April Newsletter – Updates on the Legislative Session

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Hello Friends,

The 2023 legislative session has reached the halfway point – we’ve been hard at work developing policy and passing legislation that addresses the urgent challenges facing our state. Earlier in the session, I wrote a column for the Pamplin newspapers to share my thoughts on the opportunities and challenges of the 2023 legislative session. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my perspective on the big topics we’re working to address this session and how the Democratic caucus is ready to lead our state. You can read my editorial here.

Read on for updates on the legislative session (including the bipartisan, bicameral housing and homelessness package and a major investment in Oregon’s semiconductor industry), resources for tax season, and some good news from House District 14.

Our Response to the Housing and Homelessness Crisis

Affordable housing and the homelessness crisis are among the top priorities in every community in Oregon, including the district I serve. Our state simply does not have enough housing to meet the needs of Oregonians. Recent estimates have shown that Oregon is more than 140,000 housing units short of what is needed. This shortage of supply drives up housing costs -- pricing families out of their homes -- and exacerbates the homelessness crisis. We are responding with bold and quick action to address these problems in both the short- and long-term. 

In late February, the legislature announced a major package of policies and investments to address our housing affordability and homelessness crises (HB 2001/HB 5019). The bills will invest approximately $200 million in affordable housing and other resources to help:

  1. Get people off the streets and on the path out of homelessness – funding the Governor’s Homelessness State of Emergency which will add shelter beds, outreach workers, and rapid rehousing resources
  2. Address the root causes of homelessness, including
    1. Youth homelessness – The number one predictor of adult homelessness, is whether someone was homeless as a youth. Our package invests $25 million in support to some of Oregon’s most vulnerable youth and families, connecting them with rental assistance, shelter facilities, and mental health or substance abuse services
    2. Preventing evictions – The package includes funding for rental assistance and legal help, and it extends eviction timelines so tenants have more time to access that help.
    3. Addressing the lack of housing supply – This package makes building more housing the top priority of state and local governments. It makes changes to our land use and planning systems to encourage cities to build more housing, invests in modular housing construction in Oregon, and creates an innovative financing model to support construction of housing for middle income Oregonians.

You can learn more about the different components of the bipartisan and bicameral Affordable Housing and Emergency Homelessness Response Package at the link.


HBs 2001 and 5019 were a top priority for the legislature this session and both passed with bipartisan support. It was an honor to watch Governor Kotek sign both bills on March 29th

Oregon CHIPS (SB 4)

Last year, under the leadership of Sen. Ron Wyden, Congress passed the CHIPS Act, a major investment that will help the United States increase its production of semiconductor chips, which is critically important for both national security and the management of consumer supply chains. The Oregon legislature took bold steps to help us bring these federal funds to our state and solidify our status as a global hub for the semiconductor industry.


The House passed Oregon CHIPS (Senate Bill 4) last week, which will help create good-paying careers for Oregonians, support Oregon-based businesses, and keep our economy stable and competitive in the 21st Century. The bill passed in both chambers with bipartisan support is now headed to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 8 - Designating rescued shelter dogs and cats as our official state pet!

Over the years, my family has both fostered and adopted dogs through rescues, including dogs that owners neglected or that breeders no longer had a use for. This experience has directly led to my support for legislation like HCR 8, which recognizes the investment of state resources to ensure these animals are cared for and highlights the compassion of Oregonians that welcome them into their lives. HCR 8 is far from the most important legislation we’ll pass this session. Still, I’m hopeful that designating rescued shelter dogs and cats as the official state pet will encourage Oregonians to consider adopting, not shopping, the next time they consider adding a pet to their household. 


The photo of my dog Watson that recently won “Top Dog” in a Rescued Shelter Pet Photo Competition put on by Sen. Janeen Sollman

Taxpayer Advocate

It’s tax season! For many Oregonians, it’s as simple as hopping on their computer and plugging in their W-2 – but for some it can be a complicated and sometimes daunting task. In 2019, I introduced and passed HB 3373, which created the Taxpayer Advocate Office in the Department of Revenue (DOR), tasked with helping taxpayers resolve problems related to tax and debt collection programs administered by the Department. This concept came to my attention when my office worked with a constituent to address a complex and challenging tax case. That situation reinforced the need for resources within DOR dedicated to working directly with taxpayers and ensuring that tax law is implemented fairly. 

The Taxpayer Advocate Office is available to all Oregonians, completely free of charge. They can help identify issues or barriers to equitable and fair tax collection, suggest solutions to taxpayer issues that exist through normal channels, and provide expedited services to taxpayers whose problems are not resolved through ordinary channels. If you or someone you know needs assistance, contact their office at (503) 378-4988 or visit their website.

Good News

Head Start of Lane County - Clear Lake Center Grand Opening

In February, I attended the grand opening of Head Start of Lane County’s new Clear Lake Center. Head Start programs promote school readiness by enhancing children's social and cognitive development – they provide educational, health, nutritional, social, and other services to enrolled children and families. Head Start also engages parents in their children’s learning and helps them progress toward their educational, literacy, and employment goals.

The Clear Lake Center has capacity for 40 children, from ages three to almost six, and I’m excited to see this center open to serve the Bethel community. If you’d like to enroll your child in Head Start, the application is available here.


Oregon Library Association’s Legislative Day

Every session at the Oregon State Capitol, organizations and their constituents hold “lobby days” to share their perspectives on issues facing Oregon and provide insight on policies being considered by the Legislature. This February, the Oregon Library Association invited legislators to pick out books and donate them to a local library of their choice. I chose “The Get-Together” by Christine Taylor-Butler and “Paletero Man” by Micah Player.

In the News

Like many Americans, I watched with alarm as the Tennessee House voted to expel two of its members yesterday. As a legislative leader who’s been closely involved in two expulsion processes in Oregon, I firmly believe that the actions in Tennessee were a blatant abuse of the legislative process and a disturbing erosion of our democratic norms.

Expelling an elected member of a legislative body must be rare, deliberative, and done with sufficient due process. Expulsion should be a measure of last resort, pursued only when a legislator’s behavior is so egregious that there is no other option. In recent years, other state legislatures have expelled members for criminal convictions, sexual harassment, tax evasion, and, in Oregon, for abetting an attack on our State Capitol. Above all, expulsion proceedings should be absolutely free of partisan political motives.

By removing an elected leader from their seat, the legislative body is not just expelling a single person, but is overturning the choice that voters made to elect that legislator. The right of voters to choose their own representatives is fundamental to our democracy. Yes, there are times when this step must be taken, but it must be balanced with the sacred right that voters have to decide who represents them in our democracy.

Two years ago, the Oregon House voted 59-1 to expel one of its members. The legislator in question not only violated the Legislature’s rules, but in so doing, he endangered the safety of staff, other legislators, and the Oregon State Police. His actions led directly to violence, which caused injuries among the state troopers who responded. It was one of the darkest, most frightening days in the Oregon State Legislature, and the member who caused it never expressed remorse for his actions. Even still, we undertook a careful, intentional, months-long process before recommending expulsion. It was a decision that none of us took lightly, and the fact that the vote was effectively unanimous (only the expelled member voted no) showed that we were committed to a non-partisan, non-political process.

The actions by the Tennessee Legislature, by contrast, appear to be blatantly partisan, reactionary, and designed solely to punish the legislators for their political actions. The expelled legislators, Representatives Jones and Pearson, participated in a protest urging the legislature to pass gun violence prevention measures following yet another horrific mass shooting. As someone who has studied the offenses leading to expulsion of legislators in Congress and in other state legislatures, I can say with complete certainty that breaking a legislative rule of decorum on its own should not rise to the level of expulsion.

Importantly, the expelled Tennessee Representatives are both Black, and are both Democrats in a Republican-controlled legislature – a legislature that has taken a sharp right turn toward attacking vulnerable residents, including LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities in recent years. Republican-controlled legislatures have pursued an alarming agenda of stripping away democratic protections (like making it more difficult for BIPOC and low-income voters to vote), using government to ban books they don’t like, and taking away the basic healthcare rights of women and LGBTQ+ folks. These actions undermine our pluralistic, democratic, and vibrantly multi-racial society.

As the Majority Leader of the Oregon House of Representatives, I have no ability to influence what the Tennessee Legislature does. But I’ll do everything in my power to stand up for the rights of Representatives Jones and Pearson and their constituents and to stand against these blatantly undemocratic acts.

The session is in full swing, and I’m excited to share our work as we continue to tackle the big challenges facing our state. As ever, my office and I are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance navigating local or state government services (see this article in the Eugene Weekly that talks about the kinds of help state legislative and Congressional offices can provide constituents) or if you have thoughts about bills being discussed in the 2023 legislative session.

Yours truly,

Fahey signature

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1414
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-295, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.JulieFahey@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/fahey