Image for 2021 Legislative Victories for Oregon Kids


The Oregon Pediatric Society had a very successful 2021 state legislative session! Our intrepid team of OPS member advocates met with legislators and staff to lobby for healthy kids, families, providers, and planet; wrote testimony and OpEds; attended virtual legislative hearings; and deepened relationships with like-minded community partners. OPS enhanced our reputation as a powerful advocacy force through extending endorsements and a few oppositions to bills. We are thankful to the many OPS members who are part of our advocacy group, led by co-chairs Drs. Jimmy Unger and Shaili Rajput, and supported by staff Julie Scholz, Joanna Peterson, and our lobbyist, Katy King.

ALL of OPS’s Priority-1 issues succeeded except the elimination of non-medical childhood vaccine exemptions, which did not get a hearing this year. (Our “Immunity Community” team will continue to educate and advocate for joining the many other states who have similar laws). Some bills didn’t get funded until the end of session with HB 5006, the “Christmas Tree bill.”

These P-1 bills passed both chambers:

  • HR 6 – Declares racism a public health crisis. This was universally supported by all OPS Advocacy Committee members.
  • SB 554 – Safe storage of guns. Special congratulations to Rep. (Dr.) Lisa Reynolds and outgoing chair of the AAP Injury Violence Prevention council, Dr. Ben Hoffman for your years of tireless work on this issue.
  • SB 587 – Tobacco retail licensing. Appreciations to Drs. James Bishara and Bill Byrne for their session work.
  • HB 2261 – Prohibits online vaping sales. Next time, a flavors ban?
  • HB 2508 – Telehealth pay parity. Providers and patients adapted during the pandemic, and telehealth was a win-win.
  • HB 2315 – Requires suicide prevention continuing education for certain behavioral health professionals.
  • HB 3379 – Bans crib bumper pads.
  • SB 236 – Early Learning Division studies student suspension & expulsion.
  • SB 358 – Extends health insurance reimbursement for Applied Behavior Analysis for autism spectrum disorder. Thanks for testifying, Dr. Katie Zuckerman.
  • HB 5006 – $6 million in biennium funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers. Kudos to OPS partner Oregon Child Abuse Solutions and the State child abuse intervention network. And the Reach Out and Read program gets an extra $195k in State funding for this biennium. Thank you, Senator Steiner Hayward!

OPS members also testified for the Sanctuary Promise Act, the impact of pesticides on children’s health, home visiting, and following the Newborn Bloodspot Screening Advisory Board’s recommendations.


Advocate Spotlights:

“Health equity is not possible until we address racism in our state and communities. We need to name this problem, to face it head on and start to work to mitigate the effects of racism. So please, let us name it: racism is a public health crisis, and we must act now.”
— OPS President Alanna Braun, MD. Written Testimony in support of HR 6.

“COVID-19 vaccination research seeks to understand why people choose not to vaccinate. Current research suggests that many people prefer to hear the recommendation from their doctor, instead of from figureheads in government. Please take this letter from myself, a doctor you know and trust, recommending that you get vaccinated.”
— Zach Spoehr-Labutta, MD. Letter to the Editorpublished in the La Grande Observer.

“We can save lives by enacting this legislation to ensure that guns are stored safely. I urge you strongly to vote in favor of this bill to give voice to the voiceless – the children who cannot vote but are profoundly affected by these policies and the children and teens who have lost their lives or lost family members to gun violence. They deserve better.”
— OPS Vice President Angela Zallen, MD. Written testimony in support of SB 554.

“Stay current on local, state and federal legislation and empower your children to advocate for sound climate policy. Remind them that it is young activists, after all, who have galvanized the rest of the world into action to ensure that future generations inherit a livable planet.”
— Advocacy Committee Co-Chair Shaili Rajput, MD, MPH. Opinion article published in the Portland Tribune.

“…Early childhood suspension and expulsion is not addressing the underlying stressors that lead children to misbehave. Children need support to learn appropriate social behaviors, and their families need help to address the financial and social stressors that impair their abilities to provide structure for their children’s behavior.”
— Lauren Herbert, MD. Written testimony in support of SB 236

“Like car seat laws and speed limits, which also faced intense opposition, the safe gun storage bill will mitigate a serious public health threat. It will save lives and be accepted by the public.”
— Advocacy Committee Co-Chair Jimmy Unger, MD. Oral Testimony in support of SB 554.


“This is the 4th year I have worked to pass secure gun legislation in Oregon. It’s the first time I’ve done it as a state legislator. It’s such an important issue to me. You see, I’m also a pediatrician, and the health and safety of adolescents is my number one priority. It is up to us, the adults, to keep children safe.”
— Representative Lisa Reynolds, MD. Oral Testimony in support of SB 554.

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