Final week of the short session

Rep Julie Fahey Email Header

It's feeling a bit like déjà vu all over again here in Salem. Read on for my take on the current Republican walkout and its impact on Oregonians, as well as how Oregon is preparing for coronavirus. I’m also working on scheduling a post-session town hall and constituent coffee, so keep an eye out for upcoming announcements with details.

Republican Walkout

Last week both the Senate and House Republicans walked out, ostensibly because of their opposition to the climate legislation under consideration. And I find myself feeling just as disappointed and concerned about the state of our democratic process as I was last year. I became a legislator because I believe in the institution of the legislature and in the responsibility of legislators to make difficult decisions about the legislation we’re considering. I also believe in the oath of office we took, in which I swore to uphold the Constitution and to faithfully discharge my duties to the best of my ability. If legislators don’t like a bill, they should show up and work to improve the bill or simply vote against it – they should make their voices heard rather than shut down the government. What’s more, the legislators who walked out continue to receive their taxpayer-funded paycheck, which is frustrating of course, because regular Oregonians don’t get paid when they don’t show up to work.

In the time since the 2019 legislative session, we did exactly what Republicans asked us to do – we listened to their concerns and to those of rural Oregonians and we made significant compromises and concessions in the climate bill. Despite some pushback from the far right (where some people don’t believe we made any meaningful concessions, despite evidence to the contrary) and the far left (where some folks think we were naïve for making any concessions at all), I strongly believe that this is how the vast majority of Oregonians would prefer their elected leaders to govern – staying true to our values, but engaging in a good faith way with those who disagree with us.

If you’d like to read more about the climate legislation (SB 1530), the compromises and concessions the current bill made, and the common questions/concerns about the bill, Senator Gelser compiled a very comprehensive list of frequently asked questions and answers. She also posted (in the comments) a side by side comparison of HB 2020 from the 2019 session and SB 1530 in the current session that further illustrates the work that was done to address the concerns raised about the original bill.

In addition, editorials boards in newspapers around the state are beginning to weigh in on the walkouts. The Oregonian and Medford Mail Tribune editorials are both worth a read, but the Mail Tribune’s responses to each of the Republican talking points are particularly on point:

Mail Tribune Quote

“Republicans say the legislation is too complex to take up during a short, 35-day session. This ignores the fact that they also walked out over this legislation last year, during a long session.

They argue that the cap-and-trade plan would unfairly burden residents of rural parts of the state. But 17 Eastern Oregon counties are exempt from the bill’s requirements.

Most recently, Republicans say their concerns were ignored by majority Democrats and none of the amendments they proposed were considered. Yet Democrats have amended the bill in numerous ways since the 2019 session to address Republican concerns.

Republicans say they would return and finish their work if Democrats agree to put the proposal to a statewide vote. That’s a poor way to decide complex legislation, which is why the Legislature exists in the first place — provided its members show up to do the job they were elected to do.”

If Republicans don’t return this week, many bills and budget priorities will not pass through the legislature by the session’s end on March 8th (see articles here or here for discussion of what’s at stake). One of the biggest concerns for me personally, is the $5 million in funding that Eugene would receive from HB 4001 to help with the construction and operation of a shelter and navigation center for people experiencing homelessness in our community. My constituents have made it clear that housing/homelessness is the top issue they want me to work on in the legislature (with education/our schools being a close 2nd). In past sessions, I have supported significant investments and policy changes in the area of housing – this session, I’m a sponsor of HB 4001 because it would represent a fundamental step forward in our ability to address the issue of homelessness in communities across our state. The funding that Eugene would receive would go towards opening up a shelter before next winter – without this additional funding, we risk going another year without this critical resource.

If you, or any of your friends and family, are represented by a Republican in either the House or Senate, feel free to contact them to let them know that you'd like them to return to work – you can look up your legislator and find their contact information here.

Status of Major Legislation

With the Republican walkout, most of the major legislation we’ve been tracking in these newsletters is stalled out, waiting for a vote on either the House or Senate floor. As of today, here is the status of the top ten bills we’re tracking:

ten bills


Coronavirus Update

Yesterday I attended a legislative briefing with the Governor and the Director of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) updating us on the coronavirus situation here in Oregon and the work being done to help keep Oregonians safe. OHA has set up a useful website with information in multiple languages available here.

coronavirus infographic

There's no need to panic, but everyone should be taking reasonable precautions. It seems very basic, but the absolute best things you can do right now to help prevent the spread of the virus are:

  • Regularly wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds each time!)
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch frequently (your phone, door knobs, remotes)
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Don't buy masks unless you yourself are sick or are taking care of a sick person
  • Avoid contact with others if you are sick

On that last point, now more than ever, I'm glad that in 2015, Oregon Democrats in the legislature passed a law guaranteeing many workers in Oregon paid sick time. If your employer has more than 10 employees (six if they have a location in Portland), you have access to paid sick time; for workers at smaller employers, sick time is unpaid but still protected. You can use sick time if you or a family member are sick or have a doctor's appointment. If you don't know how much sick time you've accrued, ask your employer (they're required to give that information at least once every three months). More info on our sick time policies available here.

Community Organization Spotlight: River Road and Santa Clara Volunteer Library

The River Road - Santa Clara Volunteer Library, located at 105 Oakleigh Lane just off River Road, was opened in 2005 to fill a need for library services for the North Eugene area. Run by a group of dedicated community volunteers, the library now has grown to over 10,000 items including audio books and children’s materials. The suggested membership donation is $20 per household per year, which gives your household access to up to 25 items at a time for 28 days. They are open Monday through Saturday and have an after hours drop off to return materials. They, along with the Eugene Library, recently eliminated late fees for all children’s materials. I’m so glad my district has this resource available to help to make reading accessible for our whole community!

As always, please reach out if you have any questions about what is happening in Salem.



Julie Fahey

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1414
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-474, Salem, Oregon 97301