After 26 days and over 260 bills, Oregon legislators officially reached ‘Sine Die’ – or adjournment – on the 2018 Legislative Session on the evening of Saturday March 3rd.
The session began under a cloud of uncertainty with one sitting senator under investigation for sexual harassment after reports were filed in the Fall of 2017 by two female state senators. Less than one week into the session Sen. Jeff Kruse-R, Roseburg, resigned, committing to not return to the Capitol for the balance of the session, and officially stepping down March 15th. This move reduced the senate Republicans vote count to 12. Nevertheless, Senate President Peter Courtney-D, Salem, remained committed to bi-partisan cooperation, and with the exception of one or two major battles on the Senate Floor, succeeded in this endeavor.
Initially established for budget rebalancing and policy ‘fix’ bills, the short session once again saw significant policy bills advanced and discussed over the course of tight timelines and limited public hearings. Cleaner Air Oregon, cap and trade, net neutrality, heath care as a constitutional right, data breach overhaul, drug pricing transparency, classroom size as a mandatory subject of collective bargaining, disconnection from the federal tax cuts and new funds for foster care programs were among the issues debated during the short session.
The AOC Policy team stayed incredibly busy as well, working on issues such as video lottery funding (HB 4069 ultimately failed but a budget note in HB 5201 will potentially accomplish the same purpose for at least the 2017-2019 biennium), MERS, PERS, buiding codes, gigabit tax breaks, broadband expansion, land use and many other substantive issues.
The interim will be packed full of interim workgroups and policy discussions. Tuesday, March 6th is the filing deadline for the 2018 legislative campaigns.
The AOC team will provide a verbal update at the AOC Legislative Committee on Monday March 12th and will be working on a written legislative summary over the next few weeks. We also look forward to engaging with members over the interim as we build a proactive agenda for 2019!
Contributed by: Mike Eliason | AOC Legislative Director