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2013 Legislative Report

September 20, 2013 in Featured, What's Happening

Jennifer Williamson is working hard to keep her promises to the people of House District 36. This Report covers the highlights of what she achieved in the 2013 legislative session.

Screen shot 2013 09 20 at 9.45.21 AM1 231x300 2013 Legislative Report

Pendleton Lawmakers Try To Keep Blue Mountain Hospital Open

September 19, 2013 in Featured, Jennifer in the news

 by Christopher David Gray

Sept. 18, 2013 — The Oregon Health Authority has laid out the timetable to legislators for the closure of the Blue Mountain Recovery Center, even as Pendleton lawmakers strive to keep Eastern Oregon’s mental hospital open.

“The train’s already left the station,” Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, told The Lund Report. “We got to find the sidetrack somehow.”

Blue Mountain is set to stop taking patients next month and close for good Dec. 31. The hospital has a long track record, opening in 1948.

Pamela Martin, the director of the Addictions and Mental Health Division, said half of Blue Mountain’s 60 patients will be ready for discharge, but any civilly committed patients who need further treatment will be transferred to two mothballed 26-bed wings in the new Oregon State Hospital in Salem.

Those hospital wings are scheduled to open in November, with patients transferred over the following month. They were built the same time as the new hospital but have sat empty for lack of funding in the previous budget.

After Blue Mountain stops taking patients, new civilly committed patients will be sent to either Salem or the Oregon State Hospital in Portland, but there is already a waiting list to get into state psychiatric hospitals. The Legislature has budgeted money for a new hospital in Junction City, near Eugene, but it won’t open until 2015 at the earliest.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the full Joint Committee on Ways & Means, lawmakers accepted Martin’s report, but talk stirred of potentially keeping the hospital open and staffed until next spring so it could be turned into a geriatric hospital for the Department of Corrections.

The prison hospital idea was pitched by Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, who said it would be wise to keep the facility in place with its skilled workforce because the Department of Corrections needs to increase hospital capacity with an aging population, driven by mandatory prison sentences.

Her idea was immediately grasped by Jenson and his Pendleton Senate counterpart, Sen. Bill Hansell, as well as Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem:

“It’s a piece of the puzzle that needs to be worked on to come to fruition,” Winters said.

If the hospital closes, Jenson and Hansell are concerned that the professional staff, particularly the nurses, would be cut to the wind and leave Eastern Oregon. Recruiting newcomers to move to Pendleton could be difficult with the state suffering a nursing shortage. Jenson reminded his colleagues that even the Oregon State Hospital in Salem has had trouble filling all its positions with qualified applicants. “If we lose the workforce, we’re going to have to restart,” said Hansell, who also learned that most workers would prefer to remain in Pendleton, according to the Service Employees International Union.

In place of Blue Mountain Hospital, three new residential mental health facilities, each with five beds, are being built in Pendleton. One will serve as an acute crisis unit while the other two will act as transitional residential treatment homes, one for adolescents and the other for adults.

“Every effort will be made to place people from Eastern Oregon in those two facilities,” Martin told legislators.

Some Blue Mountain employees will find work in the new units, but with only 15 beds and less intensive care, the new residential treatment units will only employ a fraction of the people if the hospital closes. Others could find work in Salem. And some of the staff has already left voluntarily, requiring the state to hire temporary employees.

“One of the major barriers is the physical quality of the [Pendleton] hospital,” said Martin, who toured the 65-year-old facility after assuming her leadership position in May. “It’s outlived its natural life span.”

Martin said that it costs about $1 million a month to operate Blue Mountain, but the two new mothballed units in Salem will cost only $700,000 a month to run, she added, comparing them to empty floors of a hotel.

If Blue Mountain Hospital were renovated, it would cost an estimated $11 million, and it’s uncertain if the hospital has significant asbestos insulation or lead pipes, which would increase costs exponentially.

Jenson rebuffed the asbestos concern, noting that most of the facilities have undergone substantial renovations in the past 25 years. “If there’s a lot of asbestos in the building for these patients, maybe we have a good class-action lawsuit waiting for us,” Jenson quipped. Before it was razed, the state had been fined by the federal government previously for asbestos in the old Salem state mental hospital.

Martin expects to report back to legislators with detailed information about the impacts of the closure on Pendleton, as well as the potential for its reuse as a prison hospital. But that could be too late to delay closure of Blue Mountain Hospital. Lawmakers may not be back in Salem until nearly Thanksgiving, just weeks before the last patients are moved across the Cascades.

Source: The Lund Report

Nine Legislators Named 2013 Health Center Heroes by OPCA

September 3, 2013 in Featured, Jennifer in the news, What's Happening

Portland, Ore., Aug. 6, 2013 - The Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) is honoring nine policymakers for their outstanding support of community health centers.

 OPCA will award its second annual Health Center Hero Awards to:

  • Five Portland-area legislators:
    • Oregon Senators Laurie Monnes Anderson and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
    • Oregon Representatives Mitch Greenlick, Alissa Keny-Guyer & Jennifer Williamson
  • Oregon Representatives Peter Buckley, Nancy Nathanson, Val Hoyle & Jim Thompson

 Awards presentations planned to date:

  • Sen. Steiner Hayward and Rep. Greenlick - August 7 from 10 – 11 a.m. atCentral City Concern’s Old Town Recovery Center/Old Town Clinic, 33 NW Broadway, 3rd floor, Portland
  • Sen. Monnes Anderson - August 22 at 9 a.m. at Wallace Medical Concern, 124 NE 181st Ave., Portland
  • Rep. Keny-Guyer - October 1 from 10 – 11 a.m. at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic’s Rosewood Family Health Center, 8935 S.E. Powell Blvd., Portland

 The remaining awards will be presented at times to be determined over the next two months.

 OPCA is recognizing Sen. Steiner Hayward for her long commitment to primary care.  She focuses on improving access to care for all Oregonians, particularly the uninsured.  Rep. Greenlick provided exceptional oversight of Oregon’s health care transformation process during the 2013 legislative session and remains a champion of the work of community health centers.

 Sen. Monnes Anderson supported key health care legislation during the 2013 session, including the OPCA-sponsored “care continuity” bill, HB 2132.  Reps. Keny-Guyer, Buckley and Thompson earned awards for strongly advocating access to culturally competent care.

 OPCA is recognizing Rep. Williamson for her focus on access to health care for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on Portland’s homeless population. Rep. Nathanson promoted accountability and transparency in health care reform, and Rep. Hoyle showed exceptional leadership in raising the profile of health care and health policy in her caucus.

About OPCA:

The Oregon Primary Care Association is a nonprofit membership organization of 31 community health centers operating through more than 200 sites across the state.  OPCA advocates on behalf of health centers at the state and federal levels and provides technical assistance and training to its members.  Our mission is to lead the transformation of primary care to achieve health equity for all.  For more information, see http://www.orpca.org.

OPCA is recognizing Rep. Williamson for her focus on access to health care for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on Portland’s homeless population.

August 28, 2013 in Featured

Nine Legislators Named 2013 Health Center Heroes by OPCA

By: Oregon Primary Care Association (503) 228-8852, x222

 Nine Legislators Named 2013 Health Center Heroes by OPCA

 Portland, Ore., Aug. 6, 2013 - The Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) is honoring nine policymakers for their outstanding support of community health centers.

OPCA will award its second annual Health Center Hero Awards to:

  • Five Portland-area legislators:
    • Oregon Senators Laurie Monnes Anderson and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
    • Oregon Representatives Mitch Greenlick, Alissa Keny-Guyer & Jennifer Williamson
  • Oregon Representatives Peter Buckley, Nancy Nathanson, Val Hoyle & Jim Thompson

Awards presentations planned to date:

  • Sen. Steiner Hayward and Rep. Greenlick - August 7 from 10 – 11 a.m. atCentral City Concern’s Old Town Recovery Center/Old Town Clinic, 33 NW Broadway, 3rd floor, Portland
  • Sen. Monnes Anderson - August 22 at 9 a.m. at Wallace Medical Concern, 124 NE 181st Ave., Portland
  • Rep. Keny-Guyer - October 1 from 10 – 11 a.m. at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic’s Rosewood Family Health Center, 8935 S.E. Powell Blvd., Portland

The remaining awards will be presented at times to be determined over the next two months.

OPCA is recognizing Sen. Steiner Hayward for her long commitment to primary care.  She focuses on improving access to care for all Oregonians, particularly the uninsured.  Rep. Greenlick provided exceptional oversight of Oregon’s health care transformation process during the 2013 legislative session and remains a champion of the work of community health centers.

Sen. Monnes Anderson supported key health care legislation during the 2013 session, including the OPCA-sponsored “care continuity” bill, HB 2132.  Reps. Keny-Guyer, Buckley and Thompson earned awards for strongly advocating access to culturally competent care.

OPCA is recognizing Rep. Williamson for her focus on access to health care for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on Portland’s homeless population. Rep. Nathanson promoted accountability and transparency in health care reform, and Rep. Hoyle showed exceptional leadership in raising the profile of health care and health policy in her caucus.

About OPCA:

The Oregon Primary Care Association is a nonprofit membership organization of 31 community health centers operating through more than 200 sites across the state.  OPCA advocates on behalf of health centers at the state and federal levels and provides technical assistance and training to its members.  Our mission is to lead the transformation of primary care to achieve health equity for all.  For more information, see http://www.orpca.org.

Williamson called ‘Freshman of the Year’ in Willamette Week Legislator Ratings

August 22, 2013 in Featured, Jennifer in the news, What's Happening

Williamson, 39, a smiley first-termer, has ably replaced Mary Nolan, who resigned her seat for an unsuccessful run for Portland City Council. A former First Amendment lawyer, Williamson spent a couple of sessions in Salem lobbying before running for office. That familiarity with the capitol is worth a lot in a culture proud of its traditions. As a rookie, Williamson chaired theJoint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety. “You’ve usually got to be here for 10 years to get that kind of assignment,” says an observer. “Freshman of the year,” says one of many admirers.

Townhall Meeting With Senator Burdick on September 9

August 22, 2013 in Events, Featured, What's Happening

Portland Legislators Announce September 9th Town Hall
PORTLAND – Senator Ginny Burdick (D – NW/SW Portland/Tigard) and Representative Jennifer Williamson (D – NW/SW Portland), will hold a Town Hall meeting on Monday, September 9th at Portland Central Library. Community members will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with the legislators, and to discuss the recent legislative session. Who: Senator Ginny Burdick and Representative Jennifer Williamson What: Town Hall on recently adjourned legislative session When: Monday, September 9th, 6:00 to 7:30pm Where: Central Library, 801 SW 10th Ave, Portland

Oregon House votes to ease burden on hair and makeup artists

June 12, 2013 in Featured, Jennifer in the news

 Rep. Williamson sponsored bill to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed in Oregon’s growing entertainment industries. Read the rest of this entry →

Oregon Governor signs bill for overdose prevention programs

January 21, 2013 in Featured, What's Happening

On Thursday, January 6th, Oregon Governor, John Kitzhaber,  signed SB 384 A into law. The bill requires the Oregon Health Authority to  establish rules for training programs that will instruct individuals on  “lifesaving treatments for opiate overdose.”

Honored

June 1, 2012 in Campaign Updates, Featured

On election night as I was making my victory speech at Cha Taqueria, I realized just how honored I was.

*  Honored to have incredible, committed friends like you.

*  Honored to live in such an amazing city and such a wonderful state.

*  Honored to have a supportive, loving husband and a wonderful family.

*  Honored to have the support and hard work of hundreds of teachers, nurses, firefighters, business owners and college students.

*  Honored to have earned the trust and votes of thousands of my neighbors.

*  And honored to accept my Party’s nomination to be the next State Representative from District 36.

As I was finishing my thank yous, I saw someone slip into the back of the room— a good friend who wanted to share the excitement.

22 Honored

I was honored when Barbara Roberts stepped forward to endorse me in this race.  I was deeply touched last night when she stood with dozens of my family members and friends to listen to my plans for our state’s future.

This election was about fighting for what’s best about Oregon.

I am honored and grateful that the Democratic voters of HD 36 chose me to be their voice in Salem on the issues that matter most– universal healthcare, ending mandatory minimum sentences, more money for our schools and a renewed focus on helping small businesses grow.

Paul and I will never forget what you have done in this campaign. I will work every day to be worthy of your trust.

In friendship,

Jennifer

The Oregonian endorses Jennifer

April 21, 2012 in Featured, What's Happening

“We endorse Williamson, who as a lawyer, public employee and lobbyist has developed relationships in the Capitol for years.

We also think the Legislature would benefit from Williamson’s passionate advocacy for higher education. She is a first-generation college graduate and has lobbied for financial aid and other programs since she was a student at the University of Oregon. Williamson’s understanding of the possible trade-offs between policy areas is a key strength.”

“…Williamson shows a stronger grasp of more issues and has more political experience. We recommend her for House District 36, the seat being vacated by Mary Nolan.