End of Session Wrap up – and an Invitation

Representative Pam Marsh

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dear Friends,

The final gavel came down for the Oregon Legislature’s 2018 session at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 3.  As you are no doubt aware, we came up short once again on climate change. Instead of kicking off a long-term campaign to rebuild our energy economy, we kicked our Clean Energy Jobs initiative down the road.

The good news is that our work during the session produced other tangible benefits to many Oregonians. The 27 day short session went by fast, but my colleagues (particularly our 11-member Democratic freshman class) stayed focused on important, attainable goals. I am proud of what we accomplished.

For the past two years, we have been responding to radical policy changes initiated by our federal government.  That work continued into this session, as we stepped up to defend DACA recipients and to address the impacts of federal tax reform.  We also reaffirmed our commitment to internet neutrality, which the current administration has abandoned.

In the ‘under the radar’ category, we passed a measure that will enable cities like Ashland and Jacksonville to tax the online travel agencies that book accommodations locally. We also obtained bond funding that will enable Southern Oregon University to replace an antiquated and dangerous boiler system.

I am deeply grateful to you and our Southern Oregon neighbors for your support, feedback and criticism.  Below, you’ll find a schedule of Town Halls where we will have a chance to discuss the Legislature’s work in more detail.  If you can’t attend, please drop me an email or give me a phone call any time.  


Representative Pam Marsh


State Representative
Oregon House District 5 - Southern Jackson County

PM w/ High School Interns
Ashland High School Student Interns visit the Capitol - From left to right: Alex Webb, Hannah Doyle, Rep Marsh, Bella Mannray, & Hazel Richards

Upcoming Town Halls

Phoenix Town Hall

When: Saturday, March 24th at 4pm

Where: Phoenix Library - 510 W 1st St, Phoenix


Jacksonville Town Hall

When: Sunday, March 25th at 2pm

Where: Jacksonville Library - 340 W C St, Jacksonville


Ashland Town Hall

When: Saturday, April 7th at 3pm

Where: Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship - 87 4th St, Ashland

2018 Accomplishments

Tax changes

The massive federal tax overhaul has raised concerns and many questions for us in Oregon.  While we won’t fully understand the implications of these changes for months, we addressed two specific immediate changes to Oregon tax code during the short session. 

SB 1529:  Federal tax reform requires U.S.-owned corporations to pay a one-time repatriation tax on all overseas assets.  SB 1529 enacted a technical change that will allow Oregon to impose state taxes on those same assets.  The resulting one-time only revenues of approximately $145 million will be invested in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) to provide relief to local governments and school districts who bear the costs of PERS. 

SB 1528:  This legislation “disconnected” Oregon’s tax system from a significant business tax deduction created in the federal changes.  SB 1928 simply keeps Oregon’s current tax structure intact.  Oregon businesses will pay the same in state taxes this year that they did last year.

Tax policy must always weigh the dual objectives of tax benefits and revenue needs. I supported SB 1528 because it will allow us to preserve investments in Oregon’s schools, health care, and other critical services.

Net Neutrality

As the federal government increasingly sides with corporations at the expense of consumers, the Oregon legislature took action to protect internet freedom. With House Bill 4155, Oregon became the second state to pass legislation enshrining essential net neutrality protections that were rolled back by the Federal Communications Commission in 2017.

HB 4155 prohibits public agencies from purchasing broadband access services that are not in full compliance with net neutrality. It also requires internet providers to publicly disclose information about their network management practices sufficient for users to determine whether they are engaging in throttling, resource reservation, paid prioritization, or other forms of preferential treatment prohibited under net neutrality.

DACA Protections

With the DACA  (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program in peril, the legislature stepped up to ensure that our Dreamers continue to qualify for certain privileges, regardless of program status.  SB 1563 will allow the young people who have qualified under the DACA program and who have attended Oregon high schools to continue to get in-state tuition at our public universities.  HB 4111 will enable those same young people to renew their driver licenses or state identification cards.  

Transient Lodging Tax Fairness

The Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) is an optional tax administered by cities and counties across the state, and applied to overnight stays at hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and other overnight accommodations. HB 4120 establishes a level playing field between online reservation platforms and brick and mortar businesses by stipulating that the entity that takes a consumer’s payment is responsible for collecting and filing taxes. 

I was proud to bring this bill forward on behalf of our local governments to ensure that local governments receive the lodging tax revenues that they are owed. 

Data Breach Protections

Last summer’s Equifax data breach revealed that the personal data of 143 million U.S. consumers – nearly half the country – had been compromised. Hackers accessed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.

SB 1551 provides for a free credit freeze and unfreeze annually in the event of a data breach. It also bans upselling of protections to consumers after a breach, requires a 45-day notification to banks and consumers, and adds requirements that companies monitor and test vulnerabilities and upgrade needs in the systems they use to safeguard customers’ personal information. 

Gun Ownership: Closing the 'Boyfriend' Loophole 

If a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, a woman involved in that situation is five times more likely to be killed.[1]  HB 4145 closes the “boyfriend loophole” by ensuring that all intimate partners who are domestic violence perpetrators are prohibited from gun ownership.  Partners who are convicted of a stalking misdemeanor or are subject to a restraining order are also prohibited. 

Additionally, the measure requires the Oregon State Police to enter qualifying convictions and terms of judgments in the appropriate state and national databases and to send reports of attempted purchases by prohibited individuals to the appropriate law enforcement entities. Annually, the Department must report on the number of attempted purchases and the outcome of those attempts, including any investigations, charges, and resolutions.

[1] Campbell, J. C., Webster, D., Koziol-McLain, J. et al. (2003). Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: Results from a multisite case control study. American journal of public health, 93(7), 1089-1097 

Prescription Drug Transparency 

Prescription drug “price gouging” impacts consumers, state budgets, and access to medications. As we’ve witnessed with EpiPens and HIV medication, drug prices can dramatically increase overnight for no apparent reason. HB 4005 takes the first step toward addressing this issue by requiring drug manufacturers to disclose specified information when the price of a given drug increases more than 10% in a year.  

Addressing the the housing crisis

The state’s housing crisis continues to plague both urban and rural communities.  Data indicates that the state is short 155,000 units, resulting in significant price increases in both the rental and home ownership markets.  House Bill 4007 will increase the document-recording fee from $20 to $60, generating approximately $90 million/biennium, with proceeds dedicated to affordable housing development, home ownership assistance, and emergency housing programs.  

The bill also initiates a first time homebuyers savings account program, which will allow certain first time buyers to save money for a down payment with pre-tax dollars.  

Expanding Broadband

House Bill 4023 addresses the need to ensure that people in all corners of the state have access to a utility that that is critical to education, entertainment, communication, community organizing, information sharing, business practices and economic development: the internet. 

HB 4023 will address Oregon’s educational digital divide by establishing the Connecting Oregon School Fund.  Money in the fund will be used to serve as a match to obtain federal funding from the FCC, with the goal of connecting Oregon schools to broadband services.

The bill also allows the State’s Chief Information Officer to provide, upon request, broadband communications services to local governments, special districts, federally recognized Indian tribes, and certain nonprofit organizations.  The state’s efforts must focus on un-served or underserved areas and not compete with private telecoms able to provide service.  

Funding for Local Projects

I’m happy to report that we were able to secure funding for several important local projects during the session.

Southern Oregon University boiler:  SOU will receive $2.8 million to replace two failing boilers that provide thermal heat to the campus.  Significant deterioration in the boiler units posed major health and safety risks that can now be quickly addressed.

Bradshaw Drop Irrigation Project:  Allocation of $1.875 million to the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District will enable the district to pipe a section of irrigation canal, conserving water and creating multiple benefits for fish, farmers and district customers.  Over time, the Bradshaw Drop Project can be a model for the region’s WISE project, which aims to engage multiple irrigation districts in a regional modernization effort.

Emergency Homeless Shelter Funds:  As part of a $5.2 million investment in statewide shelter services, ACCESS will receive $228,202 to develop a 100-bed family shelter.  OHRA (Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland) will receive $35,000 toward purchase of a new mobile shower trailer. 

The full budget included allocations totaling approximately $95 million, including new money to child welfare, foster care and mental health services.  Targeted investments will help address critical issues while maintaining strong financial reserves to make sure Oregon’s future is strong. 

A Missed Opportunity – and Gearing up for Next Year

Unfortunately, our legislature fell short in addressing a few priorities during the session. Chief among those was our deteriorating climate.  I was deeply disappointed that Clean Energy Jobs, which would establish a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions, failed to move forward in this session.  

However, the very good news is that we now have a commitment from our legislative leaders and the governor to finish this work next year.  House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney will co-chair the new Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, which will prepare legislation for 2019.  The governor is establishing an Office of Carbon Reduction to coordinate research and data collection that will be necessary for a market-based cap and invest program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So it’s one step at a time, but I’m confident that we’ll get there.  In the mean time, we need forceful and unrelenting advocacy from people across the state who understand that we face a crisis. Oregon must establish an equitable, predictable and effective program to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and move our economy toward sustainability. Oregon legislators must act. 

Freshman Class
The 2017-18 Freshman Class

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Capitol Phone: 503-986-1405

District Phone: 541-282-4516

Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-375, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.PamMarsh@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/marsh