In my last report I detailed local investments. The list I provided may be hard to put into context. In 2019 we brought about $10 million to the district for four projects. We thought that was a huge success. This year the number is over $60 million for 13 projects. That’s why I call it transformative and a generational investment in local infrastructure.
Today I’m looking at a general session overview. And next week I’ll cover legislation with a local focus. Your House District 10 team and the Coastal Caucus had a busy session and I am so proud of our accomplishments.
The Oregon State Legislature adjourned its 2021 session on Saturday, June 26th at 5:37 p.m.
Oregon has never had a session like this. We were in the middle of a pandemic. The state was on fire. We suffered ice storms. People were out of work. Families were struggling. Armed protestors came to the building.
But we came in and did the people’s work. We balanced our budget and made big investments in our communities. There were some disagreements but more often than not, we worked together and found common ground. We avoided divisive walk-outs. And in the end, we represented the people well.
COVID-19 safety precautions forced the closure of the Capitol to the public. That lack of face-to-face and public access was difficult. But at the same time, we worked to expand ways that members of the public could participate in the process.
While disrupted by the pandemic, this year’s legislative session saw the passage of groundbreaking legislation and a historic state budget. Those investments focused on education, housing, behavioral health, and fire response.
Oregon families have made enormous sacrifices during the worst public health and wildfire crisis of our lifetime. Our efforts supported those who have lost homes, lost jobs, lost childcare, lost businesses, or endured social isolation and comprehensive distance learning. We worked to make sure the recovery reached all parts of Oregon. We’ve worked to protect small businesses, families, essential workers, and low-income communities. Our goal was to strengthen the foundations of our economy and build back better than ever.
- Responding to the COVID pandemic by providing comprehensive relief, including rent support, and financial support for small businesses.
- Boosting economic support for those who need it most by investing in our low-income communities and families across the state, as well as investments in our essential workers and small businesses.
- Addressing long standing systemic racism harming communities across Oregon by approaching legislation through a racial equity lens, prioritizing issues like housing, economic development, health disparities, and community safety.
- Managing wildfire impacts by focusing on financial relief for families and small businesses, further prevention, and environmental justice for our rural communities most affected.
- Addressing the housing crisis, making housing more affordable and accessible for everyone, while also helping to increase shelters, support, and relief for people experiencing homelessness.
- Improving mental and behavioral health access following one of the hardest and traumatic years for families. Oregonians need comprehensive care to truly heal.
- Investing in education with a record budget of $9.3 billion, $200 million more than what was originally proposed and in addition to local funding, summer investments, and ongoing funds from the landmark 2019 Student Success Act.
The 2021 session saw the passage of many important pieces of policy including measures to expand rural broadband, advance racial equity, a police reform package, protections for workers, a landmark bill to modernize Oregon’s recycling system, support for Oregon’s childcare system, improving access to capital for small business, and the extension of a commercial rent payment grace period to give local businesses time to access rent relief.
My own primary work is in budgets, appropriate funding of state agencies, and strategic spending.
Community Investments: In my newsletter last week, I detailed the transformative investments made throughout our district. (Highlights are listed at the end of this report.) The legislature approved a 2021-23 budget that includes funding for important construction projects and programs in communities across the state.
In the final days of the session, Senate President Courtney shared a map of Oregon detailing the location of these investments to show how the 2-21/2023 state budget invests in every corner of the state.
K-12 Schools: Lawmakers approved a State School Fund budget that will invest a record $9.3 billion in K-12 schools this year. This funding is in addition to the Summer Learning and Child Care Package which directs $375 million to support enrichment activities, wrap around child care services, summer school for high school students, and early learning programs this summer. Schools also receive about $1 billion annually from the Student Success Act and $4 billion from local property taxes.
Housing and Homelessness: The session continued efforts to increase Oregon’s supply of affordable housing and keep families affected by the pandemic in their homes.
Lawmakers approved development of affordable housing by expanding areas where affordable housing can be built and removing barriers faced by developers, cities, and nonprofits. The Legislature also sent through a $160 million housing package that contained funding for affordable housing in cities around Oregon.
The Legislature gave temporary relief to Oregonians struggling to make rent or mortgage payments due to the pandemic. House Bill 2009 allowed for an extension of the mortgage foreclosure moratorium until at least September 30, providing foreclosure relief to mortgage holders who do not have a federally backed mortgage. Senate Bill 278 protects tenants waiting on rental assistance from being evicted after the eviction moratorium expires on June 30 and increases relief provided to landlords through the Landlord Compensation Fund.
The 2021-23 legislatively approved budget sent over $35 million toward shelters, temporary housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and resources for Oregonians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The legislature released $18 million for low-barrier, emergency shelters earlier in the year.
Healthcare: In addition to fully funding the Oregon Health Plan, lawmakers approved measures to change how healthcare is delivered in the state, including passing a historic $450 million behavioral health package.
A bill requiring health insurers in the state to cover emergency medical services (EMS) transports for patients experiencing medical emergencies passed with strong bipartisan support. The Legislature approved measures that expanded the coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine, capped the out-of-pocket cost of insulin to $75 for a 30-day supply or $225 for a 90-day supply, and made considerable investments in long-term care.
Wildfire and Water: In response to the devastating 2020 wildfire season, the Legislature approved a $500 million wildfire package to expand wildfire prevention and mitigation efforts, rebuild fire-affected communities, and provide relief to wildfire survivors who have lost everything.
This year’s budget also included a monumental $460 million package to invest in water and sewer infrastructure. This funding will support access to clean water in cities and counties across the state, which will be an important tool to prepare the state for devastating wildfire and drought conditions.
Budget Investments: In addition to approving strong agency budgets, new investments were approved by the budget committee for the 2021-23 biennium. Here are additional specifics:
Supporting a Strong Economic Recovery
- $193 million to strengthen the state’s long-term care system and workforce, including:
- $113 million for provider rate increases to support higher wages for workers in assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, adult foster homes, and skilled nursing facilities
- $30 million for the Oregon Essential Workforce Health Care Program (SB 800)
- $30 million for capital improvement and emergency preparedness grants for long-term care facilities
- $11.7 million for workforce development and training
- $50 million for the Community Renewable Investment Fund to provide grants for eligible community renewable energy projects (HB 2021)
- $50 million for grants to support local independent movie theaters and businesses in the live events industry as they recover from business closures due to the pandemic
- $25 million to facilitate new private investments in Oregon with a focus on leading or emerging business sectors
- $10 million for the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant program
- $10 million for the residential rooftop solar rebate program
- $10 million to recapitalize the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund for cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields properties and $5 million to create the Oregon Brownfield Properties Revitalization Fund to provide forgivable loans to private owners for the reimbursement of removal or remedial actions (HB 2518)
- $5.8 million for nutrition and anti-hunger programs, including Double-up Food Bucks and the Oregon Hunger Response Fund
Strengthening Public Education
- K-12 State School Fund – $9.3 billion
- Increased funding for the Student Success Act, including $892 million in student investment grants and $436 million for Early Learning
- Additional K-12 highlights:
- $17.5 million for broadband access for schools
- Establishment of an education plan for LBGTQ+ student success
- Increased funding for the Latinx student success plan
- STEM program funding targeted for diverse students
- $125 million for capital improvement matching funds and $110 million for seismic rehabilitation grants
- Higher Education
- Public University Support Fund – $900 million
- Community College Support Fund – $703 million
- Oregon Opportunity Grant – $200 million (a nearly $30 million increase)
- Funding to help cover health insurance costs for eligible part-time faculty
- $337 million for university construction projects and deferred maintenance at all public universities
- $77 million for matching funds to help finance 11 community college construction projects
- $5 million for new Benefits Navigator positions at community colleges and public universities (HB 2835)
- Early Learning
- $68 million to expand preschool programs, adding more than 4,000 slots
- $9.5 million to establish the Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion Prevention Program, establish a statewide social emotional learning framework, and enact provisions to diversify Oregon’s educator workforce (HB 2166)
- Start-up costs for the new Department of Early Learning and Care (HB 3073)
- Increased funding for relief nurseries, the Early Childhood Equity Fund and for parenting education
- Establishment of a new Tribal Early Learning Hub (HB 2055)
Transforming Behavioral Health
- $302 million for new Behavioral Health Resource Networks and addiction treatment services established through the passage of Ballot Measure 110 (2020)
- $130 million for capital, start-up, and operational costs related to increasing statewide capacity of licensed residential facilities and housing for people with behavioral health needs
- $121 million to support the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics model
- $50 million for the alignment of outcomes, roles, responsibilities, risk and incentives in Oregon’s behavioral health system
- $31 million for opening two 24-bed patient units at the Oregon State Hospital Junction City campus, which will make more bed space available at the Salem campus, and a $20 million special purpose appropriation for increased staffing levels
- $21 million for community restoration and clinical services, rental assistance and wraparound support, and supporting the needs of individuals who have been ordered by a court to receive services enabling them to assist in their own criminal defense
- $6.5 million for mobile response and stabilization services for children with behavioral health needs
- $5.7 million for interdisciplinary assessment team services for youth with intensive behavioral health needs
Tackling the Housing Crisis
- $410 million for the Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing programs
- $130 million for affordable housing preservation and affordable housing property acquisition loan programs
- $100 million for construction, rebuilding, and financing initiatives for housing for displaced survivors of the Labor Day 2020 wildfires
- $94 million for other housing initiatives, including shelter operations, down payment assistance, affordable homeownership development, manufactured home park preservation, and operational capacity for organizations administering rental assistance programs
- $30 million to cover 100% of missed rental payments for applications submitted to the Landlord Compensation Fund and $5 million for a landlord risk fund (SB 278)
- $20 million for the Behavioral Health Housing Incentive Fund (HB 2316)
- $10 million for the Healthy Homes Repair Fund (HB 2842)
- $5 million for domestic violence/sexual assault survivor housing assistance
- $4.8 million for fair housing enforcement
- $4.5 million for long-term rental assistance for youth at risk of homelessness (HB 2163)
- $3.6 million for unaccompanied homeless youth (HB 2544)
Investing in Wildfire Recovery and Disaster Preparedness
- $200 million for essential workforce and local communities on the frontlines, managing and mitigating wildfires (SB 762)
- $150 million reserved in a special purpose appropriation to address natural disaster preparedness, response and recovery activities, including potential responses to the drought crisis in the Klamath Basin
- $150 million for wildfire recovery housing
- $75 million for food and shelter for wildfire-impacted communities
- $28 million for planning and rehabilitation of high-hazard dams
- $23 million for reimbursement to counties for lost tax revenues
- $20 million for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant match
- $20 million for grants for fire hardening and energy efficiency during rebuilding
- $19.75 million for grants for riparian and upland restoration, as well as floodplain restoration and reconnection
- $15 million for levee inspection, accreditation, certification, or repair project grants
- $6 million total for firefighter apprenticeships to the Jackson County Fire District, Clackamas Fire District and Eugene Springfield Fire Department ($2 million each)
Focusing on Racial Equity
- $100 million for the implementation of the Cover All People program (HB 3352)
- $11.7 million for the Oregon Youth Employment Program, along with statute changes to ensure at least 75% of participating youth are from communities of color, rural communities, or historically underrepresented communities (HB 2092)
- $10 million to compensate local governments for the elimination of individual post-prison supervision fees (SB 620)
- $10 million special purpose appropriation for the Transforming Justice Initiative
- $10 million capitalization of the Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity Loan Fund
- $10 million for loan-loss reserve program grants to lenders to address institutional and social barriers that have made access to capital nearly impossible for small business owners, especially those in rural, veteran and BIPOC communities (HB 2266)
- $9 million for technical assistance to underrepresented businesses in the Oregon Business Development Department
- $4 million for the Criminal Justice Commission to establish a new restorative justice grant program
- $3.8 million for the Oregon Diversity Procurement Program
- $2 million to the Innovation Law Lab for immigration defense
- $1.5 million for the Reimagine Safety Fund
- $1.2 million for the expungement of criminal records for marijuana infractions
- $1.2 million for a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative at the Oregon Youth Authority
- $1 million for equitable water access and $500,000 for indigenous energy resiliency in the Water Resources budget
- $905,000 for implementing the Sanctuary Promise Act (HB 3265)
- $600,000 to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission for start-up costs for developing nontraditional pathways to licensure
- $500,000 for a study of the impacts of State School Fund spending and to determine if this spending pattern results in disparities between students who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) and non-BIPOC students
- Two positions in the Department of Forestry for DEI, environmental justice, sustainability officer, and liaison to tribal governments
- One position for a DEI Officer at the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
- A bilingual compliance specialist position to support Spanish speakers in the investigation of wage claims and complaints (BOLI)
- A full-time DEI specialist at BOLI to work proactively with apprenticeship training agents to develop strategies and supports to ensure greater participation and success for women and minorities in apprenticeship
- Two new language access positions to improve translation services in the state legislature: a Language Access Coordinator to develop and implement a plan to provide language access services, and a Spanish Language Interpreter to provide in-house Spanish language interpretation and translation
Improving Water Systems
- $276 million for drinking water, stormwater, and sanitary sewer water projects statewide using American Rescue Plan Act funds (HB 5006)
- $95 million to capitalize grant and loan funds for water projects
- $71 million for enhanced capacity, planning support, stakeholder engagement, water quality, groundwater and surface water availability and allocation, groundwater well and septic system financial assistance programs, and environmental protection programs
Improving Transportation Infrastructure
- $80 million for safety improvements to Oregon 213/82nd Avenue
- $32 million for Phase II of the Newberg Dundee Bypass (OR-219 section)
- $5 million for the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge
- $4 million for the Sunrise Gateway Corridor Community Visioning Concept
- $3.3 million for rehabilitation of the Lake County Railroad
Local Project Funding
I am especially grateful and excited that the following projects that I advocated for were approved for Lottery Bond and America Rescue Plan funding:
- Toledo: Sanitary Sewer Extension, Port of Toledo: $2.425 million
- Toledo: Greater Toledo Pool Recreation District: $3 million
- Waldport: Water Tank Replacement: $2.2 million
- Depoe Bay: Restoration of Pilings and Docks: $2.9 million
- Eddyville: East Lincoln County Firehall: $4 million
- Siletz: Tribal Arts & Heritage Center: $750 thousand
- Newport: Big Creek Dams Remediation: $14 million
- Newport: Oregon Coast Aquarium: $5.1 million
- Lincoln City: D River Welcome Center: $2.547 million
- Lincoln City: Cultural Center Plaza: $1.8 million
- Sheridan: Career Tech Center: $1.9 million
- Otis: Septic, Stormwater and Reservoir Replacement: $16.8 million
- Tillamook: Water Transmission Line Replacement: $12 million
The Legislature will continue to work hard for Oregonians in the coming months as lawmakers respond to the census and population shifts by redrawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts and prepare for the February 2022 short session.
I’m pleased to be back in the district and already committed to a series of local event, reports to city councils, and updates to community groups. I’m particularly pleased that most pandemic restrictions can now be lifted.
Saturday I started with a parade in Cloverdale, spoke at the unveiling of the Veterans Wall in Toledo, visited Art, Oysters, and Brews, stopped by the Lincoln County Fair where I visited both the Democratic and Republican party booths, and finished the day in Waldport for the Beachcombers Days celebration.
Sunday I walked the Neskowin Parade, visited emergency egress construction that I helped fund, enjoyed a wonderful outdoor concert by the Newport Symphony, and finished the day with friends watching the fireworks over Yaquina Bay. Well, actually we finished the day inching our way home to Otis through post-firework traffic…
In future newsletters I’ll provide more detail on how the session affected our district. Until then, I look forward to seeing many of you out and about in our remarkable district.