PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek signed half a dozen bills on Tuesday aiming to bolster behavioral health resources and make what the governor calls “improvements” to the roll-out of Measure 110.
“As your Governor, I’m fighting for a behavioral health system that supports healing and recovery no matter where you live,” Kotek said. “And to the friends and family who have watched a loved one struggle with an untreated mental health issue or addiction, I recognize your suffering and am moved by your hope. Know that I am focused on improving outcomes across our state.”
“That’s why today is so important. The bills I am signing mark progress towards building a behavioral health continuum of care that incorporates harm reduction, suicide prevention, stronger tools against substance abuse among youth and adults, and improvements to the implementation of Measure 110,” Kotek continued.
Among the bills signed into law is House Bill 2513, which the governor says “strengthens” Measure 110 — a voter-approved law decriminalizing small amounts of drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth in favor of addiction treatment centers. The bill increases staffing and aims to speed up the process to get funding out the door. The measure also “centralizes” a support hotline to connect people to addiction treatment services.
Kotek also signed House Bill 2395, which expands access to opioid reversal medications – such as Narcan and naloxone – by allowing law enforcement, first responders, teachers and school administrators to store and administer the medication.
Additionally, Senate Bill 1043 requires hospitals, sobering and detox facilities to provide two doses of overdose reversal medication to patients once they are released.
Senate Bill 238 requires the Oregon Health Authority, State Board of Education and the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop school curricula to teach students about the dangers of synthetic opioids. Kotek also approved a bill creating a fund for the 988 crisis hotline and another bill to establish the Task Force on Alcohol Pricing and Addiction Services – studying addiction treatment and the cost of alcohol addiction treatment to the state.
During her first long-form television interview as governor in February, Kotek said she is focused on bolstering the behavioral health care workforce and is working to retain those in the field and recruit others.
On the day she was sworn in, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen stepped down. Kotek said while Allen and other OHA staff “stepped up” during the pandemic, she wants to see more focus on behavioral health.
“My biggest concern was, we were not making enough progress on mental health and addiction, was not satisfied with the leadership there — not only with Pat Allen but also Steve Allen — both of them have moved on,” Kotek said. “I want to make sure, no matter where you live in the state, you have access to the care you need, and we needed a change in leadership to make sure that was happening on the behavioral side.”