Status of Priority Bills
The 2016 Legislative Short Session has commenced! I'm pleased to report, the majority of the legislation I championed this short session has successfully passed.

HB 4072 - Establishes the University Development Fund (UVDF), benefiting the business community and supporting our public universities by providing up to 60% in Oregon income tax credits for donors who support the transfer of university research to Oregon's commercial marketplace. It's a great way for business to support higher education.

HB 4071 - Extends Medicaid like coverage to the COFA (Compacts of Free Association) Islanders by providing a 9-1 federal match that will ensure 1,500 Islanders receive the proper health care they are in dire need of as a result of the 67 atomic bomb tests conducted by the United States in the Marshall Islands.

HB 4086 - Extends unemployment benefits up to an additional six months to workers who have been locked out. To clarify, locked out workers are extremely different than those on a strike. Locked out workers want to work, but the employer will not allow them to come back into their place of employment during a labor negotiation. Considering 180 workers from the Albany area have been affected by this, I am extremely grateful to see this legislation pass with bi-partisan support.

HB 4094 - Removes the criminal liability from state law to allow banks and credit unions to bank with and lend to lawful marijuana businesses. This is an important step in reducing criminal activity and providing security for banks, credit unions, and the public.

SB 1571 - Ensures untested sexual assault forensic evidence kits will be handled with the same protocol throughout the State of Oregon. With this legislation, each kit is required to be tested so that we can better protect victims and identify suspects in prosecuting future sex crimes. 

Missed Opportunities

Occasionally, a member from the House will make the motion on the House Floor to pull a bill from the committee it's been assigned to in order for the
House Chamber to vote on the bill. In accordance with the Rules of the House, motions to withdraw a measure from a committee is not debatable. The member making the motion can speak to the merits of the measure, but no debate is allowed.

 

Recently, Representative Sal Esquivel (R-Medford) made the motion to withdraw House Joint Resolution (HJR) 201. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Rules where it never received a public hearing. HJR 201 is fairly simple, direct and transparent. One could stamp ACCOUNTABILITY across the face of the first page while reading it. Here is what the bill proposed:

  1. Referred any change to the Oregon Constitution relating to legislative review of state agency administrative rules to the voters.
  2. Allowed the respective legislative committees the opportunity to review and approve administrative rules before rules or amendments became effective.
  3. Provided that administrative rules adopted or amended by state agencies after the effective date of the constitutional amendment have no force and effect unless specified and approved by the respective legislative committee concerning the rule or amendment.

What a great approach to ensure legislative intent is followed by state agencies when legislation is passed! Even with bi-partisan support, four Democrats voting in support of HJR 201, the motion to pull the bill from committee failed. I hope to see this legislation introduced again in 2017.

Opening Ceremonies
Every once in a while I'm asked to give the invocation, which occurs prior to the start of each House Floor Session. In the midst of contentious legislation and heated disagreements, I try and remember what's truly important. I hope you can take a few minutes out of your day and listen to this short story about Albert Einstein. I had a fun time sharing it with my colleagues.

Click the image to watch the Opening Ceremonies

On a Personal Note

As I reflect on the past 35 days, I can't help but feel humbled. For me, the session started out with the death of my granddaughter, Gracen. Suddenly, the legislative session quickly changed in perspective as I shared some incredibly special moments with my family celebrating a precious little girl.

 

Fast forward four weeks to the end of session, which ended with a phone call at the Capitol, informing me my barn was burning. I rushed home to find my barn in shambles.

 

Everyone goes through storms in their life. I've always tried to take these moments as learning opportunities. What I've learned lately...I am thankful. The support I've received from people in the legislature and throughout Albany is nothing short of amazing. It's incredible how times like this can bring a sense of togetherness. That has happened here at the Capitol.

 

I'd like to thank the firefighters who worked so quickly to extinguish the fire. Their job is not easy and they do not receive the proper recognition they deserve.

 

I once heard, "God doesn't give us what we can handle, He helps us handle what we are given." To my family, friends, and colleagues, thank you.  

 

Regards,


Andy
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Oregon State Legislature, 900 Court Street NE, Salem, OR 97301
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