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Legislative Report - Week of 4/24

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Social Policy


By Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan

Governor Kotek created the Housing Production Advisory Council to develop comprehensive recommendations to build 36,000 homes per year. On April 25, the Council released its Framework for Action Plan, which gives priority to solutions that will have the greatest impact in addressing the state’s housing shortage, and inequity and racial injustice. 

The next steps the Council will take to accomplish the task will include: development of an action plan outlining immediate and long-term executive actions, policies, and investments needed to meet the production target of 36,000 housing units with one-third of them affordable to the lowest income households. The Oregon Housing Needs Analysis estimates that the state is short 140,000 homes statewide. The council’s report describes the council’s goals and the steps it plans to take to develop the action plan due to the Governor by the end of the year. 

The report points out that low-income and communities of color are disproportionately affected by the housing shortage. With that in mind, the council set some minimum standards for its future recommendations. They must 1) prioritize housing affordability levels by the scale of the deficit of each housing type, and 2) plan for production that is equitable and affirmatively furthers fair housing. In addition, they will look for ways to reduce barriers and increase production. The Governor emphasized need to acknowledge “past and present racially discriminatory and exclusionary housing policies that are still felt in communities today” and work proactively to fix them.

Status Update on Bills Reported on Last Week:

SB 702: would require training to be adopted by the Appraiser Certification and Licensure Board for real estate appraisers and appraiser assistants to comply with state and federal fair housing laws. The League submitted testimony in support. The House held a work session on April 27. 

SB 893 A: would require Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) to modify the state’s homeless programs and funding structure so they are more culturally responsive. It allows OHCS to create committees to work on rules and a policy framework that accomplishes that goal. The bill passed out of the Senate on April 11 and the House held a work session on April 27. 

HB 3443: Prohibits landlords from terminating a lease or taking other specified actions due to the status of a tenant as a victim of a bias crime. The bill would make changes to the bias crime laws and aspects of the Oregon Department of Justice's (DOJ) Bias Response Hotline. The measure expands the confidentiality of reports. It would allow victims to break a lease without penalty and have protected leave from work. The Senate held a work on April 24, and the measure passed by unanimous vote with referral to another committee. 

Behavioral Health

By Karen Nibler

The Behavioral Health Committee proposed HB 3610 -2 but sent it to House Rules where it was heard on April 20. Distilled alcohol is a product that is taxed now but this amendment proposed taxes on beer, cider and wine. Rep. Tanya Sanchez was a major proponent as she sees addiction as a huge issue. The amendment sets up a 17 member task force and adds funding for treatment and the distribution of tax revenues. 

Those who testified were concerned about the distribution of funding and the impact of the tax on the industry. Others said the funding was not sufficient and allocation was controlled by current beneficiaries of grants. The BM 110 grants were disbursed to public and private agencies in 2022.

An Oregon Health Authority representative stated that alcohol was the third leading cause of death, which increased during the pandemic to 2,500 people in 2020. For society the costs are in lost productivity, motor vehicle crashes, health care, and criminal justice. For the agency, alcohol abuse requires prevention, treatment and recovery services. 

Gun Safety

By Marge Easley

A showdown is expected on the House floor on May 2, the date when HB 2005 B is scheduled for a vote. The omnibus bill, with 12 Democratic sponsors, bans ghost guns, increases the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 (with exceptions for hunting), and allows local jurisdictions to create gun-free zones. Stay tuned!

SB 348 A, the implementation bill for Measure 114 is in Ways and Means where cost considerations will occur in light of the May 17 budget forecast. Besides the firearm permit requirement and the ban on large capacity magazines, the bill contains two added provisions that have caused a stir. One requires a 72-hour waiting period between the background check and the transfer of the firearm. Due to the potential for legal challenges to the bill, the same waiting period requirement is also included in the backup bill SB 393 A, which passed out of Senate Judiciary in early April. The other provision is a requirement that any legal challenges must be filed in Marion County Circuit Court. This was added to prevent judge shopping, which many suspected was the case in the Measure 114 lawsuit filed in Harney County.

An excellent summary of the looming legislative and courtroom battles over firearm legislation can be found in this Capital Chronicle article (April 24). 

Meanwhile, firearms are flying off the shelves in gun stores across Oregon in anticipation of the passage of firearm restrictions. It was reported that in one weekend alone—April 15-16—background checks on 40,000 people were completed by the Oregon State Police. 

Criminal Justice 

By Marge Easley

The movement of bills has slowed considerably, particularly on the Senate side, and at the current rate it is clear only a small percentage will make it through the session. A hearing and possible work session in House Judiciary on SB 339 A, which increases penalties for sexual harassment, was postponed until May 3. The work session on SB 234, which gives the Chief Justice the authority to make rules for gathering data on impacts and disparities in the criminal justice system, was postponed until May 5.

Several Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) bills are moving forward. These three passed out of House Judiciary on April 26: SB 902 allows those 20 or older who are resentenced to continue temporary assignment to youth corrections, SB 903 authorizes the collection of OYA staff demographics data, and SB 904 A changes the OYA staff to facility population ratio. A public hearing on SB 745 A, ensuring that adjudicated youth receive sex trafficking screening, and a work session on SB 212 A, requiring confidentiality of communications during peer support check-in sessions, will take place on May 4.

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