2020 Session Kicks Off Today!

Rep Julie Fahey Email Header

Today is opening day of the 2020 legislative session! The session will be a five-week sprint to the end – we are constitutionally required to adjourn by March 8th (though we can and often do finish a few days early). I’m looking forward to the work ahead, to taking on my new duties as Deputy Majority Whip, and to meeting new colleagues who have been appointed since the end of the 2019 session (including Democrat Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence from Portland and my new Capitol office neighbor, Republican Rep. Mark Owens from Harney County).

My work during the session

During the short session, there are a limited number of bills that each member and each Committee can introduce. This session, I will be serving on the House Business & Labor CommitteeHouse Economic Development Committee (as Vice Chair), House Committee on RulesHouse Special Committee on Conduct (as Chair), and the Joint Interim Committee on Conduct (as co-Chair). House members are allowed to introduce two personal bills - mine are HB 4087 and HB 4088.

HB 4087 is a continuation of work I’ve done over the past two years to increase the payment rates for workers who file wage claims with the Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) to recover wages they have earned but that their employer hasn’t paid. Each year, there are workers in Oregon who file claims for unpaid wages through BOLI, complete the entire process for verifying those claims and requesting payment, and still do not receive payment from their employer. This bill would provide a mechanism for workers to get paid when their wage claim has been verified but their employer is unwilling or unable to pay the claim. HB 4087 would also provide additional technical assistance resources for employers to help them follow employment laws. The goal of this bill is to make it more likely that workers are paid the wages that they have earned.

HB 4088 proposes establishing a statewide cannabis social equity program. Many other states who have legalized recreational cannabis have established social equity programs to help people who have been disproportionally affected by the criminalization of marijuana (e.g., they have a past cannabis-related conviction) enter into the regulated market. The city of Portland has such a program, which offers discounts for business licenses, as well as a grant program that improves access to technical assistance and small business capital. HB 4088 would mirror the city of Portland’s program, taking it statewide. The goal of this bill is to help ensure that the people who were most negatively impacted by the war on drugs have an opportunity to benefit from this newly legal industry.

I am also working on a third bill (HB 4024), introduced as a Committee bill, related to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are particularly potent greenhouse gases used primarily as refrigerants. In 2016, the EPA put in to place rules requiring the phase out of HFCs in certain groups of products over the next several years, also known as the SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy) Rules 20 and 21. The federal rules have since been rescinded and a number of states have moved forward with implementing state-level legislation that mirrors the phase-out laid out in in the SNAP Rules, most notably California (bill passed in 2018) and Washington (bill passed in 2019). Other states, including New York, have committed to regulatory action. Our proposal would bring Oregon in line with California and Washington in the regulation of HFCs (phasing them out on a slightly delayed time frame to recognize that we’d be passing our legislation later than they did). This legislation will reduce the use of a significant greenhouse gas source for which there are rapidly developing alternatives.

If you’d like to read more about the personal bills of each of the Lane County legislators, the Register-Guard ran an article last week.

Status of major legislation

Because things move so quickly, I want to include an update in each newsletter we send out on some of the major bills making their way through the legislative process. At this point in session, these are the top ten bills on my radar:

2020 Important Bills


Engaging with the legislature

Oregon has a pretty great system for being able to track what the legislature is working on and also to provide input and testimony on bills. The Oregon Legislative Information System, or OLIS, is the place to go for information about bills, committees, and what’s happening on the floor. While it will automatically open to today’s date, you can move around in time using the small calendar icon at the top of the page. On any given day it will show you when the Senate and House are meeting on the floor, as well as which committees are meeting. The ‘Third Reading’ lists for the House and Senate will show you what bills are up for a vote that day on the chamber floors. Clicking the small encircled triangle icon will play the video from whatever meeting you’ve pulled up. The arrow icon next to Committee meetings will take you to the agenda for that meeting, where you can find what bills are being considered and any materials submitted for that meeting.

OLIS snapshot

You also have the option of subscribing to any bill (or any committee) – just click on the ‘e-Subscribe Email’ link at the top of any page to sign up for email notifications whenever something happens related to the bill (a public hearing, a vote, etc.). If there is a piece of legislation that you would like to submit written materials for, it’s best to wait until that bill is up for a public hearing (this is where being subscribed to a bill or committee can come in handy!). After the bill is scheduled for a hearing, you can find the committee that the bill is being heard in and under the ‘Staff’ section at the bottom there will be an email address next to the text ‘To Submit Testimony’ – anything sent to that email will be posted to OLIS for legislators and the public to see.

If you ever have questions or need support, my office is always happy to help walk you through how to track a bill, submit testimony, or even how to come to the Capitol to testify yourself. Just send me an email at rep.juliefahey@oregonlegislature.gov or call my office at 503-986-1414.

Community organization spotlight: Better Housing Together

I’m excited to start a new section of my newsletters, where we profile some of the organizations making a difference in our district and our community! I often meet constituents who want to get more involved in particular issue or in the community in general, so I thought this would be a great way for folks to learn about different organizations to connect with. Please feel free to send suggestions our way for organizations to highlight in the future!

In response to the lack of affordable housing in our community, Better Housing Together has emerged as a multi-sector, community-led effort working to address the housing crisis in Lane County. They are a coalition of social service organizations, businesses, builders, and community leaders working to increase housing affordability, diversity and supply. They advocate for sustainable, walkable neighborhoods and for families and individuals to have choices and the ability to access the types of housing that best fit their needs. They have been a great partner in fighting to eliminate barriers to Accessory Dwelling Units in Eugene, and for the implementation of House Bill 2001 from the 2019 session. If you want to see more action on housing affordability issues at the local and state level, I encourage you to follow them on Facebook or sign up for email updates!


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Capitol Phone: 503-986-1414
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-474, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.JulieFahey@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/fahey