Salem, OR – Legislators return to the Oregon Capitol this week. Already some are seeking to pass a bill which would target dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. House Bill 4135 is scheduled for a hearing and possible work session in the House Health Care Committee at 3:00 pm on February 7th. It is believed this bill will move quickly because there are only 35 days in the 2018 regular session.
Last session a similar bill (SB 494) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Floyd Prozanski . It died in the House. The new bill, HB 4135, is chief sponsored by Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek.
“Supporters of this bill are touting it as a ‘fix,’ but the only fixing that is happening is fixing it so vulnerable Oregonians are left without protections and their right to basic care like food and water,” said ORTL Executive Director Lois Anderson. “One wonders what the true motivations are for this legislation.”
HB 4135 is purported to just be a bill that makes technical changes to the current statutory advance directive form found in ORS 127.531. However, over the last 25 years Oregonians at the end-of-life stage have been protected by the current advance directive and removing it from statute has legal consequences.
“The advance directive was put into Oregon statute back in 1993. I was then a state senator when a very well vetted bill was thoroughly discussed and passed. I worked hard to ensure the advance directive was in statute. If it were to be removed from statute, I fear the legal protections we carefully placed there could be jeopardized, potentially harming end of life decisions for vulnerable patients,” stated Representative Bill Kennemer (R- HD 39).
Under current Oregon law, a healthcare representative does not have the authority to make a life ending decision for an incapable person unless the representative has been given authority to do so, or the incapable person is in one of four end of life situations defined in statute.
If HB 4135 is passed a person who appoints a healthcare representative, but makes no decisions regarding end of life care, would be granting his or her healthcare representative the power to make a life ending decision for the principal even when the principal is not in one of the four statutorily defined end of life situations, and even if this is not the will of the principal.
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According to Koin6, it has been estimated that Oregon’s population is now at 4.1 million, according to an annual report from Portland State University’s Population Research Center. The research report stated that the population increased by almost 65,00 residents since 2016. The biggest factor was people migrating to the state, accounting for 88% of the increase. The other 12% was attributed to an increase in the amount of births in the state over deaths.
The tri-county Portland metropolitan areas unsurprisingly reported the largest population gains since last year. Multnomah and Washington Counties also added over 12,000 residents while Clackamas County added a little over 8,000 residents. The City of Portland saw the greatest growth over any other city in Oregon; it’s population now estimated at 639,100.
Finally, Deschutes County, located in Central Oregon, saw in increase of 3.6%, which was the greatest increase by percentages, adding around 3,265 new citizens to its most popular city, Bend.
Over 400 acres of land in the Stevens Pass area were purchased by a local group so as to prevent the Pacific Crest Trail from being severed. The Pacific Crest Trail Association is a private group focused on protecting and promoting the Pacific Crest National Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada including the famous Cascades in Washington. It’s a popular site to Pacific North-westerners and tourists alike.
In an interview with Megan Wargo, the PCTA’s director of land protection, she stated that “the Forest Service is the overall manager for the entire trail. Where the trail goes through private land, they have a trail easement to allow the public to pass through the private property.”
However, on part of the Stevens Pass, no one had obtained an easement. Wargo believes this mistake was an oversight since the path was built piece by piece. “In most likelihood, it was just an oversight. Somebody thought there was an easement there, but the easement was not recorded.”
The association managed to secure federal money with the help of the Forest Service from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase the land; however, the PCTA had to secure a loan from The Conservation Fund to help with the purchase because of the magnitude of the forest fires this summer.
Once the Forest Service can turn its focus away from the forest fires, the PCTA will sell the land to the Forest Service and repay the loan.
“It was a roller-caster ride getting it closed,” Wargo stated. “The risk of not closing that project would have been pretty large as far as the PCT and keeping it open.”