The Halfway Mark

House Speaker Tina Kotek

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are more than halfway through the 2016 legislative session, and there has been strong progress on several major issues – including both chambers passing a trailblazing raise to Oregon’s minimum wage.  Read on for a few updates from the Capitol, including information about recent reports of alarming levels of heavy metals recently detected in our community.

Landmark Minimum Wage Increase

This past Thursday, the House took a historic vote to raise Oregon’s minimum wage.  The Legislature last approved a significant raise in 1989 (voters approved the link between the state minimum wage and inflation in 2002).  Our action will help hundreds of thousands of hard-working Oregonians while also giving small businesses the time and certainty they need to plan.  Thank you to the hundreds of people who weighed in on this issue over the past year.  I’m thrilled by the progress – this raise will make a meaningful difference in so many people’s lives.

Senate Bill 1532, which Governor Brown will soon sign into law, will raise the minimum wage gradually over six years to three different levels, based on geographic areas:

  • Workers within Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary would see their wages increase to $14.75 per hour by 2022;
  • Workers in Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill counties would earn $13.50 per hour by 2022; and
  • Workers in Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler counties would earn $12.50 per hour by 2022.

This proposal strikes the right balance.  It gives more than half a million Oregonians a meaningful and much-needed raise, while also recognizing the different costs of living in various communities and giving businesses time to plan and phase in higher wages.

Every Oregonian working at minimum wage, in every industry, will get a raise. Whether they are working in a factory or a field, in Portland or Grants Pass, every Oregonian should be paid enough to meet their basic needs.  Read more from the Associated Press: Oregon Lawmakers Approve Landmark Minimum Wage Increase

Boosting Support for Low-Income Families with Young Children

Raising the minimum wage and expanding Oregon’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) have been two of my top priorities for the 2016 session.  Together, these policies will help working families by boosting incomes, expanding the path to the middle class, and making progress to build an economy that works for everyone.

This past Friday, the House voted to expand the state’s EITC, which is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the country.  House Bill 4110, which passed on a strong bipartisan vote, will increase Oregon’s EITC for families with children under the age of three (from 8% to 11% of the federal EITC).  This boost for low-income families is expected to help approximately 58,000 Oregonians.

By specifically targeting the tax credit expansion to low-income families with the youngest children, our tax system will provide much needed support to families who are striving for the stability that will help their children be successful in the future.

Important Air Quality Updates

Possibly unsafe levels of two heavy metals that can be health risks – arsenic and cadmium – have been found in the air around two glass manufacturers in Portland.  Bullseye Glass Company in Southeast Portland has voluntarily suspended all arsenic and cadmium use.  Uroboros Glass in North Portland has voluntarily suspended all cadmium use (they have never used arsenic).  Both companies have also agreed to stop using chromium six, also known as hexavalent chromium.  The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and Multnomah County Health are in charge of investigating the risks and getting information out to the community.

This is a startling development, and many people are working to find answers as quickly as possible.  The House Committee on Energy and Environment will hold an informational hearing on Portland-area air quality issues this Tuesday, February 23, at 8:00 A.M.  

To live stream the committee hearing, go to

You can find more information on this emerging issue from the Oregon Health Authority:

DEQ has provided more information here:

You can send specific questions and concerns to DEQ at


My office is closely following this issue and will continue to advocate for additional air quality monitoring and enforcement in Portland.

Celebrating Presidents’ Day and Women’s Leadership

To celebrate Presidents' Day, the women of the Oregon House Democratic Caucus took part in a day of reading the book Grace For President, a project organized by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers:

"Grace for President tells about a girl who, stunned to discover that all U.S. presidents have been men, decides to kick off her own political career by running for president of her class. She faces off against a popular boy and wins in a surprising way.

"The lesson? That a woman – whether Grace or you – can run for office, win, and lead."

Grace for Presdient



Tina Kotek
State Representative
House District 44
Speaker of the House

email: Rep. I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301