Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving!
I am so thankful for the opportunity to represent the Central Coast and Coast Range in Salem. This past year has been filled with opportunities to help make Oregon even more special. You, my friends and neighbors, have made that possible. Here are some quick legislative highlights from November:
Oregon’s health insurance exchange got off to a rocky start last month. No one is more frustrated than I am that people can’t yet reliably access the coverage they need. Governor Kitzhaber has committed additional resources to fix the website, and temporary workers are on staff to process paper applications by hand.
If you or a loved one needs coverage, please remember that Oregonians who want their health coverage to take effect Jan. 1, 2014, should submit their application no later than December 4th. A downloadable application can be found here.
Applications may be submitted via online PDF, by fax or mail. Applicants will receive a letter letting them know whether they are eligible for private insurance with or without tax credits, or for the Oregon Health Plan or Healthy Kids.
Here is some more detail on what happens after an application is received:
A letter is sent back to you summarizing any tax credits you may be able to apply towards the purchase of private insurance. If anyone on the application qualifies for the Oregon Health Plan or Healthy Kids, the letter will state this, as well.
People who are eligible for private insurance will then receive an enrollment packet in the mail from Cover Oregon. The packet must be completed and returned, postmarked by Dec. 15 for coverage starting January 1, 2014. Cover Oregon encourages consumers to choose their preferred plan right away so they are ready to fill out their enrollment packet as soon as it arrives. To start researching plans, Oregonians can go to CoverOregon.com anytime.
If applicants are eligible for Oregon Health Plan or Healthy Kids, they are automatically enrolled and will receive a confirmation letter.
Remember, enrollment remains open through March 31, 2014. Only those families and individuals who want coverage starting January 1, 2014 must meet the December 4 application deadline.
Last week legislators met in Salem for three days of meetings and committee hearings to prepare for the 2014 February Legislative Session. It was great to reconnect with colleagues and discuss ideas for moving Oregon forward. Each Representative and Senator is allowed to introduce two bills for the month-long “short” session.
The first bill I am working on will adjust the small business income tax breaks approved during the recent special session. I want to focus those benefits on the businesses that really create jobs and make sure the requirement for an “employee” benefits farmers, working seniors and parents, and seasonal businesses like we have here at the coast. This bill will reduce tax break for millionaires and strengthen them for the small enterprises that are the backbone of our community. I have received lots of support and encouragement from my colleagues in this effort. Read more about this proposal here and here.
The second bill is a cooperative effort with the Oregon Sheriffs Association. The measure would close a loophole that treats in-state and out-of-state marijuana infractions differently under Oregon law.