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Dear Friends,

It is our last day at the Capitol and we're a bit melancholy. We've worked really hard to draft and pass meaningful legislation that won't get passed this session, not for a lack of consensus or bipartisan support, but because of the walkout.

This session, we developed bills that addressed civil rights, the housing crisis, economic justice and wealth creation, climate change, access to healthcare, and more. These are issues that impact the lives of thousands of Oregonians.

People keep saying we’ll take these issues up next session, but I caution that time is a luxury those struggling just to live cannot afford. For people who are houseless, for people who don’t have healthcare, for farmworkers toiling in the fields exposed to toxic levels of chlopyrifos, for young students of color being forced to cut their hair and curb their identity in order to walk across the graduation stage, for Oregonians working full-time jobs impeded by crippling student loan debt, for frontline healthcare workers battling Coronavirus, for our lives and our planet TIME IS UP.


We need and deserve action now.

On Thursday morning, Republican leadership announced that their members would return to the Capitol on Sunday to pass “priority bills.” What they neglected to acknowledge was that all of the bills introduced and awaiting a Floor vote are priorities. All of these bills took months, and in some cases years, to work through the legislative process. The governance of our state is not a game. One team cannot return in the final minutes of the game and dictate the score. Legislators who were elected by their communities should not have to choose between passing child welfare bills, housing bills, climate bills or healthcare bills.

We could not and should never allow our representative democracy to be held hostage, as the Republican caucus attempted to use their absence, and our quorum statues to force an unconscionable resolution.

I commend Speaker Kotek’s and President Courtney’s efforts to work with Republicans to bring quorum back to the House and the Senate. I am proud to stand with the Speaker’s decision to adjourn the session yesterday, because the reality is that our colleagues did not act in good faith. Going forward, the real work comes in the days and weeks to come as we strive to mend the fringed fabric of our democracy and find common ground to move all of Oregon forward. The Speaker's full remarks are linked here.

In this newsletter, I want to highlight the impact of the delay tactics by showing what continues to be at stake with the bills that have died unceremonious deaths at the hands of this walkout. 
 

Carrying my first bill HB 4142 on the House Floor. 
HB 4142: Judicial Fines & Fees 
On February 18th, I carried my first bill, HB 4142, onto the House Floor. 

HB 4142 eliminates the minimum fee charged to payers when attempting to set up a payment plan. Under current law, if a person is fined $75 and cannot pay the full amount due, they can setup a payment plan, but in order to do so, a minimum setup fee of $50 is added. That takes a $75 fine and increases it to $125. 

This fee system preys on our low-income and budget constrained community members and often times creates a mountain of debt that is impossible to overcome. 

HB 4142 is a part of the judicial branches commitment to prevent unnecessary barriers and disproportionate outcomes for those who are underserved, vulnerable, and marginalized by developing supportive and creative common sense solutions to their legal needs. 

This bipartisan bill passed the house unanimously (57 Ayes, 3 excused). This walkout stopped this bill from having a vote in the Senate.

Click here for a video of my full comments. My comments start at 2:36:00.
 

HB 4107: The Crown Act

As a Chief Sponsor of HB 4107 (the Crown Act), I was proud to speak in favor of passage of this bill on the house floor. HB 4107 addresses two kinds of “backdoor discrimination”.

It codifies that dress codes cannot contain discriminatory language that bans racially-specific hairstyles and that businesses cannot create “cashless” policies that prevent marginalized members from our community from making purchases. 


This legislation helps us to dismantle systems that perpetuate disparities by providing equal access to our unbanked community members and equal opportunity to our community members whose physical characteristics and hair styles are natural to their racial and cultural identity. House Bill 4107 would ensure that this type of discrimination, which attempts to limit the opportunities and potential of some of our nations protected class, is no longer welcome in our state.

HB 4107 passed the House with a 42-12 vote. Due to the walkout, this bill did not get a vote in the Senate. 


Click here for a video of my full comments.
 

HB 4003: Equitable Access to Home Ownership

Communities of color across Oregon have faced discriminatory practices denying them opportunities for home ownership. Public-private policies like redlining, exclusionary zoning, and other blatantly racist and segregationist practices have cemented disparities in home ownership rates between communities of color and their non-minority counterparts.

Home ownership is one of the primary ways communities build wealth. Addressing barriers to home ownership is critical to addressing the racial wealth gap.  


As a legislature, we are taking deliberative and strategic action to right this wrong. HB 4003 was a first step in this process allocating grants, loans, and funding to programs like individual development accounts (IDA's) that remove systemic barriers to home ownership for people of color.

HB 4003 never came to the floor, due to the walkout. 
Climate action rally at the Oregon State Capitol on February 11th, 2020. I got to see passionate constituent-friends and the No-Drama-Llama. 
 
SB 1530: Climate Action

It is time for us to make decisive action to address climate change. If we fail to do our part as a state to reduce our greenhouse gasses and lower our carbon footprint, we will be leaving the worst consequences of our inaction to future generations. 

SB 1530 creates a "cap and invest" policy that moves us toward a clean energy future. Industries regulated under the bill would need to obtain state-issued credits proportionate to their emissions. Revenue from this bill will support investments in job creation, skills training, programs to mitigate wildfire and public health impacts, investing in more efficient farming systems, and other investments that will support impacted communities.

This bill has been scapegoated as the reason for the walkout.

Despite the misinformation, the truth is that there has been an extensive public involvement process and legislative hearings to improve this bill to make it work for all Oregonians. In fact, this bill allows rural Oregon counties to opt out of the fuel regulations to allow more local decision-making power.

Doing nothing is no longer an option. The walkouts highlight that we need to continue to work ardently toward climate justice. 

For more information, Senator Gelser did an excellent FAQ on her Facebook page linked here


 
Our meeting with the national gun violence advocacy group, Moms Demand Action.
HB 4005: Safe Storage
 
HB 4005 creates safe firearm storage standards. The legislature has a responsibility to ensure guns are kept out of the hands of those who might do harm to themselves or others.

This was a good sensible life-saving bill to make sure we do our part to stop preventable tragedies. Representatives Sollman, Prusak, and Keny Guyer worked incredibly hard to shepherd this bill through the legislative process. They listened to stakeholders and made amendments to make this bill work for as many Oregonians as possible without compromising the fundamental goals of the bill.

There were a total of three-plus hours spent on recorded testimony and informational meetings, hundreds of submitted testimony, and eight submitted amendments that were drafted for HB 4005. 

We are grateful to our community partners who rallied to support HB4005:  Everytown, State of Safety, Moms/Students Demand Action, Lift Every Voice OR, Giffords, Safe Routes Partnership, Jewish Federation of Greater PDX, ONA, OR Primary Care Association, College of Emergency Physicians (OR), YWCA, NAYA, Hacienda, OR Women’s Rights Coalition, OMA, OR Pediatric Society, LWV, OEA, PAT, OR PTA, AAUW OR, Children First, Oregon NOW, OR Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault.

The people deserved a vote on this critical measure. Due to the walkout this bill never had an opportunity to come up for a vote on the house floor. 
Thank you PCUN for your advocacy and for coming to our office with this beautiful tulip and card. 

HB 4109: Chlorpyrifos

Chlorpyrifos is a class of pesticides that are applied to control pests on a variety of crops, grown here in Oregon.

In 2016, the EPA conducted a study that illustrated the high risks associated with ingesting residue from chloropyrifos on food and in drinking water. They highlighted that this neurotoxic pesticide damages the neurological and behavioral development of children, impairs the health of hard-working farm workers and families living in close proximity to areas being sprayed. Despite evidence of the dangers of chlorpyrifos, they remain a registered pesticide used across our state.

HB 4109 enacts a ban on using this pesticide by 2022.

The house passed this bill on the floor, but it never got to the Senate. Due to the walkout the health and wellness of families across Oregon remain compromised. 

HB 4173: Insulin 

Access to insulin is a matter of life or death for the nearly 300,000 Oregonians that have diabetes. Increases in the price of insulin force people all over the country to choose between life saving medicine and paying their bills. A vial of insulin cost $21 in 1996, but has skyrocketed to over $300 in 2020.

HB 4173 caps the price of insulin at $75 for a 30-day supply to ensure that all Oregonians in need have access to this lifesaving medication.

This bill passed the House with bipartisan support, a 47 to 8 vote.  

Despite broad support, the walkout prevented a vote in the Senate, halting the relief thousands of Oregonians paying exorbitant prices for their medicine need. 
My meeting with the Oregon Black Nurses Association. Thank you to our health professionals that work to close the gap in health disparities.

HB 4161: Healthcare Inequities

HB 4161 invests funding from the Oregon Health Authority to Regional Health Equity Coalitions (RHECs) working to improve health outcomes in partnership with community stakeholders including tribal and sovereign nations. 

These community-driven health organizations take a holistic approach to healthcare addressing housing, transportation, employment, and education needs of community members with a goal of increasing their overall well-being.

HB 4161 solidifies funding for RHECs to maximize their impact in the community.
   
These needed investments that alter the trajectory of our most vulnerable community members was not able to come to the House or Senate for a floor vote due to the walkout. 
I hosted development director and co-founder Pippa Arend and youth from p:ear, an non-profit organization building positive relationships with homeless youth in our district. 

We all know the stakes are high, these bills were just the tip of the iceberg (here is a list of critical bills that were stunted this session).

Trust that we are working hard to ensure that this never happens again. The work we do in the legislature transforms people’s lives now and into the future, and we are committed to getting this work across the finish line.

In Solidarity, 

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Upcoming Events

Below is information about upcoming events happening in our district and in the Portland area. 
Join us and be a part of a global competition to develop innovative tech solutions that facilitate access to justice and progress the business of law! Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/92772427829/

Black History Festival NW: Monologues
Monday, March 9 at 6:00pm

 Portland Center Stage at The Armory 128 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

A Celebration of Culture and Heritage Showcasing African American artists, businesses, organizations and leaders.

RSVP: https://blackhistoryfestival.org/register-for-festival/

Emergency Preparedness Fair
Sunday, March 12  from 12 PM-4 PM

Multnomah Arts Center,7688 SW Capitol Highway, Portland, OR 97219

Join SW Neighborhoods, Inc to prepare for emergency situations. There will be expert advice, supplies, prizes, and emergency-related seminars.

Facebook event link : hhttps://www.facebook.com/events/2279578778808414/

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