February Newsletter--Short Session Happenings!

Hello Friends,

February’s Legislative Session has been an exciting, very busy, and stimulating policy and budget experience. I have been involved in some terrific meetings with constituents and policy experts--some of them under thirteen years of age! Here are a few highlights that I’d like to share with you:

My Priority Bills

HB 4090: This bill was inspired by a constituent who came to me over the summer and reported that he was being fined by his Homeowner’s Association for conserving water and opting not to water his lawn. Many Homeowners’ Associations in Oregon require residents to water their lawns or maintain a certain level of ‘greenness.’ If residents do not abide by these guidelines, they are often fined. Recently, Oregon has faced historic drought. In 2015, Oregon Governor Brown declared drought in 26 of Oregon’s 36 counties, compared to 2013 when the Governor declared a drought in only five counties. Once a county is in drought, municipalities must undergo strict measures to conserve water. Many cities take precautionary measures before drought is ever declared. In 2014, California passed a bill that would prevent HOAs from fining residents for implementing alternative landscaping or simply not watering their lawns. My bill would have prevented any HOA in Oregon from requiring a homeowner to water their lawn at any time.

Rep McLain speaking to Committee

Watch as I stand up for homeowners and our environment and present our case to the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness.

This bill, which I call the “Golden Grass Bill,” had a hearing in the Consumer Protection Committee early in the short session. It is important to me that we focus on immediate solutions when it comes to water conservation. After working with a variety of stakeholders, I decided it would be best to work on Senator Hansell’s bill this session. His bill, SB 1529, includes a trigger that prevents Homeowner’s Associations from requiring their residents to water their lawns only in the time of a county-declared drought. This is a good start. I look forward to working with everyone who was involved in my original bill to come up with more comprehensive conservation measures in 2017.

HB 4091: I proposed HB 4091, The Education Accountability Bill, to ensure that we have accountability and transparency in any school an Oregon student attends, because every child deserves a high quality education. See as I urge the Education Committee for a study to update and understand Virtual Public Charter Schools  for transparency so that the Department of Education can better support these schools.

The bill would have studied virtual schools currently operating around Oregon, both to learn from those who are doing a great job teaching their students and to identify the ways that struggling schools can grow and improve. I am very excited about the progress that the Education Accountability Bill made and I am excited to continue the work next session. During the interim and throughout the session, numerous organizations and individuals reached out to our office in support of the study on virtual public charter schools. I am grateful for the work of parents and representatives from virtual schools, public schools, and host schools, the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon School Board Association, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, and the Department of Education. Throughout this process it was important to me that parents and representatives from virtual public charter schools felt heard in this conversation and I want them to have time to study the bill and submit their thoughts. I look forward to continuing this work in 2017.

HB 4050: I am sponsoring a bill put forward by Representative Barbara Smith-Warner that creates an advisory counsel to address summer learning loss. Studies show that nearly 2/3 of the total achievement gap for students in grades K-12 occurs between the students who continue to learn over the summer through participation in camps and summer reading programs and the students who do not have that access. A Summer Learning Policy Advisory Council as put forward by this bill would take inventory of summer learning programs that currently exist across the state and to identify further policy recommendations that would create a path to accessible summer learning programs for every student in Oregon by 2022. I believe it is important to assess what we have and what we need in order to make sure that all students, regardless of income-level, can keep learning and growing over the summer.

On the Floor

HB 4023: I carried this bill to helps students remain enrolled in the school they currently attend, even if the boundaries of their school district change. This a particularly prevalent issue in Beaverton and Hillsboro, where new development is creating a need for school district boundary adjustments. It is important to me that students experience continuity. A student who has not moved should be allowed to continue their education at the school they are currently attending, even if the boundaries of their school district have been adjusted and no longer includes their residence. This is only for current students that were affected by boundary changes. 

HB 4136: I spoke in favor of the bill that raises the wrongful death cap. Losing a loved one because of a preventable accident is a tragedy. When families who have lost a loved one sue for damages, it should be the job of the jury to decide. No matter where you’re from or how much money your family makes, the pain and suffering you endure when you lose a loved one has no limits. This bill will help restore justice for families who endure senseless tragedies.


Rep Susan McLain on Floor

Watch the testimony I presented to the House of Representatives on behalf of a fellow community member.

Committee Work

Agriculture and Natural Resources

HB 4046: This bill addresses poaching and increases damages for the unlawful taking or killing of wildlife. This includes the killing of a species when that species is not in season, killing more than an individual hunter or fisherman's allotted number of species, and killing without a license or with a prohibited weapon. I believe that we should protect the species that we hunt and insure that those species can continue to thrive for generations. The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee. Watch me present the facts about poaching to the House of Representatives.

HB 4060: This bill clarifies and streamlines the rules around regulating industrial hemp and makes sure that the Department of Agriculture is coordinating with the Oregon Health Authority to keep THC levels in industrial hemp under 0.3%. Since Measure 91 legalized hemp in Oregon, it is important that the appropriate regulatory agencies are coordinating to not only make sure that Oregonians are engaging in Cannabis use safely, but also that farmers and businesses who use and grow industrial hemp can easily cultivate, test, and register their crops. This bill aligns the testing and regulation of hemp with that of other agricultural commodities. This bill has passed out of the House and moved on to the Senate.

Consumer Protection and Government Efficiency Committee:

HB 4058: This bill permits corporations with shares that are regulated by federal or statewide securities law to reject a vote or any other form of authorization if the shareholder has not complied with public disclosure requirements of the law. This bill serves as another tool that corporations have to maintain transparency with the public under statewide law. It is currently in the Senate after passing through the House.

HB 4106: This bill requires state agencies to provide an annual report to the Legislative Assembly outlining their use of temporary rulemaking procedures. After a law is passed, agencies are charged with translating that new law into rules. This process is open to the public and all stakeholders. If an agency determines that immediate inaction on a bill would cause “serious prejudice to the public interest,” then the agency can create a temporary rule until the official rules are made. This bill makes sure that such temporary rulemaking does not circumvent the public involvement of the regular rulemaking process. This bill is currently in the Senate.

House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development

HB 4084: As someone who served Metro for sixteen years, I care deeply about the way we use our land. In order to stimulate growth in our urban areas, HB 4084 allows local governments to grant property tax incentives to businesses that develop on previously used industrial or commercial lots. These plots of land, otherwise known as brownfields, are often left empty after the previous business has relocated or expanded elsewhere. This bill encourages density and urban growth. I happily signed onto this bill because I believe it will stimulate development in our towns and cities and help Oregon’s economy thrive.

House Committee on Education

HB 4024: Recently, bullying and cyberbullying has become a pervasive problem in Oregon homes and schools, and we need to empower our school districts to make the best decisions they can to protect students. House Bill 4024 gives the State Board of Education the power to evaluate different districts’ processes and rules related to bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment.  By doing this, we can make sure that all districts have the tools they need to put an end to bullying once and for all. This bill is currently in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

HB 4002:  In Oregon ten percent of our students miss ten percent of school days or more. We know that chronic absenteeism negatively impacts a child’s ability to learn and get ahead. There are two bills that passed through the Education Committee that address chronic absences. The first one, HB 4002, will result in a statewide effort to assist schools in solving this problem by allowing the Department of Education to develop and implement a plan to combat school absence. This bill passed out of the Education Committee and is in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

HB 4031: The second bill addressing chronic absenteeism is HB 4031. It creates a pilot program to address the underlying causes of chronic absenteeism, such as trauma and poverty. Schools will receive funding to try unique solutions. This will give us the opportunity to see some of the best practices in assisting students from marginalized backgrounds. This bill is currently in the Joint Committee On Ways and Means.

HB 4033: As Oregon becomes more diverse, we must work to make our schools inclusive of all students. HB 4033 directs funds to ensure that our teachers receive the cultural competence training they need to be effective educators. In committee we heard from the Chalkboard Project, Teaching with a Purpose, the Chief Education Officer, various other organizations and educations about the importance of cultural competency. Ensuring teachers can understand the varied backgrounds of their students will result in a better education for all Oregonians. HB 4033 passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Education and out of the House Chamber.

Events and Visits

In just two weeks time, I have had the opportunity to listen to many constituents about the issues that matter to them. Here are some of the most memorable moments so far:

School-Based Health Centers

School Based Health Centers

A group of students from Forest Grove High School came to express the importance of school-based health centers. One student told a story of how, as a new student, the health center helped her get all the necessary vaccines to enroll in school on time. Another student talked about a time when she came down with the flu and was able to access immediate care. There are so many reasons to support school-based health centers, and I hope that one day all students in Oregon will have access to immediate care in their schools.


Wildlife Lobby Day


Students from a Hillsboro Charter School presented speeches to me and my staff about why it was important to protect the wolves. I enjoyed hearing about all the research they did to express their points of view. I was very impressed by how thoughtful and concise their arguments were. It was important for me to share with them that they did the best thing citizens can do as active participants in the political process by getting involved. We had a dialog about what the Wolf Management Plan really covers. I appreciate all of the feedback my constituents give me.


Wildlife Lobby Day

Speaking to Students at Mooberry Elementary School

The week before session started, I got to visit my grandson’s class and talk all about my job as a State Representative. I shared many aspects of what I do, and we even talked about how a bill becomes a law. Over the weekend I received a large packet of very well written and illustrated thank you cards! It is never too early to start learning about policy making and how to get your ideas to your elected Representatives.


I am excited about all of the work we have done so far to make such a short session productive for you, but in just a few weeks there is so much left to do! In the coming weeks my colleagues and I will be making our final decision on major issues like inclusionary zoning, affordable housing, and minimum wage. I hope that you will continue to write to me at rep.susanmclain@state.or.us or call me at 503-986-1429 to schedule an appointment and talk to me in person here in Salem. I hope to hear from you soon!


McLain Signature

Representative Susan McLain

email: Rep.SusanMcLain@state.or.us I phone: 503-986-1429
address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/mclain

2016 Short Session Team

Above is our 2016 Short Session team. From left to right: Ayla Zahler, Nicole Stoenner, Representative Susan McLain, and Rachel Gowland.