The End Is Near



Rep. Michael Dembrow 
NE Portland, Maywood Park & Parkrose

Phone: 503-986-1445


E-Newsletter                              6/27/2013

Friends and Neighbors,

Yes, the end of the 2013 legislative session is approaching.  Yesterday morning, the State Senate passed two critical bills and sent a signal that the time left before adjournment is dwindling.

On a 22-8 vote, the Senate passed SB 5519, providing $6.75 billion in support for our K-12 schools, an improvement of nearly a billion dollars over the current biennium.  Immediately after that vote, the Senate passed HB 2216 on a 25-5 vote.  HB 2216 is the bill to renew the existing assessments on hospitals and long-term care facilities that leverages a 2-1 federal match to generate $2 billion to provide health care services to Oregonians.  Passage of the bill required a bipartisan 3/5 supermajority.   Failure to pass this bill would have created a budget hole that would have been extremely difficult to fill.  Fortunately, those who had been holding up the bill allowed it to move, and nearly all the senators ended up voting for it.

Passage of these two bills, which had been held up during a period of tense negotiations around a possible PERS/revenue “deal” means that we can now move toward finishing up the state budget and completing our work in Salem.  My best guess right now is that we finish next Tuesday, July 2.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the events outside of Oregon over the last 48 hours that have lit up the twittersphere and the airwaves and touched so many of us.  Tuesday night’s defeat of Texas SB 5 after a courageous stand and successful filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis in support of a woman’s right to choose, combined with yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on DOMA (and the resulting defeat of Prop 8 in California) reminds us that courage and patience can move us all to a better place.  This is such a powerful incentive to us as we begin work on the initiative to bring marriage equality to this state.   I know that we will soon get to full marriage rights for our friends and relatives here in Oregon.

Corporate Kicker $$ for Community Colleges Instead?

The other big news yesterday from the Capitol came from the House floor.  I’ve heard from many of you (and it’s a shared viewpoint) that the funding level for community colleges is inadequate.  We took a big step toward changing that yesterday morning, when the House voted 46-13 to suspend the corporate kicker for this biennium (as you’ll recall, voters in Oregon passed a measure last year that will end the existence of the corporate kicker after this year) and use the money to increase the funding level for community colleges. 

Arguing in support of the bill on the floor, I pointed out that during the last twenty years, we’ve seen a steady decline in the amount of state allocation per community college student.  The community college budget allocation for 2013-15 is still 10% BELOW the budget adopted in 2007.  We need to find a way to change that in the future. 

Rather than sending out corporate tax refunds, HB 2305 will redirect money received by the state in excess of the projection from two years ago to our community colleges.  Even a small amount of money makes a big difference when it goes to community colleges.  Just how big a difference?  We won’t know for sure until next week, as tax receipts are still coming in for the 2012 tax year.  And of course, we need a 2/3 vote yes vote from the Senate as well.  Stay tuned.

Ways & Means Committee Cranks Out Bills

The Joint Ways & Means Committee, which must approve all budget bills and any legislation requiring a fiscal expenditure by the state, is oftentimes a bottleneck near the end of the session as bills stack up in the various subcommittees and the legislative budget-writers look for the dollars and decide what can be funded and at what level. 

Fortunately, we have two capable Ways & Means Co-Chairs that have the experience, the smarts and the sense to wade through the dozens of budgets and hundreds of pieces of legislation that pass through the committee.  Rep. Peter Buckley from Ashland and Sen. Richard Devlin from Lake Oswego have done a great job this session navigating the budgetary waters, and their hard work is paying off as many bills are now surfacing and heading to the House and Senate floors for final approval.

Several of my bills have recently come out of Ways & Means to the floor, or are very close.  I’ll give a more complete report post-session, but know that there are some great bills that are looking good for passage.  I’ll have plenty to talk about at our next coffee!

Constituent Coffee: Saturday, July 6th

Speaking of that, our next coffee gathering will be Saturday, July 6th.  See you then!

WHAT: Constituent Coffee

WHEN: Saturday, July 6th at 10 AM

WHERE: Hollywood Senior Center (1820 NE 40th Ave.)


Until next time,


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