2021 Session Wrap-Up

Kim Wallan


Saturday evening, we declared "sine die", which means that the 2021 Legislative Long Session is over. We anticipate that we will convene for a Special Session in late September to complete redistricting. This would ordinarily have been completed before the end of the Long Session, but because the 2020 census was delayed, we have until September 27 to finish the process. I will update you when that session occurs. 

Below are some highlights from this session. My staff works throughout the interim, so you can still reach us at Rep.KimWallan@oregonlegislature.gov. Staffers will continue to check voicemail messages and return phone calls as well.


Funding Headed to Medford & Southern Oregon

A significant amount of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds were assigned to the state legislature to distribute throughout Oregon. I was able to secure several million dollars from this funding for our district.

In 2018, after a nearly 20-year process, Medford was finally granted an Urban Growth Boundary. This provides us the opportunity to build new housing on land that was previously not in the city limits. An important part of that construction, however, is accompanying infrastructure. We are in serious need of additional water and sewer capacity to accommodate construction in the areas included in the urban growth boundary. I was able to secure $2.7 Million in ARPA funds for the city to build this needed infrastructure, which will be followed by more single- and multi-family housing. 

I was also able to secure funding for the United Way of Jackson County to purchase land for an Affordable Homeownership Program. This land will accommodate up to five houses that will be purchased and occupied by qualifying lower-income families in Medford. 

The City of Medford has been searching for funding for sidewalk repair and construction near schools and parks since I was on the city council in 2016. I was happy to have secured $1.25 Million in ARPA funds for the city to complete these projects. 

Jackson County will receive $2 Million to hire and train new firefighter apprentices. The need for additional personnel truly cannot be overstated; we are so grateful for our existing fire crews and are excited to help grow our local departments. 

Southern Oregon University has been trying for several years to secure funding to demolish an unused dormitory building. Taking down the building will save the school millions in maintenance costs. I joined Rep Pam Marsh (Ashland) and Sen Jeff Golden (Ashland) in supporting this project, which was also approved and funded this session.

My colleagues and I also worked to secure $150 Million in state and federal funds for statewide fire recovery and rebuilding. These funds are absolutely crucial as Oregon lost so many cities and towns to fires last year.

Covid-19 Restrictions to End June 30

Friday, Governor Brown announced that she will lift coronavirus restrictions no later than Wednesday, June 30. She signed a new executive order which rescinds all state-level restrictions. Building and venue capacity limits, physical distancing requirements, and limited hours of operation are all repealed under the new order. The state-wide mask mandate will also be canceled, although masks may still be required where federally mandated (e.g. mass transit, airplanes, and healthcare settings). 

The governor also said that she will allow schools to operate in-person full time, every day for the 2021-2022 school year. Schools will still be required to comply with longstanding infectious disease standards and have a communicable disease management plan.

At the moment, this means that masks may still be required for students. However, OHA Director Pat Allen said he is currently planning to allow more local control of these decisions. Check https://www.medford.k12.or.us/ for updates about the Medford School District's 2021-2022 reopening plan.

During this announcement, the governor also clarified that she is extending her executive order but plans to use it to focus on recovery rather than restrictions. 

Help is Coming: Hemp & Marijuana Enforcement

I joined a coalition of legislators from southern Oregon in supporting HB 3000, which provides crucial enforcement mechanisms for illegal hemp and marijuana grows. The bill will give new enforcement tools to both the Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission (OLCC) to determine where illegal grows are happening. It also provides much-needed increased funding to local law enforcement agencies to handle identification and removal of illegal grows.

The proliferation of illegal hemp and marijuana grows in southern Oregon--many of which are near schools and parks--is a serious issue and we are so proud to have collaborated on and passed legislation that will make a meaningful difference. 

Prescription Drugs

Senate Bill 844 is designed to lower the price of prescription drugs for Oregonians. This bill was amended significantly over the course of the session, and is now a pilot program. The program will help to identify the most commonly prescribed and necessary prescription medications for which Oregonians pay the highest prices. We anticipate these medications to be things like insulin and epinephrine, which we know are absolutely necessary and extremely expensive. 

Once these medications are identified, an upper payment limit (UPL) may be set. Drug manufacturers and distributors will be required to comply with the upper payment limit. While price caps can, in some instances, increase the cost of goods or decrease the supply, SB 844 has mechanisms to monitor whether or not the UPL has a positive, negative, or neutral impact on the price patients pay at the pharmacy counter. The pilot will last no longer than 5 years, at which point the legislature will have to act in order to maintain or change the program.

Through this and other legislation, I remain committed to lowering the price of prescription drugs to patients in Oregon.

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1406
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301
Email: Rep.KimWallan@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/wallan