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Oregon Nurse Online Article [ONA Legislative Priorities] [02/25/13]

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2013 Legislative Session, ONA Priorities in Salem

Earlier this month, the 2013 legislative session began in earnest. Legislators, lobbyists and Oregonians convened in Salem to participate in our democracy.

And there is much work to be done.

High on the legislature’s list of priorities is passing a balanced budget. Governor John Kitzhaber has started that conversation by releasing his recommended budget. Next month, the co-chairs of the Ways and Means Committee will release their budget recommendations and then debate, negotiations, and compromise will take place. The governor’s budget is largely based on savings from his proposals for changing our Public Employees Retirement System and sentencing reform. Debate about these proposals will be intense.

A big change from last session is the partisan control of the Oregon House of Representatives. In 2011, for the first time in history, the House was evenly divided with 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans. Under this power-sharing system, there were co-speakers of the house, and each committee had co-chairs. In order for a bill to get a hearing, much less pass, both co-chairs had to agree.

The voters returned Democrats to control of the House in the 2012 elections, and the House elected Tina Kotek, D-North Portland, to be Speaker of the House. Speaker Kotek has been clear that she wants the House to have a spirit of bipartisanship.

As always, your Health Policy and Government Relations Team is working to advance ONA’s legislative agenda, and we invite you to get involved and advocate for health policy, nursing, and labor issues in Salem. Huge thanks to those of you who’ve already made the trip to Salem, either for Nurse Lobby Day or to testify.

ONA’s Cabinet on Health Policy, with input from various ONA members and committees, has developed our 2013 Legislative Agenda, and will be busy over the next few months reviewing bills and taking positions that help advance our Health Policy Platform.

This year, our priorities range from restoring fair reimbursement to nurse practitioners and physician assistants in primary care and mental health, to educating legislators about safe nurse staffing, to urging the legislature to invest in tobacco prevention, cessation, and improving our children’s health.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to review the issues that ONA has prioritized this session, and will find a way to get active, whether that’s calling or writing to your legislator, talking to a colleague about an issue that’s important to you, volunteering to serve on a state or facility work group, task force, or committee, or coming to Salem to testify on a bill. Nurses are the most trusted professionals in America, and your voice can make a difference.

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