State Budgets and Major Policy Bills Pass, Often With Little Debate
Lawmakers jammed through hundreds of bills, often with little debate, before adjourning Sunday afternoon, ending a session punctuated by a historic six-week Senate GOP walkout. Measures passing on the frenetic final eight days of the session included a compromise on hospital staffing, a $100 million boost in student aid and approval of self-service gas. The spud was made Oregon’s official state vegetable.
On the final day of the session, Senator Kathleen Taylor, D-Portland, was saluted by Senator Lynn Findley, R-Vale, for her role in pursuing the compromise that ended the Senate GOP walkout. “I believe that you are 95 percent of the reason we are here,” Findley said.
State budgets were approved, including a major boost in funding for public defenders, a pay raise for deputy district attorneys and financial support for family caregivers and child refuge centers. A research tax credit was okayed for semiconductor manufacturers. A total of $75 million was allotted to an Oregon child tax credit.
The $1 billion Christmas Tree bill set aside $450 million for state worker pay hike increases, $22 million for wildfire prevention and firefighting resources, $13.8 million for community violence prevention programs and an additional $20 million for public health modernization. Lawmakers approved $250 million in the 2023-2025 biennium and a total of $1 billion over several biennia as Oregon’s contribution to the I-5 Columbia River Bridge replacement project.
Starting in 2027, Oregon high school students must take classes in personal finance and life skills. Tik Tok will be banned on state government electronic devices. Retail shops can no longer sell dogs and cats. Persons convicted of felonies by non-unanimous jury verdicts can seek retrials. Accountability measures were adopted for grants made under Oregon’s drug decriminalization Measure 110.
Governor Kotek’s proposal to allow cities to expand urban growth boundaries for housing failed by a single vote in the Senate. Bills to regulate pharmacy benefit managers and establish a private right of action for the insured, including for medical malpractice also failed to pass in the Senate. Campaign finance reform once again fell by the wayside. Lawmakers nixed creation of the Oregon Spirits Board to promote liquor sales. No action was taken on a proposed constitutional amendment to shrink the legislature’s quorum requirement.
Oregon voters will get a chance in 2024 to decide whether to switch statewide elections to ranked-choice voting, create a state board to set salaries for statewide elected officials and give the legislature the ability to impeach statewide elected officials.
The legislature’s race to finish its work was interrupted Wednesday when an internet outage forced a half-day recess. The delay didn’t prevent passage of a data privacy measure to protect consumer data and set standards for how business can acquire and use consumer data.
Two members of House Republican leadership, Deputy Leader Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, and Minority Whip E. Werner Reschke, R-Crater Lake, stepped down from their posts. Other members of the GOP caucus protested by skipping floor votes as House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, chose to treat the absences as excused. Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, announced she will challenge GOP freshman Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer in Oregon’s 5th District. Bynum defeated Chavez-DeRemer twice in her Clackamas County House district.
Bill Passage Summary
Hospital Staffing Measure Approved
Campaign Finance Reform Fails
Oregon Spirits Board Barreled
Self-Service Gas Legalized
Deputy DAs Get Pay Boost
Student Aid Get $100 Million Boost
Internet Outage Causes Delay
Christmas Tree Bill Ornaments
Child Tax Credit
I-5 Bridge Funding Nailed Down
Spud New State Vegetable
Support for Family Caregivers
Children Refuge Funding
Personal Finance Classes – SB 3
Oregon Capital Chronicle Session Overview