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Representative Akasha Lawrence Spence 

Photo with Neighborhood Partnerships outside the Capitol. Neighborhood Partnerships met with our office to advocate for the Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative.

Dear Friends,

These first 3 weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least, so I wanted to catch you up on everything we've been working on, from climate change, safe storage of firearms, the housing crisis, and more...

 
I've been heads down doing the work to represent you, the people.

Today the walkout gave pause to our ability to move meaningful legislation through both chambers this session and it is important for me to address it. 

 

REPUBLICAN WALKOUT


When elected officials walk away from the job voters elected them to do, they are shutting down the government, stalling the progression of much needed legislation, and threatening the very fabric of our democracy. 

This is NOT a game, the work we do here matters to people's lives. The members who refuse to show up for work and do their jobs are saying to a large majority of Oregonians: your voice and your vote doesn't matter. 

So what do we do now?
Encourage your friends and colleagues who are represented by a senator or representative who did not show up for work today, to write letters, make phone calls, and send emails encouraging them to return to the work that they are so privileged to do. 
Climate action rally at the Oregon State Capitol on February 11th, 2020.
Photo courtesy of Oregon League of Conservation Voters. 
CLIMATE ACTION

Senate Bill 1530 is the most visible climate bill this session. It proposes a Cap & Invest policy that will allow industrial emitters to comply with the program in the most efficient, low cost way while still providing reductions in pollution. 

Industries regulated under the bill would need to obtain state-issued credits proportionate to their emissions. The revenue generated from the program will be invested into clean energy solutions that will catalyze our transition to a clean energy economy and provide resources to frontline communities impacted by the climate crisis. 

As a small business owner, I recognize the importance of investments to support small businesses transition to the clean energy economy.


The bill is less than perfect, but it is a start.
Doing nothing is no longer an option. 

 
Our meeting with the national gun violence advocacy group, Moms Demand Action.
SAFE STORAGE
 
Many of you have reached out to me about House Bill 4005. Groups like Moms Demand Action have organized, testified, and emailed in support of this crucial legislation that will help us save lives. 

Youth suicide and mass shootings, like the 2012 Clackamas Town Center Mall shooting that inspired this bill, are at an all time high. We must do everything in our power to protect some of Oregon's most vulnerable populations: young people and the mentally ill, who in a moment of desperation choose to take their own lives or the lives of others. 

Safe and secure storage of a firearms is the behavior change we need to save lives. 

SUPPORTIVE HOUSING
 
The housing crisis is one of the most pressing issues in our district and across the State of Oregon. I am committed to working toward increasing access to affordable housing and reducing the widespread impacts of homelessness. 

The Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, went into the 2020 session declaring a statewide emergency on housing and homelessness. She introduced several bills, most notably House Bill 4001 which eases zoning restrictions on shelters and other temporary housing structures.

Multnomah County conducted a study illustrating that when compounded with mental and physical disability, houselessness is more likely a chronic or permanent state of being.

The County purchased a building with plans to create a Behavioral Health Resource Center that will not only serve as a day shelter and a dedicated mental health shelter, but includes bridge housing to help transition people out of homelessness by acclimating them to life skills lost while trying to survive on the outskirts.

The County is asking for 12.5 million dollars to make the Behavioral Resource Center a reality, and I ask that you join me in petitioning for this cause. 
 
Send an email to the members of the Committee on Joint Ways and Means  so they know that funding the Behavioral Resource Center is a priority for our community. 
Visualization of proposed ADU pilot program

SMALL HOMES PILOT

Another way that we are advancing our housing goals is through our work with affordable housing providers, Hacienda CDC, Habitat for Humanity Bend and Redmond, DEV NW (Springfield), and several other coalition partners who form the Equity First Affordable Small Homes (EFASH) demonstration project. I requested an amendment to House Bill 4015 to include a program that will help low and middle income homeowners build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).
 
These ADUs would provide rental housing that remain affordable for 10 years, providing more urgently-needed housing options for renters. The ADUs would also provide rental income for low and middle income homeowners, and is vehicle for generational wealth creation.   
 
I have also become a chief sponsor to House Bill 4003 enabling the Housing and Community Services Department to provide grants, loans, and technical assistance to organizations increasing homeownership program access to persons of color. 

 

One of the first lessons that I've learned as your representative is just how much the work we do in the legislature is a team effort.

As much as I would like to, it is impossible for me to read every bill and every amendment to every bill.

I have enormous gratitude to all of you who have taken the time to come to our office in Salem, testified in-person or submitted written testimony this session on key legislative issues.

We encourage you to keep reaching out! 

We are listening. 

We look forward to meeting you in Portland in the coming weeks. 

In Solidarity, 

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Upcoming Events

Below is information about upcoming events happening in our district and in the Portland area. 
Portland Bureau of Transportation and TriMet is hosting two open houses about Central City in Motion, a new initiative to dedicate more bus lanes to address congestion in downtown Portland and increase bus ridership. The first open house is open to all community members and the second open house is intended for businesses in the area that will be impacted by this project. 

GENERAL OPEN HOUSE
WHEN: Wed. February 26th, 2020, 6:00-8:00 PM
Find more information at the Facebook event link HERE.

BUSINESS-FOCUSED OPEN HOUSE
WHEN: Wed. March 4th, 2020, 4:30-6:30 PM
Find more information at the Facebook event link HERE.
In Oregon, Black people have historically been undercounted in the census. Join the Portland African American Leadership Forum and #WeCountOregon to learn tools to help mobilize hard-to-count communities to prepare for the upcoming 2020 Census.

WHEN: Sat. Feb. 29th, 2020, 9 AM-4:30 PM
Find tickets for the event HERE and Facebook event link HERE
This is a community-building gathering at the SW Community Center to welcome immigrant and refugee community members. There will be cultural performances, food carts music, and dancing. 

WHEN: Thurs. March 19th, 2020, 6:00-8:30 PM
Find more information at the Facebook event link HERE.
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Copyright © 2020 Representative Lawrence Spence, All rights reserved.


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