Oregon Legislative Update – Sine Die
2023 Session Crash Lands Into "Sine Die"
3 Bills Fail on Final Day
In an almost unprecedented situation, the 81st Legislative Assembly came to a rocky finish late Sunday afternoon.
Three bills on the agenda failed during floor votes: the Governor's key final request HB 3414 (Land Use), HB 3242 (Medical Rights of Action), and HB 3013 (Fees on Medical Prescriptions for Consumers) all went down to defeat in shocking end to a dramatic legislative session.
HB3414 had been Governor Kotek's major housing priority over the final weeks of the
session, and she personally appeared in the Capitol over the last 3 days of the session to lobby legislators. The bill appeared on its way to passage until amendments proposed by the Department of Land Conservation and Development removed protections for a 4-city intergovernmental agreement governing future development of the Stafford area near Tualatin, Lake Oswego, West Linn and Wilsonville. That appeared to turn swing legislators against the bill, leading to a 15-10 vote, one short of the necessary 16. Earlier on Saturday night, the bill had squeaked through the House by just 3 votes. The failure of that bill lead to a Senate Democrat walking out, denying the majority the votes needed to pass the next bill up, HB3242.
Meanwhile, final budget bills were passed (including the expansive "Christmas Tree" and bonding bills (HB5029/HB5030)) with a number of victories for our clients, such as additional funding for mental and behavioral health, child welfare, local courthouse funding, housing infrastructure, local trauma clinics and a new R&D tax credit.
In most sessions, legislators realize almost too late that they forgot an item or two. This session, they only added a single item (in spite of furious lobbying to add other items like school mental health and special education funding):
HB 2372 proved to be the Christmas "Shrub" bill. The larger, much more complex Christmas Tree bill, HB 5029, passed out of Ways and Means several days ago. But as in many past sessions, items get left behind which are important to enough legislators to justify a last minute addition. This session, funding for Oregon's child abuse intervention centers was the one item the WM Co-Chairs felt was deserving of a small "shrub" bill. The Shrub bill was the last to pass out of Ways and Means this session.
NWPA recorded a number of key wins this session (see details below). This was especially good news since many groups and legislators received little funding for their priority bills. Legislators and lobbyists waded through hundreds of pages of budget bills, trying to make sense of funding dive bars in Portland and adding dozens of staffers to the state land use agency, when other crucial issues, such as housing projects, special education programs, and School-Based Health Centers were left out of the final package. Many are scratching their heads since economists reported a higher-than-expected revenue forecast, and the legislature left close to $100 million of bonding capacity unallocated. Speculation is that the Emergency Board (the interim spending arm of the legislature) might allocate funding in September or November.
The final mad rush to the end of the Session became possible when Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement on June 15, ending Senate Republicans' nearly 6-week walkout – the state's longest. Both sides claimed victory on issues including abortion/gender care and gun control. The Senate got down to business immediately. It faced a backlog of 400 bills, including agency budgets. Read about changes to key bills.
Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) speaks in favor of HB 2010, the Drought "Package," which contained $2.6 million for a major stream restoration program NWPA was supporting for the Central Oregon Cities Organization. The bill, which will fund restoration projects through 6 Soil and Water Conservation Districts and 1 County, passed and is on its way to the Governor for her signature. The bill also includes funds for the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council to assist SWDCs in identifying and applying for other grant and federal dollars to support the program.
Oregon Legislature Ends 2023 Session
"The 2023 Oregon legislative session came to a close Sunday after lawmakers cleared hundreds of bills in a marathon week.
House lawmakers cheered and hugged when Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, declared the session over at about 4:15 p.m. In closing remarks, Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, thanked Democrats and Republicans alike for reaching the finish line and chided his Senate colleagues for a historic impasse that stalled floor votes, but not committee work, in that chamber for six weeks."
Budget & Policy Wins
Thanks to your advocacy, we were able to secure these major wins:
Health & Kids Issues
Problem gambling & substance abuse (HB 5029) – $5 million, plus $42,884 for alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment services, $20.4 million for mental health treatment or substance abuse prevention or treatment, $197 million for the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund, $18.3 million for the Problem Gambling Treatment Fund
Oregon's Behavioral Rehabilitation program for children and youth – $19.4 million (Read Oregon Capital Chronicle's overview) which will leverage millions more in federal funding to keep essential children's residential programs open (HB 5506)
La Clinica Acute Care Clinic expansion – $2.2 million (HB 5506)
Community-based nonprofit programs serving homeless youth – $23.5 million (HB 2001)
Final passage and legislative confirmation of the landmark Surgical Tech Apprenticeship bill (HB 3596)
Behavioral Health Infrastructure and Workforce ($50 million, HB 5029)
Local Issues & Government
Stream restoration/juniper management – $2.6 million (HB 2010) for 6 Soil and Water Conservation Districts, 1 County (Wheeler) and the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council.
West Linn Waterline – $5 million in lottery bonds (HB 5030)
Deschutes County Courthouse ($15 million in general funds, HB 5029)
Redmond Northpoint Housing Infrastructure and Public Safety Center ($5.5 million and $3 million)
Willamette Falls Locks Commission/Authority administrative funding – $228,988 (HB 5025)
Legislation to allow accessory dwelling units in rural county areas – (SB 644)
I-205 tolling, now placed on hold and a legislative task force examining alternatives to avoid 100% of the impact falling on local residents
R&D tax credit – $10 million (HB 2009-15), plus extension of the Enterprise Zone and Strategic Investment Programs.
Certified Public Accountant exam changes (HB 2523) to accelerate certification of new accountants.
....just not THE talks. Even before the walkout was officially over, we saw encouraging signs of bipartisan talks. Senators Lieber (D), Hansell (R), Steiner (D) and Brock Smith (R) engaged in conversations following a Senate Rules Committee Hearing on Tuesday.
Good News for State Revenues
Oregon's unemployment is down to 3.7% and has fallen for a 4th consecutive month, reports KOIN. This will help state revenues and suggests that the next (September) revenue forecast might be up again, freeing up additional tax revenues that will: 1) Add to the Kicker, 2) Add additional available funding for projects in 2024, and 3) Increase funds that automatically flow into reserve accounts.
Our Advocacy Continued To The End
Even though few advocates or members of the public showed up at the Capitol during the final two weeks, NWPA continued to meet with Legislators to advocate our priorities in person.
Below Rep. Lisa Reynolds (D-Portland) meets with homeless youth advocate Savina Zuniga, and legislators proudly display fine Oregon cheese after passing a bill to benefit Tillamook.