Legislative Update

 

Senator Lee Beyer
District 6 - Central Lane and Linn Counties



Phone: 503-986-1706 900 Court St. NE, S-419, Salem Oregon 97301
Email: sen.leebeyer@state.or.us Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/beyer

The 2014 legislative “short session” ended successfully on March 7th – two days ahead of the constitutional limitation of 35 days. This was the second short session since annual sessions were approved by voters in 2010. Even-numbered year short sessions are intended to focus on budget rebalancing and noncontroversial technical fixes to existing laws. This session did just that.

Unlike Congress, the Legislature once again proved we can work together and get work done quickly. 266 bills were introduced and 141 passed the Senate. The vast majority of bills (133) passed unanimously or with at least two-thirds of the senators voting for the measure. Only one bill (SB 1525 granting more authority to the new Higher Education Coordinating Council)  split along partisan lines. What I love about the Senate is we generally move bills in a bipartisan manner. That is why I designed the committee I chair, Business and Transportation, to have equal numbers of democrats and republicans.

Just a couple of weeks into the session, the March Revenue Forecast came out. The good news – Oregon’s economy is finally starting to perk up. Overall revenue was up $14.8 million from the December 2013 forecast.  Additionally, local school property taxes are projected to increase $98 million providing school districts a bit more head room to meet needs. Slow, but steady growth continues as Oregon and the nation emerges from the recession. I continue to look for ways to help the economy improve. In particular, I am focused on ways to help the housing industry since that is where our economy has traditionally begun it resurgence.

Budget Rebalancing At A Glance

Education

• Protected the historic $6.85 billion investment in K-12 education
• Provided $750,000 to “Aspirations to College” grant program to help more students attend community college
• Added $2 million investment in Career and Technical Education
• Provided $2.3 million more in Oregon Opportunity Grants
• Provided capital construction funding for safety projects at the U of O and for expansion of the new OSU Cascades Campus.

Jobs and Economy

• Invested $1.15 million in manufacturing projects, coastal port upgrades, and dredging to improve Oregon’s shipping channels
• Added $5 million in lottery bond proceeds for Clean Energy Works Oregon for energy upgrade projects
• Funded Regional Solutions projects that drive community and economic development

Public Safety

• Allocated $40 million to cover the remaining costs for the 2013 wildfire season
• Restored funding to Oregon State Police to hire state troopers and buy equipment
• Restored $1.2 million to the Department of Justice for providing crime victims’ services, investigating crimes against children, supporting district attorneys, and conducting organized crime investigations

Services for Seniors

• Approved the first $13.3 million of an overall $26 million investment in senior services, including:
o $4 million more for Senior and Disabled Transit services
o $3.3 million for long term care provider training
o $1.3 million for allowing more Oregonians to sue the state’s registry of home care workers
o Funding to establish statewide Public Guardian and Conservator services

Housing

• Added $2 million more for emergency housing and homelessness assistance
• Allocated $10 million to address housing issues in the community mental health system

2014 was whirlwind session but a lot of needed work got done.  I was pleased to be able to make a small change in the e-commerce law that may bring new businesses and job to our community.   For more information about the session click on this link http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/senatedemocrats/Documents/2014%20Binder.pdf for a detailed summary of session legislation.

Now, I turn my attention to the future.  As I do that, I would love to hear from you and what you think needs attention.  Please share you concerns and ideas with me. 
By email: sen.leebeyer@state.or.us,
phone: (503) 986-1706,
or mail: 900 Court St NE, S-419, Salem, OR 97301.

Best wishes,

 
 Signature