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    2014 Session Summary

    We recently adjourned the 2014 Session! Because it is an even year, we were only in session for about a month. Despite the shortness of the session, we were still able to get some great things done for the people of Oregon. I sponsored a medical amnesty bill for underage drinkers who need medical assistance for alcohol poisoning. This bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously, provides limited legal amnesty for minors in possession of alcohol who call for medical help for themselves or another who is suffering from alcohol poisoning. Studies show this kind of policy increases calls to emergency medical services dramatically, saving lives.

    I'd like to share with you a few other victories we had this session. Read on below! Education After passing the largest K-12 budget in Oregon history and holding down tuition increases at Oregon universities last year, we continued to prioritize education in 2014.

    New summer learning grants will provide over 5,000 students at high-poverty public schools with additional learning time, and a $2.2 million investment in early learning programs will help more of our children have positive early experiences in school. The legislature also approved ideas to make higher education more accessible and affordable. The "Aspiration to College" bill will support low-income and first-generation community college students and the "Oregon Promise" will study whether it's realistic to allow Oregon high school graduates to attend community colleges for free. Getting Oregon back to work

    As Oregon's economy continues to improve, House Democrats focused on putting people back to work and expanding the economic recovery to all Oregonians. The legislature issued $200 million in bonds for a state-of-the art cancer research center at Oregon Health and Science University; expanded access to capital for small businesses looking to grow and create jobs; increased support for the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help Oregon businesses expand production boosted funding in career and technical education programs that help graduates enter the workforce; and invested in retraining unemployed and underemployed bioscience engineers. Government Efficiency

    We pushed to make government more efficient and effective in order to better serve Oregon's taxpayers and maximize funding for services Oregonians need. The legislature made investments in SNAP meal programs, emergency housing and homelessness assistance, bonding for affordable housing, and the Employment Related Day Care - including an expansion to support parents who are returning to school. In addition, House Democrats pushed to increase accountability and oversight on large, public IT projects to ensure taxpayers' hard-earned money is being spent wisely.


    2013 Session Note

    As the 2013 Legislative session is coming to close, there have been some very important legislative developments. We have been working hard this session to get to a balanced budget that puts money back into the classroom. After five years and $4 billion in budget cuts to schools and other vital services, it's time to move our state forward. One of my top priorities is to get to the strongest education budget possible.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to share legislative developments for issues I have been working on. One of these accomplishments is the passage of House Bill 2632, a bill that eliminates a quirk in property tax law that sends some dollars from local option levies in certain districts to urban renewal districts, rather than sending those dollars to the services they were originally meant for. It is estimated that this bill will keep $6.2 million going to their original source instead of to urban renewal plans across the state. Of that $6.2 million about $4.5 million will be going to Portland Public Schools instead of the Portland Development Commission.

    Another important piece of legislation we are working on is House Bill 2973, which eliminates an expensive highway development experiment. As part of the 2009 Jobs and Transportation Act, a program was mandated in Oregon to study the feasibility of outsourcing highway maintenance. A pilot program began on a stretch of Highway 219, with maintenance for a portion of that highway being outsourced to private contractors. However, this program did not reduce the cost of the project. Instead, the yearly cost for private maintenance has more than doubled as in-house operations would have cost. As a result of the passage of House Bill 2973, we have ensured that we are not continuing to waste money on costly experiments.

    The Oregon House of Representatives passed legislation to protect the privacy rights of college students. Senate Bill 344A would prevent colleges and universities from demanding access to the private social media pages maintained by current students or applicants. The legislation won support from a broad coalition including higher education institutions, privacy advocates, and students' rights groups.


    2012 Session Note

    The February Session is over. After 34 days of legislative action, we are back at home in our districts. The 30-30 split and the speed of the session made Oregon's first ever even year annual session unique and challenging. Despite all of this, we managed to walk away with some great victories for the people of Oregon. I had three priorities this session: creating jobs, protecting the middle class, and prioritizing services. I am proud to report that we had victories for the people of Oregon on all fronts. Below is a brief overview of some of what we passed this session.

    Making Smart Investments to Create Jobs Creating jobs was my number one priority this session. We passed HB 4150 a bill that will assist small businesses in getting the capital they need to grow and hire Oregonians. Another bill, SB 1556, will focus our state contracting on buying more from Oregon companies. We also passed HB 4040 the Oregon Investment Act, which will leverage economic development dollars more efficiently to get the biggest bang for every taxpayer dollar. Finally, I supported a package of smart bonding for shovel-ready capital construction projects at community colleges and universities around the state, which will get jobs on the ground right away.

    Protecting the Middle Class One of my top goals was to pass meaningful foreclosure reform to help more people stay in their homes. 1 in 4 Oregon homeowners are underwater on their mortgage, owing more than their house is worth, and 1 in 11 are in danger of foreclosure. On the last day of session, in the eleventh hour, we overcame session-long attempts by banking interests to block and weaken any reform measures. We passed a bill that will help distressed homeowners by eliminating the dual track foreclosure process, mandate mediation with banks for those facing foreclosure, and hold banks accountable if they break the law.

    Protecting the Services Oregonians Rely on We passed essential health care reform bills, including Health Transformation, an overhaul of the way Oregon delivers healthcare, and the Health Insurance Exchange, a central marketplace for health plans. These bills will dramatically increase government efficiency, save tax payers hundreds of millions, and most importantly, deliver a better quality of care to our citizens. We also worked to prevent cuts to the services that Oregonians rely on. We fought hard for a budget that protected K-12, senior services, and programs for people with developmental disabilities.