Legislative Update: Special Session & Student Success Tour Coming to Medford

Representative Pam Marsh

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dear friends and neighbors,

It was a fast and furious one-day special session last week, when Governor Kate Brown asked the Oregon Legislature to consider a change in tax law.  This newsletter summarizes that work and previews some of the issues we’ll be addressing during the interim period.  And don’t miss the opportunity (see invitation below) to share your views on our public school system with the Joint Committee on Student Success.

As always, my deepest gratitude to you for the comments, insights and concerns you share with me.  I often note that I have the most engaged constituents in the state, and you consistently prove me right.


Representative Pam Marsh

Pam Marsh 

State Representative
Oregon House District 5 - Southern Jackson County

PM Listening to Presentations
Rep. Marsh, LPRO Analyst Melissa Leoni & Chair Gomberg listening to presentations during the House Economic Development Committee during May Legislative Days.

Special session addresses business tax break

The massive federal tax overhaul completed in December 2017 raised many concerns and questions for Oregonians.  During the February short session the legislature enacted Senate Bill 1528, which “disconnected” Oregon’s tax system from a significant business tax deduction created in the federal changes. 

The effect of that action was to keep Oregon’s current tax structure intact.  In 2013 the state legislature enacted our own Oregon tax break for certain classifications of businesses.  The federal change would have added a second, redundant tax break at a cost of $400 million in future biennia.

Governor Brown paired her approval of SB 1528 with a call for a special session to implement a fix in the existing Oregon business tax structure.  Her proposal, in the form of HB 4301, added sole proprietorships to the list of businesses eligible for the Oregon tax break.  Approved in the one day session on May 21, the change will allow approximately 12,000 additional Oregon businesses to claim the benefit at a cost of approximately $12 million per year. 

Tax policy must always weigh the dual objectives of tax benefits and revenue needs.   Every tax provision, including the business tax break, needs to be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that it is achieving intended policy outcomes.  

Clearly, the debate on revenue reform will continue in 2019.  We need to grow the economy, support the businesses that make that happen, and generate the revenue we need for education, health care and other essential state services.  

Joint Committee on Student Success to visit Medford

The Joint Committee on Student Success, commissioned by House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney, is traveling the state in search of the “secret sauce” that enables students to thrive in our public schools. 

Composed of both House and Senate members, the committee is visiting schools, meeting with business and community members, and interviewing students and staff members in an effort to identify the programs and investments that consistently produce solid outcomes.  In its next phase, the committee will develop recommendations and a budget proposal for the 2019 legislative session that would support those investments.

Please consider sharing your perspective on our pre-K and K-12 schools with the Joint Committee in its upcoming visit to the Rogue Valley:

Committee on Student Success:  Public Hearing

When: Tuesday, June 5, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Central Medford Gymnasium

815 S. Oakdale Avenue, Medford

You can find the agenda, meeting materials and video recordings here.

Ashland leaders address smoke and fire in legislative hearing

Although we wish otherwise, changing climate conditions will continue to drive longer and more intense fire seasons throughout the West in future summers. 

In response, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and Ashland Fire and Rescue have partnered to create smoke preparedness training and materials to help business owners and residents plan for smoke impacts.  Sandra Slattery, the Chamber’s Executive Director, and Alison Lerch, AFR’s Fire and Adapted Communities Coordinator, presented this work to the Oregon House Economic Development and Trade Committee during hearings in May. 

From a policy perspective, we need to understand that smoke and fire will be ongoing issues. Providing businesses with planning and adaptive resources is a smart, proactive approach.  Many thanks to Sandra and Alison for their willingness to share Ashland's learned wisdom with others in the state.

To print a copy of the Business Resiliency Workbook for Smoke Preparedness, or to view videos and presentations, visit www.ashlandchamber.com/Smoke

Sandra Slattery and Alison Lerch
Sandra Slattery, Ashland Chamber’s Executive Director, & Alison Lerch, AFR’s Fire & Adapted Communities Coordinator, presenting to the Oregon House Economic Development & Trade Committee during May Legislative Days.

Joint Interim Committee on Carbon Reduction

A major disappointment during my first term has been our failure to approve legislation to significantly impact climate change.  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 are co-chairing the new Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, which will prepare legislation for 2019.

The Joint Interim Committee kicked off its work during May, with presentations from Phil Mote, Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, Richard Whitman, Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and Dallas Burtraw, Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future.  You can view those presentations and see the schedule of meeting dates here:  https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017I1/Committees/JCCR/2018-05-22-12-00/Agenda#  To watch the meeting video, click on the small round icon at the right of the screen under Meetings.

In addition to this work, Governor Brown has established 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. 

Issues we’re working on for 2019

The months between sessions provide an opportunity to collect information, sort out ideas, and develop legislative concepts.  Here are a few of the issue areas I’m working on during this not-so-idle interim:

Broadband expansion:  Since you’re reading this newsletter on some kind of electronic device, you likely have internet services to your home.  But in many of our rural areas, as well as in some urban pockets, and residents and businesses still have grossly inadequate broadband access or none at all.  That includes students in approximately 60 schools across the state, and as many as 400,000 Oregonians.

Broadband is our most powerful economic development tool. It is key to education, community organization, communication, business practices, and entertainment.  The time has come to establish a state level Broadband Office to oversee, support and pursue deployment of universal broadband services throughout the state.  We also need an ongoing and predictable source of funding to support this work. I believe that an investment in universal broadband access will produce significant economic returns, particularly for our rural communities.

Trauma-informed training for law enforcement:  Neurobiology demonstrates that the stress and trauma experienced by an individual who has been the victim of domestic or sexual violence impacts memory and compromises ability to remember and describe the experience.  Appropriate interviewing techniques can help law enforcement officers elicit needed information in a manner that supports victims in crisis. 

Carrie Hull, former detective with the Ashland Police Department, is championing this work nationally. Previously Carrie created the ground-breaking You Have Options Program, a victim-centered approach to sexual assault investigations.  Susan Moen, Executive Director of the Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team, and Angela Fleischer, Assistant Director of Student Support and Intervention for Confidential Advising at Southern Oregon University, are also advocates and trainers in these new trauma-informed protocols. 

There is no question that we need to expand access to these evidence-based interviewing approaches to officers in training, as well as to veteran law enforcement personnel.  We’ll be looking for opportunities to build on this work via a legislative proposal in 2019.  

Would-be initiatives in process

Individuals and organizations have filed a number of initiatives with the Secretary of State in anticipation of the 2018 election.  Not all of those efforts will reach the November ballot. The process of filing, title review, and signature collection is expensive, labor intensive and time-consuming. For a complete list and status of all initiatives and referendums, follow the links below. 

Secretary of State website

Current List and Status of Initiatives and Referendums - click 'Summary Results' to get the most updated list.

Recent articles

In case you missed these, here are a couple of articles I recently wrote for the Medford Mail Tribune

State is doing what it can to address homelessness

Guest Opinion: Our opioid epidemic can’t be ignored 

Need Help Finding Help?

Dial 2-1-1 !

Oregon provides a wide range of services to help citizens with everything from foreclosure to health care, but sometimes it's hard to find what you need. 211info is the resource center for anything from SNAP (food stamps) to mortgage counseling. The center is here to connect you to the resources you need! Please click here to find the Community Resource Directory.

Call ADRC (Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection)

The ADRC is a welcoming place for individuals, concerned families or friends, or professionals working with issues related to aging or disabilities to come for information tailored to their situation. The ADRC provides information and assistance on a broad range of programs and services, including long term care options. You can reach ADRC of Rogue Valley at 541-618-7572.

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