Residents get health help and locals-only RV rates in Senate action
With the end of a GOP slowdown in the Oregon House, the sluggish pace of bills moving between it and the Senate has turned into a torrent.
The Senate added 64 House bills to its plate on Monday, raising the likelihood that more than halfway through the 2021 session, some of the first legislation of 2021 will finally reach the desk of Gov. Kate Brown.
Before the flood, the Senate was able to dispatch a short list of bills still requiring votes before they were sent to the House.
Among the items was a bill by Sen. Tim Knopp, SB 699, to close a loophole allowing for some medical insurance policies to include an exclusion for coverage of pre-existing conditions.
Pharmacists could do more of their work with customers and technicians by phone or computer with the passage of SB 629, by Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena. Hansell said it brings Oregon in line with the rest of the states west of Texas.
"The pandemic has made us realize that many services we depend on can be provided online or over the phone," he said.
More than a year under COVID-19 restrictions also gave the state data that it could change its fee structure for RV use in Oregon State Parks by increasing the amount charged to non-residents.
During the pandemic, a drop in revenue from the lottery and other sources hit the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. In order to sustain the more than 200 parks and sites it oversees, the department raised revenue by increasing the facility fees for RVs from outside the state.
The result was $500,000 in additional revenue for the parks budget between September 2020 and February 2021 with only a 5% drop in out-of-state users. Under SB 794 by Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Milwaukie, the split fee favoring residents would be made permanent. RVs from outside Oregon will pay 25% more for hook-ups and other spots.
State studies show the parks department income will grow to $2.1 million in the 2023-25 period. Non-residents account for 48 percent of those who make RV reservations at Oregon parks. The state forecasts the higher fees will result in an 8 percent drop in use by non-Oregon RVs.
All the bills go to the House for a vote.
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