Rep. Margaret Doherty recaps 2011 legislative session

Tigard Democrat lists Legislature's accomplishments

The 76th legislative session adjourned on time, and I wanted to give you a peek into some of the accomplishments of the Legislature over the past several months.

Probably the single greatest success we have had as a Legislature this year is in health care. During the session we put forward two bills that work to increase access to health care and decrease costs.

Senate Bill 99 sets up an Oregon health insurance exchange. The exchange will push down the cost of health insurance by forcing honest competition between insurers in a single marketplace. This will make it dramatically easier for small businesses and individuals to buy insurance.

The second bill, House Bill 3650, the health care transformation bill, helps Oregon move towards improving health outcomes and reducing costs in our health care system. Through structural changes in payment and incentives we hope to save $250 million over the next two years while providing better care for those whose coverage is provided by the state.

We have also put forward the "cool schools" program. This program is a double victory for Oregon. The plan is simple: We will go forward in retrofitting old schools, which will create construction jobs while making school buildings safer and more efficient. In the end this will save more money than it spends by reducing school energy costs.

There was an important victory for government efficiency this session when we passed HB 2020. This bill reduces the number of middle managers in Oregon state government. It does this by decreasing the management to staff ratio.

In addition to government efficiency, we also had a victory for legislative efficiency. For the first time since 1961, the Oregon Legislature successfully redistricted its legislative districts. This is an amazing accomplishment, showing how well we have been able to work together.

Equally impressive, we also managed to redistrict the congressional districts. These new districts are both fair and the result of the hard work of so many people.

We also accomplished some little things to make life better for the average Oregonian. A perfect example of this is SB 487. This bill protects Oregonians from being sucked into so-called "free trial offers." This bill makes it so that if you have agreed to sign up for one of these offers, you can not then be signed up for a costly service without your consent.

We also updated the "bottle bill." This signature Oregon legislation had fallen out of date. This meant that all kinds of plastic and aluminum containers were not redeemable.

Fortunately, the Legislature expanded the bill, helping to promote recycling and protect our beaches and highways from litter.

There were also a lot of good bills that didn't make it this time. The ban on the chemical BPA in children's products comes to mind. Fortunately, there is always another session to fight for the good of Oregon.

There was one more thing that we accomplished: We worked together. Despite having a 30-30 split in the House, we were able to come together and really get things done. We didn't agree on every issue, but we were able to accomplish many things for the people of Oregon.