Week 15/16 Update

Updates from Senator Tim Knopp.

Senator Tim Knopp

Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017

This week the Oregon Senate passed House Bill 2005B also known as the ‘Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017’. The bill represents a historic agreement between employees, businesses, activists, and legislators to create a working education and enforcement system to rectify instances of pay discrimination and to protect employers that are doing the right thing from unnecessary lawsuits. We owe it to all women to pay them equally for equal work. You can watch my speech here(or by clicking on the image below) or read my remarks below.

Knopp Floor Speech

The Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017-HB 2005 B

Senator Tim Knopp-Floor Speech May 17, 2017

In 1896, the Association of Collegiate Alumnae which is the precursor group to the American Association of University Women published a report about Compensation for Women. Here is one of the comments; “The woman in industry finds herself employed in occupations which are open to men and who frequently preforms Identical work for a salary or for wages much below those paid her co-workers of the opposite sex is naturally apt to inquire what reason, economic or other, justifies this inequality.” That was over 120 years ago.

At the beginning of this session, I was asked by Committee Chair Kathleen Taylor to partner with her on equal pay legislation. The Senate President also quietly and respectfully requested I work with Chair Taylor on her priority bill. A great motivator by the way.

I made a commitment to both, and set out researching how to resolve a problem that has existed historically for over 120 years. On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed America’s Equal Pay Act into law. At that time women were paid about 59 cents compared to their male counter parts. Things have improved, but how to close that last remaining gap has remained elusive. I believe that to close the gap it will require education and enforcement.

It was important for me to move beyond the political talking points and partisanship that this issue can engender. The equal pay issue isn’t new to me. Last session I attempted to increase enforcement of something that is already illegal. But even my best attempts with several Democrat Women Senators co-sponsoring my legislation didn’t succeed.

So, I want to focus on the process today because it clearly led us to a successful conclusion.

We all know that to reach an agreement you must have at least two willing partners. In the case of the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017, there were many partners that needed to agree.

Without the leadership of Chair Taylor, the partners in this effort wouldn’t have come to the agreement you have before you today.

There was a commitment from those involved not just to listen but to truly hear the others concerns and work with honesty and integrity to reach consensus. Chair Taylor provided the leadership that was needed to craft the Oregon Equal Pay Act. She showed incredible principle, courage and integrity that has led to this historic agreement that has broad bipartisan support.

I have yet to meet a business owner or manager who is intentionally trying to underpay women as opposed to their male counterparts. But we know from the data and research that inequity exists. You don’t have to speak with very many women before you hear how real the pay inequity problem can be.

This bill allows business to be educated using their own payroll data to make sure it can show that they are paying people equally. If you are, you are protected. If you find a problem, you are given time to fix it under this bill.

Some are concerned that the bill doesn’t allow you to ask about past pay history until you’ve made an offer. It does allow you to ask what compensation level the potential employee would be expecting if you offered them the job.

There are so many people that helped make this bill possible and everyone one of them deserves our thanks.

First, Chair Taylor led the Senate effort along with the Workforce Committee members. Representative Lininger and Representative Hack led the House effort. Thank you to all the sponsors of the bill.

The Oregon Equal Pay Act would not have happened without the Senate President and his Legislative Director Anna Braun. Senator Taylor’s staff Amanda Kraus and Michelle Hansmann. My staff Bill Newell and Daniel Knopp. LPRO staff Debra Marynov. LC Staff Jessica Santiago and Dexter Johnson. And both Caucus staffs played key roles as well. Thanks to all these people for their help in making legislation happen. Thanks to all the activists and business people that gave us input and in the end found agreement.

This bill is for our mothers, wives, daughters, granddaughters, aunts, nieces and friends. But I want to dedicate this bill to the next generation of women that will earn more for their entire working career because of our efforts here today. So, here’s to my daughters, Grace and Emilie, and Chair Taylor’s daughter Emily who were our inspiration for this bill. Because when they enter the workforce, the Oregon Equal Pay Act will have made a difference for them.

Please join us in supporting House Bill 2005B, the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017.

Thank you.

Breast Cancer Patient Support

Nearly 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It impacts women of all backgrounds. Sadly, 70% of women aren’t informed about their options related to breast reconstruction, prostheses, or forms. House Bill 2660 directs the Department of Consumer and Business Services and the Oregon Health Authority to provide educational materials from non-profit organizations regarding breast reconstruction, prostheses, and forms. This legislation will help women who are recovering from cancer to understand and explore their treatment options. You can learn more about the bill on OLIS.

Best Regards,


Senator Tim Knopp 
Senate District 27

email: sen.timknopp@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1727
address: 900 Court St NE, S-309, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/knopp