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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Kitzhaber Scores Two Early Legislative Wins

Oregon Department of Transportation

SALEM, Ore. –Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is hailing the early passage of two of his legislative priorities. The Oregon House Tuesday gave final approval to a medical malpractice bill, just as the governor signed Oregon's contribution to a new bridge over the Columbia River.

The malpractice bill would create a mediation system to head off lawsuits between patients and doctors. It's the result of a deal brokered by Kitzhaber between medical groups and attorneys. It easily won approval in the House the same day that the Governor signed another of his priorities into law in front of an appreciative audience at the capitol.

This measure authorizes Oregon to borrow $450 million to pay for its portion of building a new bridge along Interstate 5 between Portland and Vancouver, Washington. Meanwhile, Washington state lawmakers have yet to act on their state’s share of the bridge costs.

And Oregon lawmakers have done little more than talk about two of Kitzhaber's other priorities: Cutting costs in the state's public worker pension system, and loosening some criminal sentencing guidelines as a way to keep the prison population flat.

On the Web:

SB 483: Medical malpractice bill - Oregon Legislature
HB 2800: Columbia River replacement bridge - Oregon Legislature