Social Policy

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April 18, 2022 - Sine Die

Back to the full Legislative Report

Gun Safety

Equity

Health Care

Housing

Immigration/Refugee

Justice Issues

Public Safety



Gun Safety

By Marge Easley, Jaime Carleton


Disappointingly, an Attorney General-sponsored bill to ban “ghost guns” was once again put off until a future session. The big push this session was to obtain funding for community violence prevention and intervention programs around the state.


HB 4045 allocated $4 million to the Department of Administrative Services to fund a wide range of programs related to community violence prevention and intervention measures through the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center. An additional $1 million was directed to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to set up hospital-based violence intervention programs in communities of need outside of Multnomah County, as well as to establish and seek federal funding for a national training and certification program for certified violence prevention professionals.


A large coalition of community organizations and service providers also mobilized support for adding a line item to the budget reconciliation bill for community-based violence prevention grants. A total of $15 million from American Rescue Plan funds was allocated to the Oregon Department of Justice for this purpose.


Bills supported by LWVOR that passed


Equity

By Shirley Weathers


HB 4002 Enrolled was a renewed attempt to extend the right to overtime pay to Oregon agricultural workers guaranteed to most other workers by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. LWVOR supported. The highly controversial HB 2358 died in Ways and Means in 2021. But HB 4002 was much changed from the previous version as the sponsor and supporters launched what turned out to be ongoing efforts throughout the 2022 short session to find compromise with opponents. HB 4002 made an even more generous phased-in rollout than what was offered last session and added a tax credit to further blunt the monetary impact. But as the bill made it through the House process, Rep. Paul Holvey primarily, offered amendment after amendment in response to tenacious opposition led by agricultural employers and their supporters. Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis countered with multiple amendments, all of which would have continued to deny meaningful payment for overtime work for this employee sector. Even a special Joint Committee on Farmworker Overtime failed to bring the two sides closer. Unprecedented numbers of testimony supporting both sides mirrored the partisan divide within the Legislature at each hearing and all the way to the final, partisan passing vote in the Senate. Ultimately, threats by Republican leaders of a walk-out didn’t materialize to disrupt the major focus of this Session: the 2022-23 State Budget. But this was truly a hard-fought victory for Oregon farmworkers. It wouldn’t be too surprising if further refinements are proposed in future sessions. The tax credit HB 4002 created is estimated to cost the General Fund over its lifetime as follows: $17 million during the 2023-25 biennium, $51 million in 2025-27, and $93 million in 2027-2029.


Health Care


HB 4052 Health equity was also referenced as “racism is a public health crisis”, following on as it did HR 6 which passed in 2021 making that declaration. HB 4052 provides the framework and resources to begin to address the crisis, establishing a process to develop a pilot mobile health program as a culturally responsive model. The pilot will inform a feasibility study and create a vehicle to ensure involvement of and input by the BIPOC community, as well as devise a funding strategy to facilitate prevention of conditions resulting in inequitable outcomes for those communities. Fiscal impact: Oregon Health Authority, $1.4 million in 2021-23; $800,000 in 2023-2025. Oregon Advocacy Commissions Office, $180,000 2021-23; $531,000 2023-25. LWVOR supported. PASSED and signed by the Governor on March 23, 2022.


Health Care bill followed by LWVOR failed


HB 4083A

By Christa Danielson and Shirley Weathers


HB 4083 requires individual and group health insurance policies, health care service contractors, multiple employer welfare arrangements, and state medical assistance programs to provide reimbursement for at least three primary care visits annually in addition to one annual preventive primary care visit covered without cost sharing. The bill aligns with the legislatively approved goals of the Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care which include improving the health status of individuals, families, and communities; protecting individuals from the financial consequences of ill health; and ensuring that cost is not a barrier. Although broadly supported and unanimously recommended “do pass” by the House Health Care Committee, the bill died in Ways and Means. It wouldn’t be surprising if this bill concept were to emerge in the 2023 Session.


Housing

By Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan


The Legislature made a substantial and significant investment in addressing our homeless and affordable housing emergency by awarding very targeted investments to address the overwhelming need for more safe, stable and affordable housing. At the urging of Governor Brown, Oregon Housing and Community Services received $400 million (HB 5202) in housing investments that focus mainly on homelessness, building and preserving affordable housing and access to homeownership. LWVOR submitted a letter in support.


Addressing Homelessness


Shelters, Rapid Rehousing, Resource Referrals, and Housing Stability

HB 5202, the legislature’s budget bill, allocated $80 million for statewide homelessness prevention, shelter infrastructure and operations, and other homeless services.


Project Turnkey

$50 million will be dedicated to the acquisition of hotels and other buildings to convert to low-income housing or shelter. The Oregon Community Foundation will distribute these dollars.


Hygiene, Outreach, Shelter Capacity: $25 million in grants will be made available to local governments through the budget bill to increase shelter capacity, provide hygiene services, and outreach to people experiencing homelessness. Funds will be allocated based on the 2019 Point in Time homeless counts and population.


City and County Homeless Services Collaboration Pilots: HB 4123 creates and funds eight pilot sites to support cities and a county to work collaboratively to address homelessness.


Services for Homeless Youth: HB 4013 dedicated $1.2 million for services and tuition help for homeless youth.


Trash and Sanitation: HB 5202, the legislature committed $13 million for trash and sanitation services for people facing homelessness. The funds may not be used for homeless campsite sweeps.


Racial Equity: HB 4051 extends the Task Force on Homelessness and Racial Disparities through 2025 and requires the task force to issue two additional reports.


Shelter Siting: HB 4051 also extends flexibility for local governments to site shelters on land owned by non-profits, religious organizations, or government through July 1, 2023.


Domestic Violence: HB 5202, a $10 million investment to the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services will respond to an increased need for culturally specific, community based and Tribal Nation emergency shelter and safety for domestic violence survivors.


Building and Preserving Affordable Housing


As part of the HB 5202 housing package the legislature allocated $215 million for development of new low-income housing and preservation of existing affordable housing:


  • $65 million will keep housing affordable and prevent displacement for families in supported units.

  • $55 million will build new affordable homes to rent and buy, including money for the Small Projects NOFA to build smaller scale affordable rental housing, with a focus on rural areas; and funds for LIFT for homeownership to fill gaps and make program improvements.

  • $50 million will help support construction of affordable housing projects struggling with market and supply chain disruptions due to the virus.

  • $35 million for acquiring manufactured housing parks to keep them affordable; and provide seed money to St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County to invest in new affordable manufactured homes for low-income buyers and renters.

  • $10 million will support land acquisition for affordable housing projects.


Supporting Homeownership

HB 5202, will award $15 million to homeownership centers and other nonprofits to increase capacity to help families navigate the homebuying process. It will provide $5 million in funding to Hacienda CDC to launch a home loan program to help first-time homebuyers, and particularly BIPOC to make down payments.


Other Investments and Housing-Related Bills


211 Information Expansion: As part of the legislature’s budget bill, HB 5202, $1 million will be awarded to expand the 211 health and social service information line to 24-hour, seven days a week for the remainder of the biennium.


Right to Cooling: SB 1536 will provide resources for cooling including air conditioners and ductless heat pumps for people with low incomes. The bill requires that landlords allow tenants to install either window or portable air conditioners or provide cooled spaces for tenants, with certain regulations. LWVOR submitted a letter in support.


Manufactured Home Park Omnibus Technical Changes: HB 4064 makes a range of technical changes to manufactured home park laws to protect people affected by the wildfires of 2020, and makes it easier to build new manufactured home parks or place manufactured homes on privately owned land. This bill passed. LWVOR submitted a letter in support.


Behavioral Health Housing: The legislature awarded $100 million for behavioral health housing in HB 5202. The funds in part will create new residential treatment beds and provide short, or long-term rent assistance for people experiencing mental health issues.


Resilient and Efficient Buildings: SB 1518 will create a Task Force on Resilient and Efficient buildings for people who develop affordable housing and represent affordable housing interests.


Immigration / Refugee / Basic Human Rights / Bias and Hate Crimes

By Claudia Keith


Priority Bills passed and signed by the Governor:

SB 1543 -5 Universal (Legal) Representation related to immigration. Fiscal $15M League testimony.

SB 1510 -A7 Transforming Justice Act. Fiscal $10.6M. League testimony.

HB 4002 Farm Worker Overtime (see Social Policy / Equity LR)

SB 1536 Renters’ rights and access to cooling (see Climate Emergency LR)

HB 4077 Environmental Justice for All (See Climate Emergency LR)

HB 4052 Racism is a Public Health Crisis / Equity Issue (see Health Care LR).


Priority Bills that died in Committee

HB 4093 Oregon Genuine Progress Indicator/ equity metric, League testimony. This bill will likely be reintroduced in 2023.


These Bills were followed by the League and passed.


SB 1522 A In-state tuition eligibility & other benefits for refugees (fiscal 1.1M$)

SB 1560 Updating Immigration terminology in Oregon Law.

SB 1550 Transfers Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement from the office of the Governor to the Department of Human Service (SB778, 2021 LWVOR Testimony)


Joint Ways and Means HB5202 Bill included the following Funding:

$65M for Oregon Worker Relief Fund, for workers who did not qualify for Federal funds due to their immigration status.


Justice Issues

By Karen Nibler


Senate Bills in play until the end of session included SB 1510, the Transforming Justice bill, which eliminated criminal charges for small amounts of illegal drugs, was replaced with citations for substance abuse evaluations. The citations directed violators to Behavioral Health evaluation and treatment resources. The bill was initiated in the Senate Judiciary Committee and passed in the Senate with a 16-11 vote with 3 excused. The House passed the bill 34 – 24 with 2 excused.


The bill restricts traffic stops and supervision visits to workplaces but includes a racial equity fund for services. The Human Services Subcommittee of Ways and Means allocated funding through the Behavioral Health Department, which is currently awarding funds to community agencies. Ballot Measure 110 required state funding for evaluations and treatment through local behavioral health agencies. The Criminal Justice Commission will monitor the grant process and collect data to report back to legislative committees.


The League did not testify on this complex bill as it went through revisions up until the last days. The League is supportive of behavioral health services and funding of community programs including all racial and ethnic groups. The role of the Criminal Justice Commission in monitoring of state grants is appreciated.


SB 1512 A on workplace license restrictions for those with juvenile records died in the last days. SB 1511 A on non-unanimous juries died in Public Safety Ways and Means, as did SB 1587 A on illegal marijuana enforcement program grants. Other Senate bills in House Rules, such as SB 1536 EN on funding for extreme heat measures, passed easily. SB 1560 B on changing the term alien to non-citizen in Oregon statutes failed in House Rules and SB 1568 A on medical release of adults in the custody of the Department of Corrections died in the Ways and Means Committee.


HB 4004 EN provided grants to behavioral health community agencies for workforce recruitment and retention. The bill was widely supported with a vote of 58 yes and 2 no in the House and a vote of 24 yes to 3 no with 4 excused in the Senate. HB 4071 EN directed targeted funds to certain professionals.


HB 4050 EN will provide legal services to Coffee Creek Correctional Facility adults in custody through the Oregon Justice Resource Center.

HB 4098 EN distributed funds from the Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Fund to counties and cities over 10,000 populations. The bill required that funded agencies report to the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission on a specific schedule. This settlement will provide significant resources for Behavioral Health services throughout the state.


HB 4005 EN provided funds to the Department of Education for the Early Learning Division and Child Care. It includes the Employment Related Day Care subsidized care program. The General Government Subcommittee approved the HB 4157 EN Earned Income Tax Credit, which will send one time payments of $600. to those who filed for EITC. The House voted 42-16 and the Senate voted 23 yes to 2 no with 5 absent.

The Medicaid program covered 300,000 more people during the pandemic for a total of 1.4 million people on the Oregon Health Plan, as reported by Jeremy Vandehey, Director of the Health Policy and Analytics Program. The Oregon Health Authority will need to establish continued eligibility within the next year for the current recipients. HB 4035 EN was passed to provide a one year bridge program to continue health care services. The House approved it by 40 yes to 19 no votes. The Senate approved this bill with 18 yes and 8 no votes. The Oregon Health Authority continues to develop a basic health plan coverage for residents.


Public Safety


The Public Safety Ways and Means Subcommittee passed several bills in their last meeting. HB 4075 EN specified the district attorney process for restitution claims following criminal court cases. HB 4120 EN allowed judges to waive court fees in violation cases. HB 4121 EN provided child support referees within the Oregon Judicial system. HB 4142 EN enforced assaults on hospital staff. Two bills did not pass: HB 4102 on a Tribal Liaison with Oregon State Police, and HB 4146 on a gender specific coordinator at Coffee Creek Facility.


House Rules considered a long list of public safety bills. HB 4008 A passed requesting the Criminal Justice Commission to study recidivism but HB 4009 A to study sentencing died. HB 4073 on qualifications for jurors died, but HB 4131 A on crowd control measures used by police passed.


Ways and Means Committees approved SB 1543 EN which provided the Universal Representation Fund through an allotment to the Department of Administrative Services for grants to organizations that assist in immigration matters. SB 1584 EN created a process for filing cases for wrongful conviction with support for the Department of Justice Appellate Division. This bill passed unanimously in both chambers. HB 4075 EN had a unanimous yes vote too. How often does that happen?