Kotek Praises Major Housing Measures While Remaining Unpopular
Oregonians will be able to pump their own gas on Saturday after Governor Kotek signaled she won’t veto House Bill 2426 that allows it. In addition to pumping their own gas, Oregon workers can soon apply for paid leave compensation.
Kotek celebrated new housing laws approved in the 2023 legislative session and a Beaverton semiconductor company announced a $1 billion expansion. Despite her substantial legislative achievement, Kotek remains the most unpopular governor in America.
Oregon lawmakers who voted last session to ban ghost guns will be holding their breath as the U.S. Supreme Court has teed up a hearing this week to decide whether a lower court ruling will go into effect invalidating a federal regulation restricting the sale of untraceable firearms.
Kotek’s Veto List
As required, Kotek shared her potential veto list last week, which didn’t include the self-service gasoline measure. The legislation will become law, even if Kotek decides not to sign the legislation. Kotek must veto bills or budget line items by this Friday.
The veto list issued by Kotek includes budget items – $600,000 for sex worker study, $1 million for regional career and technical education programs and $250,000 to study a streetcar system in Salem. Kotek said the sex worker study should be privately funded, money for career and technical education should come school or education service districts and the streetcar study isn’t a top state priority.
House Bill 2763, which would authorize a task force to study creation of a state bank, appeared on the list because Kotek said the Oregon Business Development Department lacks time to manage it. Kotek may veto House Bill 2079, which would instruct the Legislative Revenue Office to study a tax credit and grant program to preserve historic property, because she says the study can proceed without a law.
Kotek indicated she planned to strip an emergency clause tagged onto Senate Bill 1095 to adjust boards and commissions to reflect Oregon’s new Sixth Congressional District. She said more time is needed to recruit and vet new members of state boards.
Kotek has signed four housing-related bills reflecting more aggressive policies and $1.2 billion in new funding to address homelessness, housing affordability and a decade of underproducing housing units. The measures protect renters, ease regulations for new affordable housing and invests $200 million for new homeless shelters and rental assistance. State analysts project Oregon needs 500,000 new housing units over the next two decades to keep pace with demand.
While Kotek praised legislative efforts, she said. “We have more work to do. And so I’m eager to go forward on the things we need to make happen because we need more change in addition to the progress today.” One of Kotek’s priorities, which would have allowed cities to designate land outside urban growth boundaries for future housing, failed to pass in the waning days of the 2023 session.
As early as next month, Oregonians statewide will be allowed to pump their own gas. The self-service ban has been in effect for five decades. New Jersey will be the only remaining state to prohibit consumers filling their own gas tanks.
Kotek Remains Unpopular
A Portland-based research firm found 45 percent of Oregonians approve of Kotek’s performance six months into her first term, a slight bump up from an April survey. However, according to Morning Consult, Kotek remains one of three governors, all freshmen, with favorability ratings south of 50 percent. Freshman governors in Nevada and Nebraska now have positive approval ratings after falling below 50 percent in their early months in office.
Ghost Gun Ban
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito put a hold on a lower court ruling that invalidated a 2022 federal restriction imposed by the Department of Justice to restrict the flow of ghost guns. The rule was successfully challenged by gun owners and gun rights advocates in federal court in Texas. The Biden administration asked that the Texas court ruling, which may affect any form of ghost gun restrictions, be suspended to allow for an appeal. Alito stayed the ruling for a week to allow DOJ to substantiate its claim of an “irreversible flow of large numbers of untraceable ghost guns into our nation’s communities”.
Paid Leave applications
Beginning August 14, Oregon workers can begin to apply for benefits under Paid Leave Oregon that covers family leave, medical leave and safe leave for Oregonians with jobs. Benefits could flow by mid-September, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
Paid leave covers time off for a new child or foster care placement, self-care for a health condition, caring for a seriously ill family member and recovery from sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment or stalking.
Multnomah County Loses High-Income Taxpayers
During 2020 and 2012, more than 14,000 income tax filers left Multnomah County, taking more than $1 billion in income elsewhere, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service and reported by The Oregonian. State economists attribute the outmigration to a surge in remote work during the pandemic.
I-5 Bridge Replacement
Highway planners have five designs for a new bridge, each with pedestrian walkways and a section dedicated to transit. However, questions remain over how high the bridge should be and how much revenue from tolls will be needed to operate and maintain the new bridge. The Washington and Oregon legislatures committed $1 billion each toward construction costs. Officials are trying to firm up plans before applying for federal funding through the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.