Policy Advocacy

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Unite Oregon advocates for policy changes at the local, state, and national levels that increase equity and reduce disparities experienced by immigrants, refugees, people of color, rural communities, and people experiencing poverty.

2016 Policy Wins (Oregon Legislature Short Session)

Many thanks to our coalition and organizational partners for working together on this robust legislative slate. And special appreciation to all our Unite Oregon members who advocaced for their families and communities!

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Racial Justice

End Profiling (HB 4003): Extends the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group to July 2017, and requires the Work Group to prepare a report to the legislature by December 2016. This bill builds on HB 2002, which we passed in the 2015 Oregon Legislative Session and which prohibits profiling by law enforcement based on many identities, allows for the LECC to collect and review complaints of police profiling, and establishes a work group that will create policies to build transparency and accountability.

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Wages

Minimum Wage Compromise (HB 4143): Raises the state minimum wage to $12.50 in “rural” counties, $13.50 in “non-rural” counties, and $14.75 in the Portland Metro Area by the year 2022. Does not lift state pre-emption, meaning cities and counties cannot raise their own minimum wages. This sub-minimum wage deal was brokered between big business, big labor, and the Governor’s office and leaves rural communities behind. While farmworkers were not excluded from the minimum wage compromise bill, they disproportionately live in rural communities and are consequently largely relegated to the lower minimum wage category.

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Housing

Inclusionary Housing Compromise (HB 1533): Partially lifts the 17-year statewide ban on inclusionary zoning in Oregon. This was a good first step toward increasing the ability of cities and counties to build more affordable housing units, but it was unfortunately brokered with the housing industry lobbyists who worked to get inclusionary zoning banned in the first place in 1999. The final version of the bill is so restrictive (it can only be applied to developments of multi-family homes of 20 units or more) that most small and medium sized cities in Oregon will be unable to use it at all.

Tenant Protections (HB 4143): Declares an emergency, bans rent increases within the first year of tenancy, and require landlords to provide tenants with a 90 day notice before increasing rent.

Affordable Housing Pilot Program (HB 4079): Directs Land Conservation and Development Commission to establish pilot program in which local governments may site and develop affordable housing. Only applies to two cities, one small and one larger, located outside of Portland, for urban growth boundary expansion for affordable housing development.

Land Annexation (SB 1573): Would allow cities to add land without voter approval if the affected property owners wish to be annexed.

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Violence Against Women

Removing Statute of Limitations on Rape (SB 1600): Removes the 12-year statute of limitations on the most serious sex crimes if there's additional corroborating evidence, including non-DNA evidence.

Testing Rape Kits (SB 1571): Requires law enforcement to test all future rape kits and also the state's backlog of untested kits, provides funding to do so, sets up taskforce to develop new rules and to oversee progress and report to the legislature annually through 2019. Declares emergency.

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Climate Change

Clean to Coal: Sets Oregon’s two largest electric utilities (Pacific Power and PGE) on a path to meet their portion of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, which call for reducing carbon emissions 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. Sets 2030 as a deadline to transition away from coal use in Oregon’s electricity mix, doubles the portion of utilities’ power that must come from renewable sources to 50% by 2040, brings more clean energy jobs and investment to our state. Increases access to solar power for some Oregonians who cannot install solar where they live. Increases the number of charging stations in the state for electric vehicles.

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2015 Policy Wins

For more information about racial justice victories in the 2015 Oregon State Legislature, read the Facing Race report roduced by Western States Center in collaboration with community organizations such as Unite Oregon and Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon, Causa, Coalition of Communities of Color, Oregon Voice, Partnership for Safety and Justice, and Urban League of Portland

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Racial Justice

End Profiling (HB 2002): Creates a common definition of profiling and requires law enforcement agencies to adopt bans on profiling. This states that law enforcement cannot target an individual based solely on their race, ethnicity, age, color, national origin, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political or religious affiliation, homelessness, and mental or physical disability. It also directs the Law Enforcement Policing Data Review Committee (LECC) to receive and monitor profiling complaints from the public, established the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group, which is chaired by the Attorney General and charged with providing recommendations on how to identify and stop patterns and practices of profiling.

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Employment

Paid Sick Days (SB 454B): Access to paid sick time is an issue that affects all Oregonians, yet 47% of private sector workers and 71% of low wage workers in Oregon lack access to any paid sick time. This disproportionately impacts women and communities of color, who make up a significant portion of low-wage workers. Workers who lack paid sick time face an impossible choice when illness strikes: either they go to work sick or send a sick child to school or daycare; or they stay home, lose pay and risk job loss or workplace discipline. Particularly in this economy, many workers simply can’t afford to jeopardize the economic security of their families by staying home.

Fair Chance for All - "Ban the Box" (HB 3025): Calls for the removal of the box on a job application asking about criminalhistory and increases access to work for people with criminal justice histories. Oregon’s criminal justice system convicts and incarcerates African Americans and other people of color in numbers that far exceed our percentage in the state. Employment is one of the most important influences for decreasing recidivism. Its passage signifies we are on a path towards increasing economic opportunity for all Oregonians.

Wage Theft (HB 2007): An Oregon study of nearly 200 farm workers found 90% consistently received less than the minimum wage. Paying less than minimum wage, not paying for all hours worked, withholding pay, not paying overtime, or stealing tips are all wage theft. While wage theft can affect all workers, communities of color and immigrants experience it in higher percentages. HB 2007 protects workers by making the penalization of workers discussing wages and salaries among coworkers, or filing a complaint against an employer based on the information received by the employee, illegal. This removes some of the fear of speaking out if the employee is experiencing wage theft, and seeks support or takes action, which brings about better job security and tools for advocacy for many low wage workers, women, and people of color in Oregon.

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Civic Engagement

Oregon Motor Voter (HB 2177): Streamlines the current process by registering all eligible and consenting Oregonians to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Communities of color and low income communities are more likely to be mobile, move more frequently, and face greater barriers to maintaining current voter registration status. Making voter registration simpler, easier and more convenient removes barriers so that every eligible Oregonian can be registered to vote.

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Education

ELL State Reform (HB 3499): Addresses the needs of Oregon’s 57,000 English Language Learners (ELL). The legislation increases urgency, focus and support for ELL students, and appropriates $12.5 million to support school district improvements. Though many of our K-12 schools offer high-quality English language development programs, challenges remain including high quality dual language and native language learning curriculum, workforce development, and comprehensive integration of policies in local districts.

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Health

Basic Health Plan for Working Families (HB 2934): Health insurance is widely accepted as a primary determinant of health. While Oregon celebrates a 94.4% coverage rate, the remaining 5.6% of uninsured Oregonians are disproportionately low-wage workers, families of color and working families of varying residency status. A majority of those uninsured are under 200% of the federal poverty level, and many are excluded due to high cost and immigration status. HB 2934 directs the Oregon Health Authority to convene a stakeholder group develop policy recommendations for an Oregon Basic Health Program that has the potential to cover 87,600 Oregonians under 200% of the federal poverty level, including extending coverage to 9,200 Legal Permanent Residents and COFA Pacific Islanders who currently face exclusions to Medicaid. Enrollees in an Oregon Basic Health Program could see an annual savings of $1,600 versus current Marketplace plans. The Basic Health Plan is a waiver within the ACA that allows states to shift existing federal subsidies to an insurance program specifically for low income adults. Basic Health could be implemented in Oregon at little to no-cost to the state.