2015 Legislative wrap-up

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Legislators have returned home and are recovering from six intense months of doing the people’s business.  Here is our summary of the bills and budgets they passed that have particular impact on Oregonians with disabilities.

There is much more work to be done on these and other issues affecting our community.  Bills that do not pass are said to be “dead”, but our efforts to secure the rights, services and opportunities of Oregonians with disabilities are alive and well.


Mental Health and Addictions

Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

Health Care



Miscellaneous (including Aging and People with Disabilities Budget)


Mental Health and Addictions

HB 2023 – Discharge planning requirements for individuals leaving psychiatric hospital stays.

HB 2233 – DHS is to create an advisory  committee within the department’s Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and  Investigations for programs and facilities providing residential  care  for  children, youth or youth offenders and programs and facilities.

HB 2307 – Bans the professional use of “conversion therapy” for minors, which attempts to turn gay or transgender teens into heterosexual or gender-conforming individuals.

HB 2333 – Removes the antiquated term “insanity” from a law affecting statutes of limitations.

HB 2363 – Requires that hospital clinicians to document any use of forced seclusion persons placed on mental health commitment holds.

HB 2368 – Says that if the terms of a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment (a planning document for mental health services) conflicts with a medical advance directive, the terms of the Declaration prevail.

HB 2557 – Allows people who have been found Guilty Except for Insanity for certain offenses to have those findings set aside and sealed by a court.

HB 2644 – Eliminates governmental immunity from liability for an event that occurred a number of years ago in which a care worker was killed by a person under PSRB jurisdiction.

HB 2660 – Allows courts discretion in ordering diversion agreements for Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs).

HB 2796 – Provides for licensing of music therapists.

HB 2936 – Defines “Sobering Facilities” and provides limited immunity for police who take a person to a facility and for facility staff.

HB 2948 – Clarifies how much HIPAA-protected health information that healthcare providers can share about mental health patients with family members and others who provide them with assistance, under federal privacy laws.

HB 3230 – Adds new standards for the registration of board and care homes that serve individuals with mental health disorders.

HB 3347 – Clarifies that an individual may be civilly committed if, because of a mental disorder, s/he is “unable to provide for basic personal needs that are necessary to avoid serious physical harm in the near future, and is not receiving such care as is necessary to avoid such harm.

SB 229 – Provides a stipend and reimbursement for OHA’s Mental Health Consumer Advisory Council members.

SB 839 – Protects people from prosecution who seek emergency medical help when they have been using illegal drugs.

SB 840 – Allows nurse practitioners to exercise the authority of physicians in the mental health commitment process.

The Budget:

In the approved state budget, mental health funding was increased 13.5 percent, mostly due to the continuation of services that started in the prior budget period, including regional mental health specialist coordinators to coordinate services between the mental health system and the seniors system,

New money was approved for crisis services, including mobile crisis services, jail diversion, rental assistance for supported housing, peer-delivered services and expansion of the Oregon Psychiatric Access Line for Kids (OPAL-K).  Addictions treatment and recovery support, including increased capacity for detoxification/withdrawal management, sobering facilities, and peer delivered services received additional support.

There was also funding to open four wards at the Junction City campus of Oregon State Hospital, increasing its bed capacity by 38. The budget anticipates closing the Neuro-Geriatric unit on the Salem campus of OSH.

Immediately following the legislative session, it was announced that the Addictions and Mental Health Division is being eliminated and its functions are being combined with the state Medical Assistance Program to become the new “Health Systems Division.”  How this will affect the provision of mental health and addictions services and public input into those operations remain unclear.

Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

HB 2618 – Enhances the retirement benefits for state employees whose duties include the care of residents of residential facilities that house individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

SB 474 – Permits certain nonprofit organizations to operate dental clinics for individuals with disabilities.

SB 616 – Directs an investigation of how the Fairview Trust has been operated.

The Budget:

In the approved state budget, I/DD services received a 17.5 percent increase, about half of which is due to a projected 13 percent caseload growth and increases in the cost per case.  It includes funds to cover the initial cost of implementing Fair Labor Standards Act rule changes affecting personal support workers, and some funds to improve employment outcomes for individuals through Vocational Rehabilitation services, benefits counseling and provider development.

The budget includes adjustments for the Stabilization and Crisis Unit (SACU) program. Most of the new resources will fund 127 permanent positions to support a float pool to cover staffing gaps and reduce overtime.  Three Crisis and Outreach Teams (COAT) will provide support and training for critical incidents.

I/DD provider (non-bargained employees not including transportation) service rates are increased by 4.0 percent. Family to Family networks continue to be funded.   The community housing (“Fairview”) trust account was spared, leaving its balance of $6 million intact.

Health Care

HB 2234 – Requires health insurance payment for child abuse evaluations.

HB 2300 – Creates a method by which a health care practitioner may offer to treat a patient who has a terminal disease with an investigational product not approved by United States Food and Drug Administration.

HB 2395 – Renews the hospital assessment tax that leverages federal tax dollars for the Oregon Health Plan.

HB 2419 – Requires hospitals to hire qualified American Sign Language interpreters for deaf patients, just as they do for patients who speak a foreign language.

HB 2828 – Requires a study of the best methods to finance a universal healthcare system for Oregon.

HB 2879 – Permits pharmacists to prescribe birth control.

HB 2600 – Requires small employers to continue to pay health insurance premiums for employees who take unpaid leave.

HB 3343 – Requires Oregon health insurers to pay for 12-month supplies of birth control.

HB 3378 – Requires hospitals to develop discharge plans for natural caregivers who assist elderly patients and others in need of extended care with their treatment when they return home.

SB 1 – Formally dissolves Cover Oregon, our state’s failed attempt to create a health insurance exchange.  Remaining duties are assigned to the Department of Consumer & Business Services.

SB 93 – Allows people using medicines for chronic conditions to get 90-day supplies.

SB 144 – Requires health insurance companies to pay for telemedical services provided to patients outside a healthcare facility.

SB 233 – Allows suspension, instead of termination, of Medicaid benefits while a person is incarcerated.

SB 492 – Requires that domestic violence victims be able to use their paid sick time to address problems related to their victimization.

SB 520 – Permits children aged 7 and up to receive vaccinations from pharmacists.

SB 895 – Requires schools to offer information about their vaccination rates on school report cards, and requires all students, not just new students, to show informed consent before given a non-medical exemption from vaccination.


HB 2361 – Permits DRO and the Long Term Ombudsman to perform their guardianship oversight duties without having to pay for court filing fees.

HB 2362 – Requires courts, in deciding about the award of attorney fees in guardianship proceedings, to give the greatest weight to how an award benefits protected person.

SB 590 – Requires the use of court visitors for older minors in guardianship proceedings that will lead to adult guardianships.


HB 2597 – Requires truancy notices to inform parents of their right to request a special education evaluation or Individual Education Plan review.

HB 2927 – Increases the amount transferred from the State School Fund to the High Cost Disabilities Account.

SB 553 – Limits the use of school suspension and exclusion to only the most serious, violent behaviors or threats.

Other Stuff

HB 2177 – The new Motor Voter law will result in more people being registered to vote.

HB 2547 – Creates a Task Force on Housing with Services to examine the need for regulation of this emerging model of housing.

HB 2700 – Directs money from class action awards to Legal Aid and others.

HB 3400 – Implements the legalization of marijuana.  It allows some localities to ban dispensaries and sets a value-added retail tax of 17 percent at point of sale.  Medical dispensaries may sell marijuana to non-patients tax-free, starting Oct. 1.

SB 225 – Permits Oregon to cut supplemental nutrition assistance to recipients without individual notice in certain situations.

SB 227 – Creates a statewide registry for Traumatic Brain Injury.

SB 454 – Requires employers with 10 or more employees to allow their workers to earn a week of paid sick leave.

SB 710 – Requires healthcare providers and facilities to give patients one free copy of their medical records to help them to obtain federal disability benefits.

SB 774 – Requires the Home Care Commission to adopt a statewide plan to expand home care worker workforce.

SB 777 – Oregon legislation that aligns with the federal ABLE Act.  It allows Oregonians with disabilities and their families to set up 529 savings accounts to save money without losing federal benefits.

Aging and People with Disabilities Budget

In the approved budget, APD received a 18.2 percent increase.  The funding covers caseload increases, the initial costs federal rule changes affecting home care workers, a 2.5 percent annual increase of provider rates, a statewide community-based needs assessment for deaf, deaf-blind, deaf-plus, and hard of hearing communities and continuation of the Oregon Project Independence pilot expansion project serving younger people with disabilities.


HB – House Bill     SB – Senate Bill
Hearing Schedule:  https://olis.leg.state.or.us/LIZ/Committees/Meeting/List
Bills:  https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Measures/list/
Streaming for hearings and events: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/Legislative-Video.aspx

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