Happy October! We try to send newsletters every 2-3 weeks. This one is packed with information. Please skim though it for details that may be of particular interest.
More Resources for Housing
It was a great honor to be recognized recently by the Housing Alliance as a 2019 Housing Champion. The award was based on my work as co-chair of the committee managing the state housing budget. Our allocations this year included:
- $150 million for the construction of affordable family housing
- $50 million for permanent supportive housing
- $40 million for Emergency Housing and State Homeless Assistance programs
- $25 million for affordable housing preservation
- $15 million for preserving manufactured homes
- $1.5 million for home-ownership counseling
Oregon’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program provides year-round free, objective and local counseling to people with Medicare and their families. Examples of SHIBA services include explaining how the Medicare program works, assisting with Medicare appeals and complaints, and helping people make informed decisions about their health insurance coverage. SHIBA staff members and active volunteers/certified counselors serve many of Oregon’s 857,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
“'Responding to pleas from advocates, Rep. Gomberg stepped in to restore what would have been a 25 percent cut in SHIBA Program, which provides vital information and support for seniors with inquiries about Medicare. This is just another example of how he has been one of the best champions of seniors in the Oregon Legislature. Seniors are blessed to have him there to fight for our needs.”
Dr. Jim Davis, Executive Director
Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens
United Seniors of Oregon
Visit the OHA Enrollment website for an overview of SHIBA’s impact throughout our state.
Small Business Ally
You have heard me say before that there are precious few legislators in Salem who actually own a cash register. That’s my none-too-subtle way of suggesting that my experience as a small business owner makes a difference on everything from taxes, to sick leave, to job creation, to minimum wages.
This work goes on every single day in Salem. So it feels good when people notice. I was honored to be named a “Small Business Ally” by the Oregon Main Street Alliance for 2019.
Collecting Delinquent Taxes, Fines, and Fees
As you know, I’ve been working over several years to improve how we collect money owed to the State of Oregon.
Based on legislation I authored, ORS 293.229 now requires state agencies to report to the Legislative Fiscal Office on their Liquidated and Delinquent Accounts (LDA). Agencies with an ending balance of $50 million or more must also produce a supplemental report to:
- Describe major categories of LDAs held by the agency.
- Describe circumstances under which the state agency writes off or adjusts LDA amounts or removes an account from LDA status.
- Describe actions undertaken by the agency to reduce the amount of LDA debt owed to it at the end of each fiscal year.
- Set forth a plan for future actions that will reduce the amount of LDA debt owed to the agency and describe any additional resources that are necessary to carry out the plan.
There are seven agencies subject to these requirement for fiscal year 2018:
- Judicial Department, $1.75 billion
- Department of Revenue, $848.7 million
- Department of Justice, $347 million
- Employment Department, $161.4 million
- Department of Consumer and Business Services, $125 million
- Public Employees Retirement System, $61.7 million
- Oregon Health and Science University, $59.7 million
The Latest on Vaping
Oregon Health Authority has identified five reports of severe lung injuries, so far, linked to a national outbreak of vaping-related illness. All five individuals had vaped or used e-cigarettes, and were hospitalized after experiencing respiratory issues, resulting in shortness of breath, coughing or chest pain. Oregon issued a public health warning Thursday after confirming a second death tied to vaping. The state urged Oregonians to stop vaping until authorities have determined what’s causing the illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that there have been 805 vaping-related respiratory illnesses and that 12 patients have died. It’s unclear whether that tally includes the latest Oregon death.
“No level of vaping is safe,” Oregon’s health officer Dean Sidelinger said. “With these acute respiratory injuries and deaths, we do urge all individuals to stop vaping, whether that’s nicotine-based products, cannabis products or other products. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit.”
OHA operates the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line.The Quit Line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
English: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or www.quitnow.net/oregon
Spanish: 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-35692) or www.quitnow.net/oregonsp
2019 Bills Taking Effect in October
Priorities this session included education, the housing crisis in our state, criminal justice reform, public safety and protecting the environment. Much legislation takes place effect 90 days after we adjourn. That's today! Here are a few examples:
HB 3427: The Student Success Act of 2019
This groundbreaking educational reform and the corresponding funding package will transform Oregon’s education system for decades to come. There are five key elements, including attention to early childhood supports, instruction time, career readiness, budget accountability and stable funding. House Bill 3427 establishes a new Corporate Activity Tax on enterprises with over $1 million in sales, which will raise over $1 billion per year in dedicated early childhood and K-12 education funding. The measure will also reduce all personal income taxes. Schools across Oregon are confronted by diverse challenges. House Bill 3427 sets up grant programs that will allow local communities to best respond to their own needs.
HB 2005: Paid Family and Medical Leave
House Bill 2005 creates a paid family and medical leave program available to all Oregon workers. The program provides 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a sick child, spouse, or parent. Employees with conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth may take up to 14 weeks. Employers will pay 40 percent of the total rate and employees pay 60 percent through a payroll tax. Benefits are also available to small businesses affected when employees take leave.
HB 2587: Expands Access to the Property Tax Deferral
In Oregon, the Homestead Property Tax Deferral Program pays property taxes for qualified individuals with disabilities or senior citizens who own and occupy their principal residence. The intent is to help people stay in their homes. But currently, most properties with reverse mortgages are prohibited from participating. House Bill 2587 changes that. There are approximately 4,000 properties with reverse mortgages that may qualify for the senior deferral program under this legislation.
HB 2896: Supporting Manufactured Dwelling Parks
Manufactured homes are an important source of affordable housing. Individuals and families who reside in manufactured dwellings or mobile homes often own or rent the dwelling but do not own the land in a mobile home park. According to Oregon Housing and Community Services, from 2001 to 2015, 104 manufactured home parks closed, displacing approximately 6,800 individuals and 4,000 spaces. House Bill 2896 establishes a loan program to support the preservation of mobile home parks.
SB 1045: Creates Home Sharing Tax Exemption
Senate Bill 1045 aims to increase affordable housing inventory by allowing local jurisdictions to adopt a property tax exemption for homeowners participating in a public or nonprofit home sharing program. To qualify for the exemption, a home-share must be offered to people living at 60 percent or below the area median income and cannot include a home-share agreement between family members.
SB 47: Waterway Access Permits
Currently, owners of nonmotorized boats at least 10 feet long must purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species permit from the State Marine Board. Senate Bill 47 eliminates the Invasive Species Permit and replaces it with a new Waterway Access Permit. Funds from the permits will go to a new Waterway Access Fund, which the Marine Board will use to enhance access to nonmotorized boats and increase educational opportunities for boaters.
SB 247: Adds hard seltzer and kombucha to Oregon Bottle Bill
In 1971, Oregon enacted the "Bottle Bill," which is the nation's longest-standing deposit law. Senate Bill 247 adds hard kombucha and hard seltzer to the list of beverages covered by the Bottle Bill.
SB 98: Renewable Natural Gas Program
Senate Bill 98 directs the Oregon Public Utility Commission to adopt a Renewable Natural Gas program that allows large natural gas utilities to recover investments made to meet targets for including RNG in gas purchases for natural gas consumers.
HB 2618: Solar Energy Rebates
House Bill 2618 establishes a program to provide rebates for the purchase, construction or installation of solar electric systems and paired solar and energy storage systems. It also directs the Oregon Department of Energy to prioritize rebates that benefit low and moderate-income residential customers.
HB 3273: Drug Take-Back
Approximately a third of pharmaceutical drugs purchased in the United States go unused, are considered hazardous waste, and end up in water systems or landfills. House Bill 3273 requires manufacturers of covered drugs that are sold within Oregon to develop and implement drug take-back program for collecting leftover drugs for disposal.
HB 2593: Breast Feeding Workplace Protections
House Bill 2593 requires all employers to provide reasonable rest periods for employees to express milk as often and as long as needed for the child's first 18 months.
SB 815: Residential Care Facilities
The Oregon Department of Human Services licenses community-based care settings, including assisted living facilities, residential care facilities and memory care communities. These facilities provide a wide range of individualized services available in homelike settings to older adults, people with disabilities and individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Senate Bill 815 requires residential care facilities to provide specified information to individuals at the time they apply for admission and upon request.
SB 526: Voluntary Nurse Home Visits for Newborns
Senate Bill 526 directs the Oregon Health Authority to design, implement and maintain a voluntary statewide program to provide nurse home visiting services to all families with newborns. Health insurance programs would be required to reimburse for these services.
SB 1008: Juvenile Sentencing Reform
Senate Bill 1008 has several elements that will help juveniles who have committed offenses rehabilitate and get a second chance at a productive life. Among those elements, the bill: Eliminates the automatic waiver of kids into the adult justice system and requires judges to make determinations whether children should be tried and sentenced as adults; Extends eligibility for “second look” hearings, which occur halfway through youth sentences and allow judges to order supervised release for youth if it is determined they have been rehabilitated significantly, do not pose danger to the community and the youth will be better served by release rather than further incarceration; Allows transfer hearings for youth aging out of the Oregon Youth Authority and into adult prison with remaining sentences fewer than two years, when appropriate; and Addresses the constitutional problem identified by the United States Supreme Court by eliminating automatic life without parole sentences for youth and making them eligible for parole hearings after serving 15 years.
SB 935: Modified Landscaper Limited License
Effective February 1, 2019, the Landscaping Contractors Board adopted a modified license that allows landscapers with limited expertise to perform a limited scope of landscape contractor work on projects not exceeding $5,000 in value.
SB 829: Clarifying Wine Labeling Standards
Senate Bill 829 requires the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to adopt rules mandating that wines produced in the Willamette Valley convey through labeling that they were produced in the Willamette Valley. The amended bill would also require that these wines list any smaller Vinicultural Areas they may belong to within the boundaries of the Willamette Valley. The bill gives the OLCC authority to adopt similar rules for other wine regions in Oregon.
HB 2164: Tax Modifications
Extends and increases the Earned Income Tax Credit by one percentage point; Extends property tax exemptions for low-income rental housing and historic property; Extends several tax credits for six years, including the cultural trust contributions credit, manufactured dwelling park capital gain subtraction, manufactured dwelling park closure credit, retirement income credit, volunteer rural emergency medical services providers credit, employer provided scholarships credit, agriculture workforce housing construction credit, crop donation credit; and Excludes qualifying subcontractor payments from the Corporate Activity Tax pursuant to a contract for single-family residential real estate construction located in Oregon.
SB 698: Prescription Labels in Multiple Languages
According to the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey, 6.21 percent of Oregonians over 5 years of age have limited English proficiency. This can be a barrier to proper use of medications. Senate Bill 698 requires pharmacies to dispense prescriptions with labels in English and other languages, as requested.
SB 479: Workplace Harassment Policy Requirement
Requires all public jurisdictions to create and maintain policies against sexual harassment. Each policy must contain certain essential features to allow for a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
SB 423: Psychological Screening for Law Enforcement Officers
Senate Bill 423 requires law enforcement agencies to only employ officers who have completed psychological screening to determine fitness to serve.
SB 707: Establishes the Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Advisory Committee
According to the Oregon Health Authority, suicide was the second leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds in Oregon. Senate Bill 707 establishes a Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Advisory Committee. The measure requires OHA to provide staffing and appoint specified members that reflect cultural, linguistic, geographic, and economic diversity.
SB 1027: Needle Injury Protection for Health Care Workers
Needlestick injuries are a common occupational hazard for health care workers that can result in exposure to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Senate Bill 1027 allows health care practitioners who receive a needlestick injury in the treatment of unconscious patients to perform blood draws without the patients’ consent, to determine any necessary treatment for the practitioner.
SB 910: Opioid Overdose Prevention
Naloxone and methadone are two medications frequently used in the treatment of opioid addiction and overdose. Senate Bill 910 removes barriers to accessing naloxone and methadone by making naloxone kits more readily available and giving local authorities flexibility to waive methadone clinic siting restrictions.
Thanks so much for reading my newsletters! And as always, please be sure to reach out with questions, concerns, or comments.
Representative David Gomberg
House District 10