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    33 Days in Salem

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    Dear Friend,

    On March 7, we completed the 2014 legislative session in Salem. It’s called a short session because it only lasts for 33 days.

    Your feedback and ideas from town halls, emails and community meetings helped me focus on the issues that matter most to the people of Portland’s westside.

    I wanted to take a few moments to highlight some of the key priorities I fought for in the Legislature this year:

    1. Investing in Education. I continued to make strengthening our public schools from pre-K through college my top priority

    •   I supported a new $2.2 million investment in early learning programs to help more Oregon children succeed in school.
    •   I voted for new summer learning grants so 5,000 children at high poverty public schools can get additional learning time.
    •   I worked to make higher education more affordable by voting for the Aspiration to College Bill to support more first generation     community college students.
    •    I supported “The Oregon Promise” to study whether it’s realistic to allow high school graduates to attend community college for free.

     

    2. Protecting Our Privacy. Weekly revelations about federal intrusions into our private communications made it a top priority for our state government to focus on safeguarding our privacy.

    • I sponsored SB 1583 to prohibit law enforcement from obtaining private electronic information without a warrant.
    • I supported SB 1522 to place limits on how long law enforcement can hold data from Automatic License Plate Readers and who they can share it with.

     

    3. Keeping Oregon Pro-Choice. I’ve worked to protect reproductive rights for over 20 years. Now, I’m fighting hard in Salem to stop far-right attacks on our right to choose.

    • I was chief sponsor of HB 4061 to safeguard Oregon women’s access to medically accurate information.
    • This legislation prohibited a public body from forcing medical practitioners to give false, politically motivated advice on reproductive health issues.

     

    4. Standing Up for Consumers. Oregon is one of only two states that allows at-fault corporations to recover unclaimed penalties they have been ordered to pay consumers in class action lawsuits.

    • I was proud to co-sponsor HB 4143 with my colleague Tobias Read to close this loophole and demand fairness for Oregon consumers when they have been injured or defrauded.
    • The bill would have transferred unclaimed penalties from at-fault corporations to Legal Aid to help more Oregonians get access to legal services.
    • The Oregonian’s Steve Duin called HB 4143 “the best idea to come out of the legislature in recent memory.”
    • The bill passed the House but unfortunately failed in the Senate on a 15-15 vote after an all-out assault by lobbyists for BP and big tobacco.

     

    5. Demanding Accountability and Transparency. We shouldn’t have to wait for access to quality health care, but problems with Cover Oregon kept thousands from getting the care they deserve.

    • I sponsored HB 4122 to safeguard taxpayer dollars with tough new standards for oversight and accountability on large, public IT projects.
    • I sponsored HB 4154 to direct Cover Oregon to get a federal waiver so Oregonians who couldn’t use the website can get the subsidies they deserve.

     

    6. Taking Care of Our Most Vulnerable. I was elected to represent everyone in District 36 and I’ve worked hard to give a voice to those who can’t always speak for themselves.

    • I supported more assistance for our community mental health system by voting for $10 million in additional housing.
    • I voted for $2 million in additional funding for emergency housing and the state’s homeless assistance program.

     

    We didn’t win on every issue this session, but I was proud to lead the way on our progressive values. When it comes to safeguarding reproductive rights, protecting consumers and privacy and keeping our public schools strong, many more challenges lie ahead.

    Please let me know your thoughts on the top priorities facing Oregon. Click here to complete our newest survey.

    Thank you for giving me the honor of representing you in the State House.

    Sincerely,

    Representative Jennifer Williamson

    P.S. Don’t forget to fill out our new survey to let me know your thoughts on Oregon’s future priorities.

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    Steve Duin: A golden opportunity to repair class-action law and rescue Legal Aid

    When Kris LaMar worked for Legal Aid’s Family Law Center in 1973, she remembers the painful Monday morning ritual:

    “We had to turn the intake phones off by 10 a.m,” says LaMar, who retired in January from the Multnomah County Circuit bench.  “It was a spigot.  And we had to turn it off.”

    And what would that mean, for the rest of that grueling week, for the victims of domestic violence, tenants unfairly evicted from their apartments, or the dirt-poor women clawing their way through a bitter child-custody dispute?

    “They just had to fend for themselves,” LaMar says.

    “That’s our state.  We have never committed as a society to provide legal services to the poor for anything other than criminal cases, which the state and federal constitutions require.”

    Never.  Forty years later, Legal Aid receives less than $6 million from the state’s General Fund, and serves only 15 percent of the Oregonians who need its counsel for landlord-tenant disputes, fraud cases and family-law beefs.

    So, you can not possibly imagine the relief and celebration in legal circles when two legislators — Reps. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, and Tobias Read, D-Beaverton — finally came up with a creative solution to this perennial funding problem.

    Seriously.  You can’t. Unless, of course, you have followed the disheartening arc of Dave Frohnmayer’s legal career.

    Williamson and Read took note of the fact that Oregon is one of only two states in the country that returns the unclaimed proceeds in class-action cases to the very parties that ripped everyone off.

    Let’s say a jury determines that BP West Coast Products recklessly violated the Unlawful Trade Practices Act at its gas stations — as a Multnomah County jury did in January — and awards a class of 2.9 million consumers $200 each.

    If many claimants are impossible to locate because BP destroyed the debit-card receipts, BP (formerly British Petroleum) is allowed to keep the unclaimed portion of the $580-million award.

    David Sugerman, class counsel in the case, estimates that unclaimed monies will easily exceed $100 million.

    Read and Williamson have, in House Bill 4143, a better idea: allocate those unclaimed class-action awards to the endowment fund for legal-aid services.

    “This is a game-changer for Legal Aid,” says Bob Stoll, a retired Portland attorney and one who has neither clients nor financial interest in the legislation.

    Not only will Legal Aid be able to reopen and support many of its rural offices, Stoll notes, but companies like British Petroleum and Philip Morris would no longer “keep most of the damages a jury determined belonged to others.”

    LaMar — who ended her career providing “shotgun justice” for the folks who couldn’t afford a lawyer — framed the issue rather well:

    “Why would anyone possibly be opposed to that?”

    Why, because Frohnmayer and Bill Gary are (a) stalwart defenders of the Oregon Constitution, or (b) the very lawyers who are being paid so handsomely by cigarette manufacturers and oil conglomerates.

    Tough call.

    The Eugene attorneys represent Philip Morris in an ongoing class-action suit, and have been hired by BP to curtail its damages.  They have also lobbied passionately against this godsend for Legal Aid.

    In a letter to Oregon legislators, Frohnmayer and Gary called the bill “unconstitutional, unfair and fundamentally unworkable.”

    And speaking by phone Friday afternoon, Frohnmayer said, “This bill has been seriously misrepresented by people who should know better.  The problem with this bill is that Legal Aid is a stalking horse for serious and controversial changes in class-action rules.  The additional problem — and I can’t believe no one is talking about this — is that the law was made retroactive, to existing cases.”

    Yet it is the Frohnmayer/Gary lobbying effort — rather than what Frohnmayer calls “this hand-grenade of a bill” — that has been met with disappointment and derision by many in the Oregon legal community.

    LaMar said she was especially disappointed because Frohnmayer, as Oregon’s attorney general from 1981-1991, “was charged with prosecuting many of the violations of law that class-action plaintiff attorneys pursue.  Many of these class-action lawsuits develop because attorneys general can’t take on that kind of case-load.

    “I respect Dave Frohnmayer,” LaMar said, then added, “Why has Dave changed so much?  That’s kind of painful.”

    “The act of advocacy alters one’s opinions,” Portland attorney Greg Kafoury observes.  “When you have spent your career defending what large corporations do, much of it marginally criminal or against the public interest, you develop a point of view, and one diametrically opposed to the view that sent you to law school.”

    Stoll is even more blunt:  “I think Frohnmayer is making a bogus argument.  He sold out to Big Tobacco, and now to Big Oil.” Referring to three prominent supporters of the bill, AGs past and present, Stoll added, “You can hardly say that Hardy Myers, Ted Kulongoski and Ellen Rosenblum are radical legal scholars.  They are very balanced in their approach.”

    “Bob Stoll is not a disinterested party,” Frohnmayer fired back.  “He’s a plaintiff’s lawyer who brings class-action suits.  And this one is a bum rap.

    “This is a compelling set of constitutional considerations, and I’m getting blown off as the captive of special interests.  There’s not a word that I said (Thursday) that I would not have said as a state representative, while setting up the Council on Court Procedures; as the attorney general, while prosecuting or defending class-action suits; and as a law professor, looking at constitutional adequacy affecting individual rights.”

    At the moment — the Williamson/Reed bill has already passed the House — the opinions that matter most are in the Oregon Senate.

    Those legislators have a choice to make, and one they’ve had a great deal more time to consider than the Nike tax break rushed through in 2012’s one-day special session.

    They can ask themselves if justice is better served, and funding for Legal Aid finally secured, by adding Oregon to the list of states that insist defendants in class-action suits pay fully for the havoc they unleash.

    Or, once again, they can tell the most impoverished Oregonians to fend for themselves.

    — Steve Duin

    Source:Oregon Live

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    2013 Legislative Report

    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 AM

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    Pendleton Lawmakers Try To Keep Blue Mountain Hospital Open

     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

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    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.

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    Oregon Governor signs bill for overdose prevention programs

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    Committee assignments in Oregon Legislature don’t rock the boat

    By Christian Gaston, The Oregonian on December 21, 2012 at 5:45 PM, updated December 21, 2012 at 6:00 PM

     

    Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, incoming house speaker, announced committee appointments for the 2013 Legislative Session. Faith Cathcart/The Oregonian

    Leadership in the Oregon Legislature announced committee appointments in the House and Senate late Friday, with few surprises in either chamber.

    While Democrats will be in a majority in both chambers, a shift from after the 2010 election when the House was tied 30-30, Democratic leadership retained Republicans on influential Ways and Means, Revenue and Rules committees.

    Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, incoming House speaker, said at the end of last week’s special session that she was looking forward to bipartisanship in the coming session, during which Democrats will enjoy a 34-26 majority.

    There are Democratic majorities on all committees in the House, but Republicans still hold some prominent positions.

    Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, will co-chair the Ways and Means subcommittee on General Government and Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, will co-chair the subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development.

    In a press release announcing the committee appointments, Kotek offered a similar sentiment.

    “There are thoughtful, well-respected legislators on both sides of the aisle who have important ideas to offer,” Kotek said. “Committees are designed in a way that will allow us to best tackle the challenges facing the state.”

    While there are a score of freshman legislators in the House and a leadership shift, the makeup of the Senate hasn’t changed much. Senate President Peter Courtney made small tweaks to committee appointments.

    Other highlights from the appointments include:

    • Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, will replace outgoing Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, on the senate Rules Committee.
    • Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, and Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, were appointed to Ways and Means. Steiner Hayward was appointed to fill the vacant senate seat of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici late last year. Hansell was elected to the Senate in November.
    • Freshman Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, will serve on Ways and Means.
    • Freshman Rep. Ben Unger, D-Hillsboro, will co-chair the Natural Resources subcommittee of Ways and Means.
    • The makeup of the Senate Finance and Revenue committee changed significantly following the retirement of Sen. Frank Morse, R-Corvallis, who had worked closely with committee chairwoman Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, on tax issues. Three new members will join the committee this session: Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, Brian Boquist, R-Dallas and Larry George, R-Sherwood.

    The Legislature will convene Jan. 14-16 for organizational meetings, with lawmakers returning to Salem Feb. 4, when the legislative session really gets under way.

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    Honored

    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.

    Jen and Governor Roberts

    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

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    Single Payer, Other Health Issues, Divide Candidates for House District 36

    Of the two candidates, Sharon Meieran has the support of the healthcare industry, while Jennifer Williamson has a more diverse list of contributors
    By:Amanda Waldroupe

    April 16, 2012—Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish the policy beliefs of one Portland liberal running for office from another, but when it comes to healthcare, it’s relatively easy to drawn lines in the sand between Sharon Meieran and Jennifer Williamson.

    They’re competing to win the upcoming May 15 Democratic primary for House District 36, which includes parts of downtown and southwest Portland. Rep. Mary Nolan (D-Portland), who currently holds that seat, is running against Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz for Portland City Council.

    Whoever wins the primary is likely to become the new legislator since the district is a reliably safe Democratic seat even though there’s a Republican in the running.

    An emergency room doctor at Portland Adventist Health Center, Meieran was motivated to run for the House seat by “what [she] sees on the front lines everyday,” and is also president of the Oregon College of Emergency Physicians and a member of the Oregon Medical Association’s Legislative Committee.

    On the job, she’s seen people showing up in the emergency room with untreated mental and substance abuse issues, homelessness, and other problems that effect their health, and believes she lends “a unique perspective at a unique time,” given the transformation of Oregon’s healthcare system.

    Williamson, on the other hand, wants to make certain that Oregon continues investing in programs and services that offer opportunities. She’s worked as a lobbyist for Portland State University and more recently for Komen Oregon.

    A fourth generation Oregonian, she and her five siblings were the first in their family to attend college, and attributes that, in part, to financial aid from the state. “The state invested in us,” she said. “Kids and families don’t have that opportunity anymore.

    Where Meieran and Williamson differ most starkly is whether a single payer system—which would provide universal healthcare to every Oregonian — could be successfully implemented.

    “Single payer makes the most sense,” said Williamson because it assures that everyone will have health coverage and save the state money. Creating a single payer system would also generate healthcare jobs and minimize labor disputes.

    Williamson’s heard from teachers who’ve foregone pay increases over the last three years because of rising healthcare costs, yet another reason, she said, for a single payer system.

    If elected, Williamson’s eager to work with Rep. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) to introduce single payer legislation, and is also planning a trip to Vermont to learn how that state has been able to create a single payer system.

    Nevertheless, she realizes that she’ll face a tough battle winning over her colleagues. “It’s a hard industry {healthcare industry} to come up against. People aren’t ready to take it on.”

    From her perspective, Meieran calls a single payer system “the ideal type” of healthcare system, but doesn’t believe it’s possible to achieve in Oregon. “It’s not practical or feasible…from an economic standpoint, provider standpoint, and every aspects of the delivery system.”

    In two to four years, it might be more realistic to think about such a system. “At some point we can get there,” said Merieran, but didn’t explain what that meant.

    The candidates also differed slightly on the Legislature’s role in coordinated care organizations, which will begin integrating physical and mental healthcare for 650,000 people on the Oregon Health Plan in August and could become the delivery system for the state’s school teachers and public employees.

    “This is the beginning of the process,” said Meieran, who doesn’t believe the Legislature should monitor CCO development, but believes it’s essential to provide preventive services and fund school-based centers.

    From Williamson’s perspective, CCOs “have to be held accountable. This is the system we’re saying we need in the state.”

    She thinks the Legislature should hold hearings and either change the rules or draft new legislation to make certain CCOs live up to their expectations while emphasizing prevention and integrating mental health.

    “I’m really focused on budget issues,” she said. “It goes back to the general proposition that when we invest dollars, we do it in the smartest way possible.”

    The myriad of problems currently faced by the healthcare system is “about healthcare finance,” she said. “It’s a budget issue, and figuring out the best investments for the best outcomes.”

    Merieran Campaign Supported by Healthcare Industry

    It’s obvious from the campaign contributions that Meieran is favored by the healthcare industry. According to ORESTAR, she’s received contributions from dozens of healthcare organizations, including Douglas County Independent Practice Association (DCIPA, which gave $1,500) and Doctors for Healthy Communities ($1,500).

    The political action committees of the Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Healthcare Association and Oregon Hospital Association, also each gave her $2,500. Other notable contributors include Regence Oregon and Chuck Hofmann, whose term on the Oregon Health Policy Board recently ended.

    Williamson, on the other hand, has a more diverse list of contributors, including the Oregon Business Association, Oregon Nurses PAC (which gave $5,000), Oregon AFSCME, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Planned Parenthood and numerous individual lawyers (Williamson has a law degree from the University of Oregon).

    Meieran said her contributions won’t affect her judgment or policy decisions as a legislator. Williamson disagrees. “That idea that it doesn’t matter is wrong,” she said.

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    Why I resigned from the Komen Board

    I’ve spent decades working for better health care for women in Oregon. Sometimes, that’s involved bringing diverse groups of people together to do the right thing. I was very proud of what we achieved to improve women’s health with the passage last year of the Low Income Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act to ensure all eligible women in our state have access to lifesaving screening and treatment.

    In my view, the access to quality healthcare for all women must come first–not narrow partisan agendas or religious crusades. Unfortunately, the national leadership of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation decided to ignore that principle in its recent decision to defund Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening program for low-income women. They injected politics, partisanship and divisiveness into basic health care services that save millions of lives.

    I simply can’t sit back quietly and let that happen.

    That’s why I resigned my position today from the Board of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Oregon & Southwest Washington.  As a proud supporter of Planned Parenthood and former chair of the board of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, I cannot in good conscience remain on the board of any organization that chooses to put politics ahead of preventive healthcare for low-income women.

    I had hoped our local Komen Chapter would loudly and strongly denounce this decision, work to overturn it immediately, or end affiliation with the national organization if the policy remains in place. I also believe the board should demand the dismissal of Karen Handel, Senior VP for Public Policy who drove this move by the national board. Because this has not happened, it is with deep sadness I am stepping down from the board of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Oregon and SW Washington until this policy is overturned and Karen Handel is no longer with the organization.

    Rest assured, I will continue to fight for better health care for women across Oregon and to ensure a women’s right to choose is never under threat in our state.

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