Summary for October 2017, covering Legislative Forum
Appeal for time-critical action: Measure 101
Funding to support Oregon’s Medicaid extension under the ACA will go to the voters for approval in a special ballot on January 23rd. The gist of the measure is this: by design, the ACA funded Medicaid expansion fully until 2017. At the point, states have to step up their Medicaid support, beginning with 5% this year and stepping up to 10% of the cost of folks added under the expansion in a few years. The legislature passed a bill that levied an assessment on elements of the healthcare industry to cover the new funding gap. This approach was developed with the cooperation of the healthcare industry. Because of this challenge by initiative, Oregon voters must vote for Measure 101 to maintain this critical funding. Oregon NOW endorses a "yes" vote on Measure 101.
- FAQ as well as ways to get involved in the “Yes” campaign appear here: http://yesforhealthcare.org/
- We encourage you to reach out to friends and family to ensure that this measure is supported actively in January.
Recap of Oregon NOW Legislative Forum
Our recent efforts have focused on organizing and hosting the Oregon NOW Legislative Forum which was held here in Eugene on 4 November 2017. The meeting served to (1) build a common understanding of legislative challenges at the state and (to some extent) national levels and (2) to initiate cooperation among chapters in our response to those challenges. Highlights:
- Attendance (and participation) by about 25 NOW members from around the state. All five NOW chapters were represented as well as the state board.
- Two panel discussions:
- An advocacy panel with Kate Newhall, Policy Director, Family Forward, advocating for Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance and Stable Housing bills; Penny Okamoto, Executive Director, Ceasefire Oregon, advocating for gun safety legislation at state and national levels. These panel members also discussed mechanisms through which our organization can interact with the legislature to influence their decision-making.
- A legislative / governmental panel with local representatives Julie Fahey and Phil Barnhart, our local senator James Manning, and Karmen Fore, Senior Director for Federal Affairs and Transportation, Office of the Governor. These panelists extended the discussion on key legislative measures as well as means for interaction, adding the perspective of the government side of the citizen / government interaction.
- An extended discussion regarding priority issues for NOW as well as some brainstorming about how we can continue the collaboration that we began at the forum. Key takeaways from this session:
- Oregon NOW endorses Measure 101, Yes on Healthcare, which comes to a vote on January 23. Each chapter agreed to take support for this measure up locally. We will continue to investigate and publicize opportunities for supporting this key financial measure.
- Although environmental issues have not been identified as a priority at the national level of NOW, the consensus of this group was that these issues are of critical concern in Oregon. A special interest group will be performed to support, among other legislation, the Oregon Clean Jobs (cap and invest) bill that is a current subject of intensive legislative consideration.
- It is hoped that some straight-forward gun safety legislation is within reach in the short 2018 Oregon legislative session. In particular, the governor has identified closing the “Charleston loophole” and closing the “boyfriend loophole” as objectives for this session. These two loopholes currently allow, respectively, (1) sale of a gun to an applicant without an affirming background check if the check fails to complete within a statutory time period (currently 3 days) and (1) sale of a gun to a person who has been convicted of stalking or of violence against a dating partner (current law only protects family members and persons who have co-habited). Another legislative interest group is anticipated to follow legislation relating gun safety and violence.
- NOW should continue to support issues affecting the welfare of women and families in Oregon. A special interest group will also be formed to further our support for Family and Medical Leave Insurance and fair affordable housing among others.
- Revenue is the key to closing Oregon budget gaps and enabling the extension of services that will help to close income gaps and protect families. This topic may lead to another interest group.
- Although we didn’t have enough time to address these topics at more than a cursory level, we also want to organize our support to protect women’s rights and immigrants’ rights at the national level.
We plan to follow up on this one-day session through any means we can find that prove effective: conference calls, email lists, face-to-face meetings, web sites. We will keep you posted on emerging activities.