[KTA] Legislative Session Action Plan

Background: Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly activity by the Rural Organizing Project. The idea is that small actions can lead to powerful collective results when groups of people gather to complete the same action across the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep each KTA easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still manage to complete the KTA each month.

What is this activity?

Oregon’s legislative session starts this week and our elected officials are making critical decisions and passing laws that deeply impact our communities. We’ve used the Roadmap to a Thriving Rural Oregon, created through hundreds of conversations across the network, to break down some of the legislation coming up for a vote this session. Check out the 2022 Bills that Back a Thriving Rural Oregon below and talk with your team about what bills you are most excited to show your support for. Make a plan for how your group will make sure your state senators and representatives know how you and your neighbors want them to vote. Send us your ideas, and questions at sidra@rop.org

Why this activity?

Legislative sessions are opportunities for human dignity groups to connect with their senators and representatives, and build the skills of your teammates and your neighbors in making your voices heard in Salem. Every other year, including 2022, Oregon has a “short session” that is only five weeks long, so the session runs from February 1st to March 7th. With remote testimony options and many exciting proposals on the agenda, it’s a great time to participate in advancing democracy across the state and make sure your representatives know that you are paying attention to how they are voting before election season kicks into high gear.

How to complete this activity:

1. Get together with your team and decide what bills you want to prioritize this session. Check out the list below of ROP’s 2022 Bills that Back a Thriving Rural Oregon to start, or focus on one particular policy. We’d love to hear what your group is focusing on! Let us know at sidra@rop.org 

2. Make a plan for how you want to support your priority bill(s) over the next five weeks. This could include: 

a. Collecting postcards from your neighbors addressed to your elected officials! Tip: Before you mail the postcards, be sure to capture their contact information for future events or action opportunities.

b. Organizing a group meeting with your legislator virtually or in person in Salem. Tip: Look up their contact info here and check out this sample agenda to plan ahead.

c. Hosting a call party to invite and support your neighbors in speaking directly with your state senator and representative!

d. Submitting Letters to the Editor to your local paper. Tip: As a group you can create a schedule so one person writes a letter about important bills each week of the session. Elected officials read the local paper and many of your neighbors do too!

e. Have another idea or want support getting your plan together? Reach out to Sidra at sidra@rop.org!

3. Make your voices heard! Whether you have 10 minutes or 10 hours to coordinate a meeting, we can all play a role in our democracy!

4. Report Back to tell us how it went so we can share your experiences with folks across rural Oregon. Send us a note at sidra@rop.org, we’d love to hear from you!

2022 Bills that Back a Thriving Rural Oregon

The Roadmap to a Thriving Rural Oregon is made up of the priorities our communities need to move from fighting for survival to truly thriving. The Roadmap 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. Now we must bring these priorities to the legislative session! Check out the Roadmap and see below for bills being considered in the Oregon State Legislature under each of the four Roadmap categories. Want to dig in further? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Reach out to your friendly ROP organizer or email sidra@rop.org to get in touch.

We Are All Essential

  • Child Care For Oregon Child Care Package (HB 4005) If passed, this would create a law that would increase the amount of money that the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) subsidies pay per child to child care providers, leading to more equitable rates for parents. This will also increase purchasing power for parents who utilize ERDC. It would also suspend the rule that requires sprinkler systems for in-home providers until 2024.

Healthy People Make Healthy Communities

  • Farmworker Overtime (HB 4002) Farmworkers have been excluded from minimum wage protections and overtime pay since these labor policies went into effect in 1938. Since 1938, people of color have made up the majority of farm laborers, and this explicitly racist exclusion from overtime pay continues to have wide reaching effects on not just communities of color but also the entire Oregon economy. If passed, this would create a law that would phase-in overtime pay to 1.5 times the regular pay rate for all agricultural workers after they work 40 hours in a week. Farmworkers would qualify regardless of whether they are paid hourly or on a piece-rate, and it would be enforced just like overtime pay for every other industry. 

Safe and Welcoming Communities

  • Universal Legal Representation (SB 1543) Everyone deserves adequate legal representation, but community members are routinely deported and separated from their families simply because they can’t afford an immigration lawyer. If passed, Universal Legal Representation would expand legal services through the use of collaborative representation, community-based lawyering and client empowerment. The program would be flexible and responsive to anticipated legalization programs, massive raids, a sudden influx of asylum seekers, or any other changes in the immigration system.
  • Transforming Justice Bill (SB 1510If passed, this would create a law that would transform our public safety system into one that provides help to people experiencing houselessness or mental health crises, and it would prioritize rehabilitation over punishment. It would limit unnecessary stops and arrests by law enforcement, remove barriers for people on probation or post-prison supervision seeking to rebuild their lives, and invest resources in communities of color.
  • Equity Investment Act (SB 1579) If passed, this would create the Equity Investment Fund, with $50 million of existing cannabis tax revenue. This fund would then provide grants to culturally-responsive, community-based organizations that support entrepreneurship, workforce development, and paths to home and land ownership for Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities.
  • Treasury Transparency Bill (HB 4115) By investing in fossil fuel corporations, the Oregon State Treasury is risking Oregon’s financial future and supporting the climate crisis. We know this puts us at risk, but we have no way of knowing by how much. If passed, this bill would ensure the Treasury is transparent about the climate-related risk involved in their investments.

Connecting our Voices

  • Broadband Governance, Availability and Equity (HB 4092With American Rescue Plan Act dollars, and the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act allocating broadband funding directly to states, Oregon is poised to receive more than $200 million to address gaps in broadband infrastructure and reduce barriers to access. This bill would prepare the Oregon Broadband Office for the work ahead including: creating a broadband strategic framework; exploring how to create a broadband subsidy fund; and establishing a fund to allow libraries to capture federal investment monies.
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