Elders in Action’s 2016 Legislative Priorities

The Elders in Action Commission is a group of committed, passionate volunteers who advise and advocate on issues of concerns to older adults. If you care about elder issues give us a call at 503-235-5474 to learn more. The Elders in Action Commission have identified the following bill as their top priorities for advocacy during the 2016 legislative session.
1)  Restore Gatekeeper Funding
The Commission in partnership with the  Campaign for Oregon’s Seniors & People with Disabilities would like to see funding in the amount of $850,000 restored to the Gatekeeper Program for the remainder of the biennium.
The Gatekeeper Program is a crucial community abuse prevention program that trains front line customer service workers who have contact with vulnerable individuals to recognize changes in those people that may indicate abuse, neglect, or a need for service referral. The value provided by this preventive, cost-effective program far exceeds its minimal cost.
 By the Numbers:
 Since the Gatekeeper statewide initiative began in 2014:
  • Over 800 businesses and organizations have hosted trainings.
  • Over 8,600 individuals have participated in Gatekeeper trainings.
  • Over 2,100 Gatekeeper calls have been received by Aging and Disability Resource Centers across the state.
  • Over 400 of those calls were referred to Adult Protective Services for suspected abuse or neglect.
 Organizations and individuals trained as Gatekeepers are critical in lowering the incidences of abuse and neglect for seniors and people with disabilities.

2) Housing funding and policy enhancement bills
A variety of bills will be considered that will support tenants’ rights, expand local governments’ ability to incentivize affordable housing and increase funding for affordable housing development in the state. Major bills include a bill sponsored by Senator Dembrow that would lift the state ban on Inclusionary Zoning and Representative Keny-Geyer’s Housing Relief Act which would, among other things, increase the notice period for no-cause evictions and rent increases, and prohibit rent increases during first year of tenancy. Also in the mix are budget requests of $27.5 million for preserving existing affordable housing and developing additional units.
3)    General Assistance 
This would fund general assistance for the state’s lowest income residents. Financial support would be provided to those waiting for pending Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Income. This has not been funded since 2005.
 
4)    Basic Health Plan 
This bill would provide a healthcare insurance framework, based on the Oregon Health Plan model, to individuals between 138% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.  It would provide reasonable premiums and co-pays for this lower income population.
 
5)    Raise the Minimum Wage
This legislation would set dates by which specific minimum wages would be required in various parts of the state. Lower minimums would be likely in the more rural parts of the state. At $9.25, Oregon’s minimum wage is the nation’s second-highest, behind only Washington’s $9.47. Any action by the Legislature would probably make Oregon’s the highest, possibly by a significant margin.

Elder Abuse Prosecutor Funding

Elders in Action also supports Attorney General, Ellen Rosembaum’s request for funding for an Elders Abuse Prosecutor. Reports of elder abuse have risen significantly over the past several years and the capacity to prosecute these cases has been low. These funds would support a resource at the state level that would provide technical, legal and educational support to Legal staff throughout the state.  This bill is a major priority for Elders in Action so you can expect a call to action sometime during the 2016 session.