Rep. Susan McLain: Session is well underway

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It has been a very busy few weeks since I last wrote. There has been a lot of activity in the building, and a lot of important legislation has been passed. Not to mention we have a new Governor, Kate Brown, as well as a new Secretary of State, Jeanne Atkins!

First, all of the bills I have introduced so far this session have had a public hearing, and I am proud to say they have all gone well. House Bill 2928, relating to class sizes, passed out of the education committee last Friday. I look forward to the opportunity to carry my own bills on the House floor in the near future. 

Second, I was assigned to a new committee, Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness. I am excited to continue to learn more about the bills in this committee, and vote on important issues like insurance reform and government transparency. Work is also developing on many issues in my other committees, so I am staying very busy these days. 

Finally, I've been visited by many constituents and friends from around the state, including students from Forest Grove High School who came to talk to me about Student Based Health Centers. I was so happy to visit with them and learn about the importance of the health center on their campus.

Everything is moving very quickly down in Salem, and I am still working long days, but it has been a wonderful experience. It also hasn't hurt that the weather has been so beautiful – my drive has become much more pleasant and enjoyable! 

I hope this newsletter finds you well, and I hope you keep reading to hear about some other important updates below.

Important Votes

Senate Bill 411 - Passed the House on March 5th, 39-20, awaiting signature

Currently, approximately 500,000 Oregon drivers pay for Underinsured Motorist Coverage but will never be able to use it because of a loophole in Oregon law. Senate Bill 411 removes this longstanding loophole and will allow Oregonians to get what they pay for when it comes to auto insurance. 

I sit on the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness where this bill was heard on March 3rd. We heard testimony from insurance companies that said this bill would increase insurance costs and take choices away from consumers. I told them that I understand they are selling a service and running a business, but that at the same time, as a consumer, I want to pay for a product and know that it’s going to take care of me in number of situations, and not leave me holding the bill. 

Thousands of Oregonians have been in a position of financial ruin because their insurance coverage wasn’t enough to pay for the damage or their healthcare. As my colleague Rep. Holvey said, “Without this fix, many more people will have their lives ruined, through no fault of their own. We have a duty to make sure that people are getting the coverage they’re paying for.”

I think the choices consumers have right now for their auto insurance aren’t fair ones, and I think that is causing problems for many Oregonians. I believe this will provide a better choice for people to pay their premium, and actually get what they are paying for. 

Testimony on SB 411


Click on the picture at left if you want to hear my comments on SB 411. 


House Bill 2177 - Passed the House on February 20th, 35-24, awaiting signature

An estimated 300,000 Oregonians are eligible to vote, but are currently unregistered. Current election laws mean that many students, young people, and working parents lose the ability to vote if they move and don’t update their voter registration information. House Bill 2177 will make voter registration simpler, more convenient, and more secure by using the data that the DMV currently collects for drivers’ licenses. 

I agree with my colleague Rep. Lew Frederick who said, “I believe that every barrier in the way of participation is a barrier too high for somebody.” I believe it is both a unique privilege and a great responsibility to be a voter. I also believe that it is our duty as engaged citizens to ensure that others register to vote and have the resources they need to be informed. Some people may choose not to vote, as is their right, but I think it’s important we do our best to make it as easy as possible for Oregonians to use their constitutional right to vote. 

House Bill 2007 - Passed the House on March 3rd, 34-24

In 2014, the Oregon Council on Civil Rights found that, on average, women make 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. This has negative impacts on working families, but also on our economy: When women have less purchasing power, the whole economy suffers. Currently, workers in Oregon can face retaliation for sharing their wage and salary rate with their coworkers, or for raising their voice about their right to a fair wage.

House Bill 2007 would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages amongst their coworkers. This would go a long way toward correcting pay disparity between men and women by allowing workers to advocate for fair and equal pay.  

House Bill 2763 - Passed the House on February 18th, Unanimous

For many men and women actively serving in the military, being deployed means taking a financial hit, as their military pay is lower than the pay they receive at their civilian job. This leaves their families to shoulder the financial burden, on top of the burden of having their loved one in harm’s way. Many private employers provide what’s known as “differential pay,” which makes up the difference between an employee’s regular pay and their military pay. Under current Oregon law, sheriffs and fire departments, along with other public employers, are blocked from providing their employees with differential pay when they are deployed in the military.

House Bill 2763 allows public employers to provide additional support to military families through differential pay. The Chief Sponsor, my colleague Rep. Shemia Fagan, said on the floor, “These men and women have put their lives on the line for our country. We have a responsibility to make sure their families aren’t hit with financial ruin at the worst possible time.” I could not agree with her more. 

Other important legislation

House Bill 2546 – Relating to e-cigarettes, passed the House on March 2nd 56-2

House Bill 2404 – Relating to school nutrition standards, unanimously passed the House on March 3rd

What I'm working on

In my education committee, we are currently hearing testimony on the relationship between charter schools and public schools. It’s a large and important issue, and we are still working on understanding the balance.

In agriculture, we recently heard testimony on a trio of bills related to juniper trees. There are approximately 6 million acres of juniper across central and eastern Oregon. Juniper trees impact local wildlife habitat and plant communities, as well as water resources. House Bills 2808, 2997, and 2998 direct Business Oregon to provide assistance to businesses engaged in harvesting or manufacturing of Juniper. 

In transportation, we recently heard an update on the State transportation system that included both freight and rail transportation systems. Next week, we’ll be hearing about House Bill 2837, which would allow certain people to be exempt from seatbelt requirements for medical reasons.

Consumer protection is still very new to me; I’ve only attended three meetings so far. I’ll keep you updated on the issues we are covering as I become more familiar with the committee.


Just in case you missed it...

Testimony on HB 2927

On March 2nd, I testified before the House Revenue Committee on House Bill 2927, one of my priority bills for the session.

HB 2927 would double the amount of funding for the High Cost Disability Grant Account, designed to reimburse school districts for money spent on high needs students.

I was joined by my colleague Senator Sara Gelser, who is a chief co-sponsor; click the photo at left to see the video of our remarks. Click here for more information about HB 2927.

On February 26th I met with Forest Grove High School Students who talked to me about the School Based Health Center on their campus. The SBHC is operated by Virginia Garcia and provides comprehensive physical, mental, and preventative health services. They also brought me a box of delicious chocolate!

Forest Grove High Students
Maria from Virginia Garcia

On March 4th I met with Maria Loredo on behalf of the Oregon Primary Care Association. Maria works for one of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Clinics in my district. I was so happy to spend part of my morning with this incredible woman!

The Oregon Primary Care Association advocates for accessible, high-quality medical care for low-income Oregonians. You can read more about what they are working on here.


Until next time!

Yours truly,


Representative Susan McLain

email: I phone: 503-986-1429
address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301