No walkout?! What happened in Salem this Session?

Dear ROPnet,

The 2024 Oregon legislative session wrapped up earlier this month. We’re celebrating some significant victories and also recognizing the bills that didn’t pass that will need to be prioritized next session.

The end of a legislative session is a great opportunity to check whether your representatives are actually representing YOU. Did your representative and senator show up for a thriving rural Oregon? Were your community’s values and needs prioritized in this legislative session? Read on for recaps from ROP, the Oregon Capitol Chronicle, and our partners at Fair Shot for All

The Quick and Dirty

The Oregon Capitol Chronicle wrote a great report on highlights and lowlights from the session. Here are a few excerpts:

  • “Just days before lawmakers started work, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that 10 Republican senators – a third of the Senate – were ineligible to run for reelection […]”
  • “In the House, incendiary comments made by two Republican lawmakers about LGBTQ+ people, atheists and Muslims, and Democrats’ decision to choose their next speaker in a closed-door meeting before the session began, cast a pallor over the early days […]”
  • “Under the threat of [a ballot measure], Democrats and Republicans came together to enact campaign finance limits.”
  • “Lawmakers also approved $376 million for infrastructure and incentives to build houses and gave cities the option to more easily add new land to build housing […]”

Read the full article from the Oregon Capitol Chronicle here

More Details

Recriminalization

Legislators also passed HB 4002-24 to majorly reform Measure 110, which voters passed in 2022 to provide people suffering from addiction with access to care. There was a lot of attention on this issue this legislative session, including large amounts of spin from journalists, legislators, lobbyists and beyond. What are your thoughts about the bill? What have you been hearing in your community? Email Sidra at sidra@rop.org and let us know as we work on a ROPnet dedicated to unpacking this bill and drug criminalization in Oregon.

Columbia Gorge Resolution Center

The Columbia Gorge Resolution Center (CGRC) Advisory Council won their funding request from the state legislature to the tune of at least $8 million! This money will go towards building a regional facility that offers support for people who are struggling with mental and behavioral health challenges and drug and alcohol addiction. Community members wanted to help their family members, neighbors, and co-workers who are struggling to receive the support they need to improve their health and be contributing members of our families and community. For more details check out the ROPnet we sent out last month.

Other mental health, behavioral health, and substance use treatment programs got funding this session too, including Lifeways Inc. in Ontario, New Directions NW in Baker City, and Jefferson County’s BestCare Expansion in Madras. We’re seeing how the original push to pass Measure 110 has continued to lead to the prioritization of treatment resources for Oregonians!

Banning Book Bans

If passed, Senate Bill 1583 would have protected students’ freedom of expression by banning discrimination related to materials available in Oregon’s public schools based on the race, religion, ability, country of origin, sexuality, or gender of individuals featured. 

We are disappointed by lawmakers not recognizing a pattern of attacks on libraries and public schools across rural Oregon. This failure to address anti-democratic efforts to ban books and censor inclusive curriculum is a setback after real improvements in recent years to our school curriculum standards and to the range of resources that our libraries offer, particularly when it comes to the diverse experiences of people of color and queer people. We know rural Oregonians across the state will continue to fight to protect our freedoms of expression and information so that all students can go to safe and welcoming schools.

Big wins from the People’s Budget and some missed opportunities

Written by Fair Shot for All

Investments in employment-related daycare, homelessness prevention, and restorative justice in the 2024 legislative session will result in a stronger, healthier community and economy. We applaud the legislature for taking action. These wins mean that more Oregonians will have a better shot at success in very tangible and immediate ways. These investments are a major victory for our people and our state. 

At the same time, the legislature underfunded critical programs for immigrant Oregonians. Our communities are stronger and more vibrant thanks to the contributions of immigrants, yet our policies and investments exclude Oregonians based on their immigration status. Without action, this will continue to drive inequality and persistent financial insecurity in immigrant communities. Fairshot remains committed to advancing economic, racial, and gender justice for ALL Oregonians and we will not leave anyone behind.

Read their full detailed report back here!

What’s Next?

We know that passing legislation is just the beginning; how is your human dignity group planning to hold your legislators accountable for making sure the impact of these bills is felt by those who need them the most? Are there other legislative victories or losses from the session that you’ve been reflecting on? Let us know by emailing Sidra at sidra@rop.org

Warmly,
Sidra and the ROP Team

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