Rep. Susan McLain: Mid-Session Update

Mid-Session Update

Hello Friends,

The session is almost half way over! April 10th marks the deadline for when a bill must have had a public hearing and have a work session scheduled in its chamber of origin or it will not move out of committee. There has been a lot of hard work put into ensuring important legislation continues to move through the legislature.

Before I dive into what has been happening, I want to highlight an important opportunity. The Ways and Means Committee will be hosting several public hearings on the state budget across Oregon for people who want to voice their concerns but do not have the time or means to visit the Capitol. On Tuesday, April 21st there will be a public hearing at PCC Rock Creek from 7-8:30 pm. All hearings are open to the public and I encourage you to voice your opinion.

Education has been a subject on everyone’s mind recently, and I am happy to say I have had some exciting events happen in that regard. My bill, HB 2680, relating to statewide summative assessments, passed on the House Floor. This bill prohibits the use of statewide summative assessment results to be used when establishing the ratings of schools or to make summative evaluations of teachers and administrators for a year. I was interviewed by OPB on the impacts of this bill.

A week later, my second education bill to reach the House Floor, HB 2927 passed, headed to the Senate and is now in the Senate Committee on Education. This bill relates to the High Cost Disabilities Account. The High Cost Disabilities Account was established in 2003, and is a grant program designed to reimburse school districts with a resident student for whom the eligible service costs are above $30,000. The Legislature appropriates funds to the High Cost Disability Account each biennium. The Account has held steady per year since the 2007-2008 school year, whereas the claims against the grant have climbed much higher than that allotment. This resulted in schools with large populations of high-need students having to take money out of their general funds to cover the extra costs of these students. This bill would almost double the amount of money appropriated to the High Cost Disabilities Account from $18 million to $35 million each fiscal year for the next biennium. This will put more money back in the classroom by freeing up general education dollars.

I hope you are doing well as we speed into spring. If you celebrate Easter or Passover, I hope your weekend was full of fun festivities and good company!

Important Votes

HB 2596- Passed in the House on April 2nd, 59-1 (excused), Referred to Senate Committee on Judiciary.

Currently Oregon law does not allow for punishment of taking a photo up a woman’s skirt or down a woman’s shirt if the woman is wearing undergarments because the images taken are not specifically nude photos. This type of behavior can do a lot of damage to a woman’s personal and professional reputation before she is even aware the photo exists. This behavior impacts everyone from young girls to women and is especially prevalent in schools.

The act of “upskirting” is defined as taking a secret picture up a woman’s skirt without her consent. These photos often get distributed to friends, put on “upskirting” websites, and uploaded to social media.

HB 2596 provides that a person who records another person's intimate areas commits crime of invasion of personal privacy. It also creates a crime of unlawful dissemination of an intimate image. Punishable by maximum of one year's imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both for first offense, and five years' imprisonment, $125,000 fine, or both for subsequent offense.

As a former teacher, a woman and mother of young women I am appalled that this type of behavior has occurred. I am equally appalled that there are no existing laws to bring justice to the women who have had to deal with this horrible invasion of privacy. I am happy to report that this bill passed through the House unanimously.

SB 611 B-  Passed the House on March 30th 52-8, signed into law on April 7th, effective 90 days upon adjournment.

Companies that provide communications services such as telephone, internet, or cable TV in Oregon must pay property tax under a system called “central assessment”. Property tax is levied on these companies based not just on their real property and equipment, but also on the value of their brand, networks, licenses, intellectual property, and other “intangible” assets. When the central assessment system was designed over 100 years ago there was no such thing as a company like Google or Facebook, whose brands alone are worth millions. If one of these companies were to build a communications network in Oregon, their Oregon property tax bill would be absurdly high. This would have discouraged many well-known and respected companies from making investments in Oregon.

SB 611 B is a bipartisan bill that clears up longstanding concerns about how data centers and other communications infrastructure investments are taxed. By updating our property tax system, we are paving the way for new investments by large tech businesses, like Apple and Amazon, that will create and expand projects that lead to new jobs. Additionally, this bill creates incentives for companies that build extremely high-speed internet networks (like Google’s high-speed fiber project) to deliver highest in the nation internet speeds to Oregonians, which could help small businesses provide cutting edge services and cement Oregon’s place as a hotbed of technology innovation.

Freeing up businesses to make these investments will allow us to begin collecting property taxes from the new facilities- taxes that flow to Oregon schools and other services. Additionally, Comcast, which has been challenging its property tax bill in court, has indicated passage of this bill may enable them to settle their case, which could mean millions in disputed tax payments would be available to help fund schools and other essential services.

This bill has a lot of stakeholders and has received attention from companies, counties, cities, business minded organizations, and people across party lines. I think this is a step in the right direction to rebuild Oregon’s economy, draw large companies to our state, and develop new living-wage jobs.

HB 2628-  Passed the House on March 25th, 59-1 (excused), Referred to Senate Committee on Judiciary.

This bill aims to aid victims of stalking. Under current law, most stalking orders are exempt from court filing fees, service fees, and hearing fees. However, if the petitioner of a Stalking Protective Order (SPO) is also seeking a claim for damages in the request for relief fees do apply. While these cases are rare, it impacts the overall treatment that Oregon can provide victims of domestic violence.

One of the conditions for states to be eligible for Federal Violence Against Women Office grant dollars is that stalking orders, like other protection orders, are available without filing or service fees. In order to ensure that Oregon continues to receive this funding, this statute must be amended. This grant money is used to fund important projects such as supporting law enforcement, prosecution, court, and community-based programs focusing on domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

This bill also provides the court the authority to tailor individualized relief to meet the needs of the victim and children. While current law provides the court a list of specific types of contact that may be prohibited under the terms of the stalking protective order, it doesn’t provide flexibility for specific cases. A one-size-fits-all solution is rarely the most effective form of relief for victims involved in domestic violence and sexual assault cases, or stalking.

This is an important bill for the safety of Oregon residents, particularly women and children. I am honored to have had the opportunity to vote on a bill that allows for better treatment of victims and overall public safety.

Other Important Legislation and Issues

HB 2307- Prohibits mental health care professionals and social health professionals from providing any discouraging or conversion therapy type service to a person under 18 years of age based on their sexual orientation or an attempt to change their gender identity. This is exciting legislation because President Obama just announced that he is calling for an end to psychiatric therapy treatments aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of gay, lesbian, and transgender youth. Oregon is leading the way on this type of legislation!

HB 2300- Also known as the "Right to Try" Act, this bill creates a method by which health care practitioner may offer to treat a patient who has a terminal disease with investigational products not yet approved by United States Food and Drug Administration.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Last week several organizations were in the building advocating for the rights of people who have faced sexual assault and domestic violence. Throughout this past year media attention has been highlighting the often-overlooked issue of sexual assault and rape on college campuses. HB 3476 is bill that attempts to maintain the safety and privacy of women who have experienced rape or sexual assault on a school campus, focusing specifically on colleges and universities. This bill prohibits the disclosure without permission of confidential communications between survivors and victim advocates at non-profit community-based or campus-based programs.

The Fair Shot Coalition agenda will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. They are focused on issues that would help families, seniors, and communities of color deal with the lingering impacts of the Great Recession, addressing subjects such as living wages, paid sick leave, profiling, retirement, and finding employment for people with criminal records. Stay tuned for further updates about these bills!

What I've Been Working On

Above I explained a few of the bills I've been working on in my education committee recently. Right now we are also addressing the opt-out legislation that will allow for parents to opt their children out of standardized testing. Soon I will be carrying HB 3044 on the floor. This bill requires public charter schools to obtain written permission from the district school board of other school districts if the public charter school uses real property in other school districts for the school or for a facility to provide instruction.

In transportation, we have been hearing about a lot of different issues. I have been working hard on HB 3232, which creates a breast cancer awareness license plate. The proceeds of this program would be appropriated to the Oregon Health Authority for use for early detection of breast and cervical cancers. Each year approximately 5,000 low income, uninsured, and medically-underserved individuals receive services through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program the OHA administers. I am hopeful this bill will continue to work its way through committee!

The agriculture committee has been receiving a lot of attention recently because of the pesticide bills that had public hearings last week. Many people and organizations from both sides of the issue came to share their opinions about how to handle pesticides moving forward, highlighting issues related to agricultural, public health, and environmental concerns.

Finally, in my fourth committee, Consumer Protection, we have been working on several issues related to public contracting. They are to make contracts better managed and to make sure the products of contracts are high quality. 


Susan with Friends of Family Farmers Representatives

March 30th was the Friends of Family Farmer’s Lobby day! Lots of Oregon farmers were in the building representing the strong agricultural roots across Oregon. I was visited by some farmers from my district who talked to me about several issues they are facing and their legislative priorities for this session. Some important priorities include: Protecting the viability of Oregon’s farms and agricultural markets, supporting new marketing opportunities for Oregon farmers, supporting new and beginning farmers, reducing the harm from factory farms and increasing transparency in government decision-making that affects family farmers.

Susan at Summit Foods

On March 27th I met with small and local business owners and representatives from the City of Forest Grove in my district. I was able to tour Summit Foods, a dried fruit company in Forest Grove. Mark, the owner of Summit Foods, and his team showed me around their incredible facility. This company is the image of sustainability. They distill all of the extra fruit juice from their fruit drying facility to create a form of clean and pure ethanol, which they sell to racecar drivers at Portland International Raceway. The drivers report that not only does their car have more horsepower, the exhaust smells like berries!

Susan with former Speech and Debate Student Tasha Lane


I am currently still coaching Speech and Debate at Glencoe High School. While it is sometimes hard to juggle both jobs, I get so much joy out of getting to continue working with my team. They make me so proud! 

Last weekend was a District Speech and Debate Tournament at Century High School and we were lucky enough to be visited by Tasha Lane, an alumna of the team, who came to help judge the debates.

Until next time!

Yours Truly,

Susan Signature

Representative Susan McLain