Oregon Legislative Update - Week 5
Updated: Apr 25
We're already 20% through the legislative session, and the Legislature is meeting into the evenings to get through the thousands of bills introduced by members. The pace has picked up in the past week or two as Committees begin to hold hearings on bills they intend to pass, either on to the House or Senate floor, or the Ways and Means Committee (if they include appropriations). More so than any recent session, the Legislature seems poised to pass comprehensive "packages" of policy/funding. A $130 million "homelessness" package is scheduled for a Committee vote Thursday, and a $200 million "semiconductor" package won't be far behind. Other large packages may follow.
Homelessness Package First Out of the Gate
Communities across the state are dealing with skyrocketing homelessness on streets, in parks, and overwhelming mental and behavioral health services needs. HB2001, which will be amended on Thursday, responds to the Governor's call for a $130 million response. It includes significant increases in funding for addressing the needs of homeless youth, an innovative new concept for production of modular housing, expanding grants for affordable housing developments, and a negotiated deal on eviction notices and procedures.
Semiconductor Hearings Go Into the Night
Oregon has benefited greatly from the technology and semiconductor boom of the past 30 years, and with Congressional passage of the $52.7 billion CHIPS Act, states like Oregon have an opportunity to secure some of this funding by offering state incentives and encouraging the world's tech companies to locate or expand in Oregon. A brand new, "Joint Committee on Semiconductors" has been meeting two nights a week, and just released an initial outline of legislation to respond to the federal challenge. The initial bill is light on specifics, and does not include several key incentives that other states already offer, such as a Research & Development Tax Credit. Amendments are being suggested, and you can expect a vote on the bill within the next two weeks. Hot off the presses, here is the first outline.
Hectic Four-Day Committee Schedule
The Legislature is meeting Monday through Thursday, leaving Fridays for meetings, workgroup discussions and in-district tours and visits. Hearings have been going into the evenings, as the Transportation, Semiconductor and Gambling Committees start their allotted 90 minutes at 5:00 p.m. Budget hearings have begun in the Ways & Means (Budget) Subcommittees. workgroupSee the full schedule.
Scandal Rocks Liquor Commission
LCC Director Steve Marks and Commission Chair Paul Rosenbaum both resigned suddenly last week after reports surfaced that OLCC leaders had been siphoning off bottles of rare "Pappy Van Winkle" bourbon (and other hard-to-find bottles) for their own personal use. Some reports suggested that former lawmakers also benefited from the practice, but no names have been released so far. Stay tuned for more on this explosive story.
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