A quick preview before tonight:


House Speaker Tina Kotek

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Just a friendly reminder about my pre-session town hall TONIGHT, with Representative Tawna Sanchez and Senator Lew Frederick. Hope you can join us!

2018 Legislative Session

WHEN: Tonight! Thursday, February 1, from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

WHERE: PCC Cascade Campus on the corner of N. Kerby and N. Jessup in the Terrell Hall Auditorium (TH122)

2018 Legislative Session Starts on Monday

This year’s 35-day legislative session convenes this coming Monday, February 5th. We will take up unfinished business from last year’s session as well as urgent and emerging issues. As always, my focus will be on making sure all Oregonians have the opportunities and resources they need to succeed and doing everything possible to create a brighter future for our kids.

Maintaining a Balanced Budget

Thanks to Oregon voters, with the passage of Measure 101, we are heading into session with financial stability for our state’s Medicaid program. In our budget work, it will be important to maintain strategic investments in essential services, cautiously address new budgetary requests, and pay off some bills, such as the $24 million tab to cover the remaining costs of the devastating fire season.

One new unknown for the 2017-19 budget is the impact of the federal tax overhaul passed by Congress late last year. Potentially, there will be less projected revenue to fund essential services, and thus we will need to consider how much Oregon should align its tax structure with the new changes from Washington, D.C.

Combating Climate Change, Protecting the Environment 

With the nation’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement and the inescapable indicators of climate disruption (extensive forest fires, dramatic weather events, ocean acidification), it’s clear that states need to do more to combat climate change.  Oregon’s economic future depends on us taking bold steps this year.

Almost a decade in the making and crafted through a lot of hard work over the last year, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 4001 and SB 1507) would establish a cap on the carbon emissions of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the state and set up a plan to reinvest proceeds from a carbon-credit market into projects to reduce pollution, mitigate the effects of climate change, and foster economic growth in traditional and emerging industries. The priority for the session is to make progress on combating climate change and move Oregon into alignment with regional climate policies in other states and Canada.

I’m also closely tracking other environmental priorities. In North/NE Portland, we are deeply familiar with air quality problems – and this session we have an opportunity to make serious progress. The biggest air quality and environmental health problem we face in the metro area is emissions from diesel engines. That is why I’m supporting a bill to phase out dirty diesel engines (HB 4003). In addition, I support a bill to fund the Cleaner Air Oregon rules, which will set new health-based standards for reducing air toxins emitted by industrial point sources (HB 4002).  Last but not least, I continue to support legislation to make sure there are emergency response plans for oil train spills on hazardous routes (HB 4004).

Next Steps on Addressing the Housing Crisis

All Oregonians deserve a safe and affordable place to call home. Last session, we were successful in increasing funding for emergency housing services, the preservation of affordable housing, and the construction of new affordable housing, as well as passing a variety of policies to improve the state’s response to the housing crisis.  And, our work is not done. We must continue to bring people to the table to solve this crisis.

One solution in front of us this session is a proposal to increase a fee that funds different housing programs (HB 4007). Since 2009, the state’s document recording fee has generated millions of dollars to help Oregonians have housing. It’s time to increase this fee (which is currently $20 per document filing) to address the housing crisis. We will need a bipartisan effort to make this happen since passage requires a 3/5 supermajority vote.

It’s no secret that being severely rent burdened – defined as spending over half of one’s income on housing – is a huge and growing problem in Oregon. No one should have to choose between buying essentials (like food and medicine) and paying the rent. To raise awareness and spur action around the state, I’m sponsoring a bill that would require Oregon communities experiencing the highest levels of rent burden to hold public meetings and come up with a plan to reduce the problem (HB 4006).

I remain disappointed that we have not made more progress on protecting tenants in unpredictable rental markets. The Senate refuses to support viable solutions. I applaud local governments who have taken up the fight and look forward to being back on this issue next year.

Access to Affordable Health Care

When Oregon voters passed Measure 101, they sent a clear message that all Oregonians should have access to quality, affordable health care – regardless of where they live or where they work. While Congress has been rolling back pieces of the Affordable Care Act and targeting Medicaid with cuts and sweeping changes, Oregon is pushing forward. We believe that no one should go bankrupt trying to get lifesaving care.  That’s why I support legislation that would ask voters to amend the state constitution to include health care as right for every Oregonian (HJR 203).

We also need to continue to transform our health care system. I support a bill to provide more transparency on drug prices by requiring pharmaceutical companies to report on the prices of prescription drugs and the costs associated with developing and marketing them (HB 4005).  I also support a bill to increase transparency in our Medicaid system by requiring our coordinated care organizations (CCOs) to hold public meetings and dedicate more of their reserves to addressing the social causes of poor health (HB 4018).

 This is just a snapshot of the issues before the legislature over the next few weeks.  Thank you for being engaged.  I look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions on how to get things done for Oregonians.

Best wishes,


Tina Kotek
State Representative
House District 44

Speaker of the House

email: Rep.TinaKotek@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/kotek