by Lee Mercer, President, HCAO
Over 100 HCAO activists from all over Oregon braved ice, sleet and snow to attend the Saturday, Nov. 15 statewide strategy meeting. Like the 100 settlers in 1843 who voted to become a territory of the U.S. (and if they had voted otherwise we would be part of Canada and have universal health care now!), we were charting a brave new future for Oregon. Reviewing our strategic plan to achieve single payer health care, we discussed various policy options to support the HCAO mission. The day also featured breakouts for training in intensive lobbying and use of talking points.
A highlight of the day was a tag team presentation by Representative Barbara Smith Warner (District 45) and veteran AFSCME lobbyist Mary Botkin. They did an overview of the political environment in Oregon (current make-up of the legislature looks good for our issue) and provided much wisdom on doing respectful and effective lobbying in the Capitol. Instead of making lots of noise in the rotunda, they advised talking to all legislators (not just those who agree with us), learning what each legislator cares about, and making sure we communicate and meet with the legislators’ staff members, as informing them on our issue is almost as important as informing the legislators. Legislative Assistants have their own staff network in the Capitol, and our issue can move forward there, as well.
Besides remaining committed to legislation for a ballot measure to achieve the “Health Care for Oregon Plan” to create a publicly funded health care system and an extension and funding for HB 3260 (the health care study bill), we outlined other policy options HCAO is considering. Strong support was indicated among attendees for secession from the U.S. to create the Republic of Cascadia (with Washington and British Columbia), with health care as a human right enshrined in its constitution. This was a fully tongue-in-cheek proposal by President Lee Mercer.Read More