|Contact and Chair:|| Nel Ward
NOW Legislative Committee Report
March 22, 2016
Following are laws the passed the 2016 32-day session:
SB 1571: This law directs Department of State Police to adopt rules concerning prioritization of testing untested sexual assault forensic evidence kits. Testing of rape kits must be prioritized: police agencies must pick up a kit within seven days after a hospital alerts them about its existence and submit it to the crime lab for testing within 14 days. All kits must be stored for 60 years. The state will provide $1.5 million to the crime lab to hire nine new DNA and biology evidence technicians to help process the kits. The law requires testing of all untested rape kits except for anonymous ones. Procedures aren’t required until January 2017; the testing must be entered into the Combined DNA Index System by July 1, 2018. A task force shall report to interim committee of Legislative Assembly related to judiciary by December 1, 2018. Anonymous kits may not be tested but will be kept for 60 years. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2703100/Sb-1571.pdf
SB 1600: This law removes the 12-year statute of limitations for first-degree sex crimes if new evidence becomes available or multiple victims come forward. This includes, for example, physical evidence such as emails or texts, corroborating testimony by someone other than the victim, reports from additional victims, or a confession by the defendant.
Student Medical Privacy (SB 1558): University-based health providers will now be forced to follow the same confidentiality rules as off-campus providers. The law allows university or college health centers, mental health centers, and counseling centers to share patient medical information with someone at the university only if they have the right to access that information off-campus. The bill was introduced after the University of Oregon used a student’s counseling records against her when she sued the university for its mishandling of her rape case involving the basketball team. UO classified the health information as student records which, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, are not protected under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. The 2015 law was narrowly focused, covering only cases of sexual assault.
Raising the Minimum Wage (Senate Bill 1532): This law provides pay raises to over 100,000 workers. The six-year plan starts this July by raising wages to $9.75 in urban areas and $9.50 in a lower, rural tier. Increases top out in 2022 at $14.75 inside Portland’s urban growth boundary, $13.25 in midsize counties, and $12.50 in “frontier” areas. The minimum wage timeline: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/02/oregon_house_passes_minimum_wa.html
SB 1515: Reforms to the state’s child welfare system in response include tightened licensing requirements for residential facilities, sanctions for licensed facilities that don’t meet standards, increased enforcement staffing at DHS, orders to promptly investigate abuse, and legislation against sex trafficking by expanding the crime of prostitution to include receiving goods or services.
SB 1537: This law continues the so-called “fifth-year programs,” allowing high school students who have completed the requirements for high school to defer graduation for a year while the districts use state school funds to cover the cost of community college courses.
Change in Energy Policies (HB 4036): Coal power must be eliminated in the state by 2030 and the state’s renewable energy standard doubled by 2040.
Tenant Protections (HB 4143): This bill includes 90 days’ notice for rent increases and no rent increases during the first year of tenancy.
Removing the Sunset of Property Tax exemptions for Affordable Housing (HB 4081): Property tax exemptions for non-profit owners of affordable housing will be maintained until a long-term legislative solution is found.
Local Innovation and Fast Track Affordable Housing Development Program Parameters (SB 1582): This law expands the state’s supply of affordable housing for low income households.
Strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit (HB 4110): This law increases the percentage of federal earned income credit allowed to personal income taxpayer, based upon age of taxpayer’s dependent.
Bills That Failed to Pass in 2016:
Gun Background Checks (HB 4147): Passing out of the House by 31-28, the bill would have stopped gun sales before a completed background check, closing a loophole allowing a man to kill nine people in a Charleston (SC) church. An amendment requires a ten-day completion of the background check before a transaction. Most checks are processed in minutes; only 3.2 percent of the state’s checks would be subject to a delay.
SB 1551: This bill would have allowed state police to put a temporary hold on firearm purchases if they received a report from a mental health professional, educator, or immediate family member that the buy was a danger to him or herself or to others.
HB 4059: This anti-choice bill would require Oregon Health Authority to establish grant program for purpose of making grants to entities that provide services related to encouraging and assisting pregnant women in carrying their pregnancy to term. That means money would be provided to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” which give false information about abortions and pregnancy. The bill is in committee with no meetings scheduled.
HB 4070: This bill would outlaw late-term sex-selective abortions.
HB 4061: This bill would prohibit OHA from providing assistance coverage of specified treatments for transgender people.
2016 Proposed Legislation (Prepared by Nel Ward)
The Oregon legislature’s five-week session beginning Monday, February 1, 2016 is already packed with bills—over 600 bills already filed. Many bills are too complex to address in such a short time, but the list, may show the direction of the 2017 session. Gov. Kate Brown and legislative leaders gave their 2016 priorities: raising the minimum wage, making housing more affordable, closing loopholes in last year’s gun safety legislation, improving graduation rates, and creating greater transparency in government. A proposed change in legislation rules is that legislators must attach their names to amendments with an option to note if a lobbyist sponsored the amendment in order to reveal interest groups behind the amendments.
When the session opens, you can track the calendar, bills, and other information here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/calendar
First the bad news:
HB 4059: Refers anti-choice Act to voters at the next regular general election—meaning 2016. The measure would establish a grant program for entities that try to get women to not have an abortion and fund “abortions as part of state’s medical assistance program only if abortion is necessary to avoid impairment of pregnant woman’s major bodily functions or if pregnancy is result of rape or incest.” Sponsor Bill Post is attempting to mislead the public by claiming that the bill establishes a “pregnant women’s assistance fund.” Money for Post’s plan would redirect Oregon Health Authority funds from clinics that provide or give advice about abortions.
SB 1581: Allow farmers to pay minimum-wage to piece rate workers on sick leave, increase the threshold from 10 to 25 employees, and force workers to wait 120 days rather than 90 days to use sick leave. Farmers also wouldn’t be jointly liable for workers employed by labor contractors or have them counted toward the worker threshold. Two other bills reportedly weakening the paid sick leave law are SB 1525 and HB 4139.
These bill may be more progressive:
Proposals for increasing Oregon’s current minimum wage of $9.25, tied to inflation, are all over the place, but Gov. Kate Brown has scaled back earlier ideas after talking with labor and business groups and state lawmakers. Her new plan:
- Keep the minimum wage the same statewide, raising it to $9.75 an hour in July 2016.
- Create a difference between Portland metro ($11.25 an hour) and the rest of Oregon ($10.25) in July 2017.
- Top Portland metro at $14.50 an hour and $13.25 an hour for the rest of the state in mid-2022.
- Tie the minimum wage to inflation the last increase.
Rationale for increasing the minimum wage:
- More than one-half million Oregonians working for minimum wage earn less than $20,000 a year—insufficient for just the basics of food, housing, medical care, transportation, etc.
- The average minimum wage worker is a 35-year-old woman, the primary or co-breadwinner for their families.
- Higher wages will enable hardworking people to transition from safety net programs to self-sufficiency while taxpayers will not have to fund some of their funding and food. In 2013, Walmart’s low-wage workers alone cost taxpayers $6.2 billion in public assistance. In the year after March 2014, the four primary Walton heirs increased their fortune by $20.9 billion. Increasing the hourly wage for every one of their 1.3 million U.S. employees by $5 would cost them $10.8 billion—still leaving them $10 billion. http://www.americansfortaxfairness.org/files/Taxpayers-and-Walmart-ATF.pdf A $15 minimum wage for fast food workers would raise the price of a Big Mac by 17 cents.
- More than 200,000 Oregonians in low-wage jobs do not receive any public benefits at all.
Campaign Funding Limits:
HRJ 205: Refer a state constitutional amendment to voters to create authorization to set reasonable limits on campaign cash. With the most expensive elections in the country, Oregon is one of six states with no contribution limits for state and local races because the state constitution specifically prohibits these limits.
Local Control of Genetically-Modified Organisms:
HB 4122: Overturn a 2013 law preventing counties and cities from passing ballot measures to regulate GMO crops. At this time, all regulation of agricultural seeds can only be done at the state or federal level except in Jackson County. SB 863, pre-empting any local control of agricultural seed or product of seed, passed with the unfulfilled promise of a task force to develop rules regarding these crops in Oregon. Text of bill: www.oregonlegislature.gov/2016LCs/LC-0202.pdf.
HB 4147 (LC 263): Prevents transfer of firearm by dealer or private party if Department of State Police is unable to determine whether recipient is qualified to receive firearm within three business days. Last year, state police could not complete about 8,400—3.2 percent of the total checks—within the three-day limit. The man who killed nine people in a Charleston (SC) church was sold a gun despite his admission to illegal drug use because the FBI could not locate the necessary records within the three-day limit.
SB 1551 (LC 250): Authorizes specified people to report that someone experiencing mental health emergency is a danger to self or others with firearms and allows a temporary firearm purchase hold preventing person from purchasing firearm.
HB 4028 (LC 249): Extends exemption from private firearm criminal background check requirement when firearm is provided to transferee preparing to engage in or in process of completing activities related to hunting, trapping, or target shooting.
HB 4045 (LC 93): Establishes mandatory minimum sentences for crimes of unlawful possession of a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm.
HB 4075 (LC 217): Replaces School Safety Hotline established by Department of Justice with statewide tip line established by Department of State Police for anonymous reporting of information concerning threats to student safety.
SB 1537: Establish criteria for districts to create post-graduate programs that get funding. Certain students satisfying requirements for a high school diploma but were not graduated, could receive money from the State School Fund for enrollment in community college courses for one year.
HB 4091/SB 1536: Addresses charter schools and virtual charter schools.
SB 1515: Hold Department of Human Services accountable for administering licenses for child care, add protections for 18-21 year-olds in the care of the state, and improve public access to information about the safety of children.
HB 4001: Modifies conditions under which landlord may terminate month-to-month tenancy after first year of occupancy; prohibits rent increase during first year of occupancy; requires a 90-day notice for rent increase; allows local governments to establish below-market sales or rentals for up to 30 percent of new residential development; and allows waiving of building and zoning codes during states of emergency. And more! https://www.oregonhousingalliance.org/details-of-housing-opportunity-bills-for-the-2016-oregon-legislative-session/
SB 1574: Implement a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program and hold big polluters accountable for the cost of what they are dumping into our air and water. Oregon law has existing limits on carbon emissions but no way to enforce these.
HB 4036: Transition most of Oregon off coal power by 2030 and double the amount of renewable energy in Oregon by 2040. It will also support electric vehicle infrastructure and create a community solar program with a component for low-income households. It sets Oregon’s electricity on the path to meeting the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, which call for reducing carbon emissions 75% below 1990 levels by 2050. The bill would only apply to Pacific Power and PGE.
HB 4135: Develop standards for records requests submitted to some executive branch agencies.
HB 3134: Require lobbyists to update information on who they work for within five days of accepting a new client and direct the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to post those updates online within two business days.
Contact your legislators!
Representative David Gomberg
Democrat – District 10 – Central Coast
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1410
District Phone: 541-921-2038
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-471, Salem, Oregon 97301
Senator Arnie Roblan
Democrat – District 5 – Coos Bay
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1705
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-417, Salem, Oregon 97301