E-UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15 - Representative Carolyn Tomei, District 41
E-UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15 Dear Friends, I haven't stopped smiling since election night. In addition to putting Democrats in the control of the Oregon House for the first time in years, voters defeated the anti-government Measures 48 and 41; voters supported expanding the Oregon Prescription Drug Pool to give more citizens access to low-cost medications; and they re-elected Governor Ted Kulongoski who will work for adequacy and stability in education funding, health care for all kids, and strong renewable energy standards. With these changes at hand, we have been extremely busy this last week. House Democrats have selected Rep. Jeff Merkley (Portland) as their choice for Speaker of the House. Other leadership positions have gone to Rep. Diane Rosenbaum (Portland), Rep. Dave Hunt (Milwaukie), Rep. Phil Barnhart (Eugene), Rep. Arnie Roblans (Coos Bay), Rep. Sara Gelser (Corvallis), and Rep. Peter Buckley (Ashland). I am pleased to see representation from throughout the state in our leadership team. We all remain committed to working across party lines to bridge the so-called urban/rural divide. I am extremely hopeful that the 2007 session will see a return to civility and public involvement in the legislative process and that, in a bipartisan manner, we will make real progress on solving the problems that face our state. ******************************* TOWN HALL, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5 Please join me, Rep. Diane Rosenbaum, and Sen. Kate Brown for a Town Hall Forum on Tuesday, December 5th, 7:00 - 8:30 pm at the SMILE Center, 8210 SE 13th, in Sellwood. It will be a casual, free-flowing exchange of ideas. We'll share with you our priorities for the coming 2007 session and want to hear about yours. For more information, call me, 503-653-5180. ******************************* SOME TOP LEGISLATIVE CONCERNS While individual legislators have differing priorities, most of us agree on a few things that need to be addressed during 2007: Health Insurance for ALL Children. The Governor and leadership from both houses have made kids' health insurance a top priority. While the specifics are still to be ironed out (and, of course, that's where the hard work comes in), I feel confident that this 2007 legislature will find a way to make sure ALL of Oregon's children have adequate health care. Stable School Funding. Again, the Governor and leadership from both houses are working on proposals to provide adequate and stable school funding. I am hopeful that, by working congenially in a bipartisan manner, this will be the session that actually makes progress on assuring our school children have a full 175-day school year and smaller class sizes. We also hope to increase funding for Head Start, so that every eligible child can start kindergarten ready and able to learn. Biofuels and Renewable Energy. Last session we were very close to passing a biofuel package. I think we will get that package passed in 2007. Expanding our production and use of biofuels has benefits throughout the state - for rural communities and for our cities. And I also expect a vigorous discussion of other sources of renewable energy, like wind and wave technologies. Other areas where I hope to see progress: re-examine the tax code and eliminate unnecessary and out-of-date tax credits; increase the corporate minimum tax; adequately fund the state ethics commissions; and, strengthen laws to protect identity theft and restrict access to personal information. Also, I am confident that this session we will finally pass "Contraceptive EquityÃ¢â‚¬Â i.e. require prescription drug plans to cover women's contraception. (Did you know some plans cover medication for Erectile Dysfunction, but NOT for contraception?!?) ******************************* END OF SUMMER SURVEY RESULTS Since my last E-update, I mailed a print newsletter to residents in House District 41. Included in that newsletter was a survey, asking constituents to prioritize various government services. By far, the highest priority rankings went to K-12 Education and Health Care. I was especially interested in reading your comments. Many people wrote about the imbalance between the personal and corporate tax burden. "Get rid of the kicker.Ã¢â‚¬Â "Increase the corporate minimum tax.Ã¢â‚¬Â "Stop those tax giveaways to big business.Ã¢â‚¬Â Environmental issues also garnered comments. "Fund environmental and natural resource protections.Ã¢â‚¬Â "Global warming.Ã¢â‚¬Â "Stop logging in roadless areas.Ã¢â‚¬Â And many comments referred to smoking policy. "Eliminate smoking in restaurants and bars.Ã¢â‚¬Â "Smoke free public places.Ã¢â‚¬Â This was clearly not a "scientificÃ¢â‚¬Â survey; respondents were self-selected. Still, I think the comments mirror fairly accurately the views of House District 41 ******************************* SELLWOOD BRIDGE PROJECT Work continues on the planning for rehabilitation or replacement of the Sellwood Bridge, originally built in 1925. Transportation experts, elected officials, agency staff and citizen advisors have devised a timeline and strategy for the project to move forward. We are working on a Purpose and Need statement, used by the federal highway department, to detail the current problems with the bridge. We are developing evaluation criteria that will be used to weigh different proposals. Eventually, the decisions will be made about replacement or rehabilitation, the design and exact location of the bridge, and the best ways to accommodate bicycles, pedestrians, freight and transit. But there is still a long way to go. I encourage you to visit the official website, www.sellwoodbridge.org, to find out how you can make your voice heard in this exciting process. ******************************* NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE MONTH Since 1983 November has been designated as National Alzheimer's Disease Month. There are currently 4.5 million Americans age 65 and older with Alzheimer's and as baby boomers age, the number of Americans with the disease will grow to as many as 16 million in 2050. In Oregon 57,000 people are currently living with Alzheimer's, and most of them live at home with family caregivers. The average person with Alzheimer's disease lives 8 -12 years after diagnosis. Family members often must give up jobs to stay home and work 24-hours a day as caregivers. Placement in a quality nursing facility is difficult to find; and, at an average of $42,000 annually, it is cost prohibitive to many. As the number of Alzheimer's patients continues to rise, the challenges faced by families, health care providers, businesses and government agencies will only increase. If you or someone you know is dealing with Alzheimer's disease, help is available at the Alzheimer's Associations 24-hour helpline, 1-800-272-3900. ***************************** I really appreciate your feedback - what you think is going well in state government, what you think needs improvement, and the issues you'd like to see addressed by the next legislature. During the interim, I move my office back to Milwaukie. Feel free to contact me there at 503-653-5180. I will continue to use my same email address for legislative business firstname.lastname@example.org As always, thank you for your interest and your continued involvement in our communities and the legislative process.
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