Week 3 of the Short Legislative Session!

Rep Julie Fahey Email Header

We are starting week three in the sprint of the five-week session, and things are moving quickly! As of this morning, the House has passed 23 bills over to the Senate, and the Senate has sent us 18 bills to consider. So far, the bills that we’ve voted on on the floor have been non-controversial or small fixes to our statutes. This week, we’ll likely start voting on some of the more substantive legislation (see the table for the top 10 bills I’m tracking below).

house floor

A Typical Day

It’s a bit of a stretch to say that there is such a thing as an ‘average’ day for a legislator in session, but there are some things that are consistent from day-to-day:

  • Committee Meetings: This is where we do the work of vetting bills and amending them, as needed. Committees hear input from stakeholders and the public, adopt amendments to bills, and take votes about whether they should move to the next step of the process. In the current session, committee meetings take up between two and five hours of my day.
  • Floor Session: All legislation must be voted on by the full House and Senate before being sent to the Governor to be signed into law, and this happens on the ‘floor’ (the House chamber). Each bill is carried by a legislator – carrying a bill means the legislator opens and closes debate. There is also an opportunity for any other legislator to share their support or opposition, or to ask questions about the bill, before the final vote happens. In the early part of session, floor session usually lasts about an hour, because the first bills tend to be non-controversial. But by the end of the legislative session, we can be spending several hours a day on the floor, making our way through bills.
  • Caucus Meetings: Each of the four caucuses in the legislature (House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans) meet regularly to discuss items coming to the floor, ask and answer questions about legislation and hear about what others are working on. These meetings usually take up one to two hours per day.
  • Meetings with Stakeholders and Constituents: Almost every day I spend time meeting with people who are here to lobby for or against proposed legislation. Sometimes this is with professional lobbyists, but often it’s with grassroots advocates or people from House District 14 who have made the trip to the Capitol to visit with me. In the first two weeks of session I met with people visiting from Environmental Entrepreneurs, Moms Demand Action, Habitat for Humanity, Oregon Recovers, Planned Parenthood, and the Dairy Farmers. These meetings can take up anywhere from one to four hours a day, depending on how much time I’m spending in Committee on a particular day.
  • Work Group Meetings: Occasionally, if a bill or an issue requires intensive work, we form what’s called a work group, with legislators and stakeholders. In the past, I have served on work groups related to prevailing wage laws, hemp, and wage theft. This session, I am serving on a work group related to my role as Chair of the Joint Conduct Committee, working on developing a Respectful Workplace Policy for the legislature.
  • Leadership: Because I am a member of the House Democratic leadership team, as the Deputy Majority Whip, I meet regularly with my other colleagues on leadership to talk about the priorities of our caucus and the overall flow of the session. This usually takes up 30-90 minutes a day.

During the remainder of my day I try to find time to eat lunch, catch up with my colleagues, respond to emails, work on my policy priorities, and get caught up on reading the bills that are coming up in my committees or on the floor. 

Status of Major Legislation

We’re two weeks into the session, which means that several key deadlines have already passed – if a bill has not passed out of its first policy Committee, then it is effectively dead (there are exceptions for certain committees including all joint committees, Revenue and Rules). The good news? All ten bills that I’ve got an eye on made it past the first deadline, as did all three of my personal bills. Here’s where we stand as of Monday morning:

2020 top 10 bills


High school graduation rates soar

Last month, the most recent graduation rates for Oregon high schools were released with impressive results. You can download the spreadsheet with statewide and school-level results from the Department of Education here, or you can review a more general summary on their website. Each of the three school districts in my legislative district (Bethel, Eugene 4J and Junction City) improved their graduation rates – the graduation rates for the 18/19 graduates were 75.5%, 90.1%, and 85%, respectively. Only a handful of years ago, Oregon had one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. With a few years of dedicated policy change and focus, we have seen meaningful changes, both in the aggregate and for specific groups of students. For example, between the 13/14 and 18/19 school years, graduation rates for American Indian/Alaska Native students in Bethel increased from 41% to 63% and rates for Hispanic/Latino students in 4J increased from 59% to 71%. While these improvements are promising, graduation rates for students in these groups are still below the average statewide average. I'm excited to see how much further we'll go with the Student Success Act investments in the coming years.

Community Organization Spotlight: Sponsors

With their headquarters located on Highway 99, Sponsors is a critical social service provider in House District 14. Their services are available for people with criminal histories and include a broad range of supports including housing, employment, counseling, and mentoring. The organization was founded in 1973 by a group of Catholic nuns and community volunteers who “sponsored” young men exiting the Oregon State Correctional Institution. These sponsors met them at the gate upon their release and assisted them in finding shelter, employment, and helping in social readjustment. Beginning with five beds, Sponsors has since expanded its programs to include four facilities with 128 beds. I had the opportunity to attend the dedication of their latest project, the Jeffrey Commons Tiny Homes Village, at the end of January and it was incredible to see the dedication and continued work of this organization. To learn more, follow Sponsors on Facebook or visit their website.

Jeffery Commons



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