2021 Legislative Session Delivers Big Wins for Oregonians


Sine Die - Success!

This past Saturday evening, the Oregon Legislature wrapped up the 2021 legislative session. While this was a difficult legislative session, it was a true honor and privilege to serve as the Senate Majority Leader. Over the course of the past year in this leadership position, I’ve learned so much from my colleagues and from the thousands of constituents that contacted my office to advocate or seek assistance. Despite the challenges of remote committee meetings and limited time in-person in the legislature, I’m thrilled to report that the legislature was remarkably and historically productive.

For a summary of Senate Democrats’ accomplishments, please see the press release below.


Celebrating Legislative Victories

Beyond the legislative victories detailed above, I also worked hard as a chief sponsor to pass a wide variety of bills. I am proud to report that the legislature passed nearly all of my priority legislation, and that many of these bills have already been signed into law by Governor Brown.

  • SJR 10 proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances. Oregonians will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot measure in the fall of 2022. Thanks go out to the late Senator Jackie Winters and to Senators Frederick and Manning for their consistent advocacy over the years to fix our state constitution by removing this racist remnant. You can watch the video of my floor remarks on this bill, as well as the two following bills in this section, at this link.

  • SJM 2 urges Congress to amend the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to omit clause excepting criminal punishment. This will prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude across the country. Even to this day, adults in custody are, in some places, still forced to labor against their will. This memorial supports efforts by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, to make this much-need change to the U.S. Constitution.

  • SJM 4 urges Congress to enact legislation that begins the process of implementing reparations for African Americans based on the multi-generational harms of slavery and discrimination in the United States. Recent research indicates that Black families have substantially less wealth, on average, than families of other racial and ethnic groups due to severe and pervasive laws, policies, and practices that inhibited accumulation of wealth over many generations. Thank you Senators Frederick and Manning for your incredible leadership on this bill.

  • HB 2526 designates the second Monday of October of each year as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Oregon. Our state will become the 11th state in the country to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, honoring the native peoples, languages and cultures that contribute incredible richness and vitality to the tapestry of the place we now call Oregon.

  • HB 2914 designates the month of April as Arab-American Heritage Month. Designating April as Arab-American Heritage Month will result in continued learning and exchange with the growing population of Arab-American Oregonians. Their contributions to our state are extraordinary and deserve our recognition.

  • SB 704 ends the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defense—legal strategies claiming that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent or lethal reaction. SB 704 helps ensure that perpetrators of violent crimes against LGBTQ+ people in our state face full accountability for their actions. Violence against the LGBTQ+ community is never acceptable, and we must continue to make that true both in our courts and our culture. Thank you to my former intern Lane Duckett, Senator Kate Lieber, Basic Rights Oregon, and all of the co-sponsors for their work to improve legal rights and protections for the LGBTQ+ community in our state. You can watch my and Senator Lieber’s remarks on the Senate floor at this link.

  • SB 554 changes Oregon’s firearm laws in a variety of ways. The bill allows school districts and public higher education institutions to prohibit the carrying of a firearm even if the individual possesses a Concealed Handgun License. In addition to empowering public education institutions to protect students and staff, Senate Bill 554 requires firearms to be stored safely and includes reporting requirements for an owner of a firearm when the firearm is lost or stolen. Thank you to Senator Burdick for her tireless advocacy on this bill and to the outpouring of grassroots support from Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, State of Safety, and Everytown for Gun Safety.
  • SB 572 addresses a problem I learned about nearly three years ago when one of my constituents, a law professor and practicing immigration attorney, informed me that Oregon law on guardianships didn’t allow immigrant youth between the ages of 18-21 to secure a guardian and qualify for a crucial federal program - special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS). This bill allows vulnerable youth guardianships for adults between 18 and 21 years of age who are eligible for special immigrant status and who are unable to be reunified with their parents due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Passing the bill will help young people in Oregon to build a better life. Thank you to Representatives Alonso-Leon and Ruiz, as well as Oregon Law Center, the ACLU of Oregon, Immigration Counseling Services, and many other groups for their steadfast support of this bill. You can watch my floor speech on the bill at this link.

  • SB 778 was championed by first term Senator Kayse Jama and establishes and funds an Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement to operate statewide. Senator Jama is the first former refugee to serve in the Oregon Senate. His speech (seen here at 2:08:45) in favor of this bill on the floor of the Senate was deeply moving. As Oregon continues to grow more diverse, it’s so important that we welcome our new neighbors with open arms and a helping hand to understand how our state works. In my previous work at Portland Community College, I helped establish a center to help Dreamers (DACA recipients) to succeed in their educational journey, so I know how much this kind of assistance helps. I look forward to seeing the transformational impacts of this new Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement.
  • SB 551 clarifies that part-time faculty members at public institutions of higher education qualify for employer health insurance. As Oregon recovers from the COVID-19 recession, supporting all of our educators to stay healthy is the right thing to do. I’ve been working on this bill for over a decade, so it’s great to see the legislature finally provide this support.

  • SB 580 allows class size and caseload limits as collective bargaining subjects in schools. We know how important class sizes are for our students’ success, so I’m excited to see the potential for positive change in our classrooms for our educators and students.

  • HB 2590 establishes a Task Force on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education. Thank you to the chairs of the Senate and House Education Committees - Senator Dembrow and Representative Alonso Leon - for their leadership to advance this bill, and to all of the students that testified about why this bill is a critical part of helping underrepresented students succeed at Oregon’s universities.

  • HB 2835 provides $5 million in assistance for community colleges and universities in Oregon to hire benefits navigators that will help students to understand and apply for federal, state, and local benefit programs. These benefits navigators will coach students on applying for programs like SNAP, unemployment, federal child care subsidies, and affordable housing programs. For college students on the margin of remaining in school, receipt of these program benefits often make or break dreams of graduation and a better future.
  • HB 2631 honors the memory of Carson Bride, who we lost last summer, shortly after the end of his sophomore year of high school. HB 2631 creates notification requirements for school districts when there are reports of harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying. This was a step forward in the work to protect Oregon’s students, but we need more and better tools to support young Oregonians. By coming together as a community to fight against all forms of bullying, intimidation and harassment, we make it possible for students to learn in safe and nurturing environments and give them the opportunity to access help before it’s too late. My heart is with the Bride family, and I thank them and Representative Drazan for their advocacy. You can watch the video of my floor speech at this link.

  • HB 3291 expands Oregon’s vote by mail system to allow ballots to be mailed up until the last day of the election. With efforts underway to restrict voting access across the country, I’m so excited for the work that we’re doing in Oregon to make voting easier and more accessible.

Fond Farewell to Legislative Staff and Interns

A huge thank you goes out to all capitol staff for helping us get through the legislative session. I want to extend special thanks to my departing staff and interns. This is Aleesha Kazi’s last week in my office before she takes a well-earned summer break and begins her legal education at the University of Oregon School of Law in August. She has made incredible contributions to my office since she began working for me in January of 2020, and I wish her the very best as she continues on her path to becoming a lawyer.


On the Senate Floor during the 2020 legislative session.

I would also like to highlight the amazing interns that worked for the Senate Majority Office this year! From left to right, top row to bottom:

  • Ken Johnson, a Junior Politics, Policy, Law & Ethics major from Willamette University
  • Danny Adzima, a graduating Senior from Hillsboro Early College High School
  • Giovanni Bautista, a Junior Politics, Policy, Law & Ethics major from Willamette University
  • Gabe Velasquez, a graduating Senior Political Science major from Portland State University

We were so glad to have you on the team with us and we wish you well in all your future endeavors!


Countdown to Oregon’s Re-Opening and the Summer Ahead

Last Friday, Governor Kate Brown announced that Oregon will be lifting most COVID-19 restrictions beginning yesterday. Please note that "Some statewide mask requirements may stay in place in specialized settings following federal guidance, including airports, public transit, and health care settings. The Governor’s recovery order will remain in effect until December 31, 2021, unless terminated earlier."


This is a welcome announcement as we head toward Independence Day and the holiday weekend. Despite the understandable urge to celebrate, please follow all federal, state and local laws and guidance, especially around fireworks. Some cities, including Portland, have announced a ban on the private sale and/or use of fireworks. Please consider attending an official fireworks celebration run by professionals this year. 

With record heat and truly dire drought conditions, we must do all that we can to minimize the risk of wildfires. Irresponsible use of fireworks can and does cause fires - the 50,000+ acre Eagle Creek Fire in 2017 was caused by fireworks. Thank you for your consideration and respect as we all work to weather what's shaping up to be a very hot summer. 


Stay in Touch During the Interim

Be on the lookout for summer and fall town hall conversations and for information on redistricting public events. The legislature will be reconvening for a special session in September to complete the redistricting process.

This summer, I'm looking forward to connecting with my family and spending time in the district. Two of my kids are off to college later in the fall, one to George Washington University in D.C., and the other to Oregon State University in Corvallis. I'm so proud of them and am looking forward to helping them launch the next chapter of their lives.

As always, please let me know if you need any assistance. My office and I will work to connect you with resources and get your questions answered as quickly as possible.



Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner
Senate District 19

email: Sen.RobWagner@OregonLegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1719
address: 900 Court St NE, S-223, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/wagner