Legislative Report - Sine Die
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By Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona
In 2023, it became clear that the housing crisis is now a statewide issue. In communities throughout Oregon people are living on the street and many of those who are housed are at risk of losing their homes because they can’t afford to pay their rent. Before the start of the legislative session, Governor Kotek made clear that addressing the unmet need was one of her top priorities. The Governor signed HB 2001 into law on March 29, a hopeful start to the session.
Early in the session, the Governor assembled a package of bills under HB 2001 that addresses some of the state’s critical housing needs.
The bill supports Oregon Housing Needs Analysis and associated housing production targets and reporting requirements. Funding of $25 million will help combat homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless. The bill modifies the emergency housing assistance and state homeless assistance programs to provide services and assistance to school-aged children experiencing, or at risk of homelessness.
$20 million will provide loans and grants for modular housing development with priority given to housing people displaced by natural disasters, and for the construction of low- and middle-income housing. $613,925 will fund moderate-income housing predevelopment loans; and $5 million is targeted for agricultural workforce housing. Renter notification requirements are extended when rental agreements will be terminated for non-payment, and eviction records can be sealed in certain circumstances.
Emergency procurement authority was granted to Oregon Housing and Community Services to address homelessness and provide services within the OR-505 Balance of State Continuum of Care.
$3 million will help nonprofits access low-cost financing by issuing bonds for affordable housing including financing to local governments or housing developers for predevelopment costs, including infrastructure, site acquisition, planning, reports, surveys, and consultants. $5 million in grants will be used to improve agriculture workforce housing.
Homelessness Response and Prevention
The growing humanitarian crisis of homelessness caught the attention of people around the state and prompted passage of legislation aimed at assisting people living on the street or preventing people who are experiencing housing instability from losing their homes.
The 2023 – 25 FY state homeless budget includes the following:
$96 million for housing and long-term rent assistance for unhoused Oregonians,
$81 million for emergency rent assistance to prevent evictions and homelessness, including a 30 percent set-aside to be deployed by culturally specific organizations, and
$72.2 million for shelter operations, homeless services navigation centers, and Project Turnkey transitional housing.
HB 5019 is an appropriation bill of $128.2 million to provide funding to address the homeless emergency in the OR 505 Oregon Balance of State Continuum of Care. The funds will support services to homeless youth. The League provided testimony in support.
Another key legislation is SB 611 that modifies the maximum annual rent increase percentage for the following calendar year as the lesser of 10%, or 7% plus the September annual 12-month average change in the Consumer Price Index. It also limits rent increases to no more than once a year.
Affordable Housing Preservation and Development
Oregon does not have enough housing affordable for its residents and, until the shortfall is eliminated, there will be Oregonians paying more for rent than they can afford or who are unable to find stable and suitable housing.
The Legislature allocated the following resources for development of new, and preservation of existing low-income housing:
· $604 million in bonding for new affordable housing development
· $50 million in bonding to preserve existing regulated affordable rental housing, and mobile home parks
HB 3042 provides protections for households renting publicly subsidized units in buildings with expiring affordability restrictions. Rent increases and terminations will be limited for a three-year period to give tenants time to find alternative housing.
Also, legislation was signed into law that would facilitate development of additional affordable units.
HB 2761 expands OHCS' ability to finance a portion of certain housing developments that are affordable to households earning at or below 120 percent of area median income.
HB 3215 authorizes OHCS to support replacement, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of residential units damaged or destroyed by disaster. It establishes a Disaster Housing Recovery Fund. In addition, passage of HB 3462 will make individuals affected by disasters eligible for housing assistance regardless of their immigration status.
SB 599 allows tenants to operate home-based childcare by requiring a landlord to allow a renter to use a dwelling unit for a family childcare if it is certified or registered with the Office of Child Care. The landlord can require a tenant to pay for improvements necessary for certification and carry some form of liability coverage.
HB 3151 limits improvements that landlords of manufactured dwelling parks may require of tenants. It expands affordable housing that is developable on nonresidential lands. It also expands the manufactured dwelling park preservation loan program to allow loaned funds to be used to develop new parks.
HB 2680 requires residential landlords to refund applicants for screening charges within 30 days, subject to certain conditions. The measure requires landlords to promptly notify an applicant once the screening has taken place, their right to a refund of the screening charge, and recovery of damages if the landlord fails to provide the refund within 30 days.
SB 702 allows the Appraiser Certification and Licensure Board to require real estate appraiser training on implicit bias and state and federal fair housing laws. The League submitted a testimony letter in support.
Representative Ricki Ruiz sent a note thanking the League for its support.
Unfortunately, HB 3487, which could have addressed racial disparities in homeownership did not pass. It would have required a biannual report to the Legislature on changes to racial disparity, require OHCS to partner with culturally responsive or culturally specific organizations to convene peer training programs for housing counselors, and require OHCS to develop culturally specific and multilingual financial literacy materials for distribution by mortgage brokers and bankers.
HB 3309 directs OHCS to study and incentivize accessible units in OHCS-funded affordable housing units by providing financial support and increasing the quantity and quality of accessible units.
In another loss, funding for fair housing investigation, enforcement, and education did not pass. Fortunately, however, SB 702 did pass as described above.
Mortgage Interest Deduction Reform
Unfortunately, the Mortgage Interest Deduction Reform bill did not advance. According to a 2022 Oregon Secretary of State audit, this tax expenditure primarily benefits higher income households living in urban counties. The League and a number of organizations have been working for several sessions to reform the tax credit so that savings can be used to assist moderate- and low-income homebuyers and address homelessness. SB 976, the Mortgage Interest Deduction Reform bill, has received a lot of interest because, if passed, the state’s largest housing subsidy would see some of the savings redirected away from higher earning homeowners to instead benefit low- and moderate-income home purchasers. In addition, resources resulting from reducing the subsidy would be used for homelessness prevention. The League submitted testimony in support of the reform.
Oregon Housing and Community Services Budget
SB 5511 is the Oregon Housing and Community Services budget bill. The total funds budget is $2,558,608,558 and 441 positions. This is a 28.5% increase from the 2023-25 current service level. OHCS’ budget from the General Fund includes the following:
· $111.2 million to continue shelter and rehousing services that were funded in HB 5019 in response to the Governor’s emergency declaration on homelessness.
· $24.1 million to provide operating support to existing shelters.
· $55 million for rental assistance.
· $6 million for services to tenants.
· $10 million in down payment assistance.
· $2.5 million for the decommissioning and replacement of manufactured housing.
· $9.7 million to capitalize a predevelopment loan program within OHCS, and expenditure limitation and position authority were added to revamp the process the Department will use to approve affordable housing finance applications from developers, which are intended to shorten the time between project approval and construction, while helping smaller developers and projects.
· $136.8 million is included in this budget in federal funds related to wildfire recovery efforts and supported by a $422 million federal grant.
By Marge Easley
Despite the Senate shutdown, some significant pieces of criminal justice legislation were able to make it through the session. The League focused this advocacy primarily on bills related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and juvenile justice. We submitted testimony on 13 bills and reported on the progress of many, many others. Bills related to gun safety and the rights of incarcerated people are discussed under separate headings in this report.
In the area of domestic violence and sexual assault, we were pleased to support the passage of bills to extend the length of restraining orders from one year to two years (SB 816); create the crime of sexual abuse by fraudulent representation, spurred by the case of the West Linn doctor who abused scores of young women in his examining room (SB 974); increase the statute of limitations from 12 years to 20 years for sex abuse offenses in the first degree (HB 3632); expand the crime of subjecting another person to involuntary servitude (SB 1052); expand the list of harassment offenses that require sex offender treatment (SB 339); and allocate $10 million from the General Fund to assist victims of domestic violence or sexual assault (SB 5506).
The League also supported the following legislation to improve Oregon’s juvenile justice system: expand the automatic expungement of records for youth under the jurisdiction of juvenile court (SB 519), require confidentiality between Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) employees and peer support team members (SB 212); require county juvenile departments to conduct sex trafficking screening (SB 745); allow those over 20 years of age to remain under the jurisdiction of OYA during the appellate process (SB 902); regularly review demographic data to ensure OYA programs are culturally appropriate (SB 903); and establish a Juvenile Justice Policy Commission to provide data-driven policy recommendations (HB 2320).
By Marge Easley
Only one firearm bill made it through the gauntlet this session, due to last minute compromises to lure Senate Republicans back to the floor. HB 2500 originally contained three separate regulations, but after both an age restriction of 21 and an expansion of gun free zones were dropped from the bill, a ban on unserialized firearms (ghost guns) was the only part of the bill to successfully pass. Oregon is now one of 11 states to regulate ghost guns.
Another disappointment was the failure of SB 348 to pass this session. The bill would have provided details for the implementation of Measure 114 (2022), which requires a permit to purchase a firearm and places a ban on high-capacity magazines. Meanwhile, given changes in federal firearm law as a result of the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, Measure 114 is in the midst of constitutional challenges by firearm advocates. It passed one hurdle on July 14 when U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut ruled that the provisions of Measure 114 are in keeping with “the nation’s history and tradition of regulating uniquely dangerous features of weapons and firearms to protect public safety.” A state court trial will be held in Harney County in mid-September. Appeals are expected, and gun safety advocates across the country are closely watching the progress of this precedent-setting case.
Rights of Incarcerated People
By Marge Easley
The League’s interest in the rights of incarcerated people continued this session as we provided support for the passage of several bills to improve the lives and recidivism rates of those housed in Oregon’s correctional facilities. These bills facilitate the provision of a wide array of drug treatment programs in correctional facilities (SB 529); require publicly accessible data on the use of segregated housing (HB 2345); and authorize the Department of Correction to enter into agreements to offer higher education academic programs to adults in custody (SB 270).
The League was disappointed that SB 579, allowing incarcerated people in Oregon to vote, did not advance this session. We will continue to advocate for passage in future sessions.
Immigration and Basic Rights
By Claudia Keith
HB 2905: Approved: Expands the list of individuals whose histories, contributions and perspectives are required to be included in social studies academic content standards and in related textbooks and instructional materials. House Speaker and Senate President signed this bill June 24. Passed unanimously. The governor signed 7/18. SMS: Adds requirement that academic content standards for history, geography, economics, and civics include instruction on individuals who are of Jewish descent. Requires adopted textbooks and instructional materials to adequately address the contributions of men and women of Jewish descent.
SB 610 A: Did not move from JW&Ms. It would have Established Food for All Oregonians (regardless of documentation status) Program within Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Fiscal, Staff Measure Summary. The fiscal may show up in the end-of-session budget balancing bill. Recent News: ‘Dozens of advocacy groups disappointed food assistance bill fails’ – Oregon Capital Chronicle
SB 216 A 5/8 governor signed. Related to data collected by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), request of Governor Kate Brown. OHA set a goal of eliminating health disparities by 2030 including those based on race, ethnicity, language, or disability (REALD) and sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI).
Oregon announces it will stockpile abortion drug – 4/20/23 - Oregon Capital Chronicle. The Washington legislature passed a bill related to this topic Governor Inslee administration submitted the request and drugs were purchased in March. Lawmakers briefed on WA plan to distribute abortion pill | The Seattle Times. Washington state purchases three-year supply of abortion pill | 4/4/23 - Reuters. LWVOR corresponded with Oregon Planned Parenthood on Apr 11 concerning this topic. LWVWA supported SB5768. The Washington bill was posted 4/5 and signed by the governor 4/27.
End of Session Full JWM Budget Reconciliation Bill HB5506
A tentative list of Immigration/Refugee + related line items:
- $2M OHA Healthcare Interpreter
- universal representative fund / Oregon worker relief $8.6M DAS. Section 264 and 265
- Universal rep (legal) and legal services…. $4.8M section 85 & 86
- Language interpretation services $.5M section 76
- Latino Comm Ctr Pdx/Gresh. $4.1M
- Immigration legal Services Oregon State Bar $800K
- Migrant Bilingual educ team $2.2M
- Afghan Refugee $2.5M
League of Women Voters of the US on social media - June 23, 2023: “This SCOTUS decision rightly leaves in place guidelines that do not target undocumented immigrants for arrest & deportation if they don’t threaten public safety. LWV stands with immigrants and partners to support polices to provide a path to citizenship.”
Where is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program Now? | League of Women Voters
By State-Funded Health Coverage for Immigrants as of July 2023 | KFF
Court to Weigh Effect of Justices’ Enforcement Ruling on DACA | Bloomberg Law
Supreme Court immigration ruling allows Biden's deportation policy | Washington Post,
Biden asylum restrictions at Mexico border can stay in place for now, appeals court says | Reuters