Big Victories in the Legislature!

Did you hear? Rural Oregon won some big victories this year in the legislative session, including overtime pay for farmworkers; helping close the wealth gap for Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities; making sure every Oregonian in immigration court has access to a lawyer; and reducing the number of people stopped by law enforcement, just to name a few! These successes were informed and lobbied for by human dignity groups around the state who made sure rural legislators knew their districts wanted these policies passed through countless phone calls, emails, written testimony, and letters to the editor.

Here are our 2022 Bills that Back a Thriving Rural Oregon and their results in the session:

Child Care For Oregon’s Child Care Package 
(HB 4005) passed
Now that this bill has passed, the state will pay more money to childcare
providers per child through Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) subsidies. This change will lead to more equitable rates for parents and guardians.
Passed graphic
Farmworker Overtime
(HB 4002) passed!
PCUN, Oregon’s Farmworker Union, led this charge to make sure that our state finally ended the exclusion of farmworkers from its overtime law. Starting in 2023, farmworkers will earn overtime pay after 55 hours of work in a week, and it will phase in after that to start after 40 hours a week. This aligns farmworkers’ rights with what most other Oregon workers already receive. 
Passed graphic
Universal Legal Representation 
(SB 1543) passed!
Now that this bill has passed, Oregon will soon provide culturally sensitive, free immigration legal services to Oregonians facing deportation who can’t afford a lawyer on their own. The program will be flexible and responsive to massive raids, sudden influxes of asylum seekers, or any other changes in the immigration system like new opportunities for legal status.
Passed graphic
Transforming Justice
(SB 1510) passed!
Now that this bill has passed, it will reduce unnecessary interactions with law enforcement that increase the risks of police using excessive force and violence. It will also improve success for people on probation and parole, and fund services that reduce the widespread racial disparities in Oregon’s criminal justice system.
Passed graphic
Equity Investment Act
(SB 1579) passed!
Now that this bill has passed Oregon will create the Equity Investment Fund with $50 million of existing cannabis tax revenue, as part of the efforts to close the racial wealth gap in Oregon. The fund will then invest money in Black, Indigenous, Latinx, rural, and other economically disadvantaged communities whose wealth was systematically stripped away through the War on Drugs and over-policing.
Passed graphic
Broadband Governance, Availability, and Equity
(HB 4092) passed!
Now that this bill has passed it will prepare the Oregon Broadband Office for more than $200 million already set to come in from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act to address gaps in broadband infrastructure and reduce barriers to access. The new law creates a broadband strategic framework, a broadband subsidy fund, and a fund to allow libraries to capture federal investment dollars.

Passed graphic
Treasury Transparency Bill
(HB 4115) did not pass.
If passed, this bill would have required the Oregon Treasury to be transparent about the climate-related risk involved in its investments of Oregon’s public dollars. This bill made it through committee and to a first reading in the Senate but did not come up for a vote this session. You can find more information on how an idea becomes a law here!

While we have A LOT to celebrate, we still have much work to do to realize our vision of equal access to justice and to make sure that all rural Oregonians have what we need to thrive. Let us use this momentum to continue to hold our state and elected representatives accountable to the needs and priorities of rural Oregonians! Send your elected officials a note letting them know how you feel about the ways they voted on these various bills.

ROP’s guiding light, the Roadmap to a Thriving Rural Oregon, came out of hundreds of conversations with human dignity groups across rural Oregon about what our communities need most as the COVID-19 pandemic and unstable economy lay bare the big gaps in our communities’ social safety nets that have been widening for decades. We continue to call on our legislators to move our communities from fighting for survival to truly thriving.

Which priority policies does your group want to move in the next legislative session in 2023? What do you want to work on in the coming year? Reach out to your local ROP organizer or email monicap@rop.org. We’d love to hear from you!

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