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Gov. Brown, top lawmakers, others comment on Legislature’s adjournment

KTVZ file

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Here are several statements issued by Gov. Kate Brown, legislative leaders and others upon Saturday's adjournment of the 2021 Legislature:

Governor Kate Brown Statement on Legislative Session Adjourning

 (Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today issued the following statement on the adjournment of the 2021 Legislative Session:

“This session has marked a turning point for Oregon. I am pleased that today, coming out of session, we are better positioned to address the key challenges facing Oregonians: the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfire recovery and preparedness, and taking steps to end systemic racism and address racial disparities in Oregon.

“As I said at the beginning of session, as we recover from the challenging events of the past year-and-a-half, we must work together to emerge as a stronger, fairer, more equitable, and more resilient state — one where no one lacks for basic needs, where dismantling systemic racism is a collective commitment, and where the economy raises all boats.

“This means investing in people and communities all across Oregon. Whether it’s fire recovery, infrastructure, clean energy, or education, we passed significant legislation that will have a lasting impact for years to come.

“I am also extremely thankful to Oregon’s Racial Justice Council, Reimagine Oregon, and the entire Legislative BIPOC Caucus for their leadership in addressing Oregon’s history of racism and division. When policymakers make space for authentic community engagement and have honest and open conversations about race, the result is thoughtful policy that moves us forward.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone who worked hard this legislative session to help make Oregon a better, safer, and stronger state.”

The Governor noted the following bills and budget investments of particular significance:

Racial Justice

  • SB 289, taking steps towards reducing and eliminating bias crimes to make our public lands safe for all Oregonians.
  • HB 2001, requiring public schools to take reasonable steps to retain educator diversity by establishing cultural or linguistic expertise, not just seniority, as a factor in employment decisions related to teachers.
  • HB 2166, focusing on creating culturally specific education settings for our children and youth, increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of Oregon’s teachers, and ensuring all kids can be successful in preschool and early learning programs.
  • HB 2167, codifying the Racial Justice Council into state law and ensuring its existence into the future.
  • HB 2168, making Juneteenth an official state holiday.
  • HB 2266, ensuring all businesses have access to capital for business improvement and expansion.
  • SB 291, ensuring every Oregonian has an opportunity to find housing.

Housing and Behavioral Health

  • SB 278, providing Oregonians with safe harbor from eviction when they apply for rental assistance.
  • A historic investment of approximately $700 million in affordable housing development, permanent supportive housing, and housing support for communities affected by wildfire.
  • A groundbreaking $350 million investment in behavioral health, with investments in workforce development, grants for innovative community investments and, with HB 2086, a new integrated approach that will align behavioral health programs statewide to improve services for Oregonians.

Wildfire Recovery, COVID-19, and Emergency Preparedness

  • SB 405, helping Oregonians who lost their homes to wildfires last year rebuild.
  • SB 762, improving and modernizing Oregon’s wildfire preparedness with three strategies: creating fire-adapted communities; developing safe and effective responses; and increasing the resiliency of Oregon’s landscapes.
  • HB 3272, giving Oregonians more time to rebuild without losing insurance coverage.
  • HB 2927, modernizing the structure of the Oregon State Fire Marshal and Office of Emergency Management to adapt to new, emerging crises.
  • HB 3352, Cover all People, and fully funding the Oregon Health Plan so that, as we recover from COVID-19, we continue to do all we can to ensure every Oregonian has access to health care.

Community Investments

  • HB 2163, establishing a long-term rent assistance program (initially focusing on youth exiting the foster care system and other institutional settings).
  • HB 3292, enabling local organizations and governments to develop community engagement plans for water projects.
  • $120 million in broadband expansion statewide.
  • Expansion of access to high-quality early care and education programming for approximately 6,000 children through investments in Oregon Pre-Kindergarten and Early Head Start, Preschool Promise, and the Early Childhood Equity Fund, and HB 3073 to create the Department of Early Learning and Care.

Clean Energy

  • HB 2021, requiring retail electricity providers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity sold to Oregon consumers.
  • HB 2165, expanding electric vehicle access and transportation electrification, especially for communities of color, low-income, and rural communities.
  • HB 2475, allowing the Public Utility Commission to determine rates that protect low- income customers, and to provide more resources and financial support for advocates of environmental justice and low-income customers to meaningfully participate in PUC proceedings.
  • HB 3141, reducing the public purpose charge for electricity consumers from 3% to 1.5%, and allowing more households to be served with energy assistance and weatherization at a time of critical need.

Reforming our Criminal Justice System

  • SB 48, significantly reforming Oregon’s system of pre-trial detention by reducing the importance of bail, and establishing standards for victim notification, input, and safety considerations. Passage will lead to more consistent release decisions across the state.
  • HB 2162, implementing the work of the Governor’s Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force to ensure law enforcement agencies with more than 35 officers are accredited; to require police officers receive equity training to maintain certification; and to ensure community voices are represented on the Board on Public Safety and Standards Training by adding two public members.
  • HB 2172, allowing individuals that have substantially complied with the conditions of their post-prison supervision to be discharged early from supervision.
  • HB 2204, establishing a statewide program to provide grants to restorative justice programs that seek to bring together those harmed, impacted community members, and responsible parties in identifying solutions that promote healing, including promoting dialogue and mutual agreement.
  • The Reimagine Justice Fund, ensuring that communities most impacted by law enforcement actions are at the table during future criminal justice reform conversations.

Statement by House Speaker Tina Kotek on the conclusion of the 81st Legislative Assembly

SALEM – Today, the Oregon Legislature adjourned one day before the June 27 constitutional deadline for adjournment. House Speaker Tina Kotek (D – North Portland) released the following statement:

“This session has been unlike any other in Oregon history. We faced overwhelming challenges in response to historic crises. When I look at the full scope of what we’ve done this session to target aid to Oregonians who need it most, it honestly takes my breath away.

“We prioritized pandemic relief, wildfire recovery, the housing crisis, improving our behavioral health system, and pushing for more equitable policing and a fairer criminal justice system. Taking on these ambitious goals amid a global pandemic required remarkable coordination and communication. I applaud the bipartisan effort that made the session successful. While more work lies ahead to help the many Oregonians who are still hurting, we can honestly look back and say that the work we did hear will make a meaningful difference for years to come.”


Office of the Senate President:

Legislature Closes Out Historic 2021 Session

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon State Legislature adjourned its 2021 session on Saturday, June 26th at 5:37 p.m.

“Oregon has never had a session like this,” said Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem). “The state was on fire. People were out of work. Families were struggling. We were in the middle of a pandemic… but we came in and did the people’s work. We balanced our budget and made big investments in our communities. There were some bitter fights but in the end, we represented the people well.”

The 2021 session was unlike any other in Oregon’s history due to the observance of COVID-19 safety precautions at the Capitol. Legislators worked with staff, infectious disease experts, and public health officials to adjust Capitol operations for the 2021 session to reduce the risk of transmission while expanding ways members of the public could take part in the process.

While disrupted by the pandemic, this year’s legislative session saw the passage of groundbreaking legislation and a historic state budget:

COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS

The legislature approved a 2021-23 budget that includes funding for important construction projects and programs in communities across the state. In the final days of the session, Courtney brought a map of Oregon showing the location of these investments onto the Senate floor to show how the state budget invests in every corner of the state.

“It is staggering to see the nooks and crannies of Oregon that are reached by this budget,” said Courtney, referring to the map of investments. “This map is not Democrat versus Republican. It isn’t rural versus urban. This is a commitment that the Legislature will be there for every part of Oregon that needs our help."

K-12 SCHOOLS

Lawmakers approved a State School Fund budget that will invest a record $9.3 billion in K-12 schools this year. This funding is in addition to the Summer Learning and Child Care Package introduced by Courtney, House Speaker Tina Kotek, and Governor Kate Brown, which directs $375 million to support enrichment activities, wraparound child care services, summer school for high school students, and early learning programs this summer.

HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

The session continued efforts to increase Oregon’s supply of affordable housing and keep families affected by the pandemic in their homes.

Lawmakers approved Courtney’s bill to encourage the development of affordable housing by expanding areas where affordable housing can be built and removing barriers faced by developers, cities, and nonprofits. The Legislature also sent through a$160 million housing package that contained funding for affordable housing in cities around Oregon.

The Legislature gave temporary relief to Oregonians struggling to make rent or mortgage payments due to the pandemic. Senate Bill 2009 allowed for an extension of the mortgage foreclosure moratorium until at least September 30, providing foreclosure relief to mortgage holders who do not have a federally backed mortgage. Senate Bill 278 protects tenants waiting on rental assistance from being evicted after the eviction moratorium expires on June 30 and increases relief provided to landlords through the Landlord Compensation Fund.

The 2021-23 legislatively approved budget sent over $35 million toward shelters, temporary housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and resources for Oregonians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The legislature released $18 million for low-barrier, emergency shelters earlier in the year.

HEALTHCARE

In addition to fully funding the Oregon Health Plan, lawmakers approved measures to change how healthcare is delivered in the state, including passing a historic $450 million behavioral health package.

A bill introduced by Courtney requiring health insurers in the state to cover emergency medical services (EMS) transports for patients experiencing medical emergencies passed with strong bipartisan support. The Legislature approved measures that expanded the coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine, capped the out-of-pocket cost of insulin to $75 for a 30-day supply or $225 for a 90-day supply, and made considerable investments in long-term care.

WILDFIRE & WATER RESOURCES

In response to the devastating 2020 wildfire season, the Legislature approved a $500 million wildfire package to expand wildfire prevention and mitigation efforts, rebuild fire-affected communities, and provide relief to wildfire survivors who have lost everything.

This year’s budget also included a monumental $460 million package to invest in water and sewer infrastructure. This funding will support access to clean water in cities and counties across the state, which will be an important tool to prepare the state for devastating wildfire and drought conditions.

OTHER PRIORITIES

Lawmakers passed Courtney’s bill that gives college athletes in Oregon the right to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness beginning June 1st, including through endorsement deals and appearance fees.

The 2021 session saw the passage of many other important pieces of legislation including measures to advance racial equity, a police reform package, protections for workers, a landmark bill to modernize Oregon’s recycling system, and the extension of a commercial rent payment grace period to give local businesses time to access rent relief.

The Legislature will continue to work hard for Oregonians in the coming months as lawmakers work to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts and prepare for the February 2022 short session.


Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner Statement
on Adjournment of the 2021 Legislative Session

SALEM – Oregon’s 81st Legislative Assembly adjourned the 2021 Legislative Session sine die this evening. The COVID-19 public health crisis and resulting state of emergency led the Legislature to adapt in order to ensure safety while carrying out the peoples’ work and serving Oregonians across the state. Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) made the following statement on the Oregon Senate Democrats’ accomplishments:

“What an incredible Legislative Session this has been. Oregon Senate Democrats came together and passed critical legislation to meet Oregonians’ greatest needs. I am so proud of our work.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, an ongoing racial justice reckoning and a devastating wildfire season at the top of our minds, Senate Democrats delivered on our ambitious legislative agenda. With each piece of legislation, we centered equity and racial justice, we kept our focus on rebuilding and recovery and we passed groundbreaking legislation that will improve the lives of Oregonians all across the state.

“The Oregon Legislature expanded access to health care with numerous measures that will increase affordability and options for care. We made monumental investments in behavioral health care, which will provide lasting positive outcomes for Oregonians.

“From tenant protections, to funds for shelters, to social services and community resources, we have supported Oregon’s most vulnerable individuals. We improved public safety policy and increased fairness in our criminal justice system. In addition, we made significant progress to protect the environment and invest in a clean energy economy and a workforce equipped for the future.

“For years, Senate Democrats have worked with stakeholders on policy to take on a comprehensive approach to prevention, mitigation and response to wildfires. This robust piece of legislation ensures that we follow the science and listen to impacted communities.

“This session, the BIPOC Caucus provided fantastic insight, support and policy recommendations. We followed their lead and passed critical policing reforms and landmark gun safety legislation, which will save lives.

“Among the equity measures we advanced, a focus on our public education system was paramount. We improved diversity in the workforce and opportunities for all students and made certain our laws will serve the linguistically and culturally diverse students and families that call Oregon home.

“Additionally, we improved transparency in government and access to the ballot. We will continue to look ahead and seek out ways to improve the lives of all who live in this great state.

“Facing immense and ever-evolving challenges, the Oregon Senate Democrats came together and worked to ensure the economic vitality, environmental stability and public health of this great state. We passed legislation to provide opportunity, safety and health for all Oregonians. It is an honor to lead the Oregon Senate Democrats and I thank each of them for their work and dedication to their constituents and all Oregonians.”


Attorney General Rosenblum Praises Oregon Legislature for Outstanding Session

SALEM, OREGON—Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum congratulated and thanked legislators throughout the state today for an extremely productive 2021 Oregon legislative session, and for passing her agenda of bills that were introduced at her request. 

The new laws requested this session by Attorney General Rosenblum will help Oregonians saddled with student loan debt; fund environmental contamination clean-up; eliminate online sales of vaping devices; protect Oregonians’ private health data; clarify protections against discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” throughout Oregon statutes, and support seniors who are also crime victims. 

“This session has been historic in many ways. My agenda, as always, was focused on advocating for some of our most vulnerable Oregonians. Children, seniors, crime victims, students, LGBTQIA+ people, and consumers will reap the benefits of these new laws as they go into effect,” said AG Rosenblum. “I want to congratulate and thank the many legislators and advocacy groups who worked with us to draft, review, hear and vote on these important bills, and I look forward to them becoming part of Oregon statutes.” 

Regulating Student Loan Servicers (SB 485)

This bill, which AG Rosenblum refers to as the “Student Borrowers Bill of Rights,” will help Oregon’s 540,000 student loan borrowers who are amassing student loan debt at a staggering rate. The bill institutes basic regulations for student loan servicers and creates a student loan ombudsperson within the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to assist in resolving complaints and providing guidance on repayment options. Student loan servicers will be required to obtain a license from DCBS to do business in Oregon, and to refrain from fraudulent, deceptive, or dishonest dealings with borrowers. 

In Oregon, outstanding student loan debt has surpassed $20.5 billion, with the average debt load per borrower at over $38,000. This includes debt owed by over 44,208 borrowers over age 65 and 88,506 borrowers in rural parts of Oregon. 

Environmental Accountability Act (HB 2377)

The Environmental Accountability Act holds parties responsible for environmental contamination at massive clean-up sites like the Portland Harbor Superfund Site by allowing the state to access insurance assets of businesses that polluted but are no longer operational. Defunct companies that polluted in Oregon may have purchased insurance coverage for environmental contamination, but the state was unable to reach those assets because of a technicality in Oregon law. The technicality relates to the way in which a defunct company dissolved, and whether they filed appropriate paperwork. This bill closes this loophole and has the potential to substantially reduce the cleanup costs to taxpayers. 

Prohibits Online Vaping Device Sales (HB 2261)

In 2017 the Oregon Legislature outlawed the remote sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Despite similar age restrictions on the purchase of electronic cigarettes and other nicotine vaping products, minors in Oregon can easily purchase vaping products online. HB 2261 closed this loophole by adding inhalant delivery systems (e-cigarettes) to the existing ban on online cigarette sales so that purchases must be made face-to-face where a seller can physically verify the purchaser’s age. 

E-cigarette use is a significant – and avoidable – health risk to young Oregonians. In 2019, 1 in 4 high school students and 1 in 10 middle school students in the United States reported that they had vaped in the past 30 days. The vapor in these products includes heavy metals, cancer-causing chemicals, volatile organic compounds, and large amounts of nicotine – which is especially toxic for adolescents with developing brains. E-cigarettes are marketed in kid-friendly flavors and models that come in shapes and sizes that look like USB flash drives.

Protected Class: Gender Identity (HB 3041)

In 2019, the Attorney General’s Hate Crimes Task Force championed Senate Bill 577, which clarified for the first time that gender identity is a protected class in Oregon.

House Bill 3041 builds upon that work from 2019—adopting the definition of gender identity that appears in the hate crimes law and separating protections based on gender identity from the statutory definition of “sexual orientation” throughout Oregon law, clarifying the two distinct definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, gender identity will appropriately be listed as a separate protected class in our other anti-discrimination laws related to housing, employment, public accommodations, education, and health care. 

Protection of Personal Health Data/ Contact Tracing (HB 3284)

 In June 2019, AG Rosenblum formed a Consumer Privacy Task Force to answer the growing call for comprehensive state consumer privacy legislation. While that work is ongoing, emerging issues related to COVID-19 created a need to focus on privacy issues posed by data collection for contact tracing and exposure notification purposes. HB 3284 is the result of this Task Force and can serve as model legislation for the rest of the country. 

This new law prohibits a private entity from collecting, using, or disclosing Oregonians’ personal health data without affirmative consent. Specifically, the consent must be clear, and not just acceptance of a broad terms of use document. A covered business or app must provide a way to revoke consent once it has been given, so that personal health data may no longer be collected. Additionally, this information cannot be used for commercial advertising or used for marketing algorithms.

Protections for Victims of Crime and Abuse (SB 176 and SB 177)

Two additional bills, SB 176 (Elder Abuse Reporting) and SB 177 (Protections for Victims of Crime), were also introduced at the Attorney General’s request. SB 176 adds a new section to the elder abuse law, as well as to the law governing abuse of developmentally disabled persons, to expressly provide—just as the child abuse reporting law does—that privilege is not a ground for excluding evidence of elder abuse in court cases. SB 177 helps strengthen protections in Oregon law for victims by preventing victims of crime from being arrested and jailed just to secure their testimony in criminal trials.

Other Bills and the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ)  Budget 

In addition to the successes of the AG’s requested bills, Attorney General Rosenblum supported certain other key law reforms that will help eliminate systemic racism in Oregon as well as reduce gun violence and accidental shootings. These include important new policies around policing, including increased training, accountability, and transparency in policing (HB 2162, HB 2575, HB 2928, HB 2929, HB 2930, HB 2932, HB 2936, HB 2986); establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday (HB 2168), updating DUII laws (SB 201), safe gun storage and keeping guns out of the Capitol and schools (SB 554), and strengthening Oregon’s sanctuary laws (HB 3265).

 
Finally, the Oregon DOJ budget was adopted! “I am honored to lead the Oregon Department of Justice,” continued AG Rosenblum, “and never more so than when I get to participate in our budget presentations to the Ways and Means Committee. I appreciate in particular the Public Safety Sub-Committee’s meticulous review and the many members of the public who testified in support of our work. The DOJ’s budget includes new funding for the work of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to support victims of bias crimes and bias incidents and prioritized funding for our Crime Victims Compensation Fund, and our Environmental Crimes and Cultural Resources Enforcement work.”


Oregon Continues to Lead the Way in Voter Access Following Busy Legislative Session

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan highlights legislative successes for Oregon voters 
SALEM, OR —The Oregon Legislature adjourned “sine die” today, following a productive legislative session that included a series of elections reforms to improve access for Oregon voters and combat misinformation around elections. 

“Oregon has been a consistent, national leader on voter access and the changes approved this session will continue to make it easier for Oregonians to cast their ballots. While other states are deliberately making it harder for people to vote, Oregon is once again the leader for election access in this country,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. 

Secretary Fagan supported the following bills that passed in the 2021 Legislative Session and have either been signed into law or are awaiting Governor Brown’s signature:  

HB 3291 – Championed by Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis), allows ballots postmarked by Election Day to be accepted seven days after Election Day, rather than having to be in by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

HB 2323 – Championed by Rep. Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene and Junction City), makes it illegal to knowingly communicate false or misleading information about elections to Oregon voters. 

HB 3021 – Championed by Rep. Khanh Pham (D-Portland), requires the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office to make elections materials available in the five most used languages in the state other than English. 

SB 27 – Introduced by former Secretary Bev Clarno and championed by Secretary Fagan in collaboration with Oregon’s 36 county clerks, gives Oregon’s Clerks and elections officials more flexibility to process ballots as they come in. 

“I’m proud of the gains made during this unprecedented session to expand access to democracy,” said Fagan. “However, I know the work is far from over. I will continue to be a vocal advocate for Automatic Voter Registration expansion and campaign finance reform because when Oregon leads the way, other states follow. That’s good for all of us.”  

House Democrats: Historic 2021 Session Delivered on Promises to Oregonians

COVID economic relief, wildfire response, housing, and racial justice top Democrats’ legislative accomplishments 

SALEM, OR--Democrats in the Oregon House celebrated the close of the 81st Regular Legislative Session, which was focused on supporting Oregonians and small businesses impacted by COVID, wildfires, housing and economic instability, and generations of institutional racism.

“For more than a year, Oregon families have come together and made enormous sacrifices—including lost jobs, lost childcare, distance learning, social isolation, health impacts, and, in far too many cases, lost loved ones,” says House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland).

“By coming together in this crisis and doing the right thing, Oregonians have saved thousands of lives.

“In this historic session, we focused on an equitable recovery for all Oregonians, not just those at the top. We prioritized support for small businesses, working families, essential workers, and low-income communities across the state in both rural and urban areas, with an emphasis on doing the real work to dismantle systemic racism in our state and support our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

“Our goal has always been to strengthen the foundations of our economy and build back even better than ever, and I’m proud to say we made enormous progress this session. We’ll be back in February 2022 to continue this critical work.”

***

Before the start of the session, House Democrats outlined the Caucus’s top priorities. The following includes major legislative successes in each of those category areas. A more comprehensive list can be found here: 2021 Legislative Session Bills

Economic Recovery for All Oregon

The multiple crises of the past year—COVID, wildfires, ice storms—amplified existing economic instability for many Oregonians. House Democrats focused on providing support for frontline workers, small businesses, rural communities, and other impacted communities.

“It’s been a tough year of sacrifices for so many Oregon families,” says Rep. David Gomberg (D-Central Coast). “As we rebuild, it’s critical that our efforts lift up everyone, especially those who’ve been left behind for too long. The work of this session is a great step toward building a future where every community can thrive.”

A partial list of bill highlights supporting Oregon’s economic recovery:

·       HB 3073: Comprehensive support for Oregon’s childcare system to address the alarming lack of access keeping parents from rejoining the workforce.

·       HB 2266: Improves access to capital for small businesses, especially those who’ve faced discrimination in lending and small business support.

·       HB 2345: Establishes the Oregon Rural Capacity Fund to assist in securing economic development grants for rural communities.

·       SB 483: Protects frontline workers from retaliation for reporting unsafe working conditions.

·       HB 2341, HB 3218, HB 2607, HB 3272, and HB 2289: Supports families and small businesses rebuilding after last year’s wildfires.

Education and Workforce Development

The COVID pandemic upended all our lives. For students, it meant social isolation and missing nearly a full year of in-class instruction; for parents, it often meant juggling remote work with homeschool duties. This session, House Democrats worked to create support for students, families, and educators to prepare for a full return in the fall.

“While the public health safeguards saved thousands of lives, it also meant that a lot of students struggled with distance learning,” says Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn), chair of the House Education Committee. “Our educators did an outstanding job in the face of very difficult circumstances. Educators and students, especially BIPOC students who were underserved even before COVID, need robust, targeted support as we reopen our schools.”

A partial list of bill highlights supporting Oregon’s schools and workforce development:

·       SB 5514: Funds K-12 schools at a record $9.3 billion, the largest school budget in Oregon history.

·       HB 5042: Provides $250 million to districts and community organizations for summer learning and enrichment programs.

·       HB 2166: Creates a comprehensive approach to improving equity and supporting BIPOC students.

·       HB 2590: Gives students a voice; establishes Task Force on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education that includes BIPOC, rural, low-income, and other underrepresented students. 

·       SB 52: Creates an inclusive statewide education plan for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, nonbinary, or any other minority gender identity.

·       HB 2166: Prioritizes connecting students and parents with social workers and mental health resources, rather than disciplinary actions that disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth due to structural racism and a lack of culturally-appropriate and specific care. 

Equity and Justice for All

Building a future where everyone can thrive requires intentional action to undo generations of racist discrimination and oppression that have harmed BIPOC communities. This session, House Democrats continued fighting for reforms to policing to ensure everyone can feel safe—as well as systemic reforms to how policy decisions are made and power is shared, prioritizing community agency. Many of the policies across categories—from housing and education, to economic investments and environmental justice—were developed through a racial equity lens. 

“We passed a long list of equitable policing reforms this year by appealing to our shared humanity,” says Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley), chair of the House Judiciary Committee and Equitable Policing Subcommittee. “Until that sense of shared humanity is deliberately threaded through all of our systems, we’ll continue to live in a state where some lives matter more than others. Transformation requires an intentional commitment by leaders at every level.”

A partial list of policing, court, and justice reform and equity bills:

·       HB 2575: Ensures police have training to provide a trauma-informed response to best meet the needs of the public and build community trust.

·       HB 3145: Requires law enforcement to report any discipline resulting in economic sanctions against an officer, to report that information to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) for publication on their database.

·       HB 2936: Strengthens background checks for law enforcement officers, including character assessments. Instructs agencies to develop social media policies Requires DPSST to create a uniform background check. 

·       HB 2513: Requires law enforcement be trained in airway and circulatory anatomy and physiology and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation; requires emergency response is someone who is restrained shows signs of respiratory distress

·       HB 2928: Regulates the use of tear gas and munitions in protests. Creates accommodations for people with disabilities. 

·       HB 2936: Strengthens background checks for law enforcement officers, including character assessments. Instructs agencies to develop social media policies Requires DPSST to create a uniform background check. 

·       HB 2986: Requires law enforcement to be trained to investigate crimes motivated by gender bias.

·       SB 621: Establishes local civilian oversight boards to oversee disciplinary matters concerning law enforcement.

·       HB 2204: Creates Restorative Justice grants for local communities

·       HB 3265: Updates the Sanctuary Promise Act to protect immigrant and refugee communities and prioritize public safety, keeping local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities separate. 

·       SB 778: Establishes the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement that will partner with immigrant and refugee communities to provide policy support to communities across the state.

Protecting Public Health

The past year has shown the world the importance of strong public health systems, and not just during pandemics. This session saw long-needed improvements to Oregon’s public health programs, including game-changing investments in behavioral health supports.

“Too many Oregonians are in crisis, and years of federal disinvestment in behavioral and mental health has had tragic results,” says Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), co-chair of the budget subcommittee on Human Services. “The investments we’re making this session will save lives, bring healing, and restore families.”

“If the pandemic has done any good at all, it has placed a bright spot light on our lack of investment into our Behavioral Health system and while that light is harsh, it was necessary for us to see what needed to be done,” said Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland), vice chair of the Human Services and Housing Committee. "The Behavioral Health package has the potential to add significant investment into systems and services that will support the health and wellbeing of Oregonians as we begin to recover from the pandemic. The package also puts us in a place to build on existing structures in a way that we have not been able to do in the past.”

A partial list of public health and behavioral health highlights:

·       SB 755: Implements Ballot Measure 110 and invests millions in recovery services.

·       SB 554: Requires gun owners to securely store their firearms to reduce gun deaths.

·       SB 587: Creates a Tobacco Retail Licensure program.

·       HB 3069: Establishes 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline to aid Oregonians experiencing a mental health crisis.

·       HB 2417: Provides $10 million to expand mobile crisis stabilization centers.

·       HB 2086: Requires Oregon Health Authority to establish peer and community-driven programs that provide culturally specific and culturally responsive behavioral health services.

·       $350 million in Behavioral Health investments, including:

·       $80 million for diversifying and expanding behavioral health workforce

·       $20 million for Behavioral Health Housing Fund

·       $5 million to fund the 988 crisis line

·       $121.4 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics

Access to Health Care

Every Oregonian deserves access to quality, affordable, and accessible health care. This session built on Oregon’s leadership in expanding access to all Oregonians. 

“No one should have to make a decision between putting food on the table or going to the doctor when they’re ill,” says Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), vice chair of the House Healthcare Committee. “I’m proud that Oregon continues to recognize that health care is a right, regardless of your income, your race, your ethnicity, your skin color, or where you were born.”

“Healthy individuals mean healthy communities,” says Rep. Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn), chair of the House Healthcare Committee. “By expanding access, lowering costs, and supporting vulnerable Oregonians, we’re continuing the work of addressing long standing inequities in healthcare outcomes.”

A partial list of health care highlights:

·       HB 3352: Cover All People, expands eligibility for the Oregon Health Plan, including to DACA recipients.

·       SJR 12: Asks voters to amend the Oregon Constitution declaring healthcare a right.

·       HB 2359: Requires health care providers to work with health care interpreters from health care interpreter registry operated by Oregon Health Authority to provide interpretation services.

·       HB 2508: Increases reimbursement rates for telehealth providers, improving access for patients in rural and underserved areas.

·       SB 844: Creates the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to review and lower prices of certain prescription drugs.

A Place to Call Home

Long before the COVID crisis began and before wildfires devastated many communities, Oregon faced a housing crisis. Addressing this crisis requires action on many fronts, and House Democrats have led the way for multiple sessions. Thanks to federal recovery funds, the legislature was able to make $600 million in housing investments this session. 

“The housing crisis is felt in every corner of the state, in both urban and rural areas,” says Rep. Julie Fahey (D-Eugene, Junction City), chair of the House Committee on Housing. “The investments we’ve made this session will help those who need a place to call home, whether they were impacted by wildfires, skyrocketing housing costs, or ongoing economic instability.” 

“The pandemic illustrated more clearly than ever that ensuring Oregonians have access to stable and secure housing is not only a moral right but also a public health benefit. These bills are just a few of many passed this session to protect our most vulnerable community members from houselessness and housing instability,” says Rep. Wlnsvey Campos (D-Aloha), vice chair of the House Committee on Housing. 

A partial list of housing highlights:

·       HB 2009: Extends COVID foreclosure protections for struggling homeowners

·       HB 2004: Provides $9.7 million for shelter assistance

·       HB 2006: Expedites and expands the siting of emergency shelter housing.

·       HB 2544: Provides $3.6 million in supports for unaccompanied homeless youth

·       HB 5042: Provides $20 million to build navigation centers in seven impacted communities

·       SB 278 and SB 282: Extends eviction protections for struggling renters who’ve applied for assistance funds; expands Landlord Compensation Fund to keep landlords whole. Provides additional time for tenants to repay back rent accrued during the pandemic emergency.

Environmental Justice & Wildfires (Climate Change)

The impacts of climate change in Oregon can’t be ignored, as we grapple with historic droughts, devastating wildfires, and unpredictable winter storms. Reducing the state’s carbon footprint will require bold, ongoing action.

“The good news is that we have the tools and knowledge to address climate change and build disaster resilience, while also creating good jobs and economic opportunity in every corner of the state,” says Rep. Khanh Pham (D-Portland), who serves on the House Energy and Environment Committee. “The impacts of climate change are felt most by low-income and BIPOC communities—legislation we passed this year recognizes that we need to protect and support those communities as we shift away from fossil fuels.”

A partial list of environmental bill highlights:

·       HB 2021: 100% Clean Energy - Invests $50 million in local jobs and clean energy for rural, coastal, low-income and BIPOC communities. This is the strongest electricity emissions reduction timeline in the country, setting the goal of 100% clean energy by 2040. 

·       HB 2842: Healthy Homes - Invests in home repairs for low-income Oregonians to improve energy efficiency, safety and drive down costs. 

·       HB 2165: Ensures low-income households can receive rebates to make electric vehicles affordable and accessible.

·       SB 762: Coordinates a statewide response to plan for and mitigate wildfires with a focus on community preparedness and public health ($188 million).

·       SB 582: Modernizes Oregon’s recycling system, setting statewide rates for plastic and recycling contamination reduction goals and increases accessibility in rural areas and apartment complexes.

·       HB 2927: Restructures and modernizes Oregon’s emergency management system to better respond to natural disasters.

Modernizing the Legislature

The political and decision-making process has long shut out the voices of BIPOC communities, low-income workers, single parents, and more. Oregon’s Legislature needs to continually reform the way it works to be more truly reflective of everyone who calls this state home. This year, House Democrats took steps to make the Capitol accessible to more diverse voices.

“Our legislative work will be stronger when we know that everyone has a seat at the table,” says Rep. Mark Meek (D-Oregon City), co-chair of the House Committee on Modernizing the Legislature. “That means making it easier for working folks to engage with their legislators, influence the political process, and run for office. This will require structural reform, and I’m proud that we’ve begun talking about how to reform the way we do things.” 

A partial list of bills reforming the legislative process:

·       HB 2992: Requires compensation for service on boards and commissions, enabling more people to serve and influence policy.

·       HB 2993: Requires that the rule-making process include the voices of those who are impacted by policies; requires a statement of how a proposed rule would impact racial equity in the state.

·       HB 3021: Requires voting materials be published in the top five languages, increasing access to the ballot and our democracy.

·       HB 2650: Requires public meetings to be accessible remotely, ensuring greater access to the democratic process, including for people with disabilities.

·       Additionally, funding for language translation services in the Capitol, and dedicated funding for ADA/ASL access is included in the branch budget. 

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To build on this work over the next six months, House Democrats will continue working with their constituents on key bills to bring forward for the 2022 legislative session.


2021 Session Demonstrates Need for Balance

SALEM, Ore. – Today concluded the 2021 legislative session. It was defined by not a single member of the public being allowed into the Capitol building.

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) released the following statement:

“The best bill of the session is always sine die.

“Legislatures around the country found a way to allow citizens into their buildings to meaningfully participate in the legislative process. Not in Oregon. That was a travesty of democracy, transparency, and accountability.

“As much as we disagreed this session, Republicans and Democrats were still able to do some good things for Oregonians. We were able to make major investments in wildfire recovery. Bipartisan police reform was passed and Republicans were able to pass major bipartisan public safety reforms to protect vulnerable Oregonians.

“This session, Republicans lifted up the voices of students and parents by pushing for choice and opportunity in education. Republicans were strong supporters of getting kids back in school after a year of lost learning. We were able to kill some harmful tax increases and protected most of the Kicker. We also stopped harmful anti-public safety legislation.

“Unfortunately, Democrats advanced an extreme agenda that will continue to artificially depress Oregon’s potential. Many critical issues were left ignored by the supermajority, like reforming the Governor’s emergency powers. It’s now our job to educate Oregonians about these harmful policies and earn their trust to govern.”

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