|First Week Review|
Thank you for trusting me to represent you as I begin my sixth legislative session in Salem. This session, I am serving as Vice Chair on the House Judiciary Committee, the Sub-Committee on Ways & Means for Human Services, the Joint Committee on Implementing M-91 (Recreational Use of Marijuana) and the Legislative Conduct Committee. I am enjoying serving on all the committees. Each committee has it's own challenges and is vitally important to the legislative process.
In this newsletter, I will attempt to inform you on a few pieces of legislation that may be of interest to you.
One of my practices as a legislator is meeting and listening to constituents who are directly impacted by upcoming legislation. I started off this week by meeting with a group of business leaders to collaborate on ideas to make HB 2008 (minimum wage increase) more workable. The goal is to identify a path that can be implemented over time for employers to implement a wage increase without significantly increasing prices for products and services. It is a balancing act as Oregon cannot afford to significantly increase the minimum wage compared to other states as it will actually cause the loss of Oregon jobs by encouraging the purchase of goods and services from other states with lower costs of labor. Oregon cannot afford to lose more jobs. Hopefully, the amendments I am suggesting will be considered and be good for all Oregonians.
On Monday, The House Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing on HB 2700. This bill expands the definition of a class action judgment to "generally described members" of a class rather than finding actual class members/victims.
I am not in favor of the current version of this bill because it is a poor piece of legislation for the following reasons:
As written, the bill is retroactive meaning that it's going to impact cases that already have verdicts or judgments, that are on appeal.
The bill removes stability from the legal process by eliminating the right of individual class members to make their own decisions or choose to make their own legal claims.
This bill is bad for Oregon businesses, both large and small as it applies new rules to cases already tried, creating uncertainty and instability for employers and current class members.
The bottom line is, this bill creates bigger class action suits and judgments and bigger fees for trial attorneys.
House Republicans are submitting a compromise to HB 2700 which is an improved common sense and mainstream bill via a Minority Report HB 2700-1.
Low Carbon Fuel Standard
Another bill that seems to be on the fast track is SB 324, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard bill. This bill eliminates the sunset and adds sideboards. It is feared that if passed, this bill could impact gas prices. DEQ released a study on the impact of the Cleans Fuels Program predicting it could raise gas prices as much as 19 cents per gallon. Other independent studies show prices could rise by $1.06 per gallon. SB 324 will not solve the problem of carbon emissions, and instead will negatively affect Oregonians. There are better ways to accomplish reductions in carbon emissions. No revenue generated from SB 324 is allocated to roads or transportation. We need to focus on improving our roads and infrastructure so fewer people are idling for hours in traffic jams.
Hopefully, we can amend the bill in such a way when it comes to the House Chamber that still results in lower carbon emissions and reduction in our impact on the environment without having to pass those costs onto working families and seniors living on fixed incomes.
As always, feel free to contact our office with any concern or comments.