Historic bipartisan legislation passed

Sen. Alan Bates

Sen. Alan Bates

This session is one for the history books.

Early on we approved SB 301, which allows Oregon small businesses to accelerate depreciation on equipment and free up capital to invest and hire workers. We passed HB 3000, which stimulates local production by giving preference to Oregon products when the state makes purchases. We approved SB 219 to ensure that Oregon invests in high-skill, high-wage jobs that are the engine of our economy.

We passed HB 2800 so that more Oregon schools could participate in programs to bring fresh locally grown foods into our schools and HB 2336, the Farmers Market Act, to support small local famers and the growth of farmers’ markets.

We established a funding mechanism for all-day kindergarten at no cost to families and passed SB 909, which will take down the silos between competing state government entities within the education department and unify the system from age 0 to 20.

For the first time in decades the Legislature came together to agree on a bipartisan redistricting plan that keeps communities of interest whole.

Major bipartisan healthcare legislation was passed in the form of SB 99 and HB 3650; these laws ensure access to care for nearly all Oregonians while lowering costs and implementing locally integrated and higher quality care.

We made deep cuts in many areas and no budget was left unscathed this session. We managed the limited resources available – just like families across Oregon.

Truly this was a bipartisan and historic session.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

The Good:

HB 2800 – Farm to School – Allows more Oregon schools to participate in programs that provide local healthy food options.

SB 301 -  Accelerated Depreciation Bill -  Allows Oregon small businesses to accelerate depreciation on equipment purchases, thereby freeing up capital to invest.

HB 3000 -  Buy Oregon First -  State agencies give preference to goods and services produced in Oregon

SB 99 – Health Insurance Exchange – Brings down cost of health care for small businesses and consumers while expanding access to care for more Oregonians and ensuring quality coverage.

HB 3650 – Health care Transformation -  Transforms Oregon Health Plan through local integration and coordination of the full continuum of care and global budgeting.

SB 909 – Establishes Education Investment Board to take down silos between competing education programs and unify education system from age 0 to 20.

SB 248 – Sets up funding mechanism for providing for full-day kindergarten, at no cost to families.

The Bad:

SB 2 – Veterans’ Day Off – This bill would have allowed veterans to take their day off if a business felt that it was financially viable. The bill was killed by House Republicans after passing the Senate unanimously.

SB 827 – Mortgage Foreclosure Reform – This legislation would have given distressed homeowners a fair shake, the bill was killed by House Republicans after passing the Senate.

The Ugly:

HB 2700 – LNG Fast-Track Bill – Special interests put a poison pill in this bill to allow for faster permitting of LNG at export terminals at the expense of rural property owners and our state’s energy independence.

Budgets – The Legislature faced enormous challenges this session crafting a balanced budget with a $3.5 billion shortfall and the increasing demand for services. We had to make deep cuts in many areas and no budget was left unscathed this session. We had to manage with the limited resources available – just like families across Oregon. The seriousness of the budget situation required the Legislature to look very closely at how we deliver services to Oregonians. In many areas – health care, higher education, tax credits – we made historic reforms that fundamentally change the state’s approach to “business as usual.” These landmark reforms will help improve efficiency in the delivery of services while saving taxpayer dollars. This budget required shared sacrifice to make ends meet. We required every state agency to reduce their services and supplies budget (administrative costs) by 6.5 percent. We also limited increases to employee compensation across the board. These measures are important so that we could redirect dollars to where they are needed most – the critical services that Oregonians rely on. By focusing on priorities – creating jobs and protecting the middle class, Oregon children, and the most vulnerable – we were able to prevent some of the most devastating cuts proposed at the beginning of session. Out of an overall general fund budget of roughly $14.6 billion, about 94 percent went to the three main areas that the state provides services: education, human services/health care, and public safety.

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