Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!
With the new year, comes the implementation of new laws approved by the Oregon State Legislature in 2019.
You have heard me observe before that about 2000 proposals were introduced during the legislative session. Oregon lawmakers passed about 750 bills – the great majority with bi-partisan support. Many took effect on January 1st. Here’s a sampling of some of the most important of those new laws:
HB 3427 also known as the “Student Success Act” dedicates over $1 billion per year to early childhood and K-12 education to help Oregon schools confront their many diverse challenges. The measure is funded with a roughly one-half percent tax on corporations with more than $1 million commercial activity in Oregon. (I successfully argued to exempt smaller businesses, fuel, groceries and health care, and increase deductions for low-margin companies while maintaining the investment in our schools and kids.)
SB 256 prohibits the production of oil, gas or sulfur in the Oregon territorial sea. The “territorial sea” is defined in statute as the waters and seabed extending three geographical miles seaward from the coastline in conformance with federal law. (I was a chief sponsor of the bill along with Senator Roblan and Representative Brock-Smith.)
HB 2509 bans stores and restaurants from providing single-use plastic bags at checkout, and requires them to charge at least five cents per bag if they provide paper or other alternatives, beginning in 2020. (I was a sponsor.)
SB 90 prohibits restaurants from giving customers single-use plastic straws unless the customer specifically requests one.
HB 2005 sets up a system for paid family leave so Oregon workers can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or sick family member, or to recover from a serious illness or domestic violence. The leave would be paid for by a state insurance fund that employers and employees contribute less than one percent of their paycheck to, similar to worker's compensation. Employers with fewer than 25 employees will not have to pay into the fund but their employees will still be eligible. The state will begin collecting funds in 2022 and employees will be able to begin collecting benefits in 2023. (I successfully argued to exempt smaller employers and allow compensation to businesses with fewer than five workers if key employees take family leave.)
SB 861 provides for prepaid postage on ballots, allowing Oregonians to vote by mail without paying for a stamp starting in 2020. (I have consistently supported efforts to make voting easier. But I opposed this bill believing the $3 million cost could be better spent elsewhere.)
SB 608 caps annual rent increases at 7% plus the change in consumer price index (this year about 3%). The bill also prohibits landlords from evicting month-to-month renters without cause after 12 months of residency. (I opposed the bill believing it would harm our fragile coastal housing market by encouraging more landlords to shift from housing to nightly rentals.)
SB 320 would allow Oregon to stay on daylight savings time year-round, but only if the federal government passes a law allowing the switch and Washington and California also agree to change. The bill would exempt the sliver of Eastern Oregon that operates on Mountain Time.
SB 3 allows community colleges to offer four-year bachelor's degrees. The bill will expand opportunities for students in Oregon’s 17 community colleges – many of which operate in some of the most rural reaches of the state. Colleges would have to gain approval through the Higher Education Coordinating Committee by showing that new programs will address a workforce need not being met.
HB 3415 requires institutions of higher education to adopt written policies on sexual harassment and assault. It also requires staff to receive evidence-informed annual training. These new requirements will begin with the 2020-2021 school year. Nationally, 1 in 5 women, 1 in 14 men, and 1 in 4 transgender students experience sexual assault while in college.
SB 5510 funded the Department of Fish and Wildlife and included a number of fee increases. For the past six years, the cost to fish and hunt has gradually increased. A fishing license will cost Oregonians $44 in 2020, up from $41 last year. A hunting license will reach $34.50, up from $29.50 in 2014. The cost of tags is also going up. An adult angling tag — required if fishing for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut — will reach $46, up from $40.50 in 2019 and $26.50 in 2014. The increase was fueled by a $32 million shortfall in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife budget back in 2014, caused in part by the long-term decline of anglers and hunters buying licenses. (I voted no on the measure.)
SB 420 allows a person to apply to set aside convictions for marijuana possession, delivery and manufacture if conduct upon which conviction was based is no longer a crime.
SB 445 would require the Oregon Invasive Species Council to submit a biennial report to the Legislative Assembly, revises the Council membership, and appropriates funds to the Council. "Invasive species" is defined as nonnative organisms that cause economic or environmental harm and are capable of spreading to new areas of the state. Invasive species does not include humans, domestic livestock or non-harmful exotic organisms.
HB 2576 allows you to transfer the plates and registration from a vehicle that is totaled or substantially altered to a new vehicle. It also allows a special interest plate to be transferred from one vehicle to another qualifying vehicle.
HB 2393 strengthens Oregon's "revenge porn" laws by making it a crime to distribute intimate photos or videos of a person without their consent. Previously the law only covered posting such content to a website, but now includes other methods of electronic dissemination such as text message, email and apps. It allows victims to sue for up to $5,000 in damages.
HB 2328 will make it easier for police to put car thieves behind bars. A 2014 court decision said that prosecutors have to prove a person had knowledge the vehicle they were driving was stolen. Now, they merely have to show that the person disregarded a "substantial and unjustifiable risk" that the vehicle might be stolen.
SB 485 requires the Oregon Health Authority to work with education entities on a plan to responding to youth suicides. According to the 2017 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey, suicide is the second leading cause of death among Oregonians aged 10 to 24 with 107 recorded fatalities in 2017.
SB 998 allows bicyclists to yield, rather than come to a full stop, at stop signs and traffic signals. (I opposed the bill, concerned that it would affect traffic safety.)
HJM 8 urges Congress and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to adopt and enforce stringent regulations for accuracy in wine labeling, packaging, and advertising. The measure also urges states to enter into mutual agreements for the reciprocal enforcement of wine labeling, packaging, and advertising laws. (After discovering the California-made “Oregon Coast Pinot Noir”, I was chief sponsor of the measure.)
SB 47 will increase the cost of floating Oregon’s waterways with a raft, kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard. Anyone paddling a non-motorized boat over 10-feet long will need to purchase a Waterway Access Permit for $17 annually or $30 for two years. A $5 weekly option will also be available. Boaters under age 14 won’t need one. For the past decade, Oregon has seen a growing number of non-motorized boaters at facilities funded largely by motorized boaters. Revenue from the new system will go into a fund to improve boat ramps, parking lots and even purchase land to improve access to Oregon’s waterways. The permit replaces the previous $5 invasive species permit.
SB 1 establishes a System of Care Advisory Council to improve the effectiveness and efficacy of state and local services to children with distinctive mental, or behavioral health needs.
SB 9 allows pharmacists to prescribe emergency refills of insulin and related supplies instead of requiring patients who run out to wait for their doctor's office to open to get a new prescription.
SB 579 waives the 15-day waiting period between Death With Dignity Act requests when the attending physician determines, with reasonable medical judgement, that the person will die within 15 days of making the initial request. It also requires a medically-confirmed certificate regarding the patient’s probability of imminent death to be included in the medical record.
SB 69 requires the Public Utility Commission to establish a plan to provide low-income Oregonians assistance for accessing broadband internet services. To quality, a family must demonstrate its income or participate in government assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
SB 664 requires school districts to provide instruction about the Holocaust and genocide. It also directs the Department of Education to provide technical assistance to school districts on implementing the curriculum. These new instruction requirements will apply beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. (I was a co-sponsor of the bill.)
HB 2015 allows undocumented residents and Oregonians who cannot find their original birth certificate to obtain driver's licenses. Those who can't provide documentation of citizenship will not be added to the voter rolls.
SB 870 adds Oregon to the National Popular Vote Compact. States belonging to the compact agree to award their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The compact will take effect once states representing 270 electoral college votes join. Oregon brings the total to 196 votes. (I co-sponsored the bill.)
HB 3216 allows you to sue a person who "summons a police officer" as a way to discriminate, harass, embarrass, or infringe on your rights or expel you from a place where you are lawfully located.
SB 665 permits school districts to adopt rules to allow trained school personnel to administer naloxone and similar medications if a student or other individual overdoses on opioids at school, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity. Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. In 2016, there were 312 opioid-related overdose deaths in Oregon.
To learn more about these bills, visit the Oregon Legislative Information System. Select the 2019 Legislative Session and then search for bills by number, key words, or sponsor.
Most of these measures are policy proposals and not part of the biennial state budget. In that budget, we addressed housing and health care, veterans and small business, public safety, transportation, and efforts to better collect money owed to the state.
I look forward to returning to the Capitol in February for the one-month “short” session. I’ll continue fighting for rural and coastal Oregonians, creating an environment in which local businesses thrive, livability for seniors, workers, and families, dealing with housing and homelessness, fixing our state’s health care system, and addressing the very real threat that climate change poses to our communities and our state.
Representative David Gomberg
House District 10