PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Lawmakers are taking another swing at the administration of Measure 110 after funding has been slow to roll out since the 2020 ballot measure decriminalized small amounts of large drugs and aimed to fund treatment.
A bill introduced this week is intended to make the process more efficient, focused on responding to problems an audit by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s office.
The Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council is made of people with experience in addiction and recovery, whether they went through it themselves or helped others.
But bill sponsor Democratic Rep. Rob Nosse says they had been bogged down from treatment strategies with having to deal with grant applications, request for proposals, and other processes he argues they don’t have the expertise.
One change would be giving that responsibility to the Oregon Health Authority, which is more experienced with those kinds of things.
“The Oversight Accountability Council, they get to focus on what voters passed, which is setting up treatement [and] getting more people served. THen the Health Authority does what government is supposed to do—run the processes.”
Another change could mean counties would not need their own resource hotline, and instead would centralize one line for the entire state.
It would remove the 4% cap on administrative costs that representative Nosse says are arbitrary. During a committee hearing, Nosse was questioned by Rep. Lilly Morgan if removing that cap would mean less money for treatment and recovery.
“Removing that admin barrier is just to make it so that the operations are going to be a little bit easier to accomplish the goals that voters asked us to do to have more treatment, more services available and to do it in a way that’s timely,” Nosse said.
Nosse says he expects OHA to come in under 4% of the cost, but wants the agency to have flexibility.
Rep. Morgan, a Republican from Grants Pass has sponsored several bills to repeal Measure 110, but tells KOIN 6 she will support the bill with these potential fixes, HB 2513.
“This bill is more in line with what voters thought they were voting for.” Morgan said.
Morgan encouraged by the coordination the bill requires. Measure 110 created Behavioral Health Resource Networks, often called BHRNs, in each county that distributes funding. Morgan says, that process was fractured from services that already exist. Morgan points to requirements to coordinate in the bill.
“Finally, it’s a connection that will create, hopefully, finding where the gaps are in the services so that we don’t miss what the needs of our community are.” Morgan said.
Morgan though, as several people testifying, said there is more work to do, like shoring up treatment services across the state before funding ‘peripheral programs.’
For those in the treatement and recoery sphere, they believe ensuring access to treatement is vital to Measure 110’s future success.
“There’s a lot of work to be done to align this measure with other state funding efforts to ensure Oregon is effectively coordinating its resources effectively” Tony Vezina, the executive director of 4D recovery said.
Vezina supports the bill, but also pointed that, prior to Measure 110, Oregon was 49 percent below treatment capacity for substance abuse and that with Measure 110’s focus on recovery, state lawmakers need to address all aspects of substance abuse treatment.
“I urge the committee to continue to expand treatment services in the future.” Vezina said.
Nosse says, the legislature has made it a priority to address mental and behavioral health as well as substance abuse, and thinks these fixes can start to change the tide.
“Oregonians should start to see things look a lot different in this space at least a year from now, in terms of the array of things we’re doing in the legislature.”