Editor’s Note: This is the part of a series of blogs by our AARP Oregon staff so you can get to know us and our priorities better! We’d love your feedback and you will find an email address at the bottom of the blog.
By Jon Bartholomew
I am the guy at AARP Oregon who gets to spend every weekday in February (and the first week of March) at the state capitol in Salem. At least this is the short session, as next year I will be going to Salem every day from February through June. When I am there, I advocate with Oregon’s State Senators and State Representatives on behalf of AARP members in Oregon. Sometimes this means sitting down in meetings with legislators and their staff. Sometimes it means grabbing a legislator walking in the hallway to chat with them. Sometimes it means working things out with other stakeholders on an issue, and then reporting back to legislators to tell them we worked out all our differences. And now and then we testify before legislative committees on specific pieces of legislation.
What is more powerful than me doing all these things is when AARP volunteers help out with it all. Legislators know and respect me, but they prefer to hear from their own constituents and the people affected by a piece of legislation. This is why it’s so important to have volunteers involved.
Last year, AARP volunteers testified before legislative committees on issues including Retirement Security, the CARE Act, and legislative redistricting – and we achieved victories on all of these issues. Volunteers who come to Salem on a coordinated lobby day have been extremely effective when they connect one on one with the legislators that represent them in Salem. And folks who call or email their state legislators have a significant impact as well. State government is more personal than Congress, and a few emails or calls actually make a big difference, so please don’t ever think that your voice isn’t being heard!
In this 2016 “Short Session” of the legislature, AARP Oregon has a modest agenda. We will work to ensure that there will be no cuts in long term supports and services, as well as fighting to restore cuts to the Gatekeeper Program.
To combat elder abuse, there will be two proposals we will support – one to create a position of Elder Abuse Resource Prosecutor with the Attorney General’s office, and one to allow counties to create fatality review teams in cases of elder abuse.
Also a priority for AARP is ensuring age-friendly communities. Housing affordability for older Oregonians is a crisis all across the state, so we are taking a look at several proposals to address this issue.
However, usually other issues arise outside of these priority areas that we will take a position on. Campaign finance reform, transportation, and quality of care in long term care settings are all issues we expect to be on the table in February.
If you have any questions about individual pieces of legislation or would like to be active on any bills, please be sure to let me know! I could use the assistance and expertise of our wonderful volunteers.
To learn more or ask a question, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can follow Jon on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/JonB_AARP