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Legislative Report - Week of 2/12

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By Jean Pierce, Social Policy Coordinator, and Team

After School and Summer Care

By Katie Riley

HB 4082, Summer Learning for 2024 and Beyond, to provide $50 million for summer care in 2024 and establish a workgroup for planning to support after-school and summer learning opportunities and care in the future was approved unanimously in the House Committee on Education and referred to Ways and Means.


Behavioral Health and Related Public Safety Issues

By Karen Nibler/Jean Pierce

SB 1553-1, which restricts the use of an illegal drug on public transit, is on second reading in the Senate. The bill adds unlawful possession and use of a drug to the list of crimes which interfere with public transportation. This would make the use of a drug such as fentanyl on public transportation or at a transit station a Class C misdemeanor. A person with three or more prior convictions for interfering with public transportation is charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The law does not address the payment of fees, paths to expungement, or support for behavioral health treatment. 

No other bills designed to increase penalties for public drug use advanced this week. This includes  HB4002, for which the League submitted testimony. Similarly, none of the bills designed to study issues related to public drug use advanced.


Higher Education

By Jean Pierce

Update on SB1592 for which the League submitted testimony: The Senate Education Committee passed this bill, which allocates $6M from General Funds to public universities in Oregon to train behavioral health professionals, with the following amendment: the role of labor management was recognized as a force in developing career pathways. The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

Update on HB4162 for which the League submitted testimony: The House Committee on Higher Education passed this bill, which allocates $5M from  General Funds to the Higher Education Coordinating Committee to divide among public colleges and universities to assist students in paying for basic needs such as food, housing, textbooks, etc. It has been referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

HB4125: The House Committee on Higher Education passed HB4125, which would direct the Legislative Policy and Research Director to hire a qualified vendor to conduct a study of the effectiveness of the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) and Individual Governing Boards for Oregon’s public universities. The study would provide comparisons to trends such as tuition costs and student debt in other states as well as comparisons of the actual performance of the HECC and the Governing Boards to the goals described in the original legislation. The study would also examine trends in state funding for the institutions adjusted for inflation. The bill allocates more than $463,000 for the study, and has been referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.



By Nancy Donovan, Debbie Aiona, Beth Jacobi

Emergency Housing Stability and Production Package (SB 1537-9 and SB 1530-3)

At the start of the session, Governor Kotek introduced legislation aimed at increasing housing production and addressing the needs of unsheltered Oregonians. The package passed out of the Senate Committee on Housing and Development on a unanimous vote of 5-0 and now will go to the Committee on Ways and Means. 

SB 1537-9 would provide technical assistance, new sources of funding and the ability to expand urban growth boundaries to increase housing production by:

  • Creating a Housing Accountability and Production Office, which would be responsible for assisting local governments with housing production by offering technical assistance aimed at reducing barriers to development, among other things.

  • Establishing a Housing Infrastructure Support Fund available to local jurisdictions as they plan for the infrastructure needed to serve new housing development.

  • Allowing local jurisdictions to have access to a new $75 million Housing Project Revolving Loan Fund for the purpose of financing production of affordable and moderate-income housing projects.

  • Granting qualified cities a one-time expansion of their urban growth boundaries (UGB). Cities with 25,000 people could expand their UGB by 50 acres. Cities over 25,000 could expand it by 100 acres, and in the Metro Area, the limit is 300 acres. LWVOR still has a number of concerns about  SB 1537,  although we appreciate the reduction in UGB acreage expansion that this bill would allow. 

SB 1530-3 would provide desperately needed funding for unsheltered Oregonians and households living in unstable conditions. The League submitted a letter in support and requested the addition of funding for low-income housing preservation, increasing resources for the Independent Development Account program, and funds for production of affordable homes for first-time buyers.

The bill appropriates funding to the Housing and Community Services Department, Oregon Health Authority, Department of Human Services, and Oregon Department of Administrative Services and other programs to directly address the immediate needs of households and individuals:

  • $65 million for the operations, services, and administration of emergency shelters.

  • $2 million to provide support for warming or cooling emergency shelters or facilities.

  • $40 million for homelessness prevention services, through the Oregon Eviction Diversion and Prevention, and Prevention and Eviction Prevention Rapid Response Programs, as well as services for culturally specific organizations.

  • $18 million for housing for people recovering from drug addiction.

Other items that promote housing affordability and stability include: 

  • $100 million for infrastructure projects that will support the development of housing.

  • $10 million for land acquisition for affordable housing.

  • $2 million to provide support for residents whose housing may be withdrawn from publicly supported housing or is within a manufactured dwelling park being sold or closed. The League provided testimony to increase the funding to $30 million.

  • $5 million to provide matching funds for deposits into Individual Development Accounts. The League provided testimony to increase the amount to $10 million to continue their current service levels.

  • $3.5 for air conditioners and air filters to at-risk individuals.

  • $7.5 million to Healthy Homes, to support home repairs and improvements to lower energy usage and make homes safer.

A recent report by Portland State University shows that homelessness increased by 8.5 percent overall from 2022 and unsheltered homelessness increased 17.2 percent. These figures underscore the importance of increasing efforts to address the need. 

Violence Prevention and Gun Policy

By Marge Easley

The League submitted testimony on February 14 in support of HB 4135, which creates the crime of threatening a mass injury event. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Courtney Neron, changes current law to allow for charging an intentional and credible threat as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. The amount of the fine and imprisonment time would increase considerably upon the second and subsequent offense. Using our position on Gun Policy, we also support the bill’s provision to prohibit the possession of a firearm by a person convicted of threatening a mass injury event. The bill may now be undergoing some fine-tuning due to opposition related to free speech and juvenile justice issues, since a scheduled work session no longer appears on OLIS. 

SB 1503 A, which establishes a Task Force on Community Safety and Firearm Suicide Prevention and received supportive League testimony, passed out of Senate Judiciary with amendments on February 13 and has been referred to Ways and Means.

The League is also monitoring HB 4156, which modernizes Oregon’s anti-stalking law. The bill, championed by Rep. Kevin Mannix, passed out of the House Judiciary with amendments on February 15 and was referred to Ways and Means.


General Education

By Anne Nesse, Education Portfolio

This is the week to follow Bills that are destined to proceed to the House, or Senate, and as needed to Ways and Means, Revenue, or other committees to allow passage. 

We are following two Bills in Human Services that relate to children. 

HB 4105, which relates to targeted case management by nursing services to improve outcomes in children’s lives. This went out of Committee with a do-pass recommendation and referral to W & M.

HB 4087, directs DHS to establish a program to provide treatment to children with high needs who are in DHS custody and to establish an Emergency High Acuity Youth Initiative program. This Bill is scheduled for a work session on 2/19.

We continue to follow those Bills we have testified on.

SB 1552, Sen. Dembrow’s Educational Omnibus Bill, part of which we supported,  passed out of Committee as amended with a referral to W & M.

On 2/13 testimony was submitted by over 700 persons or groups, including LWVOR on  SB 1583, a Bill to reinforce our codes against books and materials being banned in our public schools. We added our testimony in support, based on “age appropriate teaching of values that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and the belonging of all people. It is important for a youth’s problem solving skills to understand the issues we all face together, as a community, a state, a nation, and a world.” We learned in the hearing that often ‘quiet book banning’ occurred everywhere in the US, partially because we do not have licensed Librarians in all of our schools, but also because communities disagree on what is age appropriate. Librarians are sometimes better equipped to defend a book or materials on age appropriateness and on intellectual, or emotional grounds. The -4 amendment was approved to replace the Bill on 2/15, and it was sent to the floor with a do pass recommendation. Age appropriateness in teaching, as Sen. Frederick pointed out, is already written into all ODE codes and statutes, and therefore not necessary for this Bill. However Sen. Weber stated she will file a minority report, on that point. Much of the testimony opposed to this Bill was supporting the communities’ right of choice on age appropriateness decisions in teaching, A clause referring to this was added to the -3 amendment, which was not adopted.

We are continuing to follow two Bills we supported in testimony:

HB 4078A a study Bill to create a standardized record keeping system in grades K-12

throughout the State. This passed with amendments and was referred to W &  M.

HB 4079 removes the percentage cap on the amount of moneys that are distributed from

the State School Fund to school districts for students eligible for special education. This Bill

will have a second public hearing on 2/20 in the Revenue Committee at 8:30 am.

We will follow HB 4161, that  includes policies regarding  school district approval, open enrollment, and educational savings accounts for  virtual public charter schools. 

HB 4137, directs ODE to adopt rules by which a student who has completed an International

Baccalaureate program may satisfy certain requirements for a high school diploma in this

State. This Bill will make it easier for students to complete this type of program, with

transferable credits for certain classes. The Bill has already passed on the House floor, and will

now proceed to the Senate.

Contact if you have any comments or questions.

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