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Legislative roundup: Nation’s strongest ‘right to repair’ bill heads to governor; task force on gun suicide prevention, more


 SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) --The country's most comprehensive Right to Repair legislation passed the Oregon House Monday, receiving strong bipartisan support with 42 votes, supporters said as legislative activity ramped up in the final week of the short legislative session.

Here's nearly a dozen news releases on that legislation an much more advancing Monday:

SB 1596 will require manufacturing companies to make diagnostic tools, information, and replacement parts available to consumers and third-party repair shops so Oregonians can more affordably fix their products, such as phones, computers, and appliances. 

“As many Oregonians are struggling to make ends meet, this legislation is an opportunity to give people more choice on how to repair their devices, create pathways to saving consumers money, and reduce the harmful environmental impacts of our increased reliance on technology and the waste we create when we cannot repair,” said Rep. Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), a chief sponsor of the legislation and a legislator with demonstrated investment in livability. 

“Oregon's Right to Repair Act is about saving Oregonians money and supporting small business growth in Oregon. It provides positive environmental action by reducing e-waste, cutting pollution by manufacturing less waste and creating an after-market inventory of products to close the digital divide across our state”, said Senator Janeen Sollman (D - Hillsboro), the chief sponsor in the Senate. “Oregonians deserve to have affordable and sustainable options for repairing their electronics instead of throwing them away or replacing them.”

“With this bill, Oregon will strengthen our tradition of respecting the capability of our people to take care of their own property and to ensure that it is kept in good repair for as long as possible without subjecting ourselves to artificial external controls,” said Rep. Kevin Mannix (R-Salem).  “We can and will maintain the quality and safety of our electronic gear with proper safeguards and standards.”

This bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislation is the result of extensive conversations with small business, industry, and consumer stakeholders. 

It will now go to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.


Oregon passes Right to Repair law, a win for consumers and the environment 

Bipartisan legislation could serve as national model, leading to more sustainable devices and saving families hundreds of dollars each year  

SALEM, Ore. - Today marks a significant milestone in the Right to Repair movement as the Oregon House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at empowering consumers and supporting small businesses and companies committed to making more sustainable products. 

The Oregon House passed SB 1596 with strong bipartisan support and support from a large coalition of stakeholders including consumer advocates, environmental leaders, small business owners, and Google. The bill, which will make it easier for Oregonians to fix broken devices like phones and tablets, was led by Sen. Janeen Sollman and Rep. Courtney Neron and now heads to the governor’s desk for signing. 

“Oregon's Right to Repair Act is about saving Oregonians money and supporting small business growth in Oregon,” said Sen. Sollman, (D - Hillsboro.) “It provides positive environmental action by reducing e-waste, cutting pollution by manufacturing less waste and creating an after-market inventory of products to close the digital divide across our state. Oregonians deserve to have affordable and sustainable options for repairing their electronics instead of throwing them away or replacing them.”

The legislation will require manufacturers to make parts, tools, and repair documentation more accessible to consumers and repair shops across Oregon. 

“With this bill, manufacturers will no longer act as gatekeepers to the parts, tools, and documentation for electronics repair which drives up the cost,” said Romain Godin, co-owner of Hyperion Computerworks in Portland. “This legislation will help bolster my business and empower my customers.” 

Earlier this year, Google outlined its support for the measure and believes it could serve as a model for other states, in part due to the limits it puts on what’s known as “parts pairing” or when manufacturers only allow approved parts and technicians to repair devices. 

“This inclusive, common sense solution will allow small businesses to offer their customers more options and help Oregon families save money,” said Steven Nickel, Google’s Devices and Services Director of Operations. ”It’s also a show of support for companies investing in making their products more repairable and sustainable. We’re grateful to Senator Sollman for her leadership and for the lawmakers who’ve supported this effort.” 

The Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) advocated for the legislation, estimating Oregonians throw away approximately 4,800 devices each year.

“As a tech industry leader, Oregon is no stranger to innovation. I'm proud that we're moving forward on an innovation even more critical than a new gadget: the right to fix our electronic devices,” said Charlie Fisher, OSPIRG state director, “By eliminating manufacturer restrictions, Right to Repair will make it easier for Oregonians to keep their personal electronics running. That will conserve precious natural resources and prevent waste. It's a refreshing alternative to a ‘throwaway’ system that treats everything as disposable.”


Consumer Reports applauds Oregon State Legislature for passing landmark right to repair bill

Oregon’s right to repair bill is the first-of-its-kind to include a provision to restrict parts pairing

Salem, OR. — Consumer Reports applauds the Oregon State Legislature for passing a landmark right to repair bill today  (Senate Bill 1596), which requires consumer electronics and household appliance manufacturers to provide documentation, tools, parts or other devices or implements for the purpose of diagnosing, maintaining or repairing consumer electronic equipment. Consumer Reports provided testimony to support the bill in both the House and the Senate. This bill is also the first in the nation to prevent the practice of software parts pairing. It passed 42 to 13 in the House today.

The bill will head to Governor Tina Kotek, and Consumer Reports urges her to sign it into law, giving Oregon the strongest right to repair law in the nation. If signed into law, Oregon would be the first in the nation to prevent parts pairing, and would extend the right to repair phones, tablets, and other digital devices to more than 4 million people. 

Parts pairing refers to a manufacturer’s practice of using software to identify component parts through a unique identifier. Manufacturers can use parts pairing to prevent access to repair or confuse the consumer about a third-party repair’s efficacy. As consumers increasingly purchase products with a software component and those products are connected to the internet, a lack of clarity around repair rules can mean that these devices exist in a gray area where even after a consumer purchases a product, the manufacturer retains control and ownership of it. 

Justin Brookman, director of tech policy at Consumer Reports, said, “At Consumer Reports we have supported legislative efforts to protect a consumer’s right to repair their own products because doing so reduces waste, saves consumers money and offers consumers more choice when it comes to maintaining their expensive gadgets and appliances. 

“With software becoming an essential element in today’s products, Consumer Reports backs laws that prevent software from becoming a tool to enforce manufacturers’ monopolies on the repair process. Consumer Reports thanks Senator Janeen Sollman and Representative Coutney Neron for championing this bill and their leadership in shepherding it through the legislative process.”

Oregon joins New York, California and Minnesota which all have passed right to repair laws within the last two years. Consumer Reports has also incorporated the right to repair into its Digital Standard, a set of best practices that CR uses to evaluate the privacy and security of software, digital platforms and services, and internet-connected products, as well as to help influence the design of these products.


Senate Approves Task Force on Community Safety and Firearm Suicide Prevention 

SALEM, Ore. – Today, the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 1503 with bipartisan support. The bill creates the Community Safety and Firearm Suicide Prevention Task Force, a 17-member panel charged with developing recommendations for ways to reduce suicides by firearm and associated community safety risks.

Oregon has the 17th-highest suicide rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Firearm suicides account for more than half of Oregon's suicide annually, with veterans, men, and people over 75 at particular risk.

"Firearm suicides are a statewide problem and a serious public health risk," said Senate President Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), co-chief sponsor of SB 1503. "This task force will provide the Legislature with evidenced-based, proven steps we can take to reduce firearm suicides, improve public safety, and support Oregonians in crisis."

SB 1503 identifies several issues the task force will study, including:

  • How to better support youth and rural Oregonians experiencing suicidal ideation
  • Barriers to suicide prevention support
  • Barriers to implementing best practices for community safety and suicide prevention
  • How domestic violence is a risk factor for community safety threats and suicide
  • Risks to first responders

The task force will include a bipartisan group of four legislators and 13 community members, including: a representative of a state public health agency; a representative of a community-based firearm safety and protocols program; a behavioral health professional or provider; an adult behavioral health provider; a psychologist who works with youth; a tribal representative from a suicide prevention program; a representative of law enforcement; and a professional who works in veterans’ mental health.

The first report from the task force will be due to the Legislature in September 2024. The bill now moves to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration. 


Office of Senator Elizabeth Steiner:

Managing Monsanto Settlement to Protect Oregon’s Environment

Senate Bill 1561 invests Monsanto Settlement Agreement money to mitigate the long-term, dangerous impact of PCBs

SALEM, Ore. — Today, Senate Bill 1561 passed the Oregon Senate with strong bipartisan support. This legislation will ensure the $580 million from the Monsanto Settlement Agreement will be managed and invested over the long-term and used to mitigate the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

In 2022, agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto was ordered to pay a $700 million settlement to the State of Oregon for its role in polluting the state with PCBs, which are toxic chemicals that can lead to cancer. 

“We have an opportunity to be fiscally and environmentally responsible by harnessing this historic settlement to address the lasting devastating effects of toxic chemicals,” said Sen. Elizabeth Steiner (D-NW Portland), chief sponsor of this legislation and Co-Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill will ensure Oregon has the funds we need to clean up our waterways and land, without dedicating more of Oregonians’ hard-earned tax dollars to Monsanto’s mess.”

SB 1561 is a key pillar of Senate Democrats’ Uniting Oregon Agenda, which aims to create a healthy and safe environment for all Oregonians. The bill now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration.


Reducing Hunger, Ensuring Equal Access to Hot Food

Senate Bill 1585 creates a task force that will work to allow Oregonians who are elderly, experiencing homelessness, or have a disability to access hot meals

SALEM, OR – Today, the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 1585, which creates a task force to work to reduce hunger and ensure equal access to hot food for Oregonians who are elderly, experiencing homelessness, or have a disability and receive support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) via federal programs like the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). The RMP is a federal option program that states can sign up for to allow SNAP participants to buy meals from restaurants that choose to opt in to the program. Nine other states already participate in the RMP.

“This is a common-sense step that will allow Oregonians who may not have a kitchen or the ability to cook for themselves to get the nutrition they need. Not only will this bill reduce hunger and affirm the dignity of our most vulnerable community members, it will boost our local economy,” said Senator Wlnsvey Campos (D - Aloha), chief sponsor of SB 1585.

One in six Oregonians receive SNAP benefits, and 41 percent of SNAP participants are in families with elderly adults and Oregonians with disabilities.

Providing stability to Oregonians experiencing homelessness and lowering costs for hard-working Oregonians are a key pillar of Senate Democrats’ Uniting Oregon Agenda. The bill now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration.


Family Financial Protection Act Passes Oregon Senate

Senate Bill 1595 improves outdated and flawed debt collection statutes

SALEM, Ore. — Today, the Family Financial Protection Act (Senate Bill 1595) passed the Oregon Senate with bipartisan support. The bill improves outdated and flawed consumer protection and debt statutes by strengthening economic protections for Oregonians who are working to pay back their debts and providing recourse for Oregonians subjected to unfair debt collections practices. 

SB 1595 will protect Oregon families while paying off debt or fighting unfair collections by:

  • Increasing the amount of wages that are protected from garnishment, 
  • Protecting $2,500 in someone’s bank account so they can pay for their basic needs, like rent, while paying off debt,
  • Increasing protections to prevent Oregonians from losing their homes during debt collections,
  • Improving protections for consumers under the Unfair Debt Collection Practices Act,
  • Extending the amount of time consumers have to file a complaint to 3 years from the date of injury,
  • Protecting consumers from unfair attorney fees resulting from civil lawsuits for unlawful collections practices. 

"This bill ensures that Oregonians will remain in their homes and have food on their tables as they work to pay down debts that they owe. No one should have their bank accounts wiped out by debt collection efforts," said Sen. Chris Gorsek, Chief Sponsor of Senate Bill 1595. "SB 1595 protects Oregon families from unscrupulous debt collection efforts so they will be able to pay down their debts over time."

SB 1595 is sponsored by a bipartisan, bicameral group of 43 legislators, including House Speaker Dan Rayfield, Senate President Rob Wagner, Republican Sen. Suzanne Weber and Republican Rep. Greg Smith. 

Lowering costs for hardworking Oregonians is a key pillar of Senate Democrats’ Uniting Oregon Agenda. The bill now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration.


Student Success Plan for Immigrant and Refugee Students Approved by Oregon Senate

SALEM, OR – Today, a bipartisan coalition of Oregon Senators passed Senate Bill 1532, which creates a statewide Student Success Plan for Oregon immigrant and refugee students.

The Immigrant and Refugee Student Success Plan would be developed and implemented by the Oregon Department of Education, in collaboration with a diverse advisory group that would include students and families who are immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, and education and community partners. 

“I am proud to live in a state that welcomes immigrants and refugees,” said Senator Kayse Jama (D-East Portland), chief sponsor of SB 1532. “For our immigrant and refugee neighbors to live up to their full potential, we need to support them throughout their resettlement journey. This begins in our schools, where we must equip every student and educators with the tools they need to succeed. SB 1532 is a step forward to ensuring all Oregonians are set up for success in their education and beyond.” 

SB 1532 also forms an Immigrant and Refugee Student Success Grant Program, which allows early learning hubs, early learning providers, school districts, education service districts, higher education institutions, tribal governments, and community-based organizations to apply for grants. 

“The education system can be stressful and complex for many students and families to navigate,” said Senator Michael Dembrow (D-NE Portland), chair of the Senate Education Committee. “When you combine that with the struggle of resettling in a new country, it is no surprise that students who are immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers face academic disparities. SB 1532 will help students to adapt to their new homes and schools and thrive in Oregon.”

SB 1532 will build off the success of Oregon’s five existing Student Success Plans for: American Indian and Alaska Native students, Black or African American students, LGBTQ+ students, Latino and Indigenous students, and most recently, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students. 

Providing all Oregonians with a high quality public education is a key pillar of Senate Democrats’ Uniting Oregon Agenda. The bill now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration.


Legislature Addresses Housing Shortfall With Funds to Develop Middle Income Housing

Revolving Loan Fund gets seed funds from the legislature to make building financially feasible for developers looking to build workforce housing.

SALEM, Ore. - Today, legislators agreed to make it more feasible for developers to build workforce housing in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. It’s estimated that the state has a deficit of 140,000 homes statewide and the legislature is taking action this legislative session to break down barriers to building more housing. 

"Our desperate lack of housing is inhibiting recovery, undermining our workforce, driving homelessness and despair, and discouraging families from staying or moving to the community,” said Rep. Pam Marsh (D - Southern Jackson County). “Housing proposed for buyers with 80-120% of median income often simply fails to pencil out because land and development costs outstrip what families with those incomes can afford to pay. This is the housing that serves our teachers, mill workers, small business owners and others who are critical to our communities. The Revolving Loan Fund will provide ongoing, targeted and strategic support for median income projects. The revolving nature of the fund ensures that dollars will be invested over and over again to support projects across the state."

The State Revolving Loan fund will receive $75 million to fill housing financing gaps for local jurisdictions to develop needed housing in their communities. This will make it  financially feasible for developers to build workforce housing, and keep money in the community once the loan is repaid.

“This is an innovative approach that responsibly uses limited state resources to make a significant impact in building the homes we need for our working families,” said Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-NW & Downtown Portland), Chair of the House Committee on Housing and Homelessness. “Local jurisdictions will get flexible funding to close the gap on building housing we need in every community across the state. This replenishable fund is a smart and exciting concept and our $75M investment today is an important start to helping make sure we have sustained support for housing now and in the future. This package puts our valuable state dollars to work to boost housing production across Oregon. We continue to be laser-focused on doing all we can to relieve the homelessness and affordable housing crises that continue to impact our communities.”

Local jurisdictions control project selection and borrow from the fund to make grants to local developments. The jurisdictions then pledge the amount of the increased property tax revenues to repay the loan over 10 years. This program will use a ten-year tax abatement on the improvements and add an equivalent fee that will repay the loan. After loans are repaid, the fee terminates and full property taxes are retained by local jurisdictions.

This is one funding allocation the Legislature agreed on when it passed the Housing Stability and Production Package (SB 1530 and SB 1537) with bipartisan support. The package now heads to the Governor’s desk.


Oregon House Strengthens Popular Marine Reserves Program

HB 4132 engages tribes and fisheries to improve ocean resilience research that preserves Oregon’s coast

SALEM, Ore. – Today, the Oregon House of Representatives passed HB 4132, a landmark bill aimed at fortifying Oregon's marine reserves program. The legislation, which passed unanimously, represents a significant step forward in the state's commitment to ocean conservation, stakeholder collaboration, and sustainable management of marine resources.

“It’s been a decade since we’ve established marine reserves off our Oregon Coast,” said Rep. David Gomberg (D-Otis), chief sponsor of the bill. “And while they have been invaluable in our understanding of changing ocean conditions and consequent impacts on our fisheries and natural environment, I’m heartened to see my colleagues support legislation like this that will strengthen the program, facilitate better engagement with tribal communities and our fisheries, and truly carry out ocean conservation the Oregon way.” 

Since the establishment of Oregon's five marine reserves in 2012, these protected areas have served as both educational resources and scientific laboratories, providing invaluable insights into the dynamics of our coastal ecosystems. With the ten-year assessment conducted by scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), recommendations were crafted to enhance the effectiveness of the program and included in HB 4132.

“This bill will bolster monitoring efforts, enhance adaptive management strategies, and support innovative scientific research aimed at addressing the challenges posed by a changing climate,” said Rep. Khanh Pham (D-Portland). “Importantly though, it does it in a way that truly centers stakeholder collaboration with our ocean users and tribes. That’s key.”

HB 4132 received wide bipartisan support, including support from every coastal legislator.

The enactment of HB 4132 signifies Oregon's continued leadership in marine conservation and underscores the legislature’s commitment to safeguarding its coastal environment in a robust and collaborative manner. It now advances to the Oregon Senate for a final vote of passage.


Senate Passes Bills to Improve Government Accountability and Transparency

SALEM, OR – Today, the Oregon Senate passed bipartisan bills to improve the transparency and accountability of state government. Senate Bill 1533 and House Bill 4117 will increase language access for voting materials and improve the transparency of meetings through a greater understanding of public meeting laws. 

SB 1533 will increase the number of languages that voter materials must be translated into from the top five languages to the top ten languages spoken in Oregon. At the same time, it raises the minimum number of people who must speak a language for it to qualify as a top ten language, from 100 Oregonians to 300 Oregonians. 

“Our democracy is stronger when more Oregonians can make informed decisions at the ballot box,” said Senator Kayse Jama (D-East Portland), chief sponsor of SB 1533. “Translating resources like our voter pamphlet into more languages will allow more Oregonians to participate in our elections and be heard by our state government.”

HB 4117 will allow the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to provide advice and opinions about Oregon Public Meeting Laws, helping state and local governments comply with public meeting laws.

“Oregon has strong policies in place to protect transparency and promote open meetings,” said Senator James Manning (D-Eugene), chief sponsor of HB 4117. “HB 4117 will help public officials protect open access to their government by allowing them to get accurate and up to date advice from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.” 

Keeping our government accountable, stable, and transparent is a key pillar of Senate Democrats’ Uniting Oregon Agenda. SB 1533 now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration. HB 4117 now goes to the Governor for her signature. 


Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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