AARP Oregon Staff and volunteers will be at the state capitol this year working on legislation that is important to people 50+ and their families. Join our email list by clicking here to receive advocacy updates so you can get involved.

Here are the top priorities this session:

DHS Budget for Long Term Supports and Services (LTSS) – AARP Oregon and the Campaign for Oregon Seniors and People with Disabilities will work to ensure sufficient funding for Oregon’s system of providing care and support to those who care for our vulnerable elders and adults with disabilities, providing choice, dignity and independence. These supports include Oregon Project Independence, the Aging and Disability Resource Connections, restoration of the Gatekeeper program statewide, and various services under the Federal/State shared funding through Medicaid.

Enhance caregiver respite options – AARP Oregon will advocate for improved access to family caregiver respite (short breaks for caregivers), using the recommendations of the 2016 Oregon Caregiver Respite Work Group. These include expanded funding for needed services, expanding the availability of adult day centers while seeking to leverage federal funds and implementing an effective public awareness campaign for family caregivers to learn what is available and how to access help.

Paid Family and Medical Leave:  We support legislation to enact a paid family and medical leave insurance program, similar to programs already enacted in 5 other states. Such a program would ensure that every working Oregonian will have paid time away from work to welcome a new child, to recover from a serious illness, to care for a loved one recovering from a serious illness or to be with someone at their end of life. Learn more with the Time to Care Coalition.

Expanding housing options – Most people want to remain in their homes and communities as they grow older. However, the availability of safe, secure and comfortable home is a major challenge in Oregon communities. During 2019, AARP Oregon will work to strengthen tenant protections through passage of just cause eviction standards. We will work to ensure that local governments have the option to stabilize the rate and speed of rent increases by changing current state law that prohibits such local action. We will also support affordable housing development and preservation as well as funding for home repair and rehabilitation of existing homes.

Prescription drug prices – The prices of many prescription drugs have been increasing rapidly, which costs individuals with higher direct costs, higher co-pays, and higher insurance premiums. We will work on proposals at the state level to rein in the costs of prescription drugs.

Age discrimination in the workplace – By 2022, 35 percent of the total US workforce will be 50 or older, up from 28 percent in 2007. As the percentage of younger workers continues to decline, attracting and retaining older employees may become increasingly important for employers seeking to fill critical skill shortages and retain their competitive edge. Yet older workers continue to face discrimination, especially in layoffs and hiring. In a 2012 AARP survey of workers age 45–74, nearly two-thirds said they thought workers face age discrimination in the workplace. We will work on proposals to protect older workers from workplace discrimination in Oregon.

Getting big money out of politics – Trust in government is extremely low. The public believes that the government is less responsive to its concerns than to those of special interests. It feels increasingly frustrated with the government’s inability to address urgent societal problems. Increasing partisanship, crisis-driven decision making, and legislative gridlock add to the dissatisfaction with the public discourse. Unlimited and often undisclosed campaign spending threatens to make this situation even worse. Campaign funding for state and local elections, including judicial elections, should rely more on small donations matched with public funds at a multiple ratio and less on large private donations by individuals or organizations.

The priorities listed above are not the sole issues AARP Oregon will work on during the legislative session, and we look forward to working with our elected officials on issues that affect older Oregonians. If you have questions about any of these priorities, other issues, or how AARP operates, please do not hesitate to reach out to Jon Bartholomew, Government Relations Director, at jbartholomew@aarp.org or 503-333-7002. For media requests, contact Joyce De Monnin 971-330-6459.

[Photography: Joyce De Monnin]