Legislative Report - Week of 2/6
By Norman Turrill, Governance Coordinator, and Team
Campaign Finance Reform
There have been no new bills filed and no public activity for CFR.
By Chris Cobey and Norman Turrill
Nothing new this week. See previous LRs.
By Tom Messenger
By Barbara Klein
Based on LWVOR positions, the League has decided to support the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) bill HB 2004 sponsored by Rep Rayfield, Fahey, Reynolds, Marsh, Senator Sollman; and regular sponsors, Rep Pham K, Senator Dembrow, and Golden, which is currently in House Rules. We will participate in coalition meetings and have approved use of the LWVOR logo for coalition efforts led by Coalition of Communities of Color and Oregon RCV.
Rights of Incarcerated People
By Marge Easley
Prison work requirements and fair labor compensation remain topics of nationwide discussion. The ACLU published a study in June of 2022 entitled “Captive Workers: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers,” that states in the introduction: “Our nation incarcerates over 1.2 million people in state and federal prisons, and two out of three of these incarcerated people are also workers… Incarcerated workers are under the complete control of their employers, and they have been stripped of even the most minimal protections against labor exploitation and abuse.”
In Oregon, the passage last year of Measure 112, which repealed language in the state constitution allowing slavery and involuntary servitude, was a step in the right direction. However, incarcerated workers in Oregon continue to receive no wages. Instead, compensation is paid via the Performance Recognition and Award system, through which workers may receive points that may be converted to a monthly monetary award, translating to $8 to $82 per month.
Thus, it is noteworthy when a February 7 Oregonian article (“Proposed bill would pay incarcerated workers minimum wage in Washington”) reports that Washington state lawmaker Rep. Tarra Simmons, who spent time in prison and was paid 42 cents an hour for her labor, just introduced a bill in the Washington Legislature called the “Real Labor, Real Wages Act,” to pay incarcerated workers minimum wage for doing their jobs. Passage will most likely be an uphill battle. According to the article, Colorado is the only state to pay minimum wage for incarcerated labor, while similar legislation has failed to pass in seven other states.
Public Records Law
By Rebecca Gladstone
We resurrected testimony this week, along with our standing advisory comments from 2017 bills, all enrolled, for the most public records law reform seen in Oregon in thirty years: HB 2101, HB 481, and SB 106. This week, Senate Rules Chair Lieber agreed with our urging, and after a hearing, instructed the group of lobbyists addressing Public Records Advisory Council (PRAC) issues to work together to pass solid improvements this session. We recommend watching this hearing video.
SB 417 Public Records Requests. We support this detailed PRAC bill to increase efficiency in processing public records requests, considering fee waivers, defining “media”, waiving records request fees when made in the public interest, and considering malicious intent in placing requests. See our testimony.
SB 160 There was firm opposition to this bill suggesting fee waivers, reducing fees by percentage for public records requests. We urged for attributes addressed in other bills to be considered here, or for the other bills to consider possible benefits from SB 160. See our testimony comments, not supporting or opposing.
See our HB 3111 testimony in support, repeating our previous calls for improvements.
SCR 1: This Joint Resolution expresses support for our County Clerks and local elections officials, condemning violence and threats of violence, lacking specific proposals. We reiterated from our HB 4144 92022) testimony, that voting is a fundamental right of citizenship, including protection from harassment and intimidation, for all involved in the process. See our SCR 1 testimony.
Informational hearings continue with public hearings being set for bills we support. We are comparing bill lists and collaborating with others, signing group letters. We welcome volunteers who can bring their expertise to watch hearings and share summary observation, learn the ropes and join our Action Team.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED. Worthy causes go unaddressed for lack of League volunteers. If you see a need and can offer your expertise, please contact our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.