Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings!

Laurie Monnes Anderson
Mt. Hood Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings! 

As the weather gets colder, I remember my fellow Oregonians who bring cheer to District 25 and make our community and state special.

Happy Holidays

Christmas Picture

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather and celebrate with friends and family. But for many of our neighbors, this time of year can be difficult to make ends meet or put food on the table. Charitable giving is one of the best ways to share holiday cheer and our community has many opportunities to give back and share the gift of giving with others. 

Every year nonprofit organizations play a pivotal role in supporting in educational, religious, artistic, health and welfare services across our state. If you plan to make a charitable donation but are finding it a hassle, confusing, or just want to be sure you are making a wise decision, here is a list of “Tips for Charitable Giving” from the Department of Justice to make giving as simple as possible–These are the same tips I keep in mind when I give; I hope you find them helpful.

Donating money to charitable organizations is not the only way to give, you can also donate your time as a volunteer! Many organizations could use your help, and there is a great resource provided by OregonVolunteers.org  to find Volunteer Opportunities and ways to get involved.

Economic & Revenue Forecast

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis recently released its quarterly economic and revenue forecast and presented their findings to the State Legislature. I’m thrilled to say that this forecast brought some very welcome news as Oregon’s economy continues to grow, not just in urban parts of the state, but increasingly in rural communities as well.

Oregon’s economy continues to make significant gains with strong, sustained growth in jobs, wages, and income. Oregon employers added more jobs in November than any other month in almost two decades, according to the recent employment numbers released by the Oregon Employment Department. Oregon’s November unemployment rate declined to 5.7 percent from 6.0 percent in October, as more people found work. Collectively Oregon gained 9,600 positions in November, It was the highest tally in a single month since November 1996. The rate of Oregon's job growth, at more than 3 percent annually, is now outpacing the national average, which is below 2 percent. Recovery and job growth in rural Oregon also continues to improve. Though some disparity persists between rural and urban Oregon economies, every rural region of the state is adding jobs at around an average 2 percent rate year-over-year.

Oregon’s growing economy is not only good for employers and job seekers, it also means projected state revenues for the 2015-17 biennium are up $56.3 million since the September forecast. The forecast shows that revenues are on track with our budget from last session—That means we can stay on course to deliver increased funding for schools and other critical services for Oregonians. The February 2016 session is right around the corner. While our economy is stable for now, we will have an opportunity to make adjustments to the budget if conditions change.

We still have work to do, and I’m hard at work preparing for the February 2016 session with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fund schools, help small businesses, and expand family-wage job creation to help more Oregonians share in the economic growth that our state is enjoying.

For more detailed information about recent job growth numbers and Oregon’s economic outlook, the recent economic and revenue forecast is available at oregoneconomicanalysis.com.

New Year New Laws

As 2015 quickly comes to an end, many of us are taking a moment to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and thinking of the challenges and opportunities ahead. The same is true in the Legislature, and this time of year I can’t help but reflect on the good things we’ve done.

As Oregon’s economy grows and recovers from unprecedented challenges, I worked with my fellow state legislators to move Oregon forward. We delivered an impressive list of accomplishments in 2015 that put Oregon families and small businesses first, reinvested in public education, improved job creation, and made college more affordable and accessible. While many bills passed during the 2015 Legislative Session have already become law, there are some important new laws that will take effect on January 1st. 

Among these is Senate Bill 525, a bill I championed that will prevent gun violence in domestic violence situations. Domestic violence is far too prevalent in our state and we have lost too many Oregonians to this epidemic. Domestic violence cuts across all races, genders, sexual orientations and socioeconomic classes and is not just an Oregon problem that absolutely must be addressed, but a worldwide one as well. That’s why I sponsored and supported a number of bills this last session that will take steps towards eliminating barriers faced by survivors of domestic violence and punish their abusers more appropriately. SB 525 will protect families by bringing Oregon laws into alignment with federal laws prohibiting gun possession for perpetrators of domestic violence. The bill prohibits the possession of a firearm or ammunition by most people who are subject to a restraining order or who have been convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes involving domestic violence.

In addition to SB 525, there are other new laws taking effect that I was proud to support in 2015. Here are just a few legislative accomplishments from 2015 that will become Oregon law on January 1st, 2016:

SB 454: Paid Sick Time

With passage of Senate Bill 454, Oregon joins a growing number of states requiring a statewide paid sick time policy for workers. SB 454 requires most employers having ten or more employees to implement a sick time policy allowing an employee to earn, accrue, donate or use at least 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Additionally, the bill requires most employers who employ fewer than ten employees to implement an unpaid sick time policy. This legislative victory will ensure that Oregon workers don’t have to choose between their health—or the health of their children—and their livelihood.

HB 2007: Equal Pay for Equal Work

House Bill 2007 protects workers by prohibiting retaliation against employees who discuss wages amongst themselves. Prior to passage, workers in Oregon could face consequences for sharing their wage or salary rate with their coworkers, or for voicing their right to a fair wage. Threat of retaliation has been cited as an impediment to progress on equal pay for equal work for Oregon women.

HB 3343: Improving Access to Birth Control

House Bill 3343 makes Oregon the first state in the nation to ensure that women can access a full 12-month supply of birth control, by requiring insurance companies to cover the cost up front rather than across multiple trips to the pharmacy. Along with House Bill 2879 that will allow women to obtain birth control directly from pharmacists without a doctor’s visit, these bills will improve women’s access and agency in using birth control, helping to support consistent birth control use, and driving down unintended pregnancies in Oregon.

SB 552: Domestic Worker Protections

Domestic workers are a crucial workforce comprised primarily of women, and particularly women of color. They provide in-home services such as childcare, cooking, and housekeeping. Senate Bill 552 establishes workplace protections for primarily domestic workers who live in the home they serve, and classifies violations as unlawful employment practices. The protections for domestic workers in SB 552 include overtime pay, periods of rest, paid vacation time, and freedom from harassment.

HB 3025: Bans Consideration of Criminal History before Job Interview

House Bill 3025, “Ban the Box,” will help Oregonians with prior arrests or convictions seek gainful employment. The bill creates an unlawful employment practice that bans employers from excluding consideration of a job applicant from an initial interview solely because of a past criminal conviction. The bill does not prevent an employer from considering an applicant’s criminal history in making their hiring decisions.

SB 411: Personal Injury Protection and Stacking in Car Insurance Policies

Senate Bill 411 will put injured drivers’ needs ahead of insurance companies by changing state laws on uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection coverage. There are two main provisions in SB 411: the first allows injured motorists to add their uninsured motorist coverage on top of the at-fault driver’s liability coverage so injured consumers get the coverage they paid for with their premium. The second provision addresses Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Currently, a policyholder’s PIP coverage is repaid to the insurance company before the injured party is paid total damages. SB 411 allows the injured motorist to recover their total damages first.

SB 482: Pacific Northwest Manufacturing Partnership

Senate Bill 482 creates the Pacific Northwest Manufacturing Partnership Advisory Committee (PNMP), a consortium dedicated to accelerating the resurgence of manufacturing in the Northwest. The PNMP will sit within Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency. Staff in the department will focus on facilitating regional collaboration amongst the manufacturing sector by working with relevant education and research institutions.

HB 2734: Cleaning up Polluted Sites for Business Development

House Bill 2734 gives local governments the ability to create land bank authorities, an innovative tool to clean up brownfields—former industrial or commercial sites where development is hindered by real or perceived environmental contamination. Left untouched, these properties pose threats to human health and the environment while also undermining economic development and failing to contribute to the local and state economies. The 2015 Legislature also allocated $7 million for these efforts to help cities and counties make better use of their land.

SB 320: Supporting Small Home Businesses

Currently, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) requires anyone who would like to sell baked goods made in his or her home kitchen to meet specific requirements, and obtain a domestic kitchen license. Senate Bill 320 allows small-scale operations to prepare and sell baked goods without ODA licensure. These food entrepreneurs throughout Oregon will still be required to label and safely handle their products, but will be able to do so with fewer burdens on their budding businesses.

SB 759: Helping Victims of Campus Sexual Assault

In response to pressing concerns about how sexual assaults cases are handled on college campuses, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 759. SB 759 requires higher education institutions in Oregon to adopt and make public a written protocol for responding to a sexual assault involving a student, faculty, or staff member. The protocol must include information on victims’ rights, and resources on- and off-campus. In addition, a law that has already taken effect—House Bill 3476—ensures that victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking can seek support services without compromising their privacy. Under this bill, information shared with a certified advocate will be privileged communication, kept confidential unless a victim consents to disclosure. Together, both bills will help ensure that victims are informed, supported, and respected, especially on college campuses.

SB 3: Increased Penalty for Violating Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Oregon faces a domestic violence death nearly once a month. This bill better protects victims of domestic abuse by strengthening the enforcement of restraining orders. Senate Bill 3 increases the penalty for violating a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order, if there is clear risk of physical injury, to a Class C felony. The bill also gives judges the ability to make violations punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a $125,000 fine, or both (Class C Felony).

SB 492: Work Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence

Senate Bill 492 allows employees to use sick leave or personal business leave to seek services, assistance or treatment if they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Prior to passage, employees could be limited to using only vacation leave for such purposes. The bill applies to workplaces with six or more employees.

SB 839: Good Samaritan Immunity Law for Drug Overdoses

Senate Bill 839 allows individuals to seek medical attention without fear of arrest when a person experiences a drug overdose. SB 839 will provide narrow legal immunity for possession charges against a person when they call for help with a drug overdose. The bill increases the likelihood that a person overdosing on drugs, or someone in their company, will call for medical assistance in time to make a critical difference.

HB 2225 & HB 2226: Holding Criminal Elder Abusers Accountable

House Bills 2225 and 2226 ensure that people who take advantage of or steal from elderly individuals are held accountable. HB 2225 provides greater flexibility for investigation of financial crimes against seniors by broadening the jurisdiction of a search warrant issued for this purpose. HB 2226 ensures that a person who steals from a senior citizen does not avoid paying restitution simply because the person they stole from has died.

SB 89: Local Assistance for Veterans

Many local communities in Oregon rely on volunteers who assist and advocate for veterans. This valuable volunteer service is offered differently from one locality to the next, sometimes in conjunction with County Veterans Service Officers. Senate Bill 89 allows counties and the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to appoint qualified, vetted volunteers to provide specified support services. This bill will improve support for veterans across the state, especially in rural Oregon.

HB 2645: Supporting Veterans in Higher Education

House Bill 2645 requires Oregon’s public universities, and allows community colleges, to give eligible service members and their dependents enrollment priority over other students. Many eligible veterans receive Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits which help cover the cost of tuition for 36 months and provide a housing stipend for enrolled students. HB 2645 will help ensure that veterans can get the most from the benefits available to them by increasing opportunities to participate in higher education.

HB 3524: Boosting the Supply of Affordable Housing

House Bill 3524 requires the State of Oregon to give nonprofit organizations the first right of refusal to develop affordable housing on property that the State no longer needs. This measure will help address an ongoing shortage of buildable land for affordable housing.

Floor Pic 2

Stay in Touch

The 2016 legislative session convenes February 1, and I look forward to returning to the Capitol to continue fighting for Oregon families, creating a climate where local businesses thrive, and prioritizing funding for our public schools. These are the priorities I continue to hear from my constituents in District 25 and I will focus on advancing these priorities in the New Year.

You can follow my work in Salem by visiting my website or liking my Facebook page! I also encourage you to follow the Legislature’s deliberations through the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS), where you can find current information about bills, votes, committee agendas, legislative history, and much more.

As always, it’s important that I hear from you about your priorities. Your opinions are invaluable when it’s time for me to make decisions in the legislative process. If you have questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to call my Capitol office at 503­986­1725 or email at Sen.LaurieMonnnesAnderson@state.or.us.

Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday and happy New Year!

Laurie Monnes Anderson
State Senator, District 25


email: Sen.LaurieMonnesAnderson@state.or.us
phone: 503-986-1725
address: 900 Court St NE, S-413, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/monnesanderson