Exciting Updates for the Upcoming Short Session

Representative Tiffiny Mitchell

Hello everyone!

When I became a state representative last year, I brought with me to the office an ideal that all Oregonians deserve transparency and as much information as possible. As such--some of our newsletters, particularly as we get into the 2020 short session, will continue to be “wordy.” This newsletter will be no exception, as we have a lot of bills coming up in the February 2020 short session that you may be interested in. I hope that it’s helpful and, of course, please let my office know if you have any questions! We’re happy to help!

Representative Mitchell

Digital Townhalls

Connecting with and listening to the concerns of my constituents is a top priority for me. Since I will not be able to do any in person townhall or listening sessions during the short session, I have decided to do a weekly digital townhall. You can go to my State Representative facebook page at 6:00 p.m. every Tuesday of the Short Session (Feb. 4th,11th, 18th, and 25th.). Type your questions into the text box or you can submit questions ahead of time via e-mail. Put as the subject “Digital Townhall” so I know you want your question answered in the town hall rather than a written response. These times may be subject to change if there are any last minute floor sessions I have to attend, we will notify you all as best we can if that happens.

The Two Bills of the Session

Unlike the long session of 2019, where the amount of bills a legislator can introduce is unlimited, all House members are limited to two bills during the short session. This makes for a more focused and in-depth process because it forces legislators to, A). Pick their bills wisely and, B). Make sure they’re “ready to go” by the beginning of the session. This not only simplifies session, but helps to ensure that the best forms of policy end up making it through the process.

I have a lot of ideas I would like to pursue which made the process of narrowing down only two bills very difficult! That said, I’m ultimately very pleased with what we’re getting ready for February 2020, and I believe both have the potential to be incredibly beneficial for not just the district, but the entire state.

HB 4080 - Medicare/Medicaid Equity Taskforce


Many people, myself included, see a storm brewing on the horizon for both long-term care and home care work. These workers are the people we depend on to care for our elderly and most vulnerable, and there’s high demand for specialists in the workforce.

Unfortunately, however, the industry is incredibly low-paying and highly stressful (both mentally and physically). As a result, there is incredibly high turnover--and fewer people are choosing to enter the field. And if this continues, we’re going to be looking at a very scary shortage, which will have tremendous implications for those in need of care.

The need to find a solution to this issue is even greater when evaluated from an equity lens. This workforce is 97% female, with people of color (POC) and immigrants being an over-represented demographic. These jobs are often funded with Medicare and Medicaid dollars--public dollars. And yet, when compared to other tax funded work, like public works projects, the differences are startling. Public works projects, which are often times male dominated, have had prevailing wage and training standards on the books in Oregon since 1959. And every session, more male dominated jobs are added to the list of public works contracts. Why would we expect that the work funded by public dollars in long-term and home care be respected any less than other public projects?  

HB 4080 is a first step to rectify the situation. While no big solutions will arise out of my bill specifically--the bill will create a task force charged with looking at whether there should be wage standards, training standards, minimum benefits, and licensing/certification standards attached to employers who accept public funding (Medicaid & Medicare) to pay their employees and provide long-term care services. It is important to do so, so that we can be confident that seniors and other vulnerable Oregonians are getting the high-quality care they deserve from a workforce that is both highly skilled and fairly compensated.

HB 4081 - Physician’s Assistant Modernization

As part of my broader effort to increase access and availability of health care to my district, I am introducing HB 4081, which will streamline the process and make it easier for Physican’s Assistants (PAs) to focus on providing care, not paperwork.  

PA Modernization

The bulk of the proposal centers on ensuring that PAs are able to practice at the top of their license by allowing a PA’s employer to determine hiring and management practices, rather than having these prescribed by state statute or rule. Rural Oregonians deserve access to good, affordable health care. This will make it easier for Physican’s Assistants to provide care in our communities. 

Entering 2020 Focused on Building A Better Future for All

Of course, there are plenty of other bills in the February 2020 session other than my own! And honestly, I am so excited about them because many of the bills being championed by my colleagues will be working to create the best Oregon, for all Oregonians regardless of where they live. Many of those bills are being proposed by members of my caucus, and so I wanted to focus in on a few of the “big” ones that you might be interested in.

(Please note, I won’t be discussing LC 19, or the “new carbon bill” in this newsletter. My office still needs some additional time to evaluate it--but we’ll get that out as quickly as we can. Here is an article from OPB on it.

Rural Telecommunications Investment Act

The Rural Telecommunications Investment Act will help close the digital divide and the competitive disadvantage built into the current Oregon Universal Fund (OUSF) funding mechanism.


It will also provide ratepayer fairness by ensuring that all customers share the costs of telecommunications infrastructure. I am excited to support legislation that will make it easier for people in our communities to access cheap, high-speed internet.

The Act will: 

  • Reduce the current surcharge for landline customers from 8.5% to 6% or less.
  • Reduce the potential surcharge for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) customers from 8.5% to 6% or less.
  • Cap the OUSF surcharge at 6% Stabilize the OUSF which supports robust, reliable, and affordable advanced communications services in rural Oregon. 
  • Cap the overall size of the OUSF at $28 million and establish a benchmark for planning 
  • Allocate $5 million per year to expand broadband investment, including funding for the Oregon Broadband Office, technical assistance, planning, and infrastructure.
  • Ensure that limited ratepayer dollars are spent toward broadband investment in rural areas that have little or no access to broadband, not to compete with existing providers


Oregon Insulin Affordability Act

Even if you don’t live with diabetes yourself, you likely know that insulin is an essential life-saving drug for those with the disease. They cannot live without it.


Unfortunately, the cost of this drug--which is incredibly easy to make and has been around with little change since the 1920’s--has skyrocketed in cost. The cost of insulin has tripled over the last three decades (the average price for insulin/supplies was $450/month in 2016), turning a once fairly cheap item into something that is often rationed by patients who can’t afford their treatment. Whether patients ration the drug or go without entirely, this is an incredibly dangerous trend imperiling the lives of those with diabetes everywhere. It’s being driven entirely by drug manufacturers who have unnecessarily increased costs to exorbitant levels in the name of profit.

In order to keep lifesaving insulin within reach of ordinary Oregonians, this bill requires private insurers to charge no more than $100 for a 30-day supply of all insulin products prescribed to a plan enrollee, regardless of how much insulin a patient is prescribed. As many of you may know, Colorado and Illinois have similar legislation already in place. There’s no reason that Oregon can’t join the club of ensuring that people who need insulin to live can affordably access this medication.

Disconnecting from Federal Opportunity Zones (Capital Gains Tax Break for the Wealthy)

When you hear the phrase “opportunity zone investments” in the context of real estate, what would you think they are? Deceptively named, it would make sense to think that the idea around them would be to incentivize investors to put their money into ailing areas so that they can build up neighborhoods and better infrastructure in a way that benefits everyone.

So, when I heard about HB 2144 (being put forth as a committee bill in the House Revenue Committee), I was really surprised to think about why we would ever want to “disconnect” from a system that sounds like it should theoretically help people. It turns out--like a lot of tax breaks--”opportunity zones” often times really mean “opportunities” for wealthy investors to make money, avoid paying capital gains taxes (which means less money for schools and other state services), and gentrifying neighborhoods, all the while asking the rest of Oregon’s taxpayers to pick up the bill.

Oregon tax law automatically couples with the federal law, unless we choose to decouple. This tax revenue is badly needed to help Oregonians. The tax benefit will still be available at the federal level, but we in Oregon can choose to decouple and use that capital gains income for other pressing priorities. 

If you are interested in learning more:

Here is a great video about Opportunity Zones!

Safe Storage Bill (LC 38)

As someone who supports the Second Amendment (my family owns firearms and safely keeps them in our home), I also support common sense gun safety laws that will help reduce the epidemic of firearms-related violence and deaths (especially suicide). As such, I was very interested in reading this bill to see if it could possibly thread that needle--and I was surprised. Here are some of the things that are in the bill that I think are good to know:

--There is a burglary exemption written into LC 38 (as well as many other exemptions) that adequately protects the owner of a firearm who has their weapon stolen from them. Any time a firearm is stolen by a person who is illegally on your property, that situation is exempted from LC 38.

--A gun owner would not be required to lock or store the firearm when it is in his or her possession or direct control, which would include any time it is needed for self-defense. A locked box, trigger lock, cable lock, or gun room are all options for properly securing a weapon when it is not in the immediate control of an authorized user, however, these items are not necessary when the firearm is being “actively” used. 

--In the event that a firearm is stolen, the owner would not be liable for any damages so long as he or she reports the theft within 72 hours, or as soon as the owner becomes aware of the theft outside of that time frame, The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives already imposes a 48 hours requirement on firearms regulated by them. 

--Nothing in LC 38 provides for any type of criminal penalty for gun owners. The provision does refer to some violations (fines), as well as civil liability if a court does find that a person did not reasonably secure their firearm when not within their direct care and control. No one would ever be criminally prosecuted for something that was done with his or her stolen firearm.

--Nothing in LC 38 prohibits or regulates ammunition type or quantity, nor does it regulate magazine capacity or any other type of ammunition storage.

--So long as the firearm is secured or under the immediate care and control of its owner, firearms may be transported with no inhibitions. An unsecured weapon may not be left unattended in a vehicle, but a secured weapon may.

I have received dozens of emails from constituents who are concerned about this bill. In many of these cases, their concerns are about issues that are not actually in the legislation. I believe this is a reasonable approach that protects both Oregonians’ safety and gun rights. If this is an issue of interest to you, I encourage you to read the legislation, the full text of which you can find here.

If you have any questions about this LC, or any other issue the Legislature will be taking on in the February 2020 short session, of course please feel free to e-mail my office at rep.tiffinymitchell@oregonlegislature.gov

Happenings in District:

Lower Columbia Hispanic Council Census Informational Workshop February 13th 3:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.

It’s that time again! The 2020 Federal Census is upon us, and I was happy to attend a workshop earlier this month at the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council in Astoria to get all the information about this once-in-a-decade event. There was a lot of great information presented--and I hope I can count on everyone reading this section to get the word out to your friends and neighbors about this incredibly important event.

The Census takes place every ten years and is a constitutionally-mandated process of counting every man, woman, and child in the United States. Its outcome will have tremendous impacts for our state and local region, because the population count helps the federal government determine how much our state will receive in federal dollars (and subsequently what local communities receive). It could even turn into additional federal representation in the U.S. House of Representatives based on a growing population size (or one less, if our population has declined). Literally every person counts, even non-citizens (and, by the way, the Census will not include a question about citizenship).

Those who have participated in a census in the past might remember getting something in the mail, or talking to a U.S. Census worker at your door. Starting March 12th-July 31st, this will be the first census that can be done entirely online at www.2020census.gov. You will still receive a mailed postcard reminding you to participate, and there will still be U.S. Census workers out there trying to reach people who can’t complete the information online.

It is important to know that all information is kept safe and confidential, and great efforts have been made at the federal level to protect the website that will be used to collect data. The hope is, however, that even more people than ever before will be able to make sure that they are counted--which is good news for us out here in District 32. Unfortunately, rural communities have historically been greatly under-counted, which has had drastic implications for how much representation we get in government and how much money is allocated to our state and local communities. Around $13 billion dollars is distributed to Oregon based on census data, which amounts to around $2300 per person that fills out the Census. If we’re undercounted, this could be disastrous in areas like ours that are already struggling.  

If you’re interested in learning more about the Census yourself or how to get involved, the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council is holding another informational workshop on February 13th from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The address is 1373 Duane Street in Astoria.

Rural Development Initiative Grant Writing Workshop Series

Clatsop Community College 310 Towler Hall | Astoria

With Ready, Set, Grant! you will:

  • Have your proposals reviewed by experts
  • Gain access to customizable templates
  • Receive one-on-one support
  • Get your organization "grant ready"
  • And much more!

Session 1: February 18 - Grant Ready: Setting up for Success

Session 2: March 10 - Set: Defining the Details

Session 3: March 31 - Go: Getting to Work

Course credit offered by Clatsop Community College.

Contact Jessie Katon for more information at Rural Development Initiatives: jkaton@rdiinc.org 541-684-9077 x5

Sustainability Lecture Series: Electrify Everything

Electric car

Learn about of how electrification of our transportation, home and office appliances is key to building a sustainable future.


You’ll also learn about the latest in technology and incentives that make electrification both the right choice for the planet and for the pocketbook. For more information contact Stephen Shumaker at stephen@minimal.camera

Clatsop Community College Columbia Hall Room 219 Feb. 20th 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Basics of Solar Workshop

At the Basics of Solar Workshop, Solar Oregon will answer your questions and help you take the first step to adding solar to your home.


Solar Oregon will answer questions on how solar works, share information about incentives available, and help you take the first step to adding solar on your home. The event is free and open to everyone. This workshop is made possible with support from Energy Trust of Oregon.

Feb. 22. 1:00p.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Astoria Public Library

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1432
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-285, Salem, OR 97301
Email: Rep.TiffinyMitchell@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/mitchell