Legislative Wrap-Up: Week 4

A man wearing a blue shirt and baseball working in a kitchen. He's smiling at the camera.

Everyone deserves a chance to succeed. The Department of Human Services’ Employment First program has a treasure trove of stories of Oregonians with disabilities who have found fulfillment and greater independence through work. There’s Bill in Hood River, and Susan and Emanuel in Portland, and Jason in Redmond. Their stories, and many others, illustrate the progress that we’re making as a state up close, one person at a time.

One individual whose story Employment First has shared is Jamal. He works at South Coast Hospice and Palliative Care Services. He enjoys the workplace camaraderie and the opportunity to inspire and mentor other individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jamal tells other people seeking work:

If you have a disability, work your hardest. Don’t give up. Your best outcome will be so rewarding.

You can read Jamal’s story here. Check out Employment First’s growing library of stories documenting our state’s progress. One of our legislative priorities, HB 4041A, would boost state government job opportunities for workers with disabilities and position our state government as a model for other employers. The bill would create a Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.

Oregonians with disabilities represent a large, untapped talent pool for employers to hire from. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities — currently 10.5 percent — is consistently twice as high as that for workers who don’t have disabilities. The rate is based on the percentage of people seeking work. Sadly, a majority of people with disabilities have given up looking for work.

Connecting more people with disabilities to jobs is the most cost-effective way to give people a chance to be self-sufficient. And the self-confidence and powerful sense of self-worth that come with having a job transform every aspect of a person’s life.

A head shot of Bob wearing glasses and smiling at the camera.HB 4041A passed its policy committee but, unfortunately, did not make it out of the Ways and Means Committee during this short session. We’ll continue to push it forward in the 2019 session.

For an in-depth look at how to make the state a model employer, you can dive into this policy report: Work Matters –  A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.

Best,

Bob Joondeph
Executive Director

                                                  Week in Review


Kimberly shearing a sheep.Kids

Kimberly is a high school senior who lives on a farm in Marion County, and raises sheep.

She experiences hearing loss, which requires audiology evaluations and hearing aids so that she can go to school and participate in community activities with her peers.

Read Kimberly’s story and how HB 4104 will make a difference for young people like her.

HB 4104: Would require insurance companies to cover ongoing evaluations for hearing loss and fittings and equipment. It would mandate that insurance companies help parents navigate their complex systems, and expand access to pediatric audiologists.

Parents

  • SB 1526A: Unfortunately, our state parental termination statutes give the impression that parents with disabilities are disfavored. Discriminatory attitudes and beliefs are hard enough to overcome without a statute that can be read to encourage them. This bipartisan bill will make sure that parents who experience intellectual or developmental disabilities are equal in the eyes of the law by prohibiting the termination of a person’s parental rights for the sole reason that the person has a disability.
  • Testimony: We submitted testimony in support of the bill.
  • Status: It passed the Senate and the House. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Education

  • HB 4067A: Designates children with developmental delays in the third grade or lower as eligible for special education services.
  • Status: Passed the House and the Senate. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.
  • SB 1522A: Requires school districts to allow students who have received a modified diploma to receive additional educational and transition services. Also makes modified diploma recipients in Youth Corrections Educational Program eligible for transition services and allows modified diploma recipients to be eligible for the Expanded Options Program.
  • Status: Passed the Senate and the House. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.
  • HB 4150A: Directs the State Board of Education to adopt requirements for school district policies on sexual harassment by staff members and students that occurs on or immediately adjacent to school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity, on school-provided transportation or at any official school bus stop.
  • Status: Passed the House and the Senate. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Advanced Directives

  • HB 4135: Many people think of health care directives as only addressing end-of-life decision-making. But these directives are also used to make medical and placement decisions when a person becomes incapable as the result of stroke, dementia, or traumatic brain injury. Decisions regarding nursing home and other restrictive placements, admission to psychiatric facilities, and treatment with psychiatric drugs may all be delegated through an advance directive.
  • These are decisions that a person may have to live with for years and decades to come. Because enhancing adults’ ability to control their own care is central to our mission, we’ve been involved in this issue for more than two decades. We contributed to efforts to pass the existing advance directive law in 1989 and the Declaration for Mental Health Treatment law in 1993.
  • We then helped to amend the Declaration law to make its form more usable and intuitive. HB 4135 would do the same for the Health Care Directive by making it easier to use and creating a committee to recommend additional changes.
  • Testimony: We submitted testimony in support of the bill.
  • Status: Passed the House and the Senate. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Healthcare Access

  • HJR 203A: Proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution establishing an obligation of the state to ensure every resident of state has access to effective, medically appropriate, and affordable health care. Refers the proposed amendment to voters for their approval or rejection at next regular general election.
  • Status: Passed the House, but died in the Senate.

Mobility Devices

  • SB 1532A: Permits four-wheeled motor assisted scooters to be treated the same as motorized wheelchairs for the purpose of motor vehicle laws.
  • Signed into law by the Governor.

Personal Support/Home Care Workers

  • SB 1534A: Most Oregonians want to stay in their homes for as long as they can. If the person experiences limitations in functioning, this may require a well-trained in-home care worker. These workers must also understand that the person receiving the services gets to direct their care and has fundamental rights of safety and privacy. This bill requires the Department of Human Services to establish minimum training standards for in-home care workers.
  • Testimony: We submitted testimony in support of this legislation.
  • Status: Passed the Senate and the House. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Abuse Reporting

  • SB 1540A: Modifies abuse reporting and investigation standards for people with “severe and persistent mental illness” and residents of the state hospital.  Provisions limiting child abuse reporting for minors engaging in sexual behavior were removed from the bill.
  • Testimony: We submitted testimony in support of the legislation.
  • Status: Passed the Senate and the House. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Mental Health Conditions

  • SB 1543A: Sets forth how a person under PSRB jurisdiction may be returned to custody if the person violates a term of their conditional release.
  • Status: Passed the Senate. Up for a vote on the House Floor on Saturday.
  • SB 1549A: Allows the continuation of medical assistance for up to a year following admission to state hospital.
  • Status: Passed the Senate and the House. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Residential Care Facilities

  • HB 4129A: Requires licensing of residential care facility administrators.
  • Status: Passed by the House and Senate. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

Concussions

  • SB  1547A: Expands list of health care professionals who can provide medical release to youth athlete who is suspected of having a concussion. Prescribes requirements for health care professionals to be qualified to provide medical release.
  • Status: Passed the Senate and the House. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

MORE INFORMATION:

HB – House Bill     SB – Senate Bill
Hearing Schedule
Bills
Streaming for hearings and events

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