Updated November 1, 2023

New Policy and Regulatory Update Call Invite

OPCA’s Policy Team is inviting you to join them as they kick off OPCA’s Policy and Advocacy Update Call where they will provide monthly updates on important policy and regulatory issues that matter to health centers.

Attendees will have direct access to federal and state level policy and regulatory updates from OPCA staff and national experts.

When: Every second Wednesday of the month at 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email (check spam/junk) containing information about adding the calendar invite and joining the meeting

November Legislative Days are just around the corner

Agendas are live for next week’s slate of Legislative Days from November 6-8. Committees in the House and Senate will come together for three days of hearings on the implementation of bills that passed in the recent legislative session and reports from task forces that have met since the end of session. Committees will also get a preview of Members’ legislative proposals for the 2024 Legislative Session which kicks off February 5.

Oregon House Republicans elect new leader

Rep. Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) is the new House Republican Leader, after Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) announced she would step away from the post earlier this year. In a press release, Rep. Helfrich underscored his excitement for the future, stating “Politics is a team sport, and our caucus looks forward to working together to bring forward new ideas and solutions to help everyday Oregonians.” 

New legislative committee to address behavioral health, Measure 110

Not a day went by during the September Legislative Days without someone mentioning Measure 110. The measure, which passed in 2020 by a healthy margin, sought to decriminalize drug possession while expanding access to substance use disorder treatment services. In the years since, the rollout has been bumpy, to say the least.

In order to more fully address the public’s concern, House Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) and Senate President Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) created a new committee, the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response. Co-chaired by Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton) and Rep. Jason Kropf (D-Bend), the committee’s charge is to address public concerns over access to treatment, police involvement, and addiction across the state.

In an interview, Sen. Lieber spoke to the rise of fentanyl since the passage of Measure 110, saying “We’re chasing a tsunami, and it’s a tsunami that is not just in Oregon, it’s across the country. […] It has really, really ramped itself up.” The committee has not held its first hearing yet, but if its very creation is any indication, Measure 110 will be a major focus in the 35-day 2024 Legislative Session.

Statewide and congressional races take shape

House Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) put his hat into the ring for the state’s top lawyer. A few weeks ago, current Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced she will not run for reelection, and just this week US Rep. Earl Blumenauer announced his retirement.

Since Speaker Rayfield has opted to run for statewide office instead of renew his House seat bid, the Oregon House will see a new Speaker for the 2025 Legislative Session at the latest. Speaker Rayfield has held that gavel since 2021, when then-Speaker Tina Kotek stepped down just before the short session to focus on her gubernatorial bid.

Campaigns for other statewide and congressional offices in 2024 have begun to fill out. Keep in mind, the night is young! Candidates have until mid-March to file. Here are those who have either filed official paperwork or have announced their campaigns:

Secretary of State: Sen. James Manning (D), Tobias Read (D)
Treasurer: Sen. Elizabeth Steiner (D), Jeff Gudman (D)
Attorney General: Rep. Dan Rayfield (D), Robert Neuman (R), Will Lathrop (R)

Congressional District 1: US Rep. Suzanne Bonamici* (D)
Congressional District 2: US Rep. Cliff Bentz* (R)
Congressional District 4: US Rep. Val Hoyle* (D), Ibra Taher (R)
Congressional District 5: US Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer* (R), Rep. Janelle Bynum (D), Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D), Lynn Peterson (D)
Congressional District 6: US Rep. Andrea Salinas* (D), Denyc Boles (R), David Burch (R), David Russ (R)

The House has a new speaker

After three weeks without a house speaker effectively paralyzing the Congress, US House Republicans unanimously elected Rep. Mike Johnson, (R-LA) to the post. Mr. Johnson has had limited involvement in health policy issues, except for topics that overlap with his conservative social values. He has also been a leader in efforts to replace Medicare with a voucher program, repeal the ACA, cap Federal spending on Medicaid, and to end current protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Government shutdown looms – again

Today, government agencies are operating under a House-approved Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government through November 17. The current CR includes both Health Center mandatory and discretionary funding (page 61 line 5) as well as extensions of other key federal programs. Speaker Johnson is prepared to support another short-term government spending bill (aka another CR), to last through January 15 or even April 15, and his conservative members have expressed support for this approach.  Speaker Johnson thinks this strategy will prevent the Senate from “jamming” through a large must-pass end-of-year bill.  Extending the CR passed January 1 means that a 1% cut will automatically go into effect on all non-defense spending. 1% cuts would impact health centers’ discretionary funding levels but would not have any impact on mandatory funding.