May 28, 2021 Newsletter


March 28, 2021 Newsletter

May 2021 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

A steady stream of bills is moving through both chambers as we enter the final weeks of the 81st Legislative Session. May 14th marked the second chamber deadline for policy measures to be posted for work sessions. Those measures must move out of committee on or before the second chamber deadline (May 28) to remain alive. Bills that do not pass out of policy committees by that timeline are considered dead for this session. House and Senate Rules Committees, House Revenue and Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, Joint Committee on Ways and Means, and other joint committees (except for Joint Transportation) are the only committees not subject to the chamber deadlines. These committees remain open until sine die -- the last day of a Legislative Session. This month, the Ways and Means budget process kicks into high gear as we work to complete the Legislature’s Constitutional requirement to balance the State’s budget and conclude the session on or before June 27, 2021.

Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter about what’s happening “inside” your State Capitol. I look forward to the time we can engage in the legislative process in person. 

May 2021 Economic and Revenue Forecast Graphics

Last week, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released its quarterly Economic and Revenue Forecast. This report sets the final stage for the Ways and Means Co-Chairs to complete the budget process.  

Press releases issued by leadership, on both sides of the aisle, described the forecast as: Good News,” “Historic,” “Stunning,” “Unbelievable,” and “Swimming in Cash.”

The entire forecast can be reviewed on the Office of Economic Analysis webpage here.

Kicker Graphics

Here are the highlights:

State revenues are up $1 billion, which is significantly more than the economists expected since the March 2021 forecast. This provides a total personal kicker of $1.407 billion, that is paid out as equal share of tax liability (13.6%) and a total corporate kicker in the amount $664.2 million, dedicated to K-12 education spending. The projected 2019-21 Net General Fund resources are up $1.065 billion (4.4%). Also, Lottery resources are up $21.8 million (1.7%) and the projected combined Net General Fund and Lottery resources are up $1.087 billion (4.2%) from the March 2021 forecast.

Economists explained that unprecedented federal aid boosted incomes higher today than before the pandemic. Income, excluding direct federal aid, is now back to pre-pandemic levels. Nationally, households have accumulated $2.3 trillion in excess savings as of March 2021.

Forecasters anticipate that a pent-up demand will be unleashed as the economy continues to reopen and a shift in spending back to in-person services will drive strong employment gains moving forward. Oregon’s labor market is also predicted to return to full health during 2021-23, expecting a lot of growth in the next 6 months. Economists further report that no permanent economic damage is expected into the future associated with the pandemic. There has been double digit growth in personal income tax withholdings and the Lottery outlook is fully recovered with record setting video sales proving that consumers are not hesitant to spend money.

Even with the sunny outlook, caution is urged due to supply constraints that have emerged as a limiting factor to growth. Additionally, the labor market is very tight as workers remain difficult to find due to strong household finances from recovery rebates and unemployment insurance. Pandemic fears also exist with 45,000 Oregonians not looking for work due to the virus. The hardest hit industries are all trying to rehire the same labor pool at the same time. Economists report significant retirements, lack of in-person schooling, and inflation is inevitable in the near term due to higher production costs and strong consumer demand. Such inflation has historically disproportionately impacted lower income households.

As we plan ahead, I remain steady in my commitment to fiscal responsibility. Now is not the time to spend as though our state’s pocketbook is bottomless. The Legislature has a duty to act responsibly. We must prioritize spending, make targeted investments, and maintain strong reserves to tackle the future challenges. Wildfire relief, pandemic recovery, stabilizing our work force, and fully funding schools are my priorities. New taxes and raiding the kicker are only further insults to Oregonians who have already sacrificed so much.  

Bill Highlights Graphics

HB 2243 Graphics

HB 2243 – Emergency Declarations Throughout the pandemic, I have received countless emails expressing concern, anger, and frustration about the Governor’s ongoing emergency declarations in response to COVID-19.

In the early months of the pandemic, I found common ground with a member of the majority party. We agreed that no single elected official should have unchecked authority to handle emergency situations and that the Legislature has a vital role to play in policy development. Together, we drafted HB 2243 that would give the Legislature oversight on the Governor’s emergency authority. The bill requires that declarations and extensions of “states of emergency” under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations and would prevent the Governor from extending an emergency declaration without convening the Legislature. Under this proposal, the Governor could declare an emergency for 60 days and extend it 30 more. After that, the Legislature would have to meet in order to extend it further. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Rules in January and has received no further consideration.

Earlier this month, in an effort to move the bill forward, I made a motion on the House floor to withdraw HB 2243 from committee so that the bill could be brought to the floor for a vote. The motion was narrowly defeated with 28 votes against and 27 in favor. The bill remains in the House Rules committee by which the Chair has the power to schedule it for a public hearing and a work session.  Advocacy for the bill’s passage can be directed to the Chair and committee members on OLIS here.   

In the days following, subsequent motions were made to bring HB 2713, HB 3177, and HJR 18 to the floor to provide the Legislature oversight on the Governor’s emergency powers or to terminate the Governor’s state of emergency. Those motions failed on party line votes.

HB 2852 - Crimes Committed in an Areas Declared an Emergency

This bill would allow judges to depart from sentencing guidelines for crimes committed in an area that has been declared an emergency. As the measure’s Chief Sponsor, I introduced this bill in response to the testimony provided by wildfire survivors who experienced looting and theft of their property following the fires, victimizing them a second time. The measure has been sitting in the House Rules Committee since mid-April. Sadly, holding criminals accountable has become more difficult with each session. 

SB 649 HJUD Public Hearing Photo 5-18-21

SB 649 – Bailey’s Law

In my April newsletter, I previewed SB 649. Bailey, for whom this bill is named, was a victim of sexual abuse by her teacher. This measure expands the crime of sex abuse in the second degree and closes a loophole in statute to include certain sex crimes committed against minors when the perpetrator is the victim’s teacher.

Just before the May 14th second chamber deadline to post bills for work session, members of the House Judiciary Committee learned that the Chair did not intend to move the bill forward. After other approaches to urge the Chair to schedule a public hearing were unsuccessful, committee members invoked House Rule 8.20, a rarely used procedure, requiring the Chair to schedule a hearing within five days.

On May 18th Bailey testified before the House Judiciary Committee. I commend Bailey for her strength and courage to share her powerful story. This measure will provide consistent sanctions and will hold educators who prey upon children accountable. The bill ultimately received a work session on May 24th and moves to the floor for a vote.

Ezra's Law Graphics

HB 2339 – Ezra's Law

Ezra’s Law, a bill that was reintroduced from the 2019 session. Disappointingly, it did not move forward. If passed, it would establish a procedure for charging an aggravated version of certain assault and attempted murder offenses when the defendant causes permanent physical injury to a victim during commission of crime. The story about Ezra and his family was covered by KTVZ 21 News and can be viewed here.

Just as in Bailey’s Law, it has been extremely disheartening to see the majority party’s resistance to accountability on criminal justice issues. The painful stories shared in these situations represent children and their families whose lives have been forever changed.

The failure to pass HB 2852SB 649, and HB 2339 are missed opportunities to do the right thing for victims.


HB 2700 – POW/MIA Roadside Marker

There is good news on HB 2700. The bill passed both the House and the Senate and was signed into law by the Governor on May 24th. The measure finishes our work from the 2019 session to allow family members of former Prisoners of War or those listed as Missing in Action who have been positively identified (usually through DNA) and returned home to Oregon, to pay for and have a roadside sign placed to honor their fallen hero. 

HB 3399 – Public School (Full Time, In-Person Instruction 2021-2022)

The return of our students to in-person learning this spring has been a relief for many families. We know our students thrive and learn best with in-person instruction. We also know that their social interactions with one another is critical to their mental and emotional well-being.

I am pleased to join my colleagues as a sponsor of HB 3399 that requires public schools to provide full-time, in-person classroom instruction during the 2021-2022 school year. The bill is currently in the House Committee on Rules.

HB 2701 – Affordable Housing/SDC Waiver 

I continue to hold out hope that HB 2701 will be passed out of Ways and Means.  This is my bill that would provide affordable multi-family housing in rural communities.  Sadly, the bill has no Democrat sponsors although I was successful in getting the bill passed unanimously out of committee and on to Ways and Means.

HB 3071– Mandatory Abuse Reporting 

I chief sponsored this bill that will close a loophole in existing law and require all elected officials to become mandatory child abuse reporters. The bill passed both chambers and is on it's way to the Governor for her signature.

As Vice Chair of the House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery, I have worked to move bills out of committee to assist the survivors of the catastrophic wildfires last September in their efforts to rebuild their homes and their communities. We have moved a number of important bills to the floor and on to the Senate. Today, we moved HB 3127, part of a wildfire recovery package of bills, to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration in the budgeting process.

As Vice Chair of the House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Management, I am working to shepherd a critical package of bills through the process in order to strengthen our emergency response and recovery capabilities. One bill that is making its way will require that all elected officials receive introductory-level training in emergency management to better prepare them for their critical role in disasters. 

I will have a more in-depth summary of these and other bills as the session winds down.

Clackamas Caucus Announces Priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session

Clackamas Caucus Press Release Photo


It is an honor to co-chair the Clackamas County Caucus as we work to prioritize needs in the Clackamas County region.

This month, the Clackamas Caucus issued a press release introducing our four priorities for the 2021 session. I appreciate the work and collaboration that went into identifying these top four legislative priorities, as they will serve the residents of the Clackamas County and our region well.

Replacing the Clackamas County Courthouse

Replacing the Clackamas County Courthouse
The Clackamas County Courthouse is in desperate need of replacing. On May 5, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners approved a plan for the local match and are committed to the Courthouse replacement project. The Caucus is calling for a $94.5 million state investment as part of the state match for the project.

Funding the I-205 Improvement Project

Funding the I-205 Improvement Project
Prioritizing fair and equitable funding to allow ODOT to begin construction on the I-205 Bottleneck project, including seismic improvements to the Abernethy Bridge.

An equitable development plan for the Sunrise Gateway Corridor Photo

An equitable development plan for the Sunrise Gateway Corridor
Providing funds for planning of the Sunrise Gateway Corridor project will advance a robust community engagement and planning effort to establish a modernized vision for the Sunrise Gateway Corridor. The $4 million investment will help the county invest in equitable public participation to create a plan to modernize an essential economic hub in Clackamas County, ensuring that future infrastructure investments support those who depend on this area.

Willamette Falls Locks Authority

Willamette Falls Locks Authority
Supporting HB 2564, which establishes the Willamette Falls Locks Authority to own and operate the Willamette Falls Locks bringing in increased opportunities for tourism, economic development, and historical and cultural relevance.

ARPA Funding Priorities HD 18 Graphics

In a third round of Economic Impact Payments from the federal government, known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Oregon received nearly $2.6 billion dollars. Legislative leadership set aside $240 million and invited legislators to submit proposals for their districts. Representatives in the amount of $2 million and senators in the amount of $4 million, limited to four projects per district. If approved, the funding requests will be appropriated in a budget bill for passage in both chambers. 

I am pleased to announce the following funding priorities for House District 18.

  • City of Molalla:  $500,000 for the construction of the Molalla Forest Road Bike/Ped Project.

  • City of Mt Angel:  $500,000 for a critical waste water trunk line project.

  • City of Aurora:  $500,000 for a new city water well project.

  • City of Silverton:  $500,000 for their Police facility/City Hall construction project.

Mount St Helens - Emergency Preparedness Graphics

5-18-21 Remonstrance Photo Rep. Rick Lewis

On the 41st anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, I gave a remonstrance on the House floor. The eruption created the largest landslide in recorded history as a column of molten, high-pressure gas and ash rose to a height of 80,000 feet and deposited ash in 11 states and 2 Canadian provinces.  Thermal energy released in the blast was equivalent to 26 megatons of TNT. 57 people lost their lives and hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland. The eruption has often been declared the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. history.

Remembering the eruption just a few miles to the north should cause us to reflect on the vulnerability we constantly face when it comes to emergency preparedness. The House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee, currently named the House Veterans and Emergency Management Committee, has worked hard for the past 3+ years on a package of bills dealing with emergency preparedness. These bills are currently sitting in committee and, if moved, they will lead us in the right direction in better preparing us for the next catastrophic event when it comes - and come it will.

We know it is not a question of if, but rather a question of when we will face a catastrophic earthquake. We dealt last fall with the wildfires and more recently with the ice storm.  We continue to suffer the impacts of the pandemic. We know we have work to do in order to be more prepared than we have been in dealing with emergencies. We owe it to the citizens of Oregon to make certain that we are as prepared as we can possibly be when it comes to emergency management and emergency preparedness. The Legislature has an important role in determining our ability to withstand harmful events that will come our way. May 18, 1980 should continue to serve as a warning of what is to come.

May is National Wildfire Awareness MonthKeep Oregon Green - Prevent Wildfires (Photo credit: Keep Oregon Green)

Photo credit: Keep Oregon Green

The beginning of summer is less than a month away and fire season has come early for some parts of our state. The unseasonably dry spring weather and drought conditions raise significant concern for this year’s fire season. 

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend and spend more time outdoors, it is critical that we all do our part to prevent wildfires. Fire safety preparation and adhering to area fire restrictions saves lives and property.

The American Red Cross provides important wildfire safety information on their webpage here and a safety check list can be found here.

American Red Cross - Prepare Now for Wildfire Threats Graphics
Keep Oregon Green - Tree

Keep Oregon Green, spotlights smart fire prevention strategies and provides educational tools you can use at home, at work, or out and about.  Check it out here.  

You can also tune in to the Oregon State University Extension Service Fire Program webinar series launched to prepare Oregonians for this year’s wildfire season. You can access their webinar guide here.

An article by Ted Sickinger in the Oregonian/OregonLive discusses preparations for 2021 wildfires and Oregon PUC’s adoption of rules for preemptive blackouts by utilities.

Preparedness is Essential Graphics

May is the Month to Remember and Honor

National Police Week & Peace Officers Memorial Day

National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day were observed this month. National Police Week honors our men and women in law enforcement and Peace Officers Memorial Day remembers those who lost their lives in the line of duty. I am grateful for their service and commitment to keep our communities safe.

ODVA Memorial Day Graphics

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs will honor the nation’s fallen service members this Memorial Day during a virtual Statewide Memorial Day Ceremony, in line with continuing gathering limits in place in many areas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick will serve as emcee and one of the event’s keynote speakers, delivering remarks on the theme of unity. The event will also feature remarks by other honored veterans and distinguished guests, as well as pre-recorded ceremonial elements filmed on location (with no audience) at the Oregon Korean War Memorial in Wilsonville. These elements include a color guard ceremony, the national anthem, a wreath-laying ceremony and Taps.

The ceremony will premiere virtually at 10 a.m. Monday, May 31 on ODVA’s Facebook page ( and YouTube channel (

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day as we remember and honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter and to stay in touch. It is an honor to serve as your State Representative. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of any assistance.

Best Wishes,

Rick Lewis

Rick Lewis
State Representative
House District 18
Oregon's Christmas Tree District

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1418
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, Oregon 97301