February 7, 2022 - Week 1
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Gun Safety (Marge Easley and Jaime Carleton)
The alarming rise in gun violence in Oregon along with the availability of federal funds has caused a shift in strategy for gun safety advocates this session—from changing state gun policy to taking a more grassroots approach. The key proposal is to use a portion of American Rescue Plan funds for community violence intervention programs through a statewide competitive grant program. The ask is for 5% of available funds, or $132 million, which will be part of the end-of-session Ways and Means process. A narrower funding request is HB 4045, which authorizes an expansion and continuance of hospital-based programs, administered by the Oregon Health Authority, with an emphasis on community violence and intervention measures.
The League will also support SB 1577, sponsored by Senator Manning, a repeat attempt by the Attorney General’s office to ban undetectable and untraceable firearms, otherwise known as “ghost guns.” However, legislative leadership has opted not to move any gun policy bills such as this one during the short session, so it will most likely be put off until 2023. We will oppose HB 4149, which provides that when a gun-free zone is established, the person or public body that does so is liable for damages resulting from crimes committed in that zone. The idea that shootings can be prevented if victims are allowed to carry firearms for protection is part of a nation-wide effort by gun activists and is no doubt a reaction to gun-free zones recently established at the Oregon Capitol and at various schools across the state.
Equity (Shirley Weathers)
HB 4002 (Rep. Andrea Salinas) is a renewed attempt to extend the right to Oregon agricultural workers for the overtime pay guaranteed to most other workers by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. During the 2021 Session, HB 2358 received near record-high testimonies (including LWVOR in support) and extensive negotiation and discussion. The bill ultimately passed the House Health Care Committee but failed to emerge from W&Ms by the session’s end. HB 4002 includes the phased-in rollout offered last session in an attempt to assist agricultural employers to adapt to the increased costs of paying for overtime, plus a tax credit to further blunt the monetary impact. By all indications, though, including during the Interim House Health Care Committee on 1/17/2022, the bill still faces heavy opposition from agricultural employers and allies. Public Hearing in Business and Labor is scheduled for 2/8/2022, 5:30pm. LWVOR will submit testimony in support.
HB 4052 (Shirley Weathers)
HB 4052 (Rep. Andrea Salinas) re: health equity is also referenced as “racism is a public health crisis.” The bill follows on the declaration of the latter accomplished during the 2021 session through passage of HR 6. HB 4052 seeks to provide the framework and resources to begin to address the crisis and is a further refined version of (HR 2337) that failed to pass last year. HB 4052 would establish a process to develop a pilot mobile health program as a culturally responsive model to 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. The bill received a Public Hearing in House Health Care on 1/2/2022. LWVOR was one of a number supporting the bill.
HB 4083 (Christa Danielson and Shirley Weathers)
HB 4083 (Rep. Rachel Prusak), requires individual and group health insurance policies, health care service contractors, multiple employer welfare arrangements, and state medical assistance programs to reimburse for at least three primary care visits annually in addition to one annual preventive primary care visit covered without cost sharing. A similar bill, HB 3108, passed by the House Health Care Committee during the 2021 Session, but died in W&Ms.That bill and HB 4083 have broad support from Health Care for All Oregon and the Oregon branch of the American Academy of Family Practice along with many other organizations. HB 4083 aligns with the legislatively approved goals of the Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care: 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. The House Health Care Committee held a public hearing on HB 4083 and got significant favorable testimony, none opposed. We are reviewing --2 and --3 Amendments to be considered during the work session. Our support for HB 4083 is justified by the LWVUS health care reform position.
Behavioral Health and Human Services (Karen Nibler)
Behavioral Health programs face staff shortages and decreased capacity for residential programs. The Oregon Health Authority financial chief reported lost bed capacity for children and adults in mental health, substance abuse and adult foster homes. In 2021 session funds were allocated for wages and rate increases for residential programs, which were to be spent by end of 2021-2023 biennium. This session HB 4004 has been proposed to provide grants for staff wages to support existing programs.
The Human Services Ways and Means Committee has committed federal funds for wildfire impact, climate change and community education. The Oregon Health Authority has developed the 988 crisis system which can draw Medicaid reimbursement. The Behavioral Rehabilitation System which serves children in both Department of Human Service and Oregon Youth Authority custody will receive supplemental funding for rate increases in residential programs.
The Department of Human Services has initiated a new program for Afghanistan refugees (150) which will require 2 additional staff and $ 8 million for benefits.
Housing (Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan, and Penny York)
The affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Oregon persists. Governor Brown, legislators and advocates are considering proposals to make headway on meeting the overwhelming need.
Governor Brown proposed a $400 million general fund allocation for affordable housing development, homeowner support, and programs addressing homelessness.
The Legislature held hearings last week on housing bills of interest, among them:
HB 4013 directs the Dept. of Education to establish a pilot program to assist school districts in preventing student homelessness by providing one-time grants for unpaid rent and other housing expenses. The bill appropriates funding to the Department of Human Services for certain homeless youth programs. A work session is scheduled on February 8.
SB 1557 requires the Housing and Community Services Department to administer affordable housing preservation rent assistance to tenants living in multi-unit dwellings when the buildings are withdrawn from publicly supported housing contracts. Vouchers are intended to preserve these low-income units as affordable so long as the qualifying tenant continues to live in them. The Sen Committee on Housing and Development will hold a second public hearing on this bill on February 7.
Next week hearings are scheduled for the following bills:
HB 4064 would require local jurisdictions to allow siting of prefabricated structures in areas zoned for residential development, including manufactured home parks. It also prohibits manufactured home park landlords from requiring tenants to install excessive infrastructure improvements. The League submitted a letter in support.
HB 4123 would fund grants for eight pilot projects for cities and counties to collaborate on their work in addressing homelessness. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services would provide grants to local governments and nonprofit corporations that will agree to create a coordinated homeless response system. This approach is similar to the Joint Office of Homeless Services that covers Portland and Multnomah County.
Immigration/ Refugee/ Basic Human Rights/ Hate Crimes - Claudia Keith
The League has prioritized the following bills:
SB 1543 Universal (Legal) Representation related to immigration. League testimony
HB 4002 Farm Worker Overtime (see Social Policy LR)
SB 1536 Renters’ rights and access to cooling (see Climate Emergency LR)
SB 1510 Transforming Justice Act. League testimony
HB 4093 Oregon Genuine Progress Indicator/ equity metric.
HB 4077 Environmental Justice for All (See Climate Emergency LR)
HB 4052 Racism is a Public Health Crisis / Equity Issue (see Health Care LR)
These Bills are being followed, we may actively advocate later in the session:
SB 1522 In-state tuition eligibility for refugees
HB 4091 Dept of Educ plan for students who are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
HB 4099 New Racial Equity and Justice Youth collaborative
SB 1560 Updating Immigration terminology in Oregon Law
SB 1569 Addition of Race and Ethnicity to Oregon Income Tax Forms
Injured worker parity, it’s not clear if a bill has been filed on this topic
SB 1550 Transfers Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement from office of Governor to Department of Human Service
HB 4122 Funding for DACA Oregonians (deferred action for childhood arrivals)
Judiciary and Public Safety (Karen Nibler)
The House Judiciary Committee heard the following bills on the first day of hearings such as HB 4075 on restitution payments, HB 4102 on tribal liaison with the Oregon State Police, HB 4120 on court filing fees, and HB 4121 on child support referees.
HB 4075 was the result of a workgroup, which included district attorneys, discussing the importance of restitution orders. HB 4102 was a follow up on the tribal liaison with the Oregon State Police including new police training protocols. HB 4146 asked for a gender specialist at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility to assess current practices and propose adjustments for women in the facility.
On the second day of hearings, the committee heard HB 4110 with an amendment to replace the measure with a Task Force to consider victim rights to law enforcement records.
HB 4120 recommends reducing fines for violations as they are often uncollectable.
HB 4108 proposes stricter sentences for serious injuries to victims.
HB 4142 discussed sanctions for assaults on hospital staff, carried over for further testimony.
HB 4073 considered jury selection rules in response to the Arbury case.
HB 4135 reconsiders the definition of delivery of controlled substances to include intent to deliver. The Criminal Lawyers Association and the Oregon Justice Resource Center lobbyists objected. The Department of Justice presented a review of a current case in process.
The Senate Judiciary Committee considered requiring police to notify a person of the right to refuse a search, SB 1511 on the process to review a non-unanimous jury case and SB 1512 on licensing for day care with an amendment for the consideration of juvenile court adjudication, age, circumstances, and rehabilitation or treatment of the applicant.
The Ways and Means Joint Public Safety Committee reviewed County District Attorney funding, currently 75.8% county, 12.3% state and 11.6 % federal funds. No adjustments were proposed.