Welcome back for my district updates newsletter!
So much has been going on that it is difficult to get time to write about it. However, it is important to share as much as I can with our district when I can. Let's get right to it.
Outside of the business of reading, researching, and voting on bills that have been introduced I often receive pleas for help from citizens in our district.
One recent plea for help came from the friend of a resident in our district. One of our citizens in the district was facing difficulties with living conditions and property manager issues that appeared to be getting worse. While I don't claim to know all the issues surrounding the dispute and am not the person to mitigate between parties, I am sometimes able to find people that can help in that regard. In this case my staff connected with the Oregon Law Center Legislative Advocate and they are now working to get this individual legal aid so they can move forward toward a positive, safe, and legal outcome for all involved.
If you are struggling with an issue I will do my best to help. While I can't always fix it personally, my team and I will do our best to find a way to move your issue forward towards a positive outcome. Please feel free to reach out by email and phone.
Senate Bill 554: After hours of heart wrenching debate from both sides of this issue, I joined all members of the Coastal Caucus (the legislators who represent the districts from the coast), Democrats and Republicans in opposing the bill. While I can get behind the desires of the sponsors, which were presented as stopping gun violence, the reality was that most of this legislation was aimed at restricting concealed carry permit holders. CCP holders account for .007% of all violent crime convictions (and it’s unclear how many of those crimes even involve firearms), so this bill restricted the rights of the Oregonians who have been trained, have had in-depth background checks and have been licensed by the state. In short, it targeted exactly the opposite type of people we should be targeting. That is why the bill was opposed by both Democrats and Republicans, including all members from both chambers (House and Senate) who represent coastal communities. As of now, the bill has been sent to Gov. Brown for her signature or veto, which may have occurred by the time you read this.
Senate Bill 282: This bill would extend the grace period to pay back rent that accumulated during the COVID-19 eviction moratorium until February of 2022. Currently, renters have until June 30, 2021 to pay all back rent owed. That is a tall order for many workers who have not seen a paycheck in over a year, have had to fight to get the unemployment insurance that is owed to them, and have a large amount of late bills they need to pay. In order to avoid massive evictions after the grace period expires, the Legislature created the Landlord Compensation Fund during a special session last summer. Landlords could apply to be compensated for 80% of their tenant’s owed rent if they agreed to forgive the other 20%.
While this program was passed last summer and thousands of landlords have now applied to utilize the program, nearly a year later not one dollar has made it to landlords. This is a massive failure on behalf of Oregon Housing and Community Services, and that agency needs to answer for their failure. Many landlords have now gone more than a year without collecting any rent. Many landlords aren’t big corporations. They are individual property owners who rely on the rent they receive to buy groceries, pay their utilities, taxes and insurance. We certainly need to protect renters who have, through no fault of their own, been forced out of work or out of business, but we also need to provide the assistance we promised to rental home providers.
With that in mind, my immense frustration with Oregon Housing and Community Service is giving me pause on how I will vote on SB282. If the Landlord Compensation Fund were up and running and rental home providers were being provided with the assistance they were promised, I most likely would have voted yes. However, I cannot in good conscience demand that rental home providers continue to provide their service for free for upwards of 18 months. There were additional amendments being considered which I think would have addressed everyone's concerns, and I had asked for four more days for those amendments to be finished and vetted, but the chair of the House Housing Committee refused and the committee voted the bill out of committee on a party line vote. Had those amendments had just four more days, I believe we would have passed the bill out of committee unanimously. I came to Salem promising to work together with both sides of the aisle to find common solutions to common problems. I felt very disappointed that we were so close to compromise and we were told that it wasn't worth it. The bill also passed the House floor and is headed to the Governor for signature. The fact that I have two groups of constituents who are struggling because of the failure of yet another state program is absolutely infuriating, and I have committed to holding OHCS’s feet to the fire.
My frustration notwithstanding, OHCS has opened another round of funding for landlords to apply for. Even though I can’t promise landlords will see the money they deserve very quickly, I still encourage everyone who is entitled to the funds to apply for them. You can find instructions on how to do so in the Resources section of this newsletter.
Here is my latest “From The District” video with my Chief of Staff Adam Schwend. Click the picture to view
Click the picture for my testimony on the House Floor regarding HB 2631A
Tillamook High School exceeded their charity drive goals this year! Listen in as I share courtesies on the House Floor celebrating their success.
Astoria High School senior celebration fundraising used Oregon's bottle bill to keep 172,000 cans and 80,000 plastic bottles out of landfills while cashing in for their graduation celebration plans.
Oregon's Landlord Compensation Program is designed to provide relief to residential landlords who have been unable to collect rent due to tenant hardships. During the Third Special Session of 2020, the Oregon Legislature enacted an eviction moratorium and established the Landlord Compensation Fund (HB 4401). The Legislature allocated $200 million in rent assistance to support tenants and landlords, which includes $150 million for the Landlord Compensation Fund. This program was designed to provide relief to landlords who have tenants living in their homes who have been unable to pay rent at any point since April 2020 due to a financial hardship. The program will also eliminate the rent owed for those tenants experiencing a hardship.
Participating landlords can receive funding for an amount equal to 80% of the rental debt owed by qualified residents from April 2020 through the month the application round they are applying in opened. Landlords agree to forgive the remaining 20% of the tenant's debt as part of the grant agreement and as a condition of receiving payment.
Round Two of the LCF program is open to accept applications through May 17th, 2021 at 5pm. This application round will include $70 million in assistance covering rent-owed by eligible tenants that was accrued from April 2020 through May 2021 rent collections.
Click HERE or on the picture above for the directions and application checklist.
Use the links below to find out what bills have been assigned to our committees and watch or listen to any of our hearings.
Education - Vice Chair
Health Care NEW ASSIGNMENT as of May 7th!
I need to hear from people throughout our district while the legislative process continues so that I can stay abreast of what is happening locally.
Contact my office directly by email Rep.SuzanneWeber@oregonlegislature.gov or by calling 503-300-4493
Adam Schwend, my Chief of Staff, is located in Tillamook and advises me on policy and bills. While most of his time is spent working remotely, he is at the Capitol once per week.
You may email Adam directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Katy Pritchard, my Constituent Services Director, is located in Astoria and is one more way that I am able to stay connected to our district while serving in Salem.
Contact Katy at email@example.com or 503-300-4493
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-483, Salem, OR 97301