Michael Dembrow is
the state senator for District 23, covering portions of NE and SE Portland and
the city of Maywood Park. First elected by voters in 2008 to the state house,
he is serving his second elected term in the Senate after being appointed to
the seat in November 2013. Voters re-elected Michael to the Senate in
November 2014 and again in November 2016 to a full term.
serves as Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources
Committee. He also sits on the Judiciary Committee, the Rules Committee
and the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety.
During his time in
the legislature, Michael has been a leader in successful efforts to raise
Oregon’s minimum wage, implement paid sick days for Oregon workers,
substantially increase funding for career and technical education across the
state, and fight wage theft. He was also involved in overhauling Oregon’s
higher education governance structure to reduce the compartmentalization of
higher education and workforce development. In the past few years, his focus
has turned from workforce issues to the environment and criminal justice reform.
He is leading the fight to establish a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions in
Oregon, while also working on youth sentencing reforms, increasing prison
education opportunities and removing barriers faced by ex-offenders as they
reenter society and the workforce.
In addition to his
legislative committee assignments, Michael also serves on the Oregon Workforce
Investment Board, the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps Advisory Committee, the
Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, and the Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific
He is a member of
the National Conference of State Legislatures bipartisan Task Force on
Immigration and the States, which works on a variety of issues related to
immigration. He led the effort to extend tuition equity and other
opportunities for Oregon’s “Dreamers,” undocumented young people who have been
the collatoral damage of our nation’s broken immigration system.
Michael is a
retired English instructor at Portland Community College's Cascade campus in
North Portland. He taught writing and film studies at the college beginning in
1981, and served as the President of the PCC faculty union for 16 years.
He continued to teach one or two classes per term after being elected to the
House in 2008, and recently retired fully from teaching.
In 2007, Michael
was appointed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to the State Board of Education. Michael's
passion for film drives his involvement in the Cascade Festival of African
Films, which he helped create in 1991. The Festival, which Michael is
co-director of, has grown in size each year since its founding. He was
also one of the first members of the Portland chapter of Jobs With Justice.
Michael earned his
undergraduate degree in English from the University of Connecticut and his
Master's degree in Comparative Literature from Indiana University. Michael and
his wife Kiki have lived in District 23 for over 30 years. They have a son,
Nikolai and a daughter, Tatyana, and two grandchildren. He and Kiki are
also the proud housemates of Micah, an aging but much-loved whippet.
Past Committee Assignments
2019 Session: Senate Co-Chair of the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee; Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee; member of the Rules Committee; member of the Business and General Government Committee.
2017-18 Session: Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee; member of the Human Services Committee; member of the Judiciary Committee.
2015-16 Session: Chair of the Senate Workforce Committee; member of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee; member of the Senate Human Services and Early Childhood Committee and the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources.
2014 Session: Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee; member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources.
2013 Session: Chair of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee; member of the House Rules Committee and the House Energy and Environment Committee.
2011-12 Session: Co-Chair of the House Higher Education Subcommittee; member of the House Education Committee and the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee (as Co-Vice Chair).
2009-10 Session: Vice-Chair of the House Education Committee; member of the House Human Services Committee, House Health Care Committee and the House Workforce Development Committee (a subcommittee of the Business & Labor Committee).