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​Senator Michael Dembrow

Democrat - District 23 - Portland

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1723    District Phone: 503-281-0608
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-407, Salem, Oregon 97301
District Address: 2104 NE 45th Ave. Portland, OR 97213


2014 Session Recap


Here's an update on what happened with some of the bills that received a fair amount of attention in the media and my email inbox.  If you have a question about a bill that you can't find here, please contact my office.


Bills that Passed:

SB 1584    Exotic Animal Ownership  This bill came to us several years after the legislature banned individuals from owning exotic pets.  It allows for a very small exception to that law, so that disabled individuals who have an exotic pet that is serving as a therapy animal may keep that animal if they owned it prior to the effective date of ban, and they can document their disability and their ability to keep the pet in proper conditions.

HB 4085    Colon Cancer Screenings  This bill makes colon cancer screenings more accessible and affordable for Oregonians.

HB 4090    Summer Meal Grants  This bill increases the availability of nutritious meals for kids during summer breaks by making startup grants available to more sites that want to provide summer meals.

HB 4120    Scholarships for children of fallen reserve police and firefighters  Oregon has an established scholarship program for dependents of deceased and disabled public safety officers.  This bill expands the definition of public safety officer for the purposes of the scholarship to included reserve police officers and volunteer firefighters.

SB 1518    Supervisory Employees This bill deals with an issue created by legislation in the 1990s that excluded many frontline fire fighters from the ability to belong to their union by mischaracterizing them as supervisors.  This bill clarifies the law so that only fire fighters with true supervisory duties will remain outside the bargaining unit.

SB 1567    Managerial Bumping Rights  This bill codifies an agreement reached between state workers and management to restore rights to workers who have been promoted into management but who have not completed their trial service – allowing them to return to their previous position if their promotion doesn't work out.

SB 1577    Silver Alert  This bill creates a Silver Alert program to help locate vulnerable missing adults (who may have dementia, Alzheimer's or other conditions), similar to the Amber Alert system currently in place to locate missing children.

HB 4058    Apprenticeship and 40/40/20  This bill, which I chief-sponsored, makes it clear that certified apprenticeship programs are an important part of Oregon's post-secondary education goals.  Apprenticeship programs are time-tested successful partnerships between industry and labor.  A journeyman's card is a ticket to prosperity for young men and women, leading directly to good, family-wage jobs in the trades.  I've been working continuously over the last five years to promote greater appreciation of career/technical education in Oregon, and passage of this bill was another important step in that direction.

HB 4114    Special Advocates for Protected Persons  I reported on this bill last week.  It will allow for the creation of a corps of court-appointed volunteer special advocates to keep an eye on people who have court-appointed guardians. It passed both chambers last week.

SB 1524    Free Community College  This bill directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to study the viability of providing Oregon high school graduates with tuition-free access to community college.  The HECC must report on its examination by September.  Obviously, there are many questions to be answered about funding sources, institutional capacity, and opportunities for university students, but looking at ways to make college more affordable is always a good thing.

SB 1566    Better Coordination of Workforce Development  This bill, which comes from the Oregon Workforce Investment Board (on which I sit), follows up on one of my two priority bills from 2012 (HB4141), which called for better alignment and coordination of the state's many job-training programs.  This bill focuses on improved statewide coordination and oversight of the Employment Department.  The bill was at one time a source of potential controversy, as it originally intended to strip some programs from the Community Colleges Department and move them to the Employment Department, but that was ultimately kept out of the bill, and the bill then moved forward with broad support.

SB 1509    Native American Mascots  This would allow high schools to continue to have Indian-themed mascots with the permission of a neighboring tribe.  This is one that failed in 2013, in part due to the threat of a veto by Governor Kitzhaber.  I opposed it then and continue to oppose it until the bill was amended in a manner I could support.  The State Board of Education will create a system modeled after the NCAA rules, which will only allow the use of names that are very specific to the individual neighboring tribes.

HB 4094    Medical Amnesty for Intoxicated Minors  Would allow an underage drinker or the companion of an underage drinker to seek medical help and not be at risk of arrest.  This is a bipartisan bill, for which I'm one of the sponsors.

HB 4028    Dealing with Problem Gambling  Requires the State Lottery Commission to formally adopt a Responsible Gambling Policy to address problem gambling and addiction.  The Lottery will use some of their administrative funding to develop the policy and implement recommendations, including providing resources for individuals dealing with gambling addiction and advertising those resources to the public.

HB 4029    Damascus Annexation

HB 4035    Corrections Officers and Guns  This bill allows Corrections Department employees to carry their duty or personal firearms to and from work, an ability that other public safety workers already have.  If the worksite does not provide a locked safe for storage of personal firearms, corrections officers can store them in a locked compartment in their vehicle if they possess a CHL.

HB 4068    Concealed Carry with Prior Out-of-State Marijuana Conviction  This bill corrects a discrepancy in Oregon law regarding Concealed Handgun Licenses.  Currently, a County Sheriff can issue a CHL to an applicant who has a single prior conviction for possessing a small amount of marijuana that is from more than five years ago -- unless that conviction is from out of state.  This bill reconciles that difference in the statute.

HB 4150    Proficiency Grading and Testing    This bill addresses some confusion that was created by the passage of HB 2220 during the 2011 session.  It clarifies requirements for districts around proficiency based learning and communication between school districts and parents on their child's progress.

HB 4055    911 Tax on Pre-Paid Cell Phones and VOIP  911 service is funded through a surcharge on our monthly telephone bills, for both landlines and cell phones.  However, the state has struggled with how to charge users of pre-paid phones and Voice Over Internet Protocol for their share of the 911 service costs.  This bill puts in place the structure to ensure that all phone users are supporting 911.

HB 4126    Renewable Portfolio Standard Compromise

SB 1531    Local Regulation of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries  This bill was brought to us by representatives of cities and counties, who wanted the ability to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, to the point of banning them.  It came to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  While I support giving local governments the authority to impose reasonable regulations regarding time, location, and manner of operation, I believe that it would be wrong to allow them to ban dispensaries entirely.  When Oregonians voted for medical marijuana, they sent a clear message that people with medical needs should have easy access to medical marijuana.  In the end, a majority of the committee agreed with that position, and the bill was amended to remove the ability to ban.  However, the House Judiciary Committee amended the bill back to its original form, and a compromise amendment was subsequently prepared to allow local governments to implement a one-year ban, after which they would be able to regulate time/place/manner for dispensaries.  It passed the House, and the Senate.  In the end, I couldn't support any version of the bill that allowed for the outright ban of dispensaries and I was one of two "no" votes on the compromise bill.

SB 5703    Bonds for OHSU and State Universities  Oregon Health Sciences University is seeking $200 million in state-backed bonds to build the new cancer-research facilities on the South Waterfront made possible if they are able to raise $500 million to match the $500 million offered by Phil and Penny Knight.  The university believes that having guaranteed funding for the construction will help them to secure the additional philanthropy. It is a great thing for cancer research and for Oregon.  SB 5703 also allocated bond funding for construction projects at a number of our state universities.


Bills that Didn't Pass:

SB 1556     Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure  This measure would refer to the voters (in the November 2014 election) the question of whether or not marijuana should be legalized, and if they say yes, the Legislature will be responsible for designing the best possible program.  The rationale for this bill is the high likelihood that a flawed initiative measure will make it to the ballot and will pass without having had the benefit of a real public process in its design.  I've signed on as a sponsor of this bill, which was dealt with initially in Senate Judiciary.  As a member of that committee, I voted to send it forward. 

SB 1569    Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids  Labeling and eliminating children's products that contain known toxic chemicals.  This one failed in 2013.  Advocates are working hard to get it passed this time.  Amended to make it similar to Washington's labeling-only program. 

HB 4113    The I-5 Bridge Replacement Project (Columbia River Crossing) is still out there as a potential bill for February.  Its prospects have become very uncertain now that Washington has pulled out of direct involvement in the project.  Many of us, including I, are still hoping for more certainty from Washington regarding the collection of toll money from Washington residents.  I don't believe that there is a bill yet.  If a bill does emerge, expect an extensive public hearing on it.  If a bill does not progress, the Governor has said that the project will officially come to an end in March.  

SB 1551    Universal Background Checks for Firearm Purchases