Oregon Legislative Update – Week 17
2023 Session – 7 Weeks To Go
Fagan, Fireworks & Forecasts
What's Going on in the Capitol?
Fagan: In a stunning development, Shemia Fagan, Oregon's Secretary of State – long viewed as a rising star in the Democratic party – resigned after media reports that she solicited and accepted a $10,000 per month consulting contract with a cannabis company in an industry being audited by her very own state agency. Fagan blamed the low pay of her state job for her decision to seek the mountains of outside cash. After initially attempting to issue an apology, she was forced out after further details emerged indicating that she actually pushed state auditors to use her client's outline for the official state report. Governor Tina Kotek is expected to appoint a replacement in the near future.
Fireworks have broken out in the building, as Senate Republicans are now entering Day 9 of "walkouts" (or "work stoppages"). Upset about several issues, but mainly the parental notification sections in the abortion/gender bill (HB 2002), Republicans are failing to show up for daily floor sessions, thus denying the Senate a quorum and preventing any floor action. By Friday, several GOP members will reach the newly enacted (and voter-approved) 10-day "trigger" of unexcused absences, which will prevent them from running for re-election. There appears to be no end in sight. Meanwhile, the fate of state budgets and hundreds of legislative proposals hang in the balance.
Senate President Wagner (D) & Senator Findley (R) in a committee hearing. They didn't speak.
Forecast: The most important day of the session comes next week. State economists will deliver their revenue forecast on May 17, telling budget writers how much they have to spend for the 2023-25 biennium. A positive forecast (more tax revenue than earlier expected) could help legislators cover the costs of individual district funding requests. A flat or negative forecast (less than earlier expected) could scuttle many legislative asks. Stay tuned!
NWPA Partners Make Their Case
We've had incredibly successful lobby days and meetings with clients including the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, Deschutes County, the City of West Linn, as well as the City of McMinnville, and just this week, the Central Oregon Cities Organization.
Coming up on May 31, we'll host meetings with two amazing youth who advocate for the expansion of homeless youth programs and the efficient use of state funding.
NWPA Client Bills Advance
We're slowly racking up victories, including:
HB 3596A: The surgical tech apprenticeship bill has cleared the House Behavioral Health Committee (10-0), the House floor (40-0), and now the Senate Health Committee (3-0) in spite of vehement opposition from an out-of-state special interest organization. Fortunately, their misleading arguments fell on deaf ears and were rejected by legislators on a bipartisan basis. The bill has one more legislative step to go and is AWAITING A SENATE FLOOR VOTE.
HB 2001: Includes $23.5 million for community-based non-profit programs serving homeless youth with evidence-based, wrap-around services. These programs are successful in preventing youth from going on to experience homelessness as an adult in 85% of cases. SIGNED INTO LAW.
SB 644A: This bill will allow accessory dwelling units in rural areas outside of UGBs. This is an important step to allow counties to create more housing units and address Oregon's severe housing crisis. SIGNED INTO LAW.
I-205 TOLLING: NWPA worked with the City of West Linn and others to strongly oppose the misguided and poorly structured ODOT proposal to level huge highway tolls on Clackamas County residents. Legislators, including Senate and House leadership, heard these cries loud and clear and worked with the Governor to put ODOT's plans on ice. A bipartisan legislative committee has been appointed to work on an alternative funding path for the critical seismic upgrades and rebuild of the Abernethy Bridge as well as a new lane on I-205 to help reduce congestion and address existing diversion impacts on local communities. TOLLS PUT ON HOLD.
Ballot Measure 110 Work Group Wraps Up
Senate Health held a public hearing on HB 2513, the result of Rep. Nosse’s Session-long Ballot Measure 110 workgroup. The bill has now passed out of the House (47-0) and the Senate Health Committee (3-0), and awaits the return of Senate Republicans for a possible floor vote.
Rep. Nosse said the bill would:
Improve the effectiveness, transparency and accessibility of OHA’s administration of BM 110,
Improve the timeliness of the Secretary of State audit,
Right-size the funding of BM 110 implementation,
Ensure public reports are timely, relevant and accessible,
Create a director of the program,
Consolidate the substance use hotline to reduce confusion and unnecessary overhead, and
Clarify that the Oversight and Accountability Council will choose which organizations receive funding, OHA is responsible for grant management, and stagger Council members’ terms.
Chair Patterson thanked Rep. Nosse for his “herculean” job taking the lead on the workgroup. OHA’s Behavioral Health Director and several service providers testified in support. There was no opposition.
YOU are the best lobbyist!
The League of Oregon Cities' Legislative Director recently told the Central Oregon Cities Organization just how valuable it was for them to come to the Capitol. Having you in the building – or meeting with legislators in your district – and doing grassroots advocacy helps legislators understand your needs and issues in a way that meetings with professional lobbyists never can. He encouraged us to keep telling, and keep repeating, our stories to policymakers.
You can help us advocate for your issues by:
Reviewing your bill tracking report each week (new bills are added regularly)
Making time to reach out to/meet with legislators
Preparing letters or testimony to submit on priority bills
Working to secure support from other organizations for your priorities
Find your legislator and their contact information