News From Around the Northwest

The money companies and organizations spent on lobbying in Oregon jumped by more than 50 percent compared with this time last year. Since 2010, lobbying spending has increased by more than 94 percent.

But some lobbyists say despite the spending and public opinion of their profession, it’s more innocent than it seems. And, both sides of nearly every issue have representatives lobbying politicians.

The Service Employees Union International Local 503, which represents 24,000 Oregon home-care workers, announced a tentative contract agreement with the state on Thursday. They called it historic.

The contract paves the way for a $15-an-hour wage for home-care workers by 2017, among other provisions.

“Our workers, personal support and home care, really need to have a living wage,” said Eileen Ordway, a home-care worker and member of the SEIU’s bargaining team.

Emergency medical staff sometimes get rattled and make mistakes when dealing with children, according to a new study out of Oregon Health & Science University.

OHSU Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise interviewed more than 750 emergency workers across the nation. Those are the workers who help out after a car accident or similar emergency.

She asked them when were they most likely to make mistakes.

The lack of exposure to pediatric emergency events compounded with not enough training for first responders leaves children in medical crises vulnerable to errors and safety gaps, a new study by an Oregon Health & Science University professor found.

Errors in pediatric medical transport result in significant injury or death in 4 percent to 17 percent of hospital admissions, according to the study.

An ailing head cook has led to a whistleblower lawsuit against David Douglas School District, according to documents filed Wednesday, Aug. 12, in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit brings up concerns of food safety at David Douglas High School, where approximately 3,000 kids attend school.

A group of 21 youths — several of them from Eugene — today filed a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that it is violating their constitutional rights by promoting the development and use of fossil fuels.

The plaintiffs are seeking a court order requiring President Obama to immediately implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to a safe level.

Forest Grove veteran blames chemical defoliant used in Vietnam War

War has many casualties, and the Vietnam War was no exception. But many years beyond the fighting in Southeast Asia, a chemical defoliant used by the U.S. military to clear jungles for warfare is killing veterans from the inside out.

And as a 63-year-old Forest Grove man will tell you, the government has few answers for the questions of those allegedly exposed to Agent Orange.

A journalist turned activist says that it’s more likely that Colorado, not Oregon, will be the first to lead the United States in providing health coverage for everyone.

“We beat you to marijuana and we will beat you to universal health care,” says T.R. Reid, the one-time Washington Post reporter who is now leading a campaign to qualify a financing measure for the 2016 ballot in Colorado.

Diana Cooper said probably the scariest moment during her heroin addiction was the night she was driving her four kids along the Oregon coast, headed toward Gold Beach.

“I had a lot of cocaine but I didn’t have any heroin,” Cooper, 27, said. “And so I was nodding out while I was driving. I kept doing more cocaine, thinking that would keep me awake and I just kept nodding out and I woke up hitting the guardrail on the other side where the cliff is to the ocean."

Cooper says her 8-year-old daughter still talks about the time “Mommy wrecked the green van.”

A smoking ban ordinance that's been batted around for a few months could finally come to a conclusion at Monday's Salem City Council meeting.

A second reading is scheduled, the final step required before an ordinance can be enacted.

The original proposal would have banned all smoking on city-owned property but was changed after protests from council members and some opposition from citizens.

Now, the ordinance would ban smoking only in city parks, except park property at the Vern Miller Civic Center.

After years of debate about whether the government should encourage end-of-life plans, the feds have proposed reimbursing doctors to have those conversations.

Medicare, which insures 55 million older and disabled people, is taking another look at paying doctors to talk to patients about how they’d like to be kept alive if they become too sick to speak.

The idea was lambasted by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as a "death panel."

If you aren’t making a top salary or becoming a wise and revered leader in the workplace, you can blame the hormones sloshing around in your brain.

That’s the suggestion in a study by Pranjal Mehta, a University of Oregon psychology assistant professor, that appeared in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Science.

These are hormones with familiar names, testosterone, cortisol and oxytocin, but the way they work is more subtle and interesting than the conventional wisdom that’s grown up around them.

The concept of a rural Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) campus located in Klamath Falls is moving closer to a reality, with the selection of a local professional to serve as dean.

OHSU has appointed Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez as regional associate dean of rural health for the OHSU’s Klamath Falls-based rural campus, slated to be the “hub” for rural medicine.

Oregon’s health care reform efforts appear to be working, according to a new report on outcomes and finances.

The report looks at how Oregon’s system of Coordinated Care Organizations are doing under the Oregon Health Plan.

That population ballooned last year by more than 400,000 people as part of the Affordable Care Act. Nobody was quite sure whether they’d swamp the system.

Lori Coyner of the Oregon Health Authority said most of the CCOs got incentive money for meeting their goals.

Oregon Health & Science University has reached its $500 million fundraising goal for the school's cancer research campaign.

Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, pledged in September 2013 to match the raised funds for a total of $1 billion for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

"These last 22 months have shown what is possible when people of vision focus on a single goal," said Knight in a statement. "We are more convinced than ever that cancer will meet its match at OHSU, and we are proud to play a role in this history in the making."

The state of Oregon has seen a significant rise in syphilis cases in recent years.

In 2011, there were 167 recorded cases of syphilis, and that number more than doubled by 2013 and 2014, when the number of cases were 405 and 404, respectively.

According to the Public Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority, more than half of Oregon's new syphilis cases in 2012 involved men with HIV, and that over the last decade, the large majority of cases involve men who have sex with men.

Umatilla County’s troubled human services department is no more.

The board of county commissioners dissolved the department Wednesday in the face of a possible criminal investigation of its former director and two alcohol and drug counselors.

Commissioner George Murdock said addiction treatment and other services the department provided will continue under the purview of the Community Justice Department.

“It might not be under community justice forever, but it will not be a separate department again,” he said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Thursday it will expand benefits to reservists who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange.

Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have lobbied the VA for years to get health care and disability benefits for these veterans.

Last week, the senators blocked the confirmation of a top VA official, arguing the agency needed to extend benefits to the C-123 veterans who were members of the Air National Guard and used C-123 aircraft stateside.

Measure 91 will change many things on July 1, but it won’t change a common practice among many large employers — drug screening.

Although marijuana possession and consumption will become legal this summer, Oregon legislators will continue to give employers the discretion to block a hire or terminate an employee based on a positive marijuana test.

Based on the changing landscape, two of Pendleton’s largest employers are taking different tacks when it comes to screening for marijuana.