Legislative Report - Week of 1/16/23
By Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona
On January 11, Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan, along with other Housing Alliance members, voted on the Oregon Housing Alliance’s 2023 legislative agenda.
On January 13, the Housing Alliance shared results of the member vote by announcing their 2023 legislative policy agenda, a slate of 8 priority bills and 20 endorsed bills. Priority bills are defined as ones for which the Housing Alliance should be active in coordinating and leading advocacy. If bills are endorsed, the Alliance intends to publicly support the proposals, and contribute to their advocacy, however, they will not serve as the lead organization.
Listed below are the Housing Alliance priority bills that have received their first reading and been assigned to committees. The decision to have public hearings on bills rests with Committee Chairs, Vice Chairs and Legislative Leadership. The filing deadline is Feb. 21 for most bills.
HB 3010 Reform the Mortgage Interest Deduction
Disallows taxpayers from claiming a deduction on home mortgage interest for any residence other than their primary residence. Phases out the deduction on primary residences for households earning $250,000 or more. Increased revenue would be used, among other things, to assist first time homebuyers.
SB 611 Reasonable Rent
Limits annual rent increases to 3% plus consumer price index, or 8%, whichever is lower; provides these protections for all buildings more than 3 years-old (buildings up to 15 years-old are currently exempted); and increases relocation assistance in landlord-based (no-fault) evictions
HB 2456 Emergency Housing Assistance for K-12 students
Modifies the state’s emergency housing assistance (EHA) program and state homeless assistance program (SHAP) to provide funds to assist school-aged children experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
SB 225 Private Activity Bonds for Affordable Housing
Makes changes to the state's policy for private activity bonds to ensure coordination of affordable housing resources and a clear financing process
For information on the endorsed bills, please see the link above on the Housing Alliance’s 2023 Legislative policy agenda.
By Trish Garner
2023 Bills Related to Abortion / Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health
It is difficult to predict what will take place during the 2023 Legislative Session about issues related to reproductive rights in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health. On the one hand, the right to an abortion is protected in Oregon's constitution (Article I, Section 46; 2014) and related statutes (e.g. ORS 743B.001 which requires health benefit plans to cover abortion costs). It has also been the case that in past sessions, measures limiting abortion rights have more or less regularly been submitted for approval and haven't made it to a Committee hearing. On the other hand, we would be deaf if we did not hear countervailing drum beats.
The 2023 Legislative Session is not without proposals to ban abortion outright: prohibition of abortion after the 37th week - HB 2810, after the 38th week - HB 2808, after the 39th week - HB 2807; prohibition of late term or third trimester abortion except in a medical emergency or in the case of rape, incest - HB 2809 (Chief Sponsors are Reps Hieb and Diehl). Senate Bill 513 (Sen Thatcher and Rep Morgan) prohibits an abortion unless the health care provider first determines the probable gestational age of the unborn child, except in the case of a medical emergency. Attacking reproductive services from another direction is HB 2402 (Rep Diehl); it prohibits public funding for abortions.
HB 2526 (Rep Breese-Iverson) adopts a different tack, although the result may be the same. HB 2526 requires the OHA to establish a toll free pregnancy resource hotline to provide information and assistance to pregnant persons seeking abortions in this state. So far, so good, but the bill then continues to provide that except for a medical emergency, an abortion cannot be performed unless the provider verifies that the pregnant person has consulted with this hotline at least 48 hours before the provision of abortion services.
There are a few other proposals which may not seem to directly challenge the provision of abortions, but are nonetheless disconcerting and call for scrutiny. Under HB 2423 (Rep Breese-Iverson) the Oregon Health Authority ("OHA") is directed to establish and administer a Pregnancy Launch Program that among other things supports childbirth as an alternative to abortion and encourages healthy childbirth. This legislation also prohibits the OHA from contracting for providing services with an organization that "directly or indirectly provides, promotes, refers for or assists pregnant persons in obtaining abortions." HB 2424 (Rep Breese-Iverson) requires OHA to establish a program for the purpose of making grants to entities that provide services related to encouraging and assisting pregnant persons in carrying their pregnancies to term. Grant monies will not be used to encourage or assist pregnant persons in having abortions unless an abortion is necessary to avoid impairment of the person's "major bodily functions."
Perhaps farther removed from but still related to the Dobbs decision, there are bills from both the House and Senate side that require school health education curricula to include information about human development from conception to birth (SB 674 - Sen Knopp and Rep Smith; HB 2570 - Reps Smith and McIntire.)
So, we shall see what traction any of these bills attain.
Immigration/Refugees and other Basic Rights
By Claudia Keith
US Chamber calls for Congress to end gridlock, saying businesses are ‘fed up’ | The Hill. Senator Ron Wyden regards WOU town hall as education opportunity for him | News | polkio.com.
New "Food for All Oregonians" legislation backed by over 75 community organizations - Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.
Bills of Interest or possible League support: (Bills that have been posted to OLIS that may move forward via a committee public hearing. – an Incomplete list)
SB610: Establishes Food for All Oregonians Program within Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to provide nutrition assistance to residents of this state who would qualify for federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program but for immigration status. Requires Department of Human Services to convene an advisory group to recommend metrics to evaluate success of the department in treating all applicants for and recipients of public assistance in welcoming manner and with respect, courtesy, fairness, and dignity. Unclear what the funding ask may be. May replace the ‘Workers Relief Fund’. ‘Oregon Worker Relief measures impact in infrastructure’| Statesman Journal.
SB627: Funding for universal (legal) fees for non-documented individuals (15M$) Sen Lieber.
SB185 Requires Department of Justice to study immigration in this state; may include recommendations for legislation, to the interim committees of the Legislative Assembly no later than September 15, 2024. Requested by Attorney General Rosenblum.
HB2957: Financial assistance to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status recipients for specified purposes. (>7M$). Large portion of the Source funding is Federal ARPA funds. Rep Ruiz
SB603: Establishes People's Housing Assistance Fund Demonstration Program, administered by Department of Human Services, to provide 12 monthly payments of $1,000 to individuals who are experiencing homelessness, are at risk of homelessness, are severely rent burdened or earn at or below 60 percent of area median income. (Includes immigrant, and refugee status.) Starts with a PSU $250K study. A potential $500M program. Rep Pham K and Senator Campos, Sen Cmt on Housing and Dev, then W&M.
SB613: Creates Commission for Indigenous Communities
HB2458: Prohibits conversion therapy
By Marge Easley
Measure 114 Update: On January 13, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court to either dismiss the Harney County judge’s ruling that put a halt on the measure’s implementation or direct the judge to explain his reasoning. We await the Supreme Court’s decision. In the meantime, we will urge legislators to make any needed technical fixes and provide adequate funding for full implementation. More complete information on court actions related to Measure 114 can be found in this recent Oregonian article.
By Marge Easley
We can expect to see a number of bills this session that pertain to the current shortage of public defenders in Oregon, particularly in Washington and Multnomah Counties. On January 18, House Judiciary Committee members heard a presentation about the reasons for the shortage, including the extremely heavy workload, low pay, and high turnover due to burnout. Despite the allocation of $10 million to Public Defense Services in December, much more funding is urgently needed. In addition, legislators are also looking at a number of longer-term solutions to increase recruitment, including the streamlining of court processes, the forgiveness of law school loans in return for five years of public defense work, providing alternatives to taking the bar exam, and allowing non-attorney members of the Oregon State Bar to practice law in specific areas.
Measure 110 Update
On January 19, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan released an audit of Measure 110, authorized by the 2021 Oregon Legislature. The measure was passed by Oregon voters in 2020 with the intent of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of controlled substances and directing cannabis tax revenue to addiction and recovery services. After a slow rollout, the Oregon Health Authority has thus far awarded $33 million in grant money, although scant data currently exists to show how the money was spent or whether it was used effectively to improve addiction services. Audit recommendations include improving the program’s governance structure, grant application process, and collaboration with public agencies.
The effective implementation of Measure 110 is of critical importance when one considers the following statements from the audit’s introduction: “Oregon has the second highest rate of substance use disorder in the nation and ranked 50th for access to treatment. In Oregon, more than two people died each day from unintentional opioid overdoses in 2021.”