Knute Buehler announces legislative agenda for 2016 session

Oregon Catalyst - Sat, 2015-11-28 05:00

Rep. Knute Buehler

Priorities: Preventing prescription drug abuse and protecting whistleblowers

Bend, OR – Representative Knute Buehler announced this week the two bills he will introduce during the upcoming 2016 session. Legislators are limited to two bills for even-year legislative sessions. Buehler intends to focus on two priorities: preventing prescription, especially narcotic, drug abuse and enhancing whistleblower protections.

The first bill combines two concepts aimed at mitigating prescription drug abuse. The law would allow pharmacists to distribute Naloxone without a doctor’s prescription.  This drug can be used to save someone suffering from an acute overdose. The second concept improves and makes it easier to use a database within the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program so doctors can better access information on what medications patients have been prescribed. This will help prevent those who obtain multiple narcotic prescriptions from different providers across the state.

“I see firsthand the devastating effects of prescription drug abuse – on individuals, families, and communities,” said Buehler. “These policies will give doctors and family members the tools they need to better care for patients and prevent addictions.”

Last session, Rep. Buehler called the Kitzhaber-Hayes whistleblower, Michael Rodgers, an Oregon hero and introduced legislation that would protect future whistleblowers like Rodgers. The legislation would have given public employees the same protections as employees of corporations, taking much of the language from the federal Sarbanes-Oxley provisions. Buehler is planning on reintroducing the concept with a couple revisions – including expanding the protections to employees and board members of non-profit organizations.

Michael Rodgers’ story – and more recently, the stories of child abuse and neglect surrounding Give Us This Day – show the need for stronger whistleblower protections and overall ethics reform,” said Buehler. “Oregonians deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials and agencies.”

Representative Buehler was also asked by Rep. Keny-Guyer, chair of the Human Services and Housing committee, to participate in a workgroup to address the affordable housing crisis, a key priority for Buehler from the last session. The workgroup intends to introduce a committee bill in the 2016 session.

“Our housing market and homelessness is a big problem. I think we’ve been trying to treat the symptoms and haven’t addressed the underlying disease,” said Buehler. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to help solve this important issue.”

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