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H.B.5077 page.
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MERCYs' public info on H.B.5077 as well as any related Issues.

[ This Bill >     Summary   |   Status   |   Action   |   Details   |   Analysis   |   Letter Examples   |   Media Notes   |   Bulliten Board   |   e-Mail   ]

HB 5077 Ordered printed by the Speaker pursuant to House Rule 12.00A (5).  Presession filed.  (at the request of Budget and Management Division, Oregon Department of Administrative Services) -- Relating to state financial administration; appropriating money; and declaring an emergency.

1-12 (H) First reading. Referred to Speaker's desk.
Referred to Ways and Means.
5-5 Assigned to Subcommittee On Human Services.
5-12 Public Hearing held.
Public Hearing and Work Session held.
Returned to Full Committee.
5-17 Work Session held.
5-19 Recommendation: Do pass with amendments and be printed A-Engrossed.
5-23 Second reading.
5-24 Third reading. Carried by Richardson. Passed.
Ayes, 49; Nays, 10--Barnhart, Boquist, Buckley, Dingfelder, Holvey, Merkley, Nelson, Shields, Thatcher, Wirth; Excused, 1--Tomei. Vote explanation(s) filed by Barnhart.

5-25 (S) First reading. Referred to President's desk.
6-2 Referred to Ways and Means.
6-3 Recommendation: Do pass the A-Eng. bill.
Second reading.
6-6 Third reading. Carried by Schrader. Passed.
Ayes, 18; Nays, 10--Atkinson, Ferrioli, George, Kruse, Morrisette, Prozanski, Starr, B., Starr, C., Walker, Whitsett; Excused, 1--Beyer; Attending Legislative Business, 1--Brown.
Vote explanation(s) filed by Prozanski.

6-10 (H) Speaker signed.
6-10 (S) President signed.
6-14 (H) Governor signed.
Chapter 212, (2005 Laws): Effective date June 14, 2005.

Recently Senator Morrisette was asked whether adding new language to a new medical marijuana bill would prevent the sort of raid that was done by the House in 5077.  He said no.  We have testified about this but that is the answer we get.  None of us like the answer, but there it is.  Others are certainly free to get other opinions and find us an answer we like better.  You would be a hero.  But, it sounds like if there is some extra money, they (legislators) can get it no matter what we would have done or could still put it the OMMA.  Someone please correct us if there is new information but that is what we know at the moment.

People are correct that this sort of vulnerability makes none of us feel better.  The Senators working on the new med mj bill all voted no on HB 5077, so if anyone has language to protect the OMMA from future money raids, we would appreciate it if you would submit it to the Senators ASAP and see what they say.  Thank you in advance.


Notes and History

Recommend that the members consult with Senator Bill Morrisette to determine a proper amendment to 5077 to restore the needed funds, or if that is not possible, then ask them to kill it.

Sens Morrisette and Kruse both are working to restore funds back to the program and protect them in the future-there will likely be no return of all of it, but Sen M seems dedicated to restoring whatever it takes to preserve the program AND pay for whatever things like 24/7, etc. that are put into SB772.   The entire Senate leadership is aware and concerned about it.

HB5077 has been referred to Ways and Means by Senate President Peter Courtney.  Start your correspondence to the committee members in the Senate Ways and Means Committee:

Dr. Alan Bates
Party: D District: 3
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE., S-305, Salem, OR, 97301
Email: sen.alanbates@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/bates

Vice Chair Margeret Carter
Party: D District: 22
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1722
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE., S-311, Salem, OR, 97301
Email: sen.margaretcarter@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/carter

Laura Monnes Anderson
Party: D District: 25
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1725
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE., S-310, Salem, OR, 97301
Email: sen.lauriemonnesanderson@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/monnesanderson

Co-Chair Kurt Schrader
Party: D District: 20
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1720
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE., S-209, Salem, OR, 97301
Email: sen.kurtschrader@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/schrader

Ben Westlund R-27
Party: R District: 27
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1727
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE., S-211, Salem, OR, 97301
Email: sen.benwestlund@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/westlund

Jackie Winters R-10
Party: R District: 10
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1710
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE., S-212, Salem, OR, 97301
Email: http://www.leg.state.or.us/winters

Summary: There has been a terrible bill passed thru the Oregon State House - HB 5077 - which takes $900,000 from OMMP bank account and puts into general fund.  This will bankrupt the program and eliminate any chance of anything in 772 which requires OMMP expenditures to fail -AND / OR- it will force a fee raise.  Contact the Committee NOW.

Stealing these funds is a short sighted solution to a budget shortfall.  In the long run, this will require the program to seek operating expense money from the general fund.  What was a self sufficient program will become a drain on the taxpayers.


-----Original Message-----
From: HIGGINSON Grant K
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 9:48 AM
To: REP Buckley
Subject: Re: OMMP Finance information request

Thank you for your inquiry about Oregon Medical Marijuana Program funds.  When our registration program started in May 1999, it was a "first of its kind" and so we worked with program advocates to determine an appropriate fee.  Based on an estimate of 500 patients and staffing needs for running a registry, we came up with an annual fee of $150 per patient.

Over the next few years the number of patients increased dramatically and we established a significant cash balance.  Because of this, in July 2003, we reduced fees for renewals and established even lower fees for patients who were low income (on the OR Health Plan, or SSI).  Still our cash balance continued to increase due to increased numbers of registered patients * now over 10,000.  So in January 2005, we implemented a new fee schedule of $55 dollars for either an initial application or a renewal, and provide a very reduced fee of $20 for low income patients.

This fee level can't fully support the program.  The rationale behind this reduction was that with these lower fees, our steady operating costs, and some commitments to special projects (such as a 24/7 verification system), we would end up with a reasonable cash balance at the end of the 2005-2007 biennium.  We would likely have to raise fees again at that time.

We have always told patients that they didn't need to worry about the cash balance because our understanding is that fee programs such as the OMMP could not be used to subsidize other programs.  However, we were recently informed that LFO is planning on utilizing $900,000 of our existing cash balance to offset other budget priorities.  I have attached the relevant LFO document for your review.  The transfer is included in Increased Other Fund Revenues of $3.2 million on page 7, and is spelled out in more detail on page 8.  As I think you already know, the vehicle for making such a fund transfer happen is HB 5077.

If this bill does go through unchanged, we will likely have to raise fees as early as this summer instead of 2007 as planned. Let me know if you have further questions."


Status: HB 5077 was passed thru the House and is on its way to the Senate, contact your rep TODAY.   Rally planned for Wed., June 1st, 10am, see Action, below.

Continue to Educate your House rep anyway as a "closure" strategy and to prepare for the next time they do this.   Lets get "How They Voted" developed like at > http://mercycenters.org/vote_OR.htm.   Send us your info -or- post to your respective lists (like DPFOR).


Ayes, 49; Nays, 10--Barnhart, Boquist, Buckley, Dingfelder, Holvey, Merkley, Nelson, Shields, Thatcher, Wirth; Excused, 1--Tomei.

Please write your legislator who voted no and say thanks.

KINK, 102 FM in Portland had a brief story about the bill on at 7am today.  It included a passionate argument made Representative Buckley on the House floor.

This kind of vote sends a clear signal to the Senate that there are problems with this bill.  Please continue to follow up with your senators

thanks,

Lee Berger,
Portland
lelandberger@comcast.net


Now, on to the Senate!   Same action plan - see talking points (in ANALYSIS section) and call, email, write and visit the reps.   This is one "voting" you can & should do early and often.

Our hope is to focus displeasure over that part so that we may get it reconsidered.  It may get amended in the Senate, but it would require that the Speaker agree that the OMMP part is a problem.

CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS NOW!!  KILL HB 5077 - THIS IS NO JOKE!!  Make sure everyone in that building gets piles of messages - We, the people, are screwed if this passes.   STEALING MONEY FROM SICK PEOPLE, CRIPPLED PEOPLE AND DYING PEOPLE IS CRIMINAL.  ACT NOW!!  CALL, WRITE, EMAIL POLITE FORCEFUL COMMUNICATIONS TO THE LEGISLATURE NOW!!

Contacts: Use these links help with contacting state reps:

(Find Your Legislator)

(write your legislator)

For examples:

Senate President
Senator Peter Courtney (D)
D-Salem/
Gervais/Woodburn
District: 11
900 Court St. NE
S-203
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-986-1600
FAX: 503-986-1004
eMail: courtney.sen@state.or.us

or
Human Services Subcommittee Members. Such as:

Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson (D)
District 25
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1725
Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-310
Salem, OR 97301
E-Mail: sen.lauriemonnes-anderson@state.or.us

Or Patient friendly -

Senator Bill Morrisette (D)
District 6
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1706
Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-306
Salem, OR 97301
E-Mail: sen.billmorrisette@state.or.us

Senator Alan Bates
District 3
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305
Salem, OR 97301
E-Mail: sen.alanbates@state.or.us


other Action Items and Contacts

Calling all Patients, Caregivers and OMMP Advocates!

The OMMP is being robbed of its registration fee surplus funds.  There is over a million dollars in the OMMP Budget right now and the Joint Ways and Means Committee is trying to take $900,000 of it, calling an "emergency!"  This will cause program fees to go back up!

There is a call for a peaceful rally to show discontent with HB 5077.

The rally will be at the Oregon State Capitol on the front steps on Wednesday, June 1st, 2005 at 10:00 am.  Press releases are being sent out and there is hope of gaining positive media coverage at the event.

There will have signs available, speakers (TBA), and a STRONG VOICE as a GROUP to object to HB5077.  Join it.

Please dress conservatively (you represent all those that couldn't make it.  You're their rep!), keep in mind that this is a peaceful, non-smoking rally - and remember your sunscreen and bumpershoots.

There is also a hearing on Senate Bill 772 scheduled for Wednesday in the afternoon.

Social gathering to follow at Lefty's Pizzeria on State Street in Salem.  Time: TBA

Your presence is necessary!  We need to stop this bad legislation from happening!  If you need a ride from the Portland area, you can meet up at Pho's between 8:15 am-8:40 am, (traffic!!) but please contact Schorts or Big Stevo first to confirm your spot!

Spread the word!  Click here for flyer.  For more info visit: http://oregongreenfree.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5622  Or http://oregongreenfree.com/forums/index.php?act=calendar&code=showevent&eventid=97


Hi DPFOR:

Michelle Cole of the Oregonian Capitol Bureau interviewed me (and hopefully others) about HB 5077.  I told her one consequence of HB 5077 may be the fees going back up in the near future.  Dr. Higginson said the same thing in his letter to Rep Buckley.

Ms. Cole called me back today and asked:

1.  Is there a patient she could talk to who might be affected by the raising back of the fees back up to $100 to $150?  She would like to add an human story to all the math, I think.  I told her some patients may not be able to register because of the possible extra $100.  Is that true?

Contact her at:   Phone 503-221-8234,  503-370-3649  (fax) and email  michellecole@news.oregonian.com.

2.  Is there going to be a rally at the Capitol?

(See Action Items).   I told her that I would put her two questions to a forum and ask anyone who wanted to talk to Ms. Cole contact her directly.  Contact her if you want to talk to her about the above questions related to HB 5077.

She said she will publish the story "soon" about HB 5077.  Thanks for everyone's support in trying to stop or amend HB 5077.

Rick Bayer
Portland
ricbayer@comcast.net

See Media Notes, below.


Thanks to all for your continued help.  We do have good chance of changing this bill.  Education is needed and we may first have a chance in the Senate after the bill comes from the house.  If the Senate education effort succeeds and they amend the bill, it will most likely be resubmitted to a floor vote to approve the changes.  If the education process is working theamendments we may get in the Senate will be approved in the House.

We want our rep and senator to vote NO on HB 5077 so the OMMP is not forced into a fee increase simply to operate.  The LFO report is based on faulty assumptions that were discussed in yesterday's letter.

Suggestions on the best next step?  An OMMA advocate, after consideration and counsel, left a message with state narcotics officer Durbin that *our* 24/7 permit verification system is in peril if HB 5077 passes as is.  So, LE should know that passing HB 5077 is not going to help any movement toward the 24/7 permit verification they testify that they seek.

OMMA proponents should stop HB 5077 or try an amendment to exclude the OMMP.  We also need to recruit help from our legislators and find out what is going on here.

The alternative of inaction or hesitation with a possible floor vote tomorrow means we may lose $900,000 in patient fees without even trying to contact our legislators and educate them that something funny is going on.  If HB 5077 passes the House and Senate, then we need Gov K to veto it so good luck to us.  The suggestion from several is we contact our legislators now and try to educate them.

It would be nice to have a couple of weeks, some subcommittee hearings that we know about in advance, and more information before we act; but we don't.  Instead, it appears we have a deadline that started yesterday.  The vote will occur sooner this coming week if we are not so lucky and later (and later) if we are more fortunate.  That is why some of us are so concerned.

Everyone please write his her representative this weekend and tell all your friends and family to please do the same.

Ideally, we may get this sneaky legislative black bag job out into the light of day and educate everyone.  Until then, we have to do our best.  We have to weigh the risk of acting on incomplete information already gathered versus the risk of doing nothing.  The risk of doing nothing is a nearly guaranteed $.9 million theft of patient fees with transfer to general fund according to Dr. Higginson and verified verbally by the legislative fiscal office.

It's uncertain if we can stop HB 5077 but if we value the OMMP we should do our best.  The resultant eventual return of the fee increase if HB 5077 passes will hurt those can afford it least.  Please help keep the program affordable, encourage people to register, and keep medical marijuana patients from being arrested.

Any other thoughts?  Let's make sure we contact every rep and senator in the state ASAP.

Thank you.

FAQS

Q: Is stealing the OMMP funds the only thing in the bill or is that one of many provisions designed to balance the budget?

A: 5077 rebalances the entire DHS budget and OMMP funds are only a part of the reshuffle.  Most folks in the building were not aware that 5077 did any specific thing other than shuffle funds - activists are fairly certain, for example, there was not an amendment which said "and we steal 900 G's from the marijuana guys" But it is specifically punishing this class of citizens none the less.

Q: How did it get here?

A: Regarding the time line of HB5077, it was introduced at the same time as most of the 5000 series budget bills and like them was blank-

Q: Will there be hearings like the ones for 772 at which time we can state our position?   Somebody behind closed doors has had the attention of that committee, can we suggest amendments to the legislation?

A: There *already* was a public hearing in the Human Services subcommittee of the Joint Ways and Means committee.  They passed it out with a "do pass" recommendation.  It is now going to go to a floor vote in the House and floor vote in the Senate.

Q: At the beginning of this legislative session and the start of the Alliance Meetings many people myself included and most definately MERCY were running searches for all bills or activity in Salem that pertained to the OMMP, MJ, or Hemp.

I believe that MERCY at one point had 7 different bills that in one way or another had some direct or indirect effect on MMJ or Hemp and none of them were 5077......

Anyone have any idea how it was kept off the radar when it supposedly started out in January?

A: This is something that DHS does every session and sometimes between sessions, reallocations of funds.

This bill and apparently all of the revenue bills we've learned, are left blank 'til they can figure out what the tax revenues are going to be for the biennium.  It is believed the source of HB5077 is the head of DHS, keen to see the big programs stay funded as much as possible.  And as far as they or any one in their fiscal department would be concerned it would be the "dollars on account" numbers and where are they needed.  It seems apparent what someone there thinks of the OMMP!

For example, Independent Living Centers.  They are funded by Federal and State tax funds and any grants they can get funded.  Two sessions ago they granted and then took away monies dedicated to some low cost grassroot start-up IL centers.  Several centers were hard hit and were forced to do major rethinking of how to provide the same services with out any of this money until next session, maybe, when DHS could allocate more money.

Due to the budget cuts we've seen over the years since the implementation of Measure 5 (talk about people voting against thier own best interests) the non-cost-effective programs that served the most people - you know the greater good and all - were always able to go to the head of DHS with their woes and have been able to get money reallocated so their inefficient yet totally indespensible programs could stay afloat.

--- Some FACTs ---

OMMP would still exist if HB 5077 passes; it is just likely the OMMP patient fees will go back up or we will have no 24/7 permit verification or both.  Will we lose staff?  Longer turnaround times?  Who knows?  Whatever happens, rest assured it will have the hardest impact on the poorest among us.

If you read the legislation, you will see how nonspecific the information is.  There is a mysterious "legislative fiscal office" analysis that targets OMMP.  We are trying to get this information and have contacted legislators to ask for a report from OMMP.  That report is pending and the fiscal analysis is pending.

See also "MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROVIDES OREGON WITH BADLY NEEDED CASH" at: http://www.mapinc.org/media/81 and "Milton Friedman and 500+ Economists Call for Marijuana Regulation Debate as New Report Estimates Savings New Report Projects $10-14 Billion Annual Savings and Revenues."

"In a report released today (June 2, 2005), Dr. Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor of economics at Harvard University, estimates that replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation similar to that used for alcoholic beverages would produce combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion per year.  In response, a group of more than 500 distinguished economists -- led by Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Milton Friedman -- released an open letter to President Bush and other public officials calling for "an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition," adding, "We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods."   Click here >> to see more.

HISTORY

01/12 (H)
First reading. Referred to Speaker's desk.

01/12 (H)
Referred to Ways and Means.

05/05 (H)
Assigned to Subcommittee On Human Services.

05/12 (H)
Public Hearing held.

05/12 (H)
Public Hearing and Work Session held.

05/12 (H)
Returned to Full Committee.

05/17 (H)
Work Session held.

The flesh of budget bill only starts to be applied when the W+M committee starts work in earnest, which was in May.  The events at the hearings can be found out about online.

The first word of the contents to be of 5077 to an activist in the medical cannabis community on Tuesday 5/17 afternoon late and relayed the actions of the Ways and Means that day.

Activists spent Wednesday on the phone with various legislative offices and staffers trying to track down where the bill really went.  There was some confusion on Wednesday with Leg Fiscal Office mistakenly telling them it went back to the Speaker's desk for reassignment to the House Budget Committee.  They initiated contacts with several folks on the committee including Rep March and Richardson.

Thursday a.m. the activist community reps contacted the Legislative Reps again - which included Rep Buckley (a friendly) - who responded with a request for info on the fees and balance which was forwarded to OMMP for the info about noon.  In early pm activists called the Speaker's office to track down HB5077 and found out it was scheduled for floor debate on Monday (5/23) probably but maybe later.  Because of that, there was no chance to amend the bill in a committee before that action so the kill call was sent out.

The Senate may provide a chance to amend, but it would take convincing Sen. Courtney to refer it to the Senate Budget committee.  Then it would have to go to a reconciliation committee to make both bills agree - and we have little control over how that would occur - simplest way would be to simply eliminate any Senate amendment - and they like simple towards this end of the session.  

Otherwise it is going to take either a down vote or a veto to stop it.  Activists have contacted several staffers in the Gov. K's office including the Human Resources advisor, the Legislative Liaison Office and the Gov's personal assistant and sent the exchange with Richardson.  The reply back from Humans Resource advisor was that they were "aware of this bill and we have been tracking its progress)- a certainly neutral, factual answer.  We will try to keep everyone posted as we find out more regarding their view of the affair.

Details: The text of HB5077 is in PDF at: http://www.leg.state.or.us/05reg/measpdf/hb5000.dir/hb5077.intro.pdf or in html at: http://www.leg.state.or.us/05reg/measures/hb5000.dir/hb5077.intro.html

More links to Text follows (see below).  Note that it declares an emergency so that it can go into almost immediate effect.

To find Bills ONLINE - Go Bills and Laws web page ( http://www.leg.state.or.us/cgi-bin/searchMeas.pl ), then to measure text, then to Search for Specific Measure Number.  In this case type in hb 5700 where needed-bingo!   Text link and history link-history is not up to date.  TIP: All budget bills are numbered 5000+

ANALYSIS

It means the demise of 24/7 and the demise of reduced fees.  Stated differently, if this bill passes, we will lose the fee reduction and delay the implementation of 24/7.

Make no mistake, this is war on the poorest and most dis-advantaged class of sick and dying people in Oregon.  Ask your representative and senator to stop HB 5077.

For what it is worth, in 2003 with 4700 patients we were able to make every call to some offices for some days be about last session's bad bill - HB2939.  There are 10,000 of us now and if that building has anything but killing this on their mind after about Tuesday next, it better not be our fault. Call, write, email, visit and do it again.  And again.   Here are a couple of talking points.  Others can add more and improve the language.

1. The large budget cash surplus is a managerial mistake made by a previous OMMP manager who recently left the program.  Patients should not be penalized for an error by OMMP management.  Patients should not be penalized by losing surplus fees to the general fund because OMMP delayed fee lowering thus allowing this large balance of patient fee money to accumulate.

2. After OMMP was reminded of the cash surplus by patients, a fee lowering finally began in January 2005 with plans to lower the cash balance to minimum necessary operating levels over 24 months.  We are part-way through this process.  In addition, money has been verbally budgeted toward a 24/7 OMMP stand-alone query-only permit verification network.  Both OMMA advocates and law enforcement reached consensus that a 24/7 system is a good idea and have testified to this effect in the Senate.  But, HB 5077 puts any consensus plans in jeopardy.

In other words, it is unfair to transfer 90% (or any %) of patient fees temporarily residing in the cash balance to the general fund.  Not only should this money be returned to patients and spent on patients through lower fees and better services but this "cash balance" is already spent.  Any raid on this temporary surplus must be stopped and therefore HB 5077 should be voted down.

MANY, Many thanx to those who contributed to this info!  We beg for comments and any info any others may have.


LTL (Letters-To-yer-Legislator) Examples -

Example #A

Kill HB5077!

Dear Senator Courtney,

Please keep HB5077 on your desk!  It is a bad bill, using a short sighted, one time solution to a continuing biennial problem of funding DHS and all general fund supported services.  It appears to be an under handed attempt to take $900,000 in fees collected by Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program to fund taxpayer/general fund mandated DHS programs.   Reallocating these fees, paid by some of Oregon's most vulnerable patients, is tantamount to theft.

HB5077 will cripple the advances to OMMA proposed by DHS in SB772, meant to help make brighter lines for Law Enforcement.  HB5077 will make LE's job of trying to control illicit marijuana more difficult.  Things like, a computer system for 24x7/365 verification of enrollment in the OMMP and others improvements making it easier and safer for patients to access and use the medicine that makes their quality of life worth living will probably not come to pass either.  HB5077 will drive up the cost of fees paid by registrants, which were recently lowered a second time to a most reasonable rate, designed to not raise excess funds.

This money was generated from fees higher than were needed to fund the program prior to current enrollment levels.  These funds should have been refunded or used for the advantage of the patients enrolled in the program.  Instead, because of a mean spirited administration of the program it was bankrolled and saved for ill-defined purposes.  Now those purposes seem to be defined with HB5077, cripple the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program by taking its funds!  No funds, no program!

If the Republican leadership in the House wants to fund DHS services or anything else with money collected from the use of marijuana perhaps they should get real and talk about taxation and regulation of cannabis for the 21+ year old public?  We already use tobacco, alcohol and gambling money to fund many indispensable programs and services, why not step up and change the paradigm?  Less than 10,000 mostly low-income, many eligible for OHP people, paying $150/year accumulated the money wanted by HB5077.   Fees taken from sick people to pay the wages of healthy people, a novel concept!  Now, in our continuing times of low tax receipts and this States lack of fair taxation, we are looking at taking money raised by sick people and their LEGAL use of marijuana for what purpose in DHS we don't exactly know.

Again this is a short sighted, one time solution to an ongoing problem with under funding of DHS due to excessive tax break concessions to groups that pay few if any taxes to do business in this state!  Never again will we raise almost a million dollars in this program to be siphoned off when the account gets ripe again!

Please, stop HB5077!

Sincerely,
X. Xxxx Xxxxx

Example #1

Dear Senator-

In as much as hb 5077 will gut the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program bank account, and eliminate the ability of the program to provide functions now being written into possible statute in SB 772, its passage would be a great tragedy for those dependent upon the OMMP, as well as those in law enforcement who need certain likely provisions in SB 772.   Please act on the clear knowledge of the damage to the OMMP which 5077 would inflict and refuse support for it.

I look forward to hearing your feelings about this very concerning matter and would hope that you would join with the important effort to make sure, one way or another, that 5077 does not inflict this damage to this important program.

Sincerely,
Xxxxx Xxxx

Example #2

Dear Senator-

I would ask that you review your view that OMMP patients are suffering mere heartburn.  It is no exaggeration to say that passing 5077 in its current form will defund the OMMP and likely cause it to cease functioning.  Such a thing will result in people who are crippled, severely ill or terminally ill being deprived of the program's protection and thus the ability to use the medicine which allows them to live and function.  None of them are suffering heartburn.

You will likely be in a position to understand more of the importance of this program to Oregonians over the next few days.  Please listen to those people who will be contacting you and your colleagues soon.  Their life depends on it.

Sincerely,
Xxxxx

Example #3

Dear Senator-

I am writing in great concern about hb 5077, referred by Ways and Means yesterday to the speaker and eventually on to the budget committee and probably your subcommittee, thus this note.

Fiscal office referred to this bill as the Human Resources Rebalance Bill and the part which concerns me, and every other registrant with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program is that is that it contemplates taking almost 900,000 dollars from the OMMP bank account (over 90% of it!) and putting it into the general fund.  This money has accumulated in that account from the fees and only the fees paid by OMMP registrants to run the program.  It was realized last year that the account surplus would allow a lower registration fee and a new fee was set which would allow, by the end of the next biennium, the balance to be reduced to a much more modest level as some of the balance was used up by costs.  There are several planned uses for the remaining parts of this fund, some of which are being written into statute in SB 772 this session and these planned uses are crucial to the successful future operation of the OMMP.  These funds are being counted on to fund these operations !  And if the bank balance is raided to any significant extent then these programs planned will not be funded, to the serious detriment of all parties concerned with the OMMP, law enforcement included.

I do indeed realize that Oregon has a fiscal problem currently, but to attempt to solve it by stealing funds from sick, crippled and dying patients is appallingly inappropriate.  These funds ARE NOT public funds and have never been in the general fund, but have been produced by OMMP registrants for the OMMP use.  OMMP registrants have historically felt very protective of this program and its funds and will, I assure you be outraged at this yet not public news, and will certainly respond with a significantly attention getting manner if this effort goes anywhere but to the trash.

I ask you sincerely to stop this bill and make a stand for fiscal responsibility and honorable action.  When the people told the government to live within its means and not expect new taxes, it most certainly did not contemplate that the state would respond by stealing money which never belonged to it, from sick, crippled and dying persons to whom it does belong.  I look forward to your response and help in stopping this bill.  Please call if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Xxxxx Xxxx
503-555-0420

Example #4

Dear Senator-

Thank you for your hard work in trying to balance the state's budget.  But is this true what I am hearing?  Is the OMMP being raided to balance the budget?  You should not let this happen.  It will be taking funds from one of the only programs that has been paying its own way.  HB 5077's grab at the OMMP funds will stop or delay the fee reduction that is planned to continue for the next two years and victimize some of Oregon's poorest citizens (a large number of patients on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program exist on government disability checks).  It will also delay or preclude from happening some of the changes that are in the works in SB 772 that are backed by both law enforcement and patients.

Please reconsider this reassignment of funds.  Patients should not be punished because other programs and departments are not as successful as the OMMP.

Thank you for your time,

Xxxxxx Xxxx
NE Portland

Example #5

This just in from Rep Buckley's office.  Now we can make sense to those who ask.  You can supply this public info to all concerned.

----- Message ----- From: "Rep Buckley" >
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 11:21 AM
Subject: FW: OMMP Finance information request

-----Original Message-----
From: HIGGINSON Grant K
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 9:48 AM
To: REP Buckley
Subject: Re: OMMP Finance information request

Thank you for your inquiry about Oregon Medical Marijuana Program funds.  When our registration program started in May 1999, it was a "first of its kind" and so we worked with program advocates to determine an appropriate fee.  Based on an estimate of 500 patients and staffing needs for running a registry, we came up with an annual fee of $150 per patient.

Over the next few years the number of patients increased dramatically and we established a significant cash balance.  Because of this, in July 2003, we reduced fees for renewals and established even lower fees for patients who were low income (on the OR Health Plan, or SSI).  Still our cash balance continued to increase due to increased numbers of registered patients * now over 10,000.  So in January 2005, we implemented a new fee schedule of $55 dollars for either an initial application or a renewal, and provide a very reduced fee of $20 for low income patients.

This fee level can't fully support the program.  The rationale behind this reduction was that with these lower fees, our steady operating costs, and some commitments to special projects (such as a 24/7 verification system), we would end up with a reasonable cash balance at the end of the 2005-2007 biennium.  We would likely have to raise fees again at that time.

We have always told patients that they didn't need to worry about the cash balance because our understanding is that fee programs such as the OMMP could not be used to subsidize other programs.  However, we were recently informed that LFO is planning on utilizing $900,000 of our existing cash balance to offset other budget priorities.  I have attached the relevant LFO document for your review.  The transfer is included in Increased Other Fund Revenues of $3.2 million on page 7, and is spelled out in more detail on page 8.  As I think you already know, the vehicle for making such a fund transfer happen is HB 5077.

If this bill does go through unchanged, we will likely have to raise fees as early as this summer instead of 2007 as planned. Let me know if you have further questions.

Example #6

Representative Mark Hass

Dear Mark:

Hope all is well with you.  We are fortunate to have you to represent us.  OnTuesday May 17, I was alerted about HB 5077 by a senior DHS official, toldit had passed Ways and Means committee, and that it may be scheduled for aHouse floor vote as soon as this coming week.  This was verified by theSpeaker's office.

HB 5077, called by the legislative fiscal office the "Human Resources Rebalance Bill" is a bill to extract money from existing cash balances in state programs.

Attached is the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) financial report as of 31 December 2004.  It is in PDF and was scanned using updated Norton anti-virus.  This may help you know what HB 5077 and the fiscal office is targeting.  Look for "Cash Balance Ending" at the bottom with the value around $1 million.  I am told that HB 5077 would remove about 90% or $.9 million or $900,000 of those patient fees and transfer the money to the general fund leaving very little remaining.

The arguments against this transfer from OMMP cash balance to general funds include:

1.  OMMP is a fee-based program funded only by patient fees and has never cost received money from the general fund.  The OMMP cash surplus is a managerial mistake made by a previous OMMP manager who recently left the program (Mary Leverette).  Patients should not be penalized for an error by OMMP management.  Patients should not be penalized by losing their surplus fees to the general fund. OMMP delayed fee lowering and in essence "overcharged" while this cash balance ballooned without patients being notified.

2.  After patients (I serve on an OMMP advisory committee) demanded fiscal responsibility, a public financial report finally emerged that you find attached. Patients again had to push OMMP very hard for fee reductions.  After Dr. Higginson, state health officer, brought in a budget specialist, a significant fee lowering finally began in January 2005 with an overall strategy to lower the cash balance to minimum necessary operating levels over 24 months.  We are part-way through this process. In addition, money has been verbally budgeted toward a 24/7 OMMP stand-alone query-only permit verification network.  Both OMMA advocates and law enforcement reached consensus that a 24/7 permit verification system is a good idea and have testified to this effect in the Senate (SB 772).  With HB 5077 unamended to exclude OMMP, patients and law enforcement may lose the verification tool they have seeking since the OMMA started - a rapid 24/7 permit verification.

3.  Because of the transfer to the general fund, this has the appearance of an unfair tax targeting the sick and disabled - these chronically ill persons are least likely to have the financial means to pay higher fees and taxes.  HB 5077 will almost certainly mandate a raised OMMP fee in the near future.  The annual fee was $150 when the surplus accumulated. Now it is down to $55 (except $20 for those on Oregon Health Plan or SSI).  When the fees goes back up, many patients will be unable to register and be subject to arrest again.

4.  As patients are unable to register, many more will be processed through our courts after being arrested for personal gardens, to which law enforcement is particularly unsympathetic in Washington County.  Any money "found" by the legislature through theft from patients now will probably be spent many times over in the criminal justice system spending $100,000 per medical marijuana court case.  Why make the OMMP less affordable so we can bust patients and expensively process, try, and even jail them?  Leaving the money in the OMMP will most likely allow the lower fees thus encouraging more patients to register to avoid arrest and the expense and emotional trauma that result.  OMMP saves taxpayer money because court is expensive and OMMP is supported by patient fees.  So in the short run the state may get a few hundred thousand only to lose millions by arresting and trying patients (especially our Washington County Sheriff's office).

In summary, it is unfair to transfer 90% (or any %) of patient fees temporarily residing in the cash balance to the general fund.  Not only should this money be returned to patients through lower fees or better services but this "cash balance" is already spent.  Any raid on this temporary OMMP surplus must be stopped because it will put OMMP at risk.  Therefore HB 5077 should be voted down or at a minimum amended to exclude OMMP.  But either way, patients should not bear this theft of excessive fees charged by OMMP.

Please contact me for any questions.  We did not know about this until recently and are busily collecting more information, so my apologies for the late notice.  Representative Buckley has contacted Dr. Higginson for a more thorough explanation on what is going on with DHS - and we are awaiting that.  I will forward that if when it is available.  HB 5077 is cryptic but could be very damaging if what we are told through the legislative fiscal office and by a senior DHS official is true.  This bill has the appearance of a sneaky effort without a real public hearing that involved real stakeholders.  Any enlightenment you could provide and any help getting more information from Dr. Higginson at DHS or the legislative fiscal office would be appreciated.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Xxxx Xxxxx

Example #7

--- WHAT THEY SAY ----

Response from Representative Deborah Boone

Thanks for your input.  I was not aware of this either but the bill was voted on in the House today.  I voted for the bill because the DHS budget is very large and encompasses many program components.  I am sorry that your program was changed.  It is one of many changes made by the committee before I was named to it.


This is an auto response......Thank you for emailing the office of Oregon State Representative Greg Smith.   Please know that while in Legislative Session, Representative Smith is very busy with his Committee schedules, however, never too busy to hear from folks in his district!  Please be assured that Representative Smith reads all emails.  While it may take a few days for Representative Smith to respond, please know that we value your input and encourage you to keep writing!

Truly yours,
Bev Denison
Legislative Director
Subject: RE: SB 772-2-HB5077-OMMP Date: May 26, 2005 2:34 PM Thank you very much for taking time to write to me. I appreciate your interest in the process of setting government policy. Regarding the bill to which you refer: I will be considering your comments as well as the comments of others in the review process. I will copy your response and add it to my bill file, which I will use when the bill is heard. Thank you again for your input. Warm Regards, Representative Linda Flores


Response from Representative Karen Minnis

Thank you for forwarding the info about OMMP budget.  As it states in the Legislative Fiscal Analysis of DHS that you attached, the $900,000 ending balance in the Medical Marijuana fees account, as well as the other 2 "Other Funds" accounts are not dedicated in statute, therefore they can be used for other purposes.

Although this may not be the most desired approach, legislators are working hard to balance the DHS budget for 2003-05 within existing revenues, and accounts that have large ending balances may have to be tapped.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Anna Arodzero
Office of House Speaker Karen Minnis
503.986.1210-Direct
503.986.1201-Fax
anna.arodzero@state.or.us

--- REPLY ---

HI-

Thanks for the reply.  The balance in the account was derived from fees paid in accordance w/ statute, which dedicated those fees only to the operation of the OMMP.  I just spoke with Leg Fiscal office and they verified that funds derived from such fees, dedicated to a certain purpose (as are the OMMP fees), and providing that the purpose receives no Gen Fund support, (as OMMP does not) the funds can not be used lawfully for another purpose w/out a statute change regarding the dedicated purpose and the funds so affected are only those future funds, no funds having been previously collected, expended or not, can be transferred.

If the fees themselves were dedicated for a single purpose, here the OMMP operation, and that purpose have lawfully made plans (by statute and rule) for expending those funds I find no basis for the conclusion that the funds were eligible for transfer.

Again thank you for your reply, and I hope to hear from you further on this issue.

Xxxxx Xxxx

Example #8

--- HERE’s ONE WHO GETs IT! USE THESE POINTs in COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS ---

Dear Mary,

Thanks for your comments on this issue.  Representative Roblan always enjoys hearing from consituents on issues that are important to them.

The Representative understands the concerns you have about HB 5077; however, he is still looking in to the specifics of this bill.  In general, Representative Roblan disagrees with the idea of taking money from a non-general fund program to free up more money for the general fund.  He agrees with you that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program should not be raided for the one-time benefit of more money this biennium.

I will place your comments in the Representative's HB 5077 file so that he can take them into consideration.

Thanks again for your comments.  If you have any further questions or concerns, you are always welcome to contact our office.

Matt Lehman
Legislative Aide to Rep. Arnie Roblan, HD 9
503.986.1409
www.leg.state.or.us/roblan

Example #9

I am writing you, as the first person in Oregon to recieve a medical marijuana permit, to vote NO on HB5077.

It is unfortunate that the state sees fit to take $900,00.00 from the OMMP.  This is not tax collected money, but funds collected from the permits paid for by sick and disabled people.  IT IS NOT GENERAL FUND MONEY!!!!!!!!

The money needs to stay in the OMMP so that fees for the sick can stay at a reasonable amount, and so that people will be able to get the medicine that the need.

Please vote no on this bill and so do the right thing for those that need your voice.

Thanks so much,
Xxxxxxxx Xxxxx

Example #10

Dear Xxxx,

Thank you for the information.  I will make sure Senator Nelson receives it.

Sincerely,
Jesse Lohrke
Assistant to Senator David Nelson Dist. 29
900 Court St. NE Salem, OR 97301
(503) 986-1729

-----Original Message-----
Vote NO on HB 5077

Dear Official,

OMMA gives permission to grow medical marijuana.  There are 10,000 patients currently registered under this program.  The OMMA program has a value of about one million dollars.  The number one problem that seems to exist is our impatient law enforcement agencies.  When a patient shows their official marijauna card some impatient agencies want instant verification.  We want our card to be acknowledged.  We are patiently negotiating with law enforcement and legislators who do not think our official registry cards are enough for them at any given moment.  I think it is totally unfair.  Patients have paid almost a million dollars for a registry card that does not satisfy the officials.  The Official Medical Marijuana Program needs the million dollars to prove to the officials of Oregon that patients are willing to register into the program and use all that money to pay the officials to verify the official cards for the patients and the official cards for the caregivers every second of every day that their cards allow them their medical right to possess or grow medical marijuana based on our medical marijuana laws.

Please do not steal the million dollars and force OMMP into a fee increase simply to operate.  Please be fair and leave OMMP and its bank account alone.   Vote NO on HB 5077 so the OMMP is not forced into a fee increase simply to operate.  The LFO report has faulty assumptions.

Grant K. HIGGINSON said this regarding an OMMP finance information request:

"Thank you for your inquiry about Oregon Medical Marijuana Program funds.  When our registration program started in May 1999, it was a "first of its kind" and so we worked with program advocates to determine an appropriate fee.  Based on an estimate of 500 patients and staffing needs for running a registry, we came up with an annual fee of $150 per patient.

Over the next few years the number of patients increased dramatically and we established a significant cash balance.   Because of this, in July 2003, we reduced fees for renewals and established even lower fees for patients who were low income (on the OR Health Plan, or SSI).

Still our cash balance continued to increase due to increased numbers of registered patients * now over 10,000.  So in January 2005, we implemented a new fee schedule of $55 dollars for either an initial application or a renewal, and provide a very reduced fee of $20 for low income patients.

This fee level can't fully support the program.  The rationale behind this reduction was that with these lower fees, our steady operating costs, and some commitments to special projects (such as a 24/7 verification system), we would end up with a reasonable cash balance at the end of the 2005-2007 biennium.  We would likely have to raise fees again at that time.

We have always told patients that they didn't need to worry about the cash balance because our understanding is that fee programs such as the OMMP could not be used to subsidize other programs.

However, we were recently informed that LFO is planning on utilizing $900,000 of our existing cash balance to offset other budget priorities.  I have attached the relevant LFO document for your review.   The transfer is included in Increased Other Fund Revenues of $3.2 million on page 7, and is spelled out in more detail on page 8.

As I think you already know, the vehicle for making such a fund transfer happen is HB 5077."

Vote NO on HB 5077 so the OMMP is not forced into a fee increase simply to operate.  The LFO report has faulty assumptions.

Respectfully,
Xxxx X

Example #11

To: Rep.GaryHansen@state.or.us,
rep.jeffkropf@state.or.us,
rep.stevemarch@state.or.us,
rep.bradavakian@state.or.us,
rep.dennisrichardson@state.or.us,
rep.susanmorgan@state.or.us,
rep.gregsmith@state.or.us, rep.waynescott@state.or.us,
rep.genewhisnant@state.or.us,
repgregsmith@windwave.org
May 25, 2005

RE: HB 5077

Dear Representative,

Every Representative on the 2005 Joint Committee on Ways and Means voted to raid the OMMP fund that was dedicated by law for the purpose of OMMP operations.   OMMP fees were and are dedicated by statute for a single purpose of the OMMP operation has lawfully made plans by statute and rule for expending those funds.   The Oregon Legislature is a citizens legislature where your cooperation with the citizens of Oregon and your fair participation is essential.

I would like to ask you exactly how many of your constitutiants urged you to vote yes on HB 5077 to raid the OMMP fund.  I am sure you must have had a few letters and phone calls to urge you to vote NO.

Get back to me as soon as possible.  I will be contacting you in a few days.

Respectfully,
Xxxx X

LTEs -

Potheads in pain are gonna get ripped off by hotheads in vain

Everyone at some time in their life will need temporary relief from pain.  Pain can be emotional, physical, mental, or phantom pain.  Marijuana is a somewhat safe and very effective herbal remedy for temporary pain relief.  Marijuana is how I spell r e l i e f.  It is natural and easy to grow and very popular.  The truth about marijuana is not so popular.

The truth about marijuana has been hidden.  The price of hiding the truth from the population has been paid for with the lives of our friends, family members, and neighbors.  Now the price of pot and politics is the very funds that are needed to keep the Oregon state registry system operating.  Since there is a million dollar marijuana fund our government wants to use the wording of the law against the same community of citizens the government already uses persuasive misleading information.

Oregon has a state registry system for qualified patients to pay a fee and send private personal medical information signed by their physician to the state.  Maybe they are conducting a study at our expense to see what kinds of people in our community are requesting a right to self medicate of a natural herb of their choice.

It took seven years for a system that was projected to have 500 responsible citizens with medical situations that our government will possibly allow to grow, transport, and toke to grow tooo over 10,000 registered users with a million dollar fund.  Maybe we do not know what our government is planning on doing to the patients of OMMP but we definitely know that our government is planning on taking the OMMP million dollar fund.  Patient registration fees make the fund.

Only the fees collected by patients conatribute to the OMMP fund. Nothing else.  The fees are dedicated by law but the fund is not specifically worded when there is a surplus above and beyond operating fees.  Since the words are not exact this leaves persuasive government officials a loophole to raid these funds that are paid by medical patients of Oregon.  This fund is necessary to protect the rights and lives of not only the patients but also their families and their friends and neighbors who care for them.

These 10,000 patients and their friends, family, and neighbors have the right to know that the funds that solely support the OMMP are going to be raided while they are already threatened to be raided by the federal government based solely on their freedom of choice voted by Oregon voters in 1998.  The voters need to be made fully aware that the medical marijuana patients are not legally allowed to purchase their marijuana medicine because it was not worded in the 1998 law specifically allowing the sell or transfer of medical marijuana in Oregon.

The officials are still trying to raid the homes of marijuana patients and caregivers by using an openended ammendment in a Senate Bill.   Senate Bill 772 will confuse the currently confusing wording regarding the way gardens are supposed to operate secretly while trying to keep the outside environment from harming the growing of each patients' marijuana.  Senate Bill 772 will eliminate and change the right to affirimative defence for the right to medicate.  That is not fair to people in pain.  The government should not try to negotiate the legal rights to all individuals that are listed in our Constitution for a right to medical treatment.

The Constitution needs an ammendment for the medical rights of Americans.  All Americans.  Equal medical rights has been the sometimes silent war of the War on Drugs.  The officials of Oregon are trying to take a million dollar marijuana fund that solely operates by only the fees paid by medical patients of Oregon that help save their lives in the midst of a federal war on drugs on marijuana.  There is also a supreme court case in California that will effect the growth of marijuana.  We have drug judges that are also influencing the medical rights of medical patients of America.  When we get equal rights and the war on drugs stops then the drug judges can no longer effect our medical rights.

OMMP needs their fund that is paid by patient fees to stay in the OMMP fund.  Please do not tear apart a law that specifies that the fees are designated for the operation of OMMP and take the funds for another political system that failed.  OMMP works.  There is a million dollars to prove that the money that goes into the bank should stay in the bank and be withdrawn when needed for that purpose it was put into the bank.  Our Social Security system could have made Americans Millionaires.  But our government took that money out of that account on a word technicality and the future of Social Security is a matter of national financial insecurity.  Please do not take the money away from OMMP like they did Social Security.  OMMP is an Oregon State run system.  Please do not follow the way the federal run systems like Social Security are being run.  It does not work.  Please leave the million dollar marijuana money in the marijuana fund where it belongs and is designated to go to by Oregon law.

The patients who paid into the million dollar marijuana money deserve a right to know how easily rewording a law can strip them from their rights and from their money they voluntarialy contributed to a fund that they all thought was protected by law.  The patients are already in pain.  The patients just want relief from pain.  Please stop political greed.  Help enforce the rights of patients in need.

Please email yours or enter in the Bulletin Board.


MEDIA NOTEs

The committee work session time and the rally time, at least the main, press related part, should NOT occur at the same time.


A uniform, clear, simple and sympathetic message must be at the core of any media outreach.  Uniform because you can confuse the media's understanding of what is important by a bunch of people saying a variety of things instead of the one main thing.

Clear, because our friends, the reporters can get confused abut things relating to mmj,as we know, and if they are they public is not educated but confused as well.

Simple, because 1) see above and 2) time and space is limited for our story.

Sympathetic, (well duh?!?) and sympathetic approaches do best without overt attacks on another person or persons or questions of individual motives of the legislators involved.   Showing our pain and suffering is good.  Being seen as obviously trying to cause some sort of pain and suffering on another is bad.

I know all that is possible with a concerted effort at community which seems to be starting.  I do sincerely appreciate fresher faces with unfamiliar stories stepping up and taking the lead on things like this.  I may know my way around the building better than many, but the floor plan is simple and people tend to stick around for long enough to get to know them.  I look forward to having a lot more company on the rounds there.

This closing thought.  That place is like 3-D matrix chess, but the pieces move only if you convince them to.


Make it emotional and peaceful in spirit and factual in order to reach the minds of peaceful truth seeking agreable citizens.  Make people want to agree with you so they can be more positive and influential.  People want to listen to what will effect them personally.   Some people just want to listen to the truth.

Tell them everything everyone wants rather than everything that went wrong.  More people can help when you tell them things that are terrible with a way out.   Less people can help when you tell them terrible things and no way out.

Keep it positive with a way out.  Even when the way out is not the way everybody wants.  Empower the people with the truth and a hope to solve problems together in a peaceful manner.


Questions?  Comments?   Need some info?   Got some info?   E-Mail us or visit the Bulletin Board for further comments on this bill -or- to post your own.


Link Summary:

For reference, tools, etc.

  • Here is the OMMP financial report as of 31 December 2004 OMMP financial report as of 31 December 2004.  It is in PDF and was scanned using updated Norton anti-virus.   This may help you know what HB 5077 is targeting.  Look for "Cash Balance Ending" at the bottom.

  • Text of the Bill

  • Click here for Description and Text of the Bill WORD doc for viewing, downloading and printing.

  • Click here for Text of the Bill TEXT (txt) file / version.

  • Click here for Text of the Bill HTML web page version.

  • Click here for Text of the Bill PDF version.

  • Legislation Station Index to Bills. Your Legislation Station.

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