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Legislator recaps accomplishments of 2014 session

On March 7 we adjourned the 2014 legislative session! Because it is an even-numbered year, we were only in session for about a month. Despite the shortness of the session, we were still able to get some great things done for the people of Oregon.

I sponsored a medical amnesty bill for underage drinkers who need medical assistance for alcohol poisoning. This bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously, provides limited legal amnesty for minors in possession of alcohol who call for medical help for themselves or another who is suffering from alcohol poisoning. Studies show this kind of policy increases calls to emergency medical services dramatically, saving lives.

I'd like to share with you a few other victories we had this session.

Education

After passing the largest K-12 budget in Oregon history and holding down tuition increases at Oregon universities last year, we continued to prioritize education in 2014.

New summer learning grants will provide more than 5,000 students at high-poverty public schools with additional learning time, and a $2.2 million investment in early learning programs will help more of our children have positive early experiences in school.

The Legislature also approved ideas to make higher education more accessible and affordable. The "Aspiration to College" bill will support low-income and first-generation community college students, and the "Oregon Promise" will study whether it's realistic to allow Oregon high school graduates to attend community colleges for free.

Getting Oregonians

back to work

As Oregon's economy continues to improve, House Democrats focused on putting people back to work and expanding the economic recovery to all Oregonians.

The Legislature issued $200 million in bonds for a state-of-the art cancer research center at Oregon Health and Science University; expanded access to capital for small businesses looking to grow and create jobs; increased support for the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help Oregon businesses expand production boosted funding in career and technical education programs that help graduates enter the workforce; and invested in retraining unemployed and underemployed bioscience engineers.

Government efficiency

We pushed to make government more efficient and effective in order to better serve Oregon's taxpayers and maximize funding for services Oregonians need.

The Legislature made investments in SNAP meal programs, emergency housing and homelessness assistance, bonding for affordable housing, and Employment Related Day Care, including an expansion to support parents who are returning to school. In addition, House Democrats pushed to increase accountability and oversight on large, public IT projects to ensure taxpayers' hard-earned money is being spent wisely.

Closing thoughts

With the 2014 session over, I want to say how grateful I am to have the chance to serve our community. We live in a wonderful place, filled with good people, and it is great to be able to work to make our community and our state a better place.

We should have some town halls and coffees soon! Keep your eyes peeled for announcements of those events coming up! We should be having them both in Tigard and in the Multnomah County part of House District 35.

Margaret Doherty (D-Tigard) represents District 35, which includes Summerfield, in the Oregon Legislature.

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