This week saw the Oregon House return to a sense of normalcy not yet seen this session: bills will no longer be read in their entirety on the House floor! However, this increase to the legislature’s pace meant that I had to cancel this week’s Virtual Constituent Conversation. So, we are sharing an update with you via newsletter to be sure you are keeping up with all that is happening in Salem this week.
Police Use of Force Accountability
This week, once again, raises the importance and visibility of our need to stand together for racial justice and to elevate the need for police to be accountable for their use of force. The Derek Chauvin trial, the tragic death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright and the knowledge that a child, 13-year-old Adam Toledo, was shot by police in Chicago while his empty hands were in the air, reinforce for us the profound need for systemic change. Excessive use of force and database reporting of these incidences has been a topic we have discussed at length in the House Judiciary Committee this session and it is clear we need to stand together with our law enforcement partners to create an environment that leads to meaningful cultural change. The need for increased professionalism and transparency around use of force is clear and is reinforced every time one of these tragic deaths occurs. These police-involved shootings and deaths must stop. Our Black, indigenous and people of color communities cannot and should not have to wait any longer for those in power to decide to take systemic action. I am working hard in a dedicated, bipartisan fashion with my judiciary colleagues and stakeholders, led by Chair Bynum and Vice Chair Noble, to make meaningful change in Oregon’s laws to address this issue. I invite you to join us remotely to hear the discussion on Tuesday, April 20 when we will discuss all of our police reform bills on the House floor.
Republicans and Democrats have come together to more efficiently and effectively pass legislation on behalf of all Oregonians this week. You may have noticed that we spent considerable time on the House Floor in the past few weeks and that bills have not been moving very quickly. Thursday, that all changed. Republicans agreed Wednesday night to suspend the full reading of bills (standard practice in both chambers), so that we can more quickly vote on critical legislation brought to the Floor. This has led to a significant increase in work getting done this week and will hopefully save many bills that may have otherwise died.
The past few weeks have marked a lot of movement on my bills, including the passage of one of my bills out of the House!
HB 3037 is a bill my office has been working on alongside Multnomah County to help inform and support a community after a youth dies by suicide. The bill changes some reporting restrictions between counties and also requires the state to create a statewide post-suicide intervention plan to support a community and decrease the further harm that can come after a peer and child dies by suicide. The bill is set to have a public hearing on 4/20 in the Senate Committee Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery and I’m very grateful to Co-Chief sponsor, Senator Kate Lieber, for her partnership in championing this bill in the Senate.
HB 2814 (Clean Construction to protect air quality), HB 3035 (Prison healthcare improvement pilot project at Coffee Creek women’s prison), and HB 3039 (Electronic medical record modernization study) are currently in the Joint Ways and Means Committee waiting to go through the budget process, we hope to have more updates in the coming weeks!
Equitable Policing Package
On 4/6 the House Judiciary Committee passed a bipartisan package of equitable policing bills to the House floor. The committee's work has been a collaborative, bipartisan effort that earned the praise and support of Attorney General Rosenblum, Minority Leader Drazan, and Governor Brown. The package passed unanimously, and as discussed above, the bills are scheduled to come to the House floor on Tuesday, April 20th. These bills will:
Regulate the use of chemical agents, impact projectiles, and sound devices by law enforcement
Direct all law enforcement to participate in the FBI’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection which would be subsequently analyzed by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission for annual reports to the legislature
Facilitate avenues for officer reports of police misconduct and establish mechanisms that ensure these reports reach the appropriate investigative authorities.
Require the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to create a uniform background checklist for law enforcement agencies to use when hiring and to include applicant's tendencies and opinions toward diverse cultures and races.
Require police working in crowd management to have identifying information on uniforms or tactical helmets, either their first initial and last name or a unique identifier assigned by the officer's law enforcement agency.
Establish limitations on arbitrators’ decisions on officers’ misconduct cases, reform selection methods for arbitrators, and require a new commission to adopt uniform standards of conduct across the state.
This week the COVID-19 Subcommittee met once.
On 4/14 the subcommittee received our weekly briefing on the vaccine rollout from Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen. The committee also heard from Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s State Epidemiologist, on testing, public health indicators, and the prevalence of COVID-19 variants in Oregon. We are reaching nearly one million Oregonians fully vaccinated. You can watch the full update here.
Some of you may be concerned about the pause in distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I would encourage you to watch Dr. Sidelinger’s comments from Wednesday. In it, he explains what happened, what you should be aware of, and what Oregon is doing. The good news is that the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is working just as it should be. He anticipates this pause to last about a week and suggests that new guidelines may be forthcoming.
Biweekly Constituent Conversations Update
As mentioned at the beginning of the newsletter we unfortunately had to cancel this week’s Constituent Conversation due to the increased pace of the House floor now that bills do not need to be read in their entirety.
It is a priority for me to continue holding these events on a regular basis despite being back to work in the hospital. I ask for your understanding as the timing of these events may change based on my work schedule.
My team is working to schedule the next Constituent Conversation and we will announce that as a part of next week’s newsletter.
COVID cases have recently been trending upward. There is a concern that we will see cases increase with variants present as we open up our communities. Nevertheless, Oregon’s case rate is the twelfth-lowest in the nation, which is a sign that all the work Oregonians have done - to continue to wear masks (or even double masking), stay socially distant, and remain at home as much as possible - has been working! Please continue to practice these safety protocols as long as needed, as we aren’t done with this yet. Finally, and most importantly, please make sure you and your loved ones get your vaccines as soon as you are eligible, especially those who are 65 years and over.
Vaccines Eligibility Expansion
On 4/6, Governor Brown announced an update to the vaccine eligibility timeline. Effective 4/19, all Oregonians 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Oregon Health Authority has changed the process for signing up to receive vaccines. The Get Vaccinated Oregon website has been updated. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine, you will receive an email invite from All4Oregon inviting you to make an appointment at the Oregon Convention Center. All4Oregon will then send you a unique, individualized link that connects to the All4Oregon scheduling site with open dates and times for vaccine appointments. The link will expire if it is not used within five days.
The Nike Headquarters in Beaverton has also been hosting weekly drive-thru vaccination clinics alongside Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. I am happy to see Oregon businesses like Nike pitching in to help get Oregon vaccinated. More info about the Nike drive-thru clinic click here.
The Oregon Health Authority does not require an ID to receive a vaccine and the vaccine will be free. However, if you do have insurance, it is recommended that you bring your insurance information, as providers may charge your insurance an administration fee. You should not pay out of pocket for your vaccine.
If you experience side effects after you receive the vaccine, the CDC recommends using their V-safe website to report that information. The most common side effects are tenderness around the injection site, headaches, tiredness, and chills. The website will also remind you when it is time to receive the second dose of the vaccine.
While the roll-out of vaccines is exciting, it’s important to remember that vaccines are still a scarce resource and it may take weeks to get an appointment to be vaccinated. Please be patient – and stay safe! - as we all work through this process and more vaccines become available.
6 Tips on How to Spot a Vaccine Scam
You cannot pay to get early access to the vaccine. If someone calls to “sell you” an earlier appointment than you could get otherwise, it is a scam.
When you are eligible, do not pay to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who wants money to put you on a list, make an appointment for you, or reserve a spot in line is a scammer.
Worried about cost? If you are uninsured, on Medicare or an employer plan, private insurance, or the Oregon Health Plan, you do not have to pay to get the vaccine. That is a scam.
Ignore sales ads for the vaccine. The vaccine is only available through federal or state partners. You cannot buy it anywhere.
Nobody legitimate will call, text, or email about the vaccine and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number.
You are not required to provide a Social Security number when registering for a vaccine appointment.
In December, Governor Brown, alongside the Oregon Health Authority, introduced a new county-level approach to easing COVID restrictions based on a county’s risk level. As of 4/16, both Washington and Multnomah County have moved back up to high risk meaning that capacity for many locations such as indoor dining and indoor fitness centers will be reduced. Here is where you can see your county’s risk level and what the guidance is for activities under that risk level.
As we eagerly wait for the investigations into Representative Nearman’s actions during the third special session of 2020 to conclude, I will restate that Representative Nearman should not be serving in public office. He should resign or be expelled from the Oregon House of Representatives as his actions were egregious. The expulsion of a member of the legislature is a drastic move that cannot become a tool to settle political or partisan disagreements and it is an important one to use when the integrity of the body is at stake as it is now. Individuals who serve Oregonians must be held accountable for their actions. I call on my colleagues to hold Representative Nearman accountable for his.
Over the past several weeks many constituents have reached out to discuss one of the biggest challenges facing our community: the housing crisis and chronic houselessness. This week the House passed HB 3115 which ensures that local laws regulating acts such as sitting, lying down, and sleeping are objectively reasonable with regards to individuals experiencing houselessness. This bill comes from the decision in Martin v. Boise (920 F. 3d 584) which held that the government cannot criminalize certain conduct, such as lying, sitting, or sleeping on the streets, that is unavoidable as a result of houselessness.
My focus is on creating long-term policies that address the underlying causes of houselessness, such as lack of affordable housing, family wage jobs and accessible behavioral health care. We cannot hide or sweep away this issue. Our community is hurting. These houseless neighbors are hurting. I hope you will join me to come together to take action as neighbors and concerned citizens to help our local and state leaders address this challenge head on.
In the coming weeks I will be hosting a town hall to discuss these critical issues and look forward to sharing that info when we have it scheduled. In the meantime I would love to hear from you about innovative solutions to addressing Oregon’s housing crisis and chronic houselessness.
Stay in Touch!
The best way to stay informed and connect with my legislative work is through my Facebook page (State Representative Maxine Dexter), my Twitter account (@RepDexterOR), and my Instagram (@RepDexterOR). In addition, please feel free to reach out to my office at Rep.MaxineDexter@OregonLegislature.gov.
I am honored to represent you in Salem and look forward to continuing to serve you and this amazing community we share.
Maxine Dexter, MD
Oregon State Representative
House District 33
Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s office has compiled an exhaustive list of COVID resources here.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline | 1-800-273-TALK (8255)- Crisis Text Line | Text HOME to 741741
Oregon Youthline | Call 877-968-8491 or text teen2teen to 839863 between 4pm - 10pm to text with another teen.
National Youth Crisis Hotline | 1-800-442-HOPE (4673)
Housing assistance: Community Action helps pay rent and help to get people in need of housing. (https://caowash.org)
Housing assistance: Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter serves women in the community who are experiencing homelessness. (https://safes.salvationarmy.org)
Housing assistance, utility assistance, food assistance: United Way of the Columbia-Willamette provides access to critical services like housing assistance and utility assistance and access to food. (https://www.unitedway-pdx.org)
Food assistance, water bill assistance, and grants, utility assistance: Care To Share coordinates assistance to families and individuals who seek emergency food and other basic necessities. (http://www.caretosharehelp.org)
Food assistance, housing assistance, utility assistance, disability assistance: Department of County Human Services ensures that everyone can reach their potential and contribute to communities. (https://multco.us/dchs)
Follow Representative Dexter on social media to stay connected!