John Kitzhaber was first elected governor in 1994, the year of the “Gingrich Revolution.” For the first time in 50 years, Republicans controlled both houses of the Oregon Legislature—by such large margins that Democrats were not needed for quorums. Democratic Governor Kitzhaber, M.D., set a record. In two terms in office he vetoed 203 bills, earning the nickname “Dr. No.”
In the 2011 session (and 2012 abbreviated interim session) the comeback governor signed more than 500 bills and vetoed one, while enacting a legislative agenda that included:
• An Oregon Health Insurance Exchange that creates a central market-place where small businesses and individuals shop for health insurance plans and individuals receive financial aid if they qualify.
• Coordinated Care Organizations focused on preventative care for low-income Oregonians.
• An Oregon Health Authority that coordinates care for 600,000 low-income Oregonians.
• Full-day kindergarten.
• Early Learning Councils that streamline and coordinate early-childhood education from birth to age 5 to move more at-risk youth into kindergarten with skills and support needed to succeed.
• “Cool Schools” legislation that creates jobs by retrofitting schools with energy-efficient technology.
Also in this issue: Governor John Kitzhaber’s Second First Term.