housing, labor and education bills | Local News | curve | the weekly source

ORRegon’s 2022 legislative session concluded with more than 60 bills packed into the final two days of the brief 31-day session. Lawmakers added $2.7 billion in spending to a budget passed last year as the state received $2.5 billion more in revenue than expected.

The short sessions typically focus on budget adjustments and glitches from the previous year, but Democrats believed larger challenges like homelessness, creating sustainable workforces and child care needed to be addressed.

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The Oregon legislature adjourned briefly on Friday, March 4, and voted on more than 60 bills in the past two days.  - COURTESY OF ZEHN KATZEN VIA WIKIMEDIA

  • Courtesy of Ten Cats via Wikimedia
  • The Oregon legislature adjourned briefly on Friday, March 4, and voted on more than 60 bills in the past two days.

Housing and homelessness

Oregon has the fourth highest number of homeless people per capita (35 people per 100,000) in the US, behind California, New York and Hawaii. A $400 million bill seeks to address this with investments in services, affordable housing, and support for home ownership.

Some $165 million of the package will go toward expanding shelter capacity; $50 million will go directly to Project Turnkey, a state program that transformed motels into shelters. Some $80 million of the package would support rapid relocation, including short-term rental assistance and services. The remaining $25 million would be put in the hands of municipal governments to address and respond to specific local needs. It will build on previous work by the legislature, such as House Bill 2006, which will partially fund the Bend Navigation Center, which is likely to be approved by the Bend City Council on Wednesday, March 16.

On the affordable housing side of the spending package, $215 million is allocated to build and preserve affordable housing. Further, Bill 4123 allocates funds directly to local governments to establish joint offices that coordinate services for the homeless.

“The goal of this is to provide some money so that our cities and counties can start a joint office that can work with our community partners and have an overall vision and strategic plan in a community,” said Jason Kropf (D-Bend) , who drafted the bill. “Bend will get about $1.9 million in direct allocation.”

Child care and education

Every county in Oregon is a child care desert for families with preschool children, meaning there is less than one available spot for every three children. Last year, the legislature consolidated two separate agencies that oversaw child care in the state in the Department of Early Learning and Careand this year they are paying $100 million to boost the industry.

“We streamlined that process moving forward, we created bigger investments, we put in another $100 million dollars in child care investments this last session in 2022, in part to bolster that child care workforce,” Kropf said.

The legislature also prioritized funding to address teacher burnout and increase summer learning programs for K-12 students. Oregon school districts reported more than 1,800 vacancies in 2021, citing high workloads, burnout and disruptions from the pandemic. The bill establishes grant programs to recruit and retain educators and waives some professional development requirements. Lawmakers also passed protections for superintendents. The Newberg school board fired Superintendent Joe Morelock on Nov. 9 without cause, though Morelock told OPB he believed his firing was due to an alleged violation of a school board-enacted policy banning “political symbols, quasi- political or controversial.

“The superintendent’s bill was to make sure that superintendents couldn’t be fired for following things like public health guidance, requiring some level of notice if a superintendent is going to be fired without cause, that there will be some period of time between when that notice is given and before the superintendent can be fired,” Kropf said. “The goal is to try to create continuity of leadership within our school districts so that we don’t have these abrupt changes.”

School districts affected by the wildfires will get a share of $25 million in aid after declining enrollment led to reduced funding.

Workforce Training

A $200 million job training program will build on existing job training, apprenticeship and education programs to connect people with upwardly mobile jobs and with a focus on supporting people from historically underserved communities, including people of color, students adults, rural communities, low-income families. wage earners and disconnected youth. The bill, called Future Ready Oregon, was among Gov. Kate Brown’s top priorities.

“I want to thank the legislature for passing Future Ready Oregon,” Governor Brown said in a press release. “And a special thanks to the Council for Racial Justice, as well as our business community and Oregon workers who shared their stories during the legislative process. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and get to work building a diverse workforce.”

Perhaps the most contentious legislation passed gave farmworkers the same overtime requirements as any other occupation. Farmworkers are the only workers excluded from overtime pay in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Republicans opposed the bill, saying it puts family farms at a disadvantage over large corporations. The bill phases in overtime pay during an adjustment period and provides tax credits for farms that offset increased wages. Tax credits increase as farms get smaller.

Oregon Republicans opposed many of the proposals passed in the brief session, but in many cases they were unable to overturn the Democratic majority. Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) said his party was able to block some of the more extreme proposals, but questioned Democrats’ priorities.

“At a time when inflation is out of control, Democrats introduced a new sales tax and new spending. When Oregonians don’t feel safe in their homes, Democrats pushed an extremely soft agenda on crime that it makes our streets more dangerous. As we closed the book on the pandemic, Democrats clung to government mandates and overreach,” Knopp said. “Even with our big disagreements, we did some good bipartisan things for Oregon this session. Unfortunately, we left a lot of good policies on the table. Short sessions reveal priorities, and the priorities of the majority were misplaced in many cases.”

The luxury sales tax that Knopp mentioned was still in committee at the end of the session. As for crime, there were mixed results; A bill was passed prohibiting police from making stops for broken taillights or headlights, as was a bill allowing people convicted in non-unanimous cases to be eligible for a new trial as long as they remain in custody and only victimize adults. The legislature also relaxed requirements for police to use tear gas following complaints that 2021 legislation restricting its use was vague and prevented police intervention in violent demonstrations.

who runs part two

Last week we brought you a list of local candidates running for the upcoming May primaries, where candidates from the same party compete against each other to see who moves on to the November general election. This week, we’ve compiled a list of who’s running for Governor, the US House of Representatives, and the US Senate, but with over 20 candidates for Governor alone, we’ve made that long list available. list, which includes links to information about who is donating to your campaigns—available on the News page of our website, bendsource.com/bend/local-news.

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