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On this day, March 3, 1859, Oregon's first Governor John Whiteaker took office. He was native of Indiana. He joined the army during the Mexican-American War and then prospected during the California Gold Rush. After moving to the Oregon Territory, he served as a judge and member of the legislature.

Also on this day, March 3, 2004, hundreds of gay couples applied for marriage licenses in Portland following an overnight policy change by county commissioners.

Also on this day, March 3, 1999, the New Carissa ran aground again after its towline broke during towing in stormy seas. The oil tanker had run aground earlier in the month near Coos Bay.

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Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 2:00 pm
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Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 2:00 pm
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Friday, April 26, 2024 at 5:00 pm
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Memorial Day
A federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who died while serving.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 12:00 am
Celebrated on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when in the wake of the American Civil War, Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.

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Offshore Wind Plants Along SW Oregon Coast Scrutinized
14 Gigawatt Wind Project Under Review

The House Committee on Business and Labor held an early morning hearing recently, where they received opposition to the proposed offshore, wind-energy legislation in House Bill 4080. Here's why.

Oregon’s 2022 Biennial Energy Report states on page 11 that Oregonians consumed 53.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in 2020, from both in-state and out-of-state sources, which equates to 73,511.3 MW of production over a one year period (53,700,000 MWh / 730.5 hours per year). During 2020, the energy resource mix was comprised of hydro (38.9%), coal (26.5%), natural gas (21.5%), land-based wind (7.0%), nuclear (3.5%), and other forms incl. solar, biomass, and geothermal, etc. (2.6%).

It is understood that the projected output of Oregon’s offshore wind farms in both “call areas” will be 14 gigawatts, requiring dozens of specialized vessels manned with expert technicians.

Adding 19 percent of Oregon’s average annual needs to the grid begs the question of whether this gargantuan project’s benefits will outweigh its gargantuan costs - costs that Oregonians will be required to shoulder via state and federal taxation, as capital outlays and ongoing cost of operations and maintenance for this ‘seasonal’ energy source are fully accounted for.

The break-even point when delivered energy values exceed the project’s costs are at issue, assuming the equipment can last long enough for the ROI to ramp out of the red. Upon end of life, decommissioning and recycling wind-turbine components require specialized planning; in particular, blade disposal poses a formidable challenge due to their size and composition.

It is understood that 18 wind turbines and foundations will be located beyond 13.8 miles (12 nautical miles), utilizing 6,800 miles of additional subsea cable; however, obvious impacts to bird habitats (survival rates) will be felt. Several marine mammals will be harmed, as “gray whale migratory routes are most dense within 6.9 miles from shore, Southern Resident killer whale habitat occurs 11.5 miles from shore along the Oregon coastline to 656 feet (200 meters) water depths, and humpback whales are generally concentrated in water depths up to 328 feet.”

Land-based wind turbines have a typical lifespan of up to 20 years while routinely maintained semiannually , yet the Pacific Ocean is historically one of the most powerfully destructive environments on the planet.

When inevitable breakdowns, failures, and fluid leaks during its lifespan are considered, maintenance more frequently than twice per year will be required; furthermore, the inevitable leaks and failures will be significant when comparing ‘viable’ turbines in extreme, salty environments to well-documented reliability issues of more common, terrestrial wind plants. Wind Systems Magazine, 2/15/2024

Produced outputs are seasonal due to unpredictable wind speeds and thermal effects on energy lost during transfers over long distances; wind plant performance tends to be highest during Spring months and lowest during mid- to late-Summer months, when grid loads peak due to high air conditioning demands and other electrical-cooling system burdens

NOTE: There is a time-sensitive opportunity to voice opinions to the federal government about the proposed offshore wind energy project near Coos and Curry Counties where comments are due by Friday, March 15, 2024: Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Leasing and Site Assessment Activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oregon

--Kyle Sharpe

Post Date: 2024-03-03 09:32:19Last Update: 2024-03-03 09:34:58

USDA Issues Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation for Impacted Oregon Counties
Eligible farmers can apply for emergency loans

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that losses during the 2023 crop year due to multiple weather events in nine counties across the state warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

This determination was made in response to a September 2023 request from Governor Kotek that outlined the impacts of the weather events, such as the Oregon cherry harvest. The available harvest data showed a 35% loss due to poor fruit set.

“Oregon farmers faced serious economic losses during last year’s crop season,” Governor Kotek said. “Our agriculture community is invaluable to Oregon, feeding families across the state. This designation is critical to ensure that farmers are able to receive support from the federal government in recuperating those losses.”

Under the first designation, defined as excessive rain that occurred starting on July 7, 2023, Hood River County is listed as a primary county. Clackamas, Multnomah and Wasco counties have been designated as contingent counties.

Under the second designation, defined as drought, excessive heat, and high winds that occurred from July 5-15, 2023, Wasco County is listed as a primary county. Clackamas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jefferson, Marion, Sherman and Wheeler counties have been designated as continent counties. Farmers may be able to apply for loans if they produce crops in any of the primary or contingent counties included in the designation.



A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans.

The USDA issued this Secretarial disaster declaration on February 23, 2024. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.

--Dollie Banner

Post Date: 2024-03-02 01:30:48Last Update: 2024-03-01 21:40:53

Traffic Stop Leads to Seizure of Fentanyl
10,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of fentanyl powder

A recent traffic stop in Linn County resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of fentanyl powder and pills headed for the street.

On Feb. 16, 2024, at approximately 4:30 p.m., an OSP trooper stopped a silver Honda Accord at milepost 219 on I-5 for a traffic violation. The trooper observed suspicious behavior by the vehicle occupants that pointed to possible drug activity. A K-9 unit was called to assist.

The K-9 alerted on possible illegal drugs. A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of 10,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of fentanyl powder from a grocery bag behind the driver’s seat. A small amount of other illegal narcotics was also found in the vehicle.

The vehicle operator, Danny Yohan Cruz Benitz (18) of Oakland (CA), was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and attempted delivery of a controlled substance. Passenger, Walter Omar Mayorga Aguilar (20) of Sacramento (CA), was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, attempted delivery of a controlled substance, and a parole/probation violation.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-01 20:51:41Last Update: 2024-02-29 21:21:17

Oregon Legislature Attempts Fix for Measure 110
Will HB 4002 correct Measure 110?

Oregon House Bill 4002 could be the most important bill this legislative session. It will determine how serious the legislature is on prioritizing public safety. Both parties introduced bills with somewhat different ideas of what decriminalizing Measure 110 should look like. Every Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety committee member expressed some dislike in the amended bill.

The Republican bill, HB 4036, has not moved since its initial hearing February 7, in preference of HB 4002. HB 4036 was stronger on enforcement, so Democrat leaders amended HB 4002 to include recriminalizing drug possession and open-air drug use, and increasing fines and penalties for drug dealers.

Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) had additional concerns that the bill was being accelerated so fast that it isn't being vented as to what it will do to the justice system. Was he implying another "catch and release" in the making? He has concerns about putting the decision of treatment into prosecutor’s hands that may lead to discrimination, which was discussed by several committee members. “It doesn't meet the criminal side of what voters want addressed,” he said. Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) is also concerned with the bill being heavy on treatment but light on enforcement.

Representative Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer/North Salem) proposed nine amendments to address what he views as weaknesses in the Democrat's amended bill. He proposed his own amended bill, but seeing that Democrat co-chairs wouldn't consider it, he proposed amendments to their amended bill that would carry out his proposed plan he announced last week.

“While I think that the enforcement mechanism presented by the Democrat majority is not as strong as it should be, it is a step in the right direction. We need to strengthen this with additional changes in the law, which is why I have proposed nine amendments to the package deal under consideration,” said Representative Mannix.

However, because time did not allow for fiscal impact statements to be prepared, it required the committee to wave the rule, and Democrat members refused the opportunity to see if additional amendment would address some of Prozanski's concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data this month that shows overdoses deaths are rising at a faster rate in Oregon than anywhere else in the country. Between September 2022 and September 2023, Oregon saw a 41.5% increase in overdose deaths. The co-chairs, Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton) and Representative Jason Kropf (D-Bend), released a statement in response to the CDC report:

“Inaction is not an option. This is another sobering reminder of why we have to act this session to keep our communities safe and save lives. We’re working hard to finalize a plan that accomplishes both. It is clear that Oregon's current approach to the drug crisis is not working, and we know the War on Drugs didn’t work either. Our goal is to put politics aside so we can chart a new course to a safer, healthier Oregon together."



The fiscal impact on HB 4002 is reported to be $21,061,114 with over half ($12,191,071) going to the Public Defense Commission. This, coincidentally, is the same amount that was awarded to enforcement in 2021 to track down illegal drug activity that was a successful "war on drugs" while funding lasted. The DEA joined in with federal funding and a task force was also federally funded for five western states. The work spread into 14 Oregon counties. Lane County reported taking down at least eight slave camps with similar results in other counties.

Funding to continue that program has fallen on deaf ears, and HB 4002 does not include work to take down cartel slave camps and eliminated some illegal growers. On the other hand, HB 4002 funds the defense for the criminals caught under this bill and gives them a treatment option instead of serving time. It allocates $1,609,904 to state police, but that will cover looking after all the probation agreements or crsis intervention options offered in the bill.

Oregonians are scratching their heads in disbelief. What "War on Drugs" has this leadership earnestly pursued? One Oregonian has seen slave labor increasing and says that Democrat's idea of war on drugs has been to organize slave camps and hogtied police during the riots by passing SB 1510. There are over 20 elected Democrat politicians that took unreported money from La Mota, who he says has cartel connections prior to moving to Oregon. We have cartels driving people from over 166 countries over our borders exploiting them and we encourage them with sanctuary state laws, while our citizens live in the streets in tent cities, with no hope but a steady flow of fentanyl and other drugs. He asks, "I truly wonder if elected Democrats care about what's wrong when their answer is to fund $1.2 billion for an industrial homeless complex and give free medical care to the world. Why did Governor Kate Brown shut down two state prisons and then release 1,000 more violent offenders into the streets of Oregon? Kate Brown wanted to shut down the mental hospital in Junction City, Oregon, before it was even opened to receive mentally ill. Now they are looking for treatment centers."

Measure 110 is at the root of almost every problem we now face in Oregon, but will HB 4002 really help?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-27 10:45:44Last Update: 2024-02-27 22:41:57

OPERF Aimed For Net Zero Carbon Investing
Some say that fiduciary decisions lack credibility

Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read released his Pathway to Net Zero: Positioning the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund for a Net Zero Carbon Future, a plan to transition the OPERF by 2050.

A step in that direction is HB 4083, which directs the State Treasurer to stop investing moneys in companies that deal in thermal coal. The bill is scheduled for a work session on February 13.

Treasurer Read is leading efforts to: Treasurer Read claims, “We’re fiduciaries first. This means that we’re required to make decisions in the best financial interests and for the sole benefit of all current and future retirees.” If that were true, they wouldn’t need HB 4083. And if it were true, why not take a vote of PERS retirees and not take direction from environmentalist that have no vested interest?



Daren Baskt, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, comments that Oregon is making a mistake. "Treasury should be serving the best interests of public employees and not the ideological agenda of climate extremists. But that’s exactly what it appears to be doing," Baskt told Tom Joyce of The Center Square. "[P]laying with public employees’ money and risking their retirements for some cause, whatever it might be, is irresponsible at best. Further, using the Retirement Fund to try and help eliminate fossil fuels and shift the country to unreliable and costly energy that isn’t capable of meeting basic needs isn’t some noble effort. It’s actually an arrogant plan that presumes government officials should push their climate agenda without regard for any of the costs and tradeoffs associated with their transition to energy poverty."

Read is a candidate for Secretary of State. Will he bring his agenda to that office, if elected? “Planning and acting now to address the investment risks – and opportunities of the climate crisis - is a critical next step in making sure the pension fund will produce strong returns for generations to come.”

Read’s claim of being fiduciary responsible was already on the hot seat for over investing 60% of OPERF funds in high risk “alternative” funds. This level of high-risk private investment is almost twice as high as most other state pension plans (34%%). Is it fiduciary responsible to triple private equity investments or is the OPERF headed towards a larger debt?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-24 09:51:45Last Update: 2024-02-24 02:06:12

Common Sense Needed Moving Forward on the Elliott Research Forest
Giesy Plan Alernative promises hope for all sides

The sale of the Elliott State Forest, which “decoupled” it from the Common School Fund, it has a long ominous history. The 2022 Senate Bill 1546 that sold the Elliott school lands to itself, is pending a ruling from Honorable Judge Andrew Combs in the Civil Complaint Case No. 23CV39056 in Coos County Circuit court by Advocates for School Trust Lands (Advocates).

Advocates state, “The assumption that decoupling the forest from the Common School Fund could nullify the state's trust obligations to the common schools, as proposed in SB 1546, is at best ill-informed and at worst criminal. The irrevocable Oregon Enabling Act mandates that its terms are binding on both the United States and the State of Oregon.” They further state that it is impermissible for a trustee to purchase assets from the trust, creating a breach of trust by SB 1546. If the court invalidates the sale, it equates to breaching the state constitution.

In 1859, at statehood, Oregon was allocated more than three million acres of school trust lands. In 1930 the Elliott, Oregon’s first State Forest, was created by trading scattered parcels remaining from trust land sales for an 82,500-acre block in Coos and Douglas counties that remained in an irrevocable trust managed for the benefit of the Common School Fund. Several wildfires had reduced the older stands to under 160 years old so there is virtually no old growth. It developed into a hotbed of activism and lawsuits, so that the past 10 years there has been zero sales resulting in an overgrowth, increasing the fire risk.

The controversy surrounding the management began in 1989 with the discovery of the spotted owl within its mostly second growth trees. It was the beginning of the federally mandated HCP (Habitat Conservation Plan), followed by an environmental lawsuit stopping all harvesting in 2012. What once provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Oregon schools, was now costing money. In 2017 the Elliott Forest was valued at over $1 billion, but sold for $221 million due the severe market restrictions. In 2022, the legislature made it a research forest to be managed by Oregon State University that would raise revenue by selling carbon credits. However, OSU didn’t agree on selling carbon credits nor did they agree with the HCP plan restricting harvest. Along with tribal concerns, OSU completed its commitment in 2023 delivering the final draft of an Elliott State Research Forest Management Plan to the Oregon Department of State Lands, and backed out of managing the forest. That currently leaves the forest in the hands of the Department of State Lands (DSL) and cancels the creation of a new Elliott Research Authority state agency.

The State Land Board is holding on to preserving the Elliott as a research forest and holding meetings to manage the forest through a provisional board of directors. They requested $4.4 million in SB 5701 to administer the program. Management under the board should result in a smaller budget and allow the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) plan to move forward under the OSU proposed research plan, which divided the forest into three kinds of management units: 66% is allocated as reserve forest, 17% is extensive forestry or ecological forestry developed by OSU with small patch cuts on a 60 year rotation, and 17% clear cuts in 60 year rotations.

There are drawbacks to the OSU plan that over time result in 73% of the forest getting older and 50% will continuing to get older increasing fire risk without management. There is a complex research overlay on the forest. which has morphed into a somewhat cooperative system. The tribes would like to see more management in the reserve areas. Over time roads will be removed in the reserve areas. HCP has an 80-year growth plan and protected species will remain even if the HCP is removed. It is a stronghold for federally listed marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, and Coho salmon.

All the money coming from timber sales goes back into research in the Elliott Forest, which the Advocates are claiming should go to schools. Right now, the wildlife conservationists seem to be leading the conversation, “if you don’t buy into the plan, don’t be on the board,” said Bob Sallinger, retired Audubon Director. But the conversation is still open. Senator David Brock Smith defends the program as the best scenario to at least get between 17k-22k board feet cut per year, which is better than no harvest. But, that isn't viewed as proper management by Bob Zybach Ph.D, Environmental Scientist.

There is a push for a new direction that would encompass all ideas and resolve the pending court case. Zybach, has worked with Wayne Giesy, David Gould, and Jerry Phillips on the 2017 Giesy Plan Alternative to sustain the Elliott, and to focus on scientific testing of HCPs before they are adopted on any state or private lands. They have produced solid numbers to prove their plan and say road maintenance and timber sales can begin immediately. “As a PhD with some expertise on the topic, I can state with some certainty that HCPs are a purely political process and need to be scientifically tested before causing any more damage to our forests and rural economies,” Zybach says. He is calling for the Elliott Forest to be redirected to the Oregon Department of Forestry to resume management for the purpose of meeting legal obligations to the Common School Fund and to local communities.



The basic research design of the “Giesy Plan Alternative" is the paired watershed approach that OSU and ODF successfully tested on Roseburg Forest Products land on the North Umpqua. The key components of the Giesy option are that the Elliott will remain in public ownership with public access for 20 years until better informed decisions can be made regarding its longer-term ownership and management; that 40,000 acres be set-aside as “old-growth habitat” for research, education, aesthetics, and endangered species; and that 40,000 acres be actively managed for continued Common School Fund benefit, with timber sales averaging 50mmbf/year creating — by State economist estimates -- 430 needed rural jobs and $440 million for our schools. This is only 2/3 of the Elliott's annual growth of 75 mmbf/year and is the same number used in the 1988 Elliott Plan when trees were a lot smaller and 35 years younger. At the present time there is more than 2.3 billion board feet of timber on the Elliott based on the 2016 cruise, plus eight years of growth since.

All 550 miles of existing roads and trails will be maintained for safety, research, recreation and education. Research and education focus would be on carbon sequestration; spotted owl, marbled murrelet, coho, lamprey, and pine marten habitat and populations; economics; forest recreation; and forest management, and conducted locally by high school and community college students and statewide via accredited online studies. To develop accredited online courses, the Giesy Plan expands into a network started by the 501 c(3) educational nonprofit, Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc. (ORWW) that has completed more than 40 such projects over the past 21 years conducting historical and fisheries research and working with local students and educators on the Elliott. The intent is to continue work with Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC) and local high schools with a focus on the Elliott. “In that regard,” Zybach says, “we have promoted the Elliott State Educational Forest as an ideal outdoor classroom for research, education, and Common School Fund income for all Oregon students.”

The components would be the 24 named creek subbasins on the Elliott, as shown on the map. The operational approach would be to systematically select two adjacent subbasins from each of the four principal coho runs (Umpqua, Tenmile, Haynes, West Fork); one to be left “as is” — but with roads and trails maintained for public access, research, education, and recreational uses — and the other to be clearcut to the water’s edge from ridgeline to ridgeline for comparative analysis of economics, wildlife populations, water flows, wildfire risk, biodiversity, and aesthetics.

Zybach states, “The Giesy Plan would be experimental, educational, and economic in scope and would only last 20 years, at which time the results could be carefully analyzed and used as the basis for future management directions and options.” In the meantime, the plan will rescue rural communities out of sure poverty, and in the long run will settle the HCP debate for state forests with significant research to test HCPs for western Oregon. You can show your support by contacting the State Land Board, or emailing Arin.N.Smith@dsl.oregon.gov.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-24 08:46:37Last Update: 2024-02-24 15:59:37

Public Safety A Concern On Public Transportation
Measure 110 reform lacks public safety

In a stunning display of hypocrisy, Oregon’s majority party reveals they care more about public safety on buses than in your neighborhood.

Majority Leader Senator Kate Lieber (D-Portland), chief sponsor of SB 1553, makes it clear that use of drugs on public transportation as a Class A Misdemeanor is more important than the Democrat fix for Measure 110 that calls for a Class C misdemeanor, which is a $100 fine.

TriMet testifies, "Despite a significant expansion of security presence on our vehicles and property, open drug use has become commonplace throughout our system: TriMet’s Safety & Security team received an average of over 260 incident reports per month related to drugs and alcohol from October-December 2023."

In response to TriMet’s endorsement, House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) issued the following statement:

“We’ve been told for months by the majority party and their special interest bosses that a Class A Misdemeanor was too harsh, but this bill puts their hypocrisy on full display. Public transportation deserves Class A protections, but our neighborhoods and streets don’t?” asked Helfrich, a retired Portland police sergeant. “It doesn’t make sense - if someone is using drugs at a bus stop it’s fine, but if they get on the bus it has crossed the line? If a Class A is good enough for buses, its good enough for our neighborhoods and streets.”

A recent TriMet survey shows over a 30% drop in riders for feeling unsafe on buses and trains over the past several years. This is not just a Portland issue, Eugene and Medford have also expressed concern.

"SB 1553 expands the number of crimes a person can be prosecuted for on public transportation regarding illegal consumption of a controlled substance. Chargeable offenses already exist for which District Attorneys will not prosecute," says Senator Brian Boquist (R-Polk County). "This crime will become part of the existing judicial catch and release scheme. Police already know which alleged crimes will never be adjudicated thus they stop enforcing them. Adding this crime to the list solves nothing. Calling it an enhanced penalty does nothing. Enforce existing laws. Fix Measure 110. Make the public prosecutors do their job … or maybe toss them out if they fail to prosecute ten offenders. Make Judges do their job instead of letting off offenders … or automatically toss them out if they fail to jail ten offenders. We have an intentionally expanding serious drug use problem in Oregon, but SB 1553 is a political stunt nothing more. To think having a second or third or fourth charge against a single drug abuser will make anyone safer on transit is ridiculous. This legislator finds it unfathomable that we use children, women, and transit workers as pawns for political posturing instead of providing real solutions. The right thing is to fix it, not kick the can down the road until after the next election. As Measure 110 fixes fail, thanks to the Judiciary, and lack of consensus in the State Senate, we get a "Uniparty" non-solution. We need to protect transit riders and drivers by enforcing existing laws, and provide funding for drug treatment."

The co-chair of the Public Safety Subcommittee, Joint Committee on Ways & Means admits that decisions are being made behind closed doors that even Democrats are not privy too, and public safety isn't at the top of the list. "In terms of the “major” legislation (the Governor’s Housing Package, a response to Ballot Measure 110, and a potential bill on campaign finance reforms), the pieces of the total puzzle are beginning to be revealed. Although the leadership hasn’t specifically outlined the priority of these measures for passage, I suspect there is a lot more support for the housing package than the other two priorities."

Majority leaders report they are revising HB 4002 Measure 110 reforms, but they have been silent over two weeks and time is running out. Oregonians are waiting to see if there will be significate fixes to Measure 110 that will eliminate cartel activities - close down slave camps, rape rooms, trafficking, drug and fentanyl mules, money laundering, and provide funding for enforcement to stop these criminal activities. Measure 110 reform could eliminate the need for SB 1553 as a separate law for transportation systems.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-23 09:25:46Last Update: 2024-02-23 15:35:16

Quality-Adjusted Life-Year Is On The Chopping Block
Oregon’s use of QALY criticized by U.S. Health and Human Services

Remember the 2008 campaign for President when Sarah Palin was made fun of for speaking out about death panels? She was referring to the Medicaid qualification guidelines. In 1992, Oregon submitted a Medicaid waiver application relying on a Quality-Adjusted Life-Year (QALY) formula to prioritize coverage and services for those whose lives were deemed of “higher value.”

In 2011, HB 2100 passed as a pharmacy bill that also establish the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) to develop clinical practice guidelines in its prioritized list of services to encourage effective and efficient medical evaluation and treatment. They were directed to report to the Oregon Health Authority to prioritize health services for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). It called for HERC to develop a medical technology assessment process opening the door to use QALY in the Oregon Health Plan.

The purpose of HERC was to establish benchmark rates to achieve the goal that Oregonians have access to high quality, effective health care at an affordable cost, whether that care is purchased by the state or by the private sector. The bill seemed innocent enough that it passed unanimously seemingly unaware they were creating the foundation for "death panels." It was also the narrative used as the foundation for Measure 111 in 2022 when voters passed universal health care not realizing they were opening a permanent door for priority rating – the same year the Legislature gave free healthcare to anyone in the world who comes to Oregon.

Oregon has used a QALY formula over the last 22 years to determine what would and would not be covered by the Oregon Health Plan. Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services thinks it is a flawed scoring system used by economists to determine cost-effectiveness of proposed medical treatments. Healthcare payers use the scores to determine who is eligible for healthcare resources, similar to auto insurers using credit scores for issuing coverage.

Based on clinical and practical analyses, QALY calculations measure how much a proposed treatment may improve someone’s quality of life by arbitrarily weighing how long that person has spent in different states of health.

The formula uses a year of “perfect health” as worth 1, while a year of “less than perfect” health—such as living with a disability or chronic illness—is worth less than 1. Death equals zero. The final QALY score equals the number of years a treatment may extend a patient’s life multiplied by determined quality of life.

In 2017, Oregon removed an explicit reference to QALY from its cost-effectiveness framework—but the Health Evidence Review Commission, which guides the Oregon Health Plan’s benefit decisions, continues to rely upon QALY-driven prioritization scores.

Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) has been working to get the Oregon Health Authority to stop using QALY scores since the inception of the Oregon Health Plan, with no success. They testified that QALY expands existing healthcare inequities by perversely impacting or denying care to people with chronic disease or disabilities, and older adults. Because of the greater value QALY places on medical treatments that extend the lives of people without disabilities than on those that benefit people with disabilities, these groups are deemed “less worthy” to receive insurance coverage for new medicines or treatments. The illegalities of QALY use are well documented, and The National Council on Disability has repeatedly warned it undermines and violates major U.S. disability and civil rights laws—including the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Senate Bill 1508 is the first step in limiting the use of QALY by the Oregon Health Authority. It states, the authority may not consider a quality of life in general measure, either directly or by considering a source that relies on a quality of life in general measure. It also requires the Health Evidence Review Commission to not rely upon any quality of life in general measures, either directly or by considering research or analysis that relies on a quality of life in general measure including value of a service; they must receive public comment on selection of vendor that provides research or analysis tool; and allow comments on the research or health economic measures to be relied upon in the commission’s decision-making.



Has the “death panels” run its course for such a change in how to cut medical costs? Factor in the passing of universal health care and free medical care for an increasing number of unhealthy immigrants, affirming care transitioning mistakes, and increased suicides. QALY may no longer serve their agenda. Plus, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services criticized Oregon’s use of QALY because it ‘‘in substantial part values the life of an individual with a disability less than the life of an individual without a disability. This premise is discriminatory and inconsistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

But, SB 1508 isn’t without tradeoffs. Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) points out that the bill also caps insulin at $35 a vial from insurance providers, which has the effect of squeezing other plan participants to meet the difference in cost that directly helps patients but doesn't solve the problem of the high cost. In other words, we only moved the problem from one spot on the map to another, as manufacturers enjoy continued market protection.

One thing that seems to be agreed upon is that QALY types of scores have no place influencing what conditions and treatments the Oregon Health Plan will cover. SB 1508 is headed to the House floor for its final vote.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-22 10:26:51Last Update: 2024-02-22 16:02:38

Oregon Debates School Choice
Proposed legislation mirrors school choice initiatives

Oregon Representative Ed Diehl(R-Scio) is chief sponsor on a school choice bill that nearly mirrors the School Choice Initiative, scheduled for a hearing on February 14.

HB 4161 is described to reduce the cap on students who can attend a virtual public charter school and requires a school district to allow a student from another district to attend a school in the school district with limitations. The bill also provides for a student to have an education savings account allowing a percentage of funds to follow the student.

Compared to IP5's Open Enrollment Amendment, and IP6's School Choice Account, the functions are similar with different terminology. What this bill adds to the initiatives is common sense to the implementation of those initiatives. IP5 refers to “attendance zone” meaning the specific school boundaries the school district has designated as the school of residence based on the resident of the parents. IP5 seems to start with the premise that no student has an assigned school and all students/parents go through the “choice” process. HB 4161 starts with the premise that a student’s place of resident is the assigned school, and parents have a choice option to transfer.

IP5 under 4.a. requires schools to give first priority to students living within their school boundaries (attendance zone)implying everyone goes through the choice process. Second priority goes to students living within the school district, and all others are third. Both IP5 and HB 4161 have the same Equitable Lottery process, free of discrimination, for schools filling available classroom spaces. Both also exclude expelled or suspended students from choice privileges.

HB 4161 increases the number of students that may enroll in virtual public charter school that is not sponsored by the student's resident school district without first receiving approval from the school district, It extends the cap from 3% to 6% in school year 2025-26. IP5 doesn't separate virtual public charter schools from physical public charter schools, only limiting them by capacity of what their instructors can handle.

The bill describes the requirements for a school districts to not participate in open enrollment. They must apply for a waiver and demonstrate open enrollment would cause an adverse impact to the school district based on funding loss for support services and prevent delivering quality education to resident students. Participating school districts must set a standard for the number of students they can accommodate and will admit and may base it by school and grade level. IP5 assume schools have a capacity limit for accommodating transferring students, but is silent on any wavers that could be harmful to the district.

Both IP5 and the bill give first preference to in-district transfers. For out-of-district transfers, the bill requires the school board to give consent unless a waiver is filed or the student resides in a district with a waiver, or it exceeds established standards for capability. IP5 can also decline for exceeding capability. HB 4161 requires consent be given to persons who have siblings currently enrolled in the school regardless if the school district then files for a waiver. IP 5 does not address sibling rights, but both say once transferred, the student remains enrolled at that school until graduation or transfers to another school.

The bill sets out prohibitions for encouraging and discouraging a transfer, which IP5 is silent on. However, IP5 requires school districts to make detailed information on the open enrollment application process easily available.

Both allow students to use existing bus services, but does not require the district to provide transportation across districts or out of district unless required by federal law.

IP 5 has a general statement, “Open Enrollment Student with free and appropriate public education.” This statement lacks definition but it might give constitutional authority to cleanse classrooms of all inappropriate sexual identity curriculum. HB 4161 extends waiver of any applicable tuition fees that are currently waved for low-income under federal requirements and are extended to families with federal adjusted gross income that does not exceed $125,000 adjusted each January 1 for CPI affective January 1, 2026.



HB 4161 directs the Department of Education to develop and implement a policy that provides for the establishment of education savings accounts for students to use for educational expenses that is equal to 80% of the amount that the student's resident school district would have received. The remaining 20% goes to the student's resident school district to maintain services for resident students - applies to the 2025-2026 school year.

IP6 is a School Choice Account that follows a student receiving education in a private school or in a homeschool setting or with School Choice Services, which can be a combination of educational options or third parties. As with HB 4161, the School Choice Account is funded with 80% of the basic school support funding amount. However, it defines a minimum at $7,600.

HB 4161 does not include an emergency clause, so if the bill passes, it does not stop the voters from making IP5 and IP6 a constitutional amendment, If there are any conflicting parts, they would be overridden by the constitutional amendment and presumably changed in the 2025 session before it is implemented for school year 2025-2026. It is scheduled for a hearing on February 14 at 3pm and currently available for comment.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-09 11:26:42Last Update: 2024-02-09 14:47:17

Todd Nash Pans Gun Bill
“Guns are in almost every home”

Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash offered testimony via video to the Senate Judiciary Committee According to the Oregon Health Authority, 878 people took their own lives in Oregon in 2022, the last year for which statistics are available.

In his testimony, offered in opposition to SB 1503, Commissioner Nash urged the Legislature to focus on the sources of despair in rural America.

"My fear is that the good work that was done with SB 955 will be undone by this," said Commissioner Nash. His reference to SB 955 is to SB 955 from the 2023 Session which funded the implementation and operation of an AgriStress Helpline.

You can view his entire testimony, which is about three minutes long, below.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-02-07 19:43:10Last Update: 2024-02-07 20:36:04

Suicides Factor Into Proposed Gun Bill
Dems try to break commitment on no gun bills

When Representative Mark Owens(R-Crane) was asked in a townhall if there would be any gun bills this session, he responded, "they would not get a hearing. The presiding officers made that commitment." The Democrat leaders, Senate President Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) and Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) must have forgotten and scheduled their sponsored bill a hearing for SB 1503 on February 7, and have scheduled a work session for February 13 at 1PM.

SB 1503 establishes The Task Force on Gun Violence and Suicide Prevention, which “shall study the following issues related to public health best practices for reducing deaths from gun violence and for suicide prevention.” Will this task force do anything, or study in perpetuity? We know the answer.

According to some, there is no such thing as a violent gun. There are violent people, and if you only look into violence where people use one implement vs another you would be looking at only one tiny piece of the problem and will be sure to fail to find any solution. So this bill aims to set up an infrastructure sure to fail and sure to be a black hole for taxpayer funds.

Who will serve on the task force? Legislators, ‘representatives’ of various health organizations, behavioral health providers, and medical providers. Amendment -3, introduced by Wagner and sure to be adopted in the work session, adds law enforcement, professional in veterans' mental health, and a person that lived experience with community safety threats or suicidal ideation. What was their intent to not include law enforcement who deal with violent people every day.

Amendment -3 also changes Section 2 and appropriates $400,000 to the Department of Justice "for the purpose of paying a third party for research ordered by the Task Force on Gun Violence and Suicide Prevention.” It was changed from the Oregon Health Authority. The task force directives are focused on aspects of suicide with only one directive on the use of firearms: "(g) Rates of success for extreme risk protection orders and barriers to implementation and capacity for police stations or other entities to implement voluntary surrender or holding of firearms." Amendment -3 removes the remainder objectives focused on firearms, so why is "Gun Violence" still in the title?

New CDC data reported by ktvz, doesn't support this bill. It shows a three-year decline in youth suicides (24 and younger) in Oregon, with fewer total deaths and a lower rate in 2019, 2020, and 2021. It shows 53% of that declining number is by firearms. Oregon saw a 14% drop in suicides among people ages 24 and younger compared to the year prior, with 102 deaths in 2020. If the drug addicted were removed, the numbers would go way down, which points back to Measure 110.



Senator Wagner's proposed Amendment -3 can be assumed to get ahead of the criticism over their commitment not to hear gun bills and the bad press Oregon Health Authority is receiving. OHA failed in its role as provider of information to the volunteer Oversight and Accountability Council, which awards more than $100 million annually in cannabis tax revenue to recovery organizations, supposedly with guidance from OHA. But the report OHA promised to provide by September 2023 still hasn’t been produced.

What's left of SB 1503 seems to be duplicating the Oregon Suicide Prevention website, AFSP Oregon, and the crisis lines resources along with a number of other programs that testified in the hearing. There is no lack of help available, which goes back to the intent of this bill. Whether amended or not, guns will be the main topic of discussion.

--Bill Dewey

Post Date: 2024-02-07 12:42:26Last Update: 2024-02-07 18:03:43

Oregon Republicans Send Letter to Governor Greg Abbott
Stand with Texas on Securing the Border

A group of Oregon House and Senate Republicans along with the Chair of the Oregon Republican Party penned a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott applauding his unprecedented efforts to secure the southern border in the absence of support from the White House and federal agencies.

“The flow of deadly drugs from cartels into America hugely contributes to the drug crisis we’re seeing in Oregon and remains out of control due to Measure 110. If we don’t stop the flow of cartel drugs funneling into American cities – even if we ramp up treatment services and enhance penalties for dealers and users in Oregon – this crisis will persist,” said Representative Chris Goodwin (R-Canyonville). Governor Abbott and my colleagues who signed this letter recognize the seriousness of this situation and the long-term ramifications of doing nothing to remedy it.”

The letter also discusses the broken immigration system in the U.S. which must be fixed with strong leadership from Congress and a President willing to make tough decisions.

“Legal immigration has long been a part of America’s fabric, but let’s not forget we are also a nation of law and order. Opening the border to mass illegal migration ignores who we are as a country and disrespects those who came here for a better life the legal way,” said Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City).

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-02-06 12:14:05Last Update: 2024-02-06 19:58:39

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