A Report on the 80th Legislative Assembly, July 2019

Representative Pam Marsh

Dear Friends,

The legislative session that ended Sunday night, June 30, was stunning, in many respects. 

I’m proud of our accomplishments, including seminal investments in early childhood and K-12 schools that will help us break a 30-year cycle of stagnant funding and poor student outcomes. Working with the state's health care partners, the legislature identified long term strategies to stabilize our public health care system and ensure that over a million Oregonians, including 400,000 children, who use Oregon Health Plan will have continued access to services. Also in a bipartisan, two-thirds vote, we initiated juvenile justice reforms so that young people who have made mistakes have opportunities to turn their lives around. 

These successes and others are summarized here, many of which are groundbreaking bills that will assist individuals, families and communities across the state. Thanks to each and all of you who engaged in the legislative process—it was truly wonderful to hear from so many of you with your ideas, concerns and passions.

There is no getting around the fact that the session was also stunning for the way it ended. When our Republican Senate colleagues left the Capitol to avoid voting on climate legislation, we entered new and uncharted territory. From my vantage point, that was far more than routine legislative antics. We can, and do, disagree, sometimes quite vehemently. But, when colleagues walk off the job—not just once, but twice, and after signing an agreement to stay—all norms that guide behavior and uphold the process of governance are violated. Our institutions are dependent on a shared willingness to honor the rules and expectations that bind us; when that is gone, what happens next? We will be sorting out the ramifications of the walkout for years to come.

Please contact me if you have questions about any legislation that passed in this legislative session, and with your ideas and input for making Oregon the best it can be.

I look forward to seeing you in southern Oregon in the weeks and months to come.


Representative Pam Marsh

State Representative
Oregon House District 5 - Southern Jackson County

In this Issue - Quick Links

Rep Marsh, Speaker Kotek and Rep Smith Warner with Youth fighting for HB 2020

Rep Marsh, Speaker Kotek and Rep Smith Warner with youth fighting for HB 2020. Photo courtesy Zach Klonoski.

House Bill 2020 – Carbon Cap & Invest

Trailblazing Climate Action Fails after Senate Walk Out

House Bill 2020, which would have implemented a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, passed the House with 36 votes, but died in the Senate. Advocates believed the bill had sufficient support to pass there as well, but as a result of the Senate walkout, the bill was never put to a vote.

During its evolution HB 2020 was significantly amended to incorporate input received from across the state.  Much of that much came from forestry and agricultural communities. If passed, the bill would have provided both short- and long-term benefits to these areas of the state. 

A few details:

  • Neither forestry nor agriculture was regulated in the bill. The emissions produced in both sectors got a free ride.
  • The bill included language to protect the flow of product to mills.
  • Recognizing the particular contribution of agriculture and forestry in our rural communities, a companion bill, SB 1051, provided fuel rebates for work performed in these sectors with to compensate for any increases in fuel prices.
  • Offsets would provide the forestry industry and small landowners with an option to make money while adopting long term forest sustainability practices.
  • Revenue raised in HB 2020 would have been directed to impacted rural communities and could have funded projects such as forest restoration and wildfire protection. 
  • The program provided fuel rebates to low and median income drivers, calculated on regional driving patterns to compensate for additional miles driven by residents in rural area.
  • Despite wide misconception, HB 2020 did not regulate vehicle use in any way. Nothing in the bill that would have required rural Oregonians to give up any truck or other piece of equipment.

Without action, our resource-dependent rural areas will continue to disproportionately suffer from climate change.  I was proud of House Bill 2020 and deeply disheartened that it did not move forward. We will regroup and return with another bill to address the climate crisis. 

Education & Youth Achievements

House Bill 3427 – The Student Success Act

This historic $1 billion per year investment in our early childhood programs and K-12 schools was the result of recommendations from the bipartisan, bicameral Committee on Student Success.

The Student Success Act will fund both statewide improvements, such as universal school lunch programs or a longer school year, and district-specific programs. The bill directs new resources toward students in poverty and to programs that address mental health, disruptive behavior and student wellness. School districts will be required to report performance measures that will help us understand the success or failure of a given school environment. 

The Student Success Act is funded via a new Commercial Activities Tax of 0.57% applied to businesses revenues over $1 million per year. Impacted businesses will be allowed to take a 35% deduction for certain expenses, and the tax will not apply to gas, medical providers, or groceries. To compensate for any increased costs passed on to consumers, the measure also cuts tax rates in Oregon’s personal income tax system.

The Student Success Act is a game-changer for Oregon’s children and families. New money will have an immediate impact in our classrooms. In the long term, smart investments in our schools will produce a more capable and productive workforce and fuel economic growth.

Senate Bill 52 Adi’s Act

Adi's Act requires school districts to adopt plans and policies to prevent youth suicide, the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 in Oregon. The act is named in honor of Adi Staub, a Portland high school student who died by suicide in 2017.

Teenagers face ever-increasing levels of social pressure, whether from social media, school, or trauma at home. The risk of death by suicide increases in more vulnerable populations, including those with disabilities, kids facing addiction, kids with out-of-home placements such as foster care, LGBTQ youth, and those bereaved by the death by suicide of others.

The legislation requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules, in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority, to guide district planning. School districts are able to utilize suicide prevention experts, as well as school employees, parents and others to help develop their suicide prevention plans and policies.

Criminal Justice Improvements

Senate Bill 1008 – Juvenile Justice Reform 

A result of a year-long work group focused on reform of the juvenile justice system, this bipartisan bill supports youth who have taken the wrong path to get back on track before they become hardened criminals. SB 1008 eliminates automatic life without parole sentences for juveniles, extends eligibility for second look hearings to all juvenile cases, and requires a judge to make the determination of whether a juvenile should be tried and sentenced as a juvenile or adult.

Senate Bill 420 – Expungement of Marijuana Convictions 

Individuals with marijuana convictions that preceded legalization still have those offenses on their criminal records. SB 420 will establish an expedited expungement process that will enable a person to apply to court to set aside convictions for marijuana possession, delivery, and manufacture if conduct upon which the conviction was based is no longer a crime. To increase accessibility to this new regulation, those looking to expunge their convictions are exempted from filing fees, providing fingerprints, and undergoing background checks. Prosecuting attorneys are given notice and the opportunity to contest.

Housing Successes

Senate Bill 608 – Tenant Protections 

Largely because of the lack of housing production that began in the 2007 recession, Oregon is facing a statewide housing deficit of 155,000 units. Competition for available housing has fueled increases in both rental and for-sale prices. Many landlords have worked hard to stabilize rents, but in some cases but unreasonable increases and no-cause evictions have uprooted tenants and fueled homelessness.

Senate Bill 608 protects tenants from price spikes by establishing a maximum annual rent increase of 7% plus the cost of living. The bill also prohibits landlords from evicting a tenant for no cause after the first 12 months of occupancy, with some exceptions. 

House Bill 2001 – Middle Housing Bill 

Jackson and Josephine counties are among the most housing-stressed regions in the state. Like other parts of both rural and urban Oregon, housing construction has fallen behind population growth, leading to a lack of availability and affordability across income levels. In the Rogue Valley, housing construction is 31% below what is needed for population growth.

There are several reasons for this, but a significant contributor is that the state’s residential zoning is out of sync with the size, ages, and income levels of Oregon families. While most families consist of 1-2 persons, most of our residential land is dedicated to detached single homes on their own lots. We need more housing that fits the needs and incomes of all Oregonians, so residents have the opportunity to live in neighborhoods near schools, stores, and other amenities—for the young family just starting out, and for the widow wanting to age in her own neighborhood. HB 2001 will do that, by allowing the “gentle infill” of middle housing types.

HB 2001 requires cities with population between 10,000 and 25,000 to allow duplexes to be built on lots that now allow detached single-family homes. Cities larger than 25,000 will be required to allow middle housing, including duplexes, triplexes, 4-plexes and townhomes, in single-family neighborhoods. Each city will be allowed to impose reasonable development regulations, including parking and access requirements.

Many of our mature neighborhoods already reflect this kind of social and physical diversity because it naturally evolved over time in response to the changing needs. HB 2001 will generate more housing units. That’s critical, but just as importantly, it also give planners an opportunity to reconsider the qualities that make a great neighborhood.

House Bill 2896 – Expanding Investments in Manufactured Housing

The 140,000 manufactured homes across the state comprise more than 8% of total housing stock, and a significant portion of our naturally occurring affordable housing. Many of these homes are in our rural communities, with 45% in manufactured home parks and the rest spread across the landscape. Jackson County hosts about 10% of the state’s total inventory of 1,100 parks, and leads the state in total number of manufactured units. 

Because these parks are often tucked away in the corners of our communities they have frequently been overlooked or underestimated by planners, but the severe deficit of housing units across the state has shined new light on the contribution of parks. We now clearly understand what residents have known for a long time: Our manufactured home parks provide not only shelter, but also community and connection, often at a fraction of the price required in other kinds of neighborhoods.

HB 2896 supports the continued vitality of the manufactured housing sector. It provides funding for a park acquisition program that could enable nonprofits or resident owned cooperatives to purchase a park when it is for sale. The bill also funds a home replacement program to help homeowners upgrade from pre-1979 homes to new, energy efficient models. Finally, HB 2896 establishes a manufactured home advisory board within the State Housing and Community Services Department. 

Smart investments that stabilize the manufactured housing sector will pay off for years to come in the form of good, affordable and efficient housing for many of our most vulnerable residents. 

Environmental Wins

House Bill 2509 – Single-use Plastic Bag Ban 

Consumer awareness of plastics has increased dramatically in recent years, prompting bills to be introduced regulating single use plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene. In particular, plastic bags are one of the most commonly found litter items in public spaces, beaches, and state roads. HB 2509 prohibits the use of thin, single-use plastic bags at retail establishments and restaurants. Retailers may, however, offer paper bags at a pass-through fee of 5 cents a bag. Customers who are participating in food assistance programs like EBT or TANF will get bags for free. The bill outlines exemptions for small plastic bags for produce or meat, dry cleaning, newspaper, pet waste bags, and garbage liners. 

House Bill 2250 Oregon Environmental Protection Act

This Act protects against rollbacks of federal environmental policies by requiring the Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority to regularly assess final changes to federal environment laws. These agencies are charged with determining whether changes are significantly less protective of public health, the environment or natural resources than standards and requirements contained in federal environmental laws, such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

House Bill 2623 – Moratorium on Fracking in Oregon

A five-year ban was placed on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking—the risky underground injection of high-pressure liquids to extract oil and gas, which can contaminate drinking water, has the potential for spills and explosions, and continues our addiction to fossil fuels. HB 2623 prohibits use of fracking for oil and gas expiration for 2020-2025.

House Bill 2618 – Solar Rebates for All
Clean energy advocates are celebrating approximately $2 million over two years for solar rebates, with 25% of the program set aside for projects for low-income ratepayers or low-income service providers. This program is statewide and available for both residential and commercial solar installations.

Senate Bill 256 – Ban on Offshore Drilling
Without this bill the moratorium on oil, gas and sulfur leasing off the coast of Oregon would have expired. Instead, the ban was made permanent, protecting the 3-mile stretch of water controlled by the state. It also prohibits any new infrastructure that would facilitate drilling beyond the 3-mile point.

Video: Rep Marsh House comments regarding ODF budget

Click here to watch Rep Marsh explain her No vote on the ODF budget, 06-25-19

Forest Fire Resilience & Investment Outcomes

Understanding that our community urgently needs resources in this biennium for fire suppression and prevention, I fought for additional funding for the Oregon Department of Forestry to help us stay ahead of fires, including positions, equipment, community grants and mapping. My proposal gained bipartisan support from over a dozen legislators, a diverse group of more than 20 community organizations and leaders, and statewide media attention. These details are online here: Oregon Forest Fire Resilience & Investment Package.

In the end, the state's biennial budget contained no additional funding or positions in ODF's budget. However, we did get $250,000 dedicated for smoke mitigation grants to raise awareness about off-season prescribed burning, which will be administered by the Department of Environmental Quality. The budget also allocates $2 million to Oregon State University Extension to engage private and public landowners and managers in planning and implementing fuel reduction treatments in high risk landscapes like ours.

Finally, $250,000 was budgeted to support the Governor's Council on Wildfire Response, which is charged with examining long-term answers to fire suppression, prevention strategies and funding. As an appointed member of the Council, I will continue to advocate for resources for prevention and mitigation for our high risk communities.

Expanding Broadband

House Bill 2173 – Creation of an Oregon Broadband Office

Despite the role that broadband plays in nearly every aspect of our lives, at least 400,000 Oregonians lack any or adequate internet. Two dozen school districts across the state have no or insufficient broadband, and 37% of Oregon’s public libraries fail to meet the FCC’s standards for residential services. Since our public libraries are often the place we go to access technology, that’s disturbing. 

Inadequate service is an economic issue, because broadband applications are ubiquitous across business sectors. Schools rely on the internet for research, digital content, and testing. Our agricultural sector has increasingly turned to broadband-based strategies to increase yields and spur efficiency. Telehealth holds great promise to address healthcare outcomes and costs. 

And broadband is fundamental to generational transition in many of our far-off regions.  Anecdotal experience, as well as real research, indicates that young people settle in communities where technology is available. 

Clearly, broadband is our most powerful economic development tool and critical to every community across the state. Identifying and addressing gaps in service requires that we build our capacity to do this work. In short, we need to put someone in charge. 

House Bill 2173 establishes a state Broadband Office within Business Oregon. The office will serve as a policy and planning hub, responsible for coordinating a statewide strategy and securing funding to ensure everyone in the state has access to services.

Campaign Finance & Election Reforms

Senate Bill 870 – National Popular Vote Compact 

Passage of SB 870 moves the nation toward the use of a national popular vote for presidential elections.

Specifically, the bill makes Oregon part of the National Popular Vote Compact, an agreement between states that each will award their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

The United States Constitution establishes the Electoral College as the mechanism for choosing the President of the United States. Each state’s votes are allocated based on the size of its Congressional delegation, with one vote for each member of the House of Representatives and one for each Senator. The candidate receiving the majority of those votes (270) is named president. Currently, Oregon’s seven Electoral College votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state.

Five times in United States history, the Electoral College system has produced a president who did not get the most votes nationally. That has occurred twice since 2000—in the cases of George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.

The National Popular Vote Compact will ensure—once enough states have joined to reach the victory threshold of 270 votes—that the candidate who earns the most votes nationally will win the presidency. The compact doesn’t take effect until its members account for the 270 Electoral College necessary to achieve victory.

So far, fifteen jurisdictions have adopted the compact. Those jurisdictions represent 189 Electoral College votes, about 70 percent of those necessary to make the compact legally binding.

Senate Joint Resolution 18 – Money is Not Free Speech Proposing a Constitutional Amendment

A historic package of campaign finance reforms to limit the influence of money in politics and increase transparency in elections passed in the final days of the legislative session.

A key part of the package is Senate Joint Resolution 18, which proposes amending the Oregon Constitution to permit the state, local municipalities and voters to enact laws or ordinances to limit funding for political campaigns within their jurisdictions. The Oregon Supreme Court has previously held that campaign contribution limits violate the free speech protections in the Oregon Constitution.

Since it amends the state Constitution, this proposal must be voted on by the people and has been referred to the ballot for November 2020 election. Without the passage of the ballot referral, the following bills may not be able to go into effect; it's crucial that we pass the constitutional amendment so that we can finally diminish the influence of money in politics.

House Bill 2716 – Election Advertising Transparency

Each election cycle voters receive dozens of advertisements in support or opposition of a candidate or ballot measure. Oregon’s Constitution currently allows ads or mailers to be produced without indicating the individuals or groups that paid for them. HB 2716 will require campaign advertisements to include "paid for by" disclosures on all materials in support or opposition of a candidate.

House Bill 2983 – Interest Group Transparency

Candidates for office are required by law to report campaign donors. However, interest groups that contribute extensive funds to independently support or oppose candidates have no such requirements. HB 2983 tackles this issue by mandating that independent expenditure groups (those organized as a non-profit 501(c)4 or 501(c)6) to disclose donors who gave more than $10,000 in the current election cycle when the group spends beyond designated thresholds on political communications.

Health Care Gains

House Bill 2010 – Extending Oregon Health Plan Funding 

More than a million Oregonians depend upon the Oregon Health Plan for physical, mental and dental health care services. HB 2010 ensures that the state will have funds to keep OHP solvent by implementing a hospital provider tax and an assessment on certain insurance premiums. 

OHP provides a critical safety net for low income and vulnerable individuals and families. Through the Coordinated Care Organizations, which are contracted to oversee services, we are learning that investments in non-medical factors that affect health (often referred to as the social determinants of health) can produce much better outcomes with less money. For example, a few dollars spent to address environmental hazards in a home can minimize the costs of medication and health care services for a child or adult with asthma. 

Oregon Health Plan is helping us understand how to shift our perspective to health and wellness instead of simply funding services once someone is sick or has chronic conditions. This is cutting-edge health care transformation that will benefit all Oregonians. 

Senate Bill 770 – Establishes the Universal Health Care Commission

Too many Oregonians are uninsured, under-insured, or burdened by high patient cost-sharing. The new Universal Health Care Task Force will develop a plan to provide high quality, publicly funded health care through a single payer system to every individual across the state. Recommendations will be reported to the Legislature no later than February 2021.

SB 770 also requires the Oregon Health Authority to develop an affordable public option, which would allow Oregonians who are uninsured through their work to buy-in to Oregon Health Plan. A robust public option could reduce costs, increase insurance rates, and serve as an important stepping stone toward universal coverage.

PERS Reform Efforts

Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) is burdened by a $26 billion unfunded liability that, if left unaddressed, will force public employers—school districts, cities, counties and the state—to spend an increasing proportion of their budgets on retirement benefits for past employees. Even in the best of times, the increases in required contributions to the PERS system has led public employers to make painful cuts to teaching positions, school days, and other critical services.

Senate Bill 1049 will help us get our PERS expenditures under control. In summary, the bill contains these key provisions:

  • Re-amortization of some of the PERS unfunded liability: This strategy can be compared to refinancing a home. Our annual employer costs will be decreased, although the period of repayment will be extended.
  • Diversion of individual retirement contributions to the PERS fund: Public employee retirement consists of two parts. The biggest piece of the retirement package is a defined benefit, which is calculated based on years of service and final salary. The second piece is an individual account (similar to a 401k) that amounts to 6 percent of an employee’s salary and is invested on behalf of the employee with no guaranteed return. SB 1049 will send between .75 and 2.5 percent of the employee’s individual account to PERS. The defined benefit piece of retirement remains untouched. Employees who make less than $30,000 will keep their full individual account.
  • Program changes, including a cap on the final salary used to calculate retirement benefits.
  • Employer incentives: the state will direct general fund and sports betting revenues to provide a 25 percent match to incentivize employers to set aside revenues for future PERS obligations.

The more quickly we can get on top of PERS liabilities, the better off we all will be. When the system is 90 percent funded, the employee contribution will cease. 

I believe we have taken a reasonable, legal and supportable path to protect PERS, as well as the public services we all value. However, I recognize that we are asking Oregon's teachers, firefighters, street cleaners and other public employees to contribute from their own pockets to help us address the PERS debt. I supported these reforms only because I believe the magnitude of the crisis required extraordinary action.

More Legislative Accomplishments

House Bill 2015 – Equal Access to Roads Bill

HB 2015 expands eligibility for a driver’s license to all Oregon residents without requiring proof of citizenship, returning the state to a pre-2008 application requirements. The bill will be implemented at the same time the state is responding to stricter federal standards requiring us to issue an alternative driver’s license with enhanced security.  

Under the new standards and with HB 2015, the state will offer two different driver’s licenses: the new, enhanced Real ID-compliant license that can be used for air travel and access to federal buildings; and the standard license which will only be a license to drive. To get the enhanced license, Oregonians must submit additional identification documents and proof of citizenship. The standard license will be available to all Oregon residents who pass written and driving tests, pay necessary fees, and provide proof of identity and residency, regardless of citizenship status.

HB 2015 will help to ensure that our roads are safe and our neighbors can go to work, drive a child to school, or perform everyday tasks. Oregon will be the fourteenth state with similar laws on the books. 

House Bill 2005 – Paid Family & Medical Leave Coverage 

HB 2005 provides every Oregon worker twelve weeks of paid leave to welcome a new child, recover from a serious illness, care for loved ones recovering from serious illness or deal with issues related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking.

At some point, almost every Oregonian will need to take time away from work to deal with a family or medical issue, whether it’s to welcome a new child, help a loved one with a serious illness or injury, or to deal with your own health issue. No one should have to choose between paying their bills or caring for a loved one. 

Modeled after Oregon’s unemployment insurance program, paid family and medical leave insurance will be available to all Oregonians who made at least $1,000 in a calendar year. The program will be supported with a payroll assessment, not to exceed one percent, split between employees and employers. Employers with more than 25 employees will contribute 40 percent of the overall contribution. Small employers with fewer than 25 employees will not have to contribute, though employees still will be able to utilize the program. Small businesses choosing to pay into the program will be eligible for grant programs to help cover the cost of replacement workers.

The program provides a tiered benefit, with 100 percent wage replacement available for low income Oregonians who make less than 65 percent of Oregon’s average weekly wage. The wage replacement decreases as average weekly income increases.

Currently, seven states and the District of Columbia offer, or soon will offer, some form of paid parental or family leave. The US is one of the few economically advanced nations in the world that does not provide this benefit.

House Bill 2270 – Ballot Referral to Increase Tax on Tobacco Products 

Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in Oregon and around the country, with nearly 30 percent of all cancers attributed to tobacco addiction. The toll on Oregon is significant, costing the state billions of dollars in health care costs and lost productivity annually. Every year, nearly 8,000 Oregonians lose a loved-one from a tobacco-related death. Addressing nicotine addiction has never been more urgent than now, given the significant increase by youth use of e-cigarettes.

HB 2270, an effort to reduce the access by youth and to discourage the use of tobacco substances, allows voters to decide on a tobacco tax. It increases the tax rate on cigarette distribution, as well as adds a tax on inhalant delivery systems and vaping products. If passed, revenues will be utilized by the state’s medical assistance program and other programs that address tobacco-related health and mental health issues.

Talk About Making Laws

Talk About Making Laws at Talent Maker City

Wednesday, July 24, 5:00-6:30 PM

Come on out to Talent Maker City’s Maker Space where I will share highlights of the 2019 legislative session, discuss significant achievements and outcomes, and answer questions about laws and policy impacting our communities, including education, climate, housing, wildfire, technology and state revenue. Beverages and snacks available for sale through The Grotto Pizzeria during the event. Map

Wine with My Rep at Valley View Winery

Wednesday, August 14, 5:00-6:30 PM
I look forward to meeting with constituents at Valley View Winery, where my overview of the 2019 legislative session will focus on issues impacting the Applegate, including wildfire, broadband, climate, wine, cannabis, pesticides, land use and more. Wine will be for sale. Open to the public, all are welcome. Map

Stay in Touch

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