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Central Issues: Update 7-19-2013

Legislative Proposal for Environmental Health Technician Doesn't Go Forward


July 19, 2013


House Bill 3166, which would have established a lower-level "environmental health technician" to
provide technical support and assistance to environmental health specialists, had one hearing on March 7 before the Senate Consumer Protection and Government Efficiency Committee.

HB 3166 went no further, however, and will not become law, at least not in this legislative session.

"Sometimes a bill doesn't go through because of a lack of stakeholder consensus," says OHLA Policy Analyst Randy Harnisch.  "Sometimes there just isn't enough time to address all of the issues a particular bill presents."

At the request of the Governor's Office, the Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA) and Environmental Health Registration Board held a neutral position on the bill.

Board member Mike Kucinski testified in favor of the bill, not as a board member, but as Manager of the Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) Onsite Waste Water Program.

Kucinski and DEQ Director Dick Pedersen testified that due to a lack of qualified professionals in rural areas, 35 percent of newly constructed waste water systems are not inspected.

Kucinski testified that the technician-level position, modeled after a similar position established by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), would provide another option for lower-risk environmental health duties and could potentially lower the cost of inspections as well.

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Testimony Varies on Establishing Technician Position, Difficulty of Inspections

Lake County Commissioner Ken Kestner, one of three eastern Oregon residents who testified in favor of HB 3166, stated that "...a licensed plumber could do it" (pre-cover inspections), adding that the inspection fee was too costly.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty testified that current regulations are "onerous" and that "99 out of 100" systems are sited and dug correctly.

However, in written testimony, Ian Stromquist, Retiring President of the Oregon Environmental Health Association and a registed environmental health specialist, called HB 3166 a "dramatic shift away from the accepted core competencies in the Oregon environmental health profession" that would result in "low-quality inspections."

Stromquist added that there would be a "greater likelihood of the pollution of Oregon waters," a loss of institutional knowledge in the environmental health profession, and a greater risk to Oregon residents from "poor determinations" by environmental health technicians.

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Physician Member of Board Appointed

Dr. Jonathan Schott of Baker City has been appointed to a four-year term, replacing Dr. Paul Cieslak, who had served on the board since 2001. 

The following positions continue to be vacant:
  • Public member
  • Environmental Health Specialist
  • Food or food/alcohol beverage retail industry representative

For more information, contact the Governor's Office of Executive Appointments or the Oregon Health Licensing Agency. 
Click here to download an application / interest form from the Governor's Office of Executive Appointments.

Governor's Office of Executive Appointments 

Contact an OHLA board specialist at 503-378-8667 or ohla.info@state.or.us.
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Central Issues: Update Provides Ongoing Coverage of the Issues

Central Issues covers key issues, news and statistics specific to the volunteer citizen boards and
health and related professions overseen by the Oregon Health Licensing Agency.

Central Issues: Update provides updates to issues that are ongoing and previously covered in Central Issues.

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While Central Issues focuses on board/profession-specific issues, Licensing Line highlights news of the Oregon Health Licensing Agency as well as highlights of certain board/profession news.

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OHLA At-A-Glance: Oversees 11 Boards, More than 36,000 Licensees

The Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA) oversees licensing and regulation of multiple health and related professions represented by 11 volunteer citizen boards. The agency ensures qualification standards and ongoing professional requirements for more than 36,000 individual licensed practitioners, nearly 5,000 licensed facilities and nearly 8,000 independent contractors.
OHLA's mission is to protect the health, safety and rights of Oregon consumers served by OHLA-regulated professions.
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