the State Constitution on affordable health care for Oregon residents. Many state constitutions contain provisions recognizing state involvement with public health. As of 2010, at least six state constitutions contained provisions requiring the state to promote and protect public health.

House Bills

    HB 2360 - Diminishing Barriers to Care at Hospitals: During its 2019 legislative session, the Legislature passed HB 3076 to require nonprofit hospitals and hospital systems to establish financial assistance policies, often referred to as charity care, that provide free or discounted care to patients based on household income. The bill requires nonprofit hospitals to conduct an eligibility screening to determine if patients qualify for their financial assistance policy. HB 2360 prohibits nonprofit hospitals and health systems from requiring an individual to apply for Medicaid as part of the financial assistance eligibility screening process.

    HB 2362 - Health Care Entity Mergers & Acquisitions: Provider consolidation into vertically integrated health systems increased nationally from 2016 to 2018. More than half of U.S. physicians and 72 percent of hospitals were affiliated with one of 637 health systems in 2018. For-profit and church-operated systems had the largest increases in system size, driven in part by many system mergers and acquisitions. This legislation directs the Oregon Health Authority to examine and monitor the competitiveness of the health care market, and approve or deny mergers, acquisitions, and affiliations among hospitals, insurers, and provider organizations.

    HB 3016 - Emergency Period Hospital Nurse Staffing Plans: During its 2015 Session, the Legislature passed SB 469 to establish hospital nurse staffing committees (HNSCs) to formulate nurse staffing plans. That bill provided composition and mediation requirements for HNSCs and established a 12-member Nurse Staffing Advisory Board within the Oregon Health Authority. HB 3016 adds requirements for suspension of hospital nurse staffing plans during national or state emergency declarations.

    HB 3352 - Cover All People: This legislation expands health care coverage to adults who would be eligible for Medicaid except for their immigration status, beginning July 1, 2022. The bill appropriates $100 million General Fund to OHA to implement this program, including for outreach and education.

Roseburg VA Expands Offering of COVID-19 Booster Shots

    As of October 26, 2021, Roseburg VA Health Care System (RVAHCS) has been offering Veterans, employees and SAVE LIVES Act recipients the Moderna vaccine booster shots.

    While the initial series of vaccines remain highly effective in reducing the likelihood of infection and preventing severe illness, hospitalization, or death among those infected, the purpose of this booster shot is to "boost" antibody protection when it has decreased over time.

    VA is also offering the booster to spouses, caregivers and CHAMPVA recipients under the authority of the SAVE LIVES Act, as supply and capacity permits. The SAVE LIVES Act authorizes VA to offer vaccine to Veterans not traditionally eligible for VHA care, and others including spouses and caregivers of Veterans.

    Veterans who received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of VA will need to contact the Primary Care Clinic at 541-440-1000. Those who received a vaccine under authority of the SAVE LIVES Act and want a booster shot may do so in VA if supply permits. Veterans should consult with their physician if they have questions about whether they should receive a booster. Contact the RVAHCS Call Center at 541-440-1000 for an appointment or information about walk-in hours.

    CDC advises that it is safe for people to get both the COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time. Veterans receiving care at VA who wish to get a booster shot can get both shots together during the same visit.

    Visit VA's Questions webpage for questions and answers regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

More Than 30,000 Oregon Households Received Rental Assistance

    According to Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), as December 29, 2021, the agency and local program administrators (LPAs) paid $211.6 million in federal emergency rental assistance to 30,471 Oregon households, up from $200.4 million and 28,869 applicants last week, through the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP).

    OERAP continues to be one of the nation's top-performing programs and is ranked fifth in the nation in the percentage of federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds paid out and obligated, as tracked by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Progress and Updated Numbers

    Through its three-point plan, OHCS and its processing partner, Public Partnerships LLC (PPL), have made significant strides in the past several weeks to speed up application processing. Currently, 265 PPL staff are focusing on processing applications. In the last week of December, PPL processed 1,675 applications.

To date, OHCS and LPAs have:

  • Paid $211,658,147 to landlords and tenants to help 30,471 Oregon households; and
  • Received more than 51,733 completed applications to be reviewed for eligibility.

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