September 24 Update from SD 23

Michael Dembrow

September 24, 2023

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well, staying healthy, and have been looking out for your neighbors and friends during this past week.

The main focus of this week’s newsletter is the series of committee hearings that will be held this week during our quarterly Interim Legislative Days.  Nearly all of our committees will be holding hearings at the Capitol, focusing on current challenges (e.g., Measure 110 implementation, ongoing efforts to reduce homelessness) that will likely need to be addressed in the February 2024 session, updates on implementation of bills that were passed in the last session, and other issues that will likely need more work.  I’ve put together a list of all the committee hearings with links and agenda topics.  I hope you find it useful.

I’ve been asked by some of you if the Emergency Board will be meeting as part of Leg Days.  The answer is no.  Ways and Means will be meeting, as will its various subcommittees, in order to accept agency reports that were ordered and to approve agency requests to apply for various grants. (There are many this time, as function of the considerable new resources that the federal government is making available to the states.)  For those of you hoping to get immediate additional funding from the Emergency Board, I’ve been told that the E-Board will in fact not be meeting between now and the February session.  That will be the time for any additional appropriations to be made.   

In tonight’s newsletter you’ll also find lots of information about Return to Repayment—the upcoming resumption of student loan repayment.  This will be one of the topics to be discussed at this week’s Senate Education Committee meeting.  For anyone who currently has a student loan to be repaid, it’s vital that they engage and learn their options.  It could end up saving them a great deal of money.

You’ll also find info about the upcoming election for Oregon’s Kid Governor (we’ve got a few years yet for the other one), as well as a number of links to articles on COVID and some of the issues that I’ve been working on.

You'll also find the details about our upcoming Constituent Coffee (October 7) and our 14th annual Bike Town Hall (October 8).

Finally, for those of you who celebrate the Jewish High Holidays, I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year and a healthy and restorative Yom Kippur.  May these days be filled with productive reflection, blessings, and much love.

And for everyone, do let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about anything in this newsletter.


Next Constituent Coffee a Week from Saturday

Our next constituent coffee will be the first Saturday of October 7th (a week from this coming Saturday).

We’ll be back (with coffee and cookies) at the Hollywood Senior Center, 1820 NE 40th Avenue (from 9 am to 10:30 am). 

We’ll also have a zoom option for the meeting to accommodate those who cannot be there in person. (Register for Zoom access here​)​

This will be an opportunity for me to catch you up on the latest news from the Legislature.  I’ll give you a sense of the ongoing issues that are out there as we prepare for the short session in February/March 2024 and let you know about some of the things we’ll have learned from this week’s Leg Days.  I’ll also of course want to hear your priorities, and answer any questions that you might have.

Hope to see you there!


And the Day After That:  BIKE TOWN HALL

Bike Town Hall 2023  Date: Sunday, October 8th, 1pm-4pm  Start & End: Portland Mercado, 7238 SE Foster Rd

Yes, coming very soon will be OUR FOURTEENTH bike town hall. It’s something we’ve been able to do nearly every fall since I first came into the Legislature in 2009—the one exception was 2020 when COVID made it impossible.

If you’ve never participated, it’s a unique and always enjoyable event.  It’s both a group ride (a leisurely 5-mile group ride on low-traffic streets or streets with protected bike lanes) and a series of interactions and opportunities to get a close-up look at what’s going on in the district. One year we focus on the HD 45 part, the next the HD 46 part.

This year’s bike town hall will cover neighborhoods in the HD 46 part of SD 23, specifically the Lents and Foster-Powell neighborhoods in Southeast Portland.  

We’ll be making a number stops to get a better sense of both the challenges and the successes occurring in those communities.  It will be an opportunity to hear from a number of interesting people along the way, as well as a chance to get to know your legislators (Representatives Khanh Pham,and Thuy Tran and me) and other riders (always an interesting group) a little better, both during cycling time and stop time.

We’ll be starting off at the Portland Mercado, a fascinating community hub itself if you don’t know it. Great food carts, shops, and gathering places (and a wonderful support for new and emerging businesses).  The ride goes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., but I’d recommend your coming a little early and staying after to partake of their delicious food.

As always, this bike town wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing support of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), Greg Raisman in particular.  Greg has been working with us on this project from the very beginning, helping us map out the route, finding the safest routes, and coordinating the logistics.  We are eternally grateful to him (and of course to our staff!).

By the way, e-bikes and scooters are perfectly acceptable for this event!

Hope to see you there!

bike town hall


Coming This Week: September Legislative Days

During the interim period between legislative sessions, legislative committees meet at the Capitol in public session every few months.  This is a time for committees to catch up on the implementation of policy and programs created in previous session(s)

The interim committees themselves meet over three days, while a fourth day is devoted to various interim task forces.  These are known informally as “Leg Days.”

The next round of Leg Days will be held September 26-29.  Tuesday, September 26, is Task Force Day. I know that the Joint Task Force On Statewide Educator Salary Schedules, which was created by SB 283,  and which I’ll be co-chairing, has its first meeting that day.  Here is the schedule for the committee meetings that will be held Wednesday through Friday. 

Another feature of Leg Days is that the Senate meets in full session in order to confirm the Governor’s appointments to various boards and commissions, and to serve as agency heads.  This time that will occur on Friday morning at 11:00 a.m.  One thing to note, though, is that will NOT be meeting on the Senate Chamber floor.  As a result of the Capitol seismic/remodel project, the chamber will not be available.  We’ll be meeting in Hearing Room A instead.

Here are the committee assignments for the Interim.  (They are essentially, but not exactly, the same as they were during the long session.) First for the Senate, and then for the House.

And coming next, the actual Leg Day Committee Agendas.



This is a list of the agenda topics scheduled for this week’s committee hearings, with links to the committee webpages that include the actual agendas and other materials.  For each time slot, you’ll first see the Joint Senate/House  committees, followed by the Senate committees, followed by the House committees.

Once you go to the actual agendas, you’ll be able to see who will be testifying on each of the agenda items. The "Meeting Materials" tab on each agenda will get you to reports, PowerPoints, and other information related to the topics in the hearings. 

These meetings are generally “informational meetings,” not “public hearings,” so there won’t be an opportunity for public testimony at this time (though you can of course always contact committee members directly with your input). However, a few committees may be providing an opportunity for comment—see the agendas.

Committee meetings will again be in person at the Capitol, though many of those providing invited testimony will do so via Microsoft Teams. You can of course watch the hearings live or later in recorded form.

If you'd prefer, here's a PDF version  of the committee  list, times, and topics.  

Wednesday, September 27


Joint Ways and Means

  • Joint Ways and Means will meet today simply to adopt interim committee rules, so that the various subcommittees can meet prior to Friday’s Business Meeting.

8:30-11:00 a.m.

Joint Special Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation Planning

  • Purpose of the Joint Committee on Transportation’s Special Subcommittee on Transportation Planning
  • Process to Address Proposed Tolling Plan
  • Overview of Subcommittee Workplan
  • Foundational Background - Traffic and Congestion
  • Potential Infrastructure - Outcomes of Proposed Tolling Revenue

Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services

  • Various reports and grant requests.
  • See Agenda for the list of reports and grant requests to be considered.

Senate Housing and Development

  • (8:35 AM) Governor Kotek's Emergency Homelessness Response - HB 2001 (2023)
  • (9:15 AM) Modular Housing Funding - HB 2001 (2023)
  • (9:25 AM) Governor Kotek's Housing Production Advisory Council Update
  • (9:45 AM) Cities' Infrastructure Needs

Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire

  • Wildfire and Forestry Workgroup Update
  • Winchester Dam Repair Project
  • Salmon and Steelhead Status Update
  • Oregon's Landscape Resiliency Program and 20-Year Strategy

Senate Veterans, Emergency Management, Federal and World Affairs

  • Unhoused Crisis: City Perspectives
  • JH Baxter Superfund Evaluation
  • Oregon 2023 Wildfire Season Update
  • Update from Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Status Report from Oregon Department of Emergency Management

House Business and Labor 

  • Professional Employer Organizations
  • Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS)
  • Oregon Employment Department (OED)
  • Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI)
  • Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR)

 House Gambling Regulation 

  • Review of Oregon Racing Commission Performance Audit
  • Response from Oregon Racing Commission to Audit
  • Public Comment Policy Proposals for Changing the Regulation of Gambling in Oregon


11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development

  • Various grant requests and reports.
  • See the agenda for a list of the grant requests and reports.

Senate Health Care

  • Privatization in Health Care
  • Health Care Costs for Oregon Consumers

Senate Judiciary

  • Oregon Department of Corrections: The Gender Informed Practices Assessment Report (GIPA), Pursuant to HB 5202 (2022)
  • Public Defense Services Update
  • Community Corrections: Funding Models and Population Needs
  • Drug Use Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment: Behavioral Health Resource Networks Update
  • Illegal Substance Enforcement Barriers
  • Industrial Hemp Regulations and Enforcement: Collaboration Between Department of Agriculture and Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to Sunset per HB 3000 (2021)

House Early Childhood and Human Services

  • Launch Update for Department of Early Learning and Care and Employment Related Day Care Case Loads
  • Temporary Lodging of Children in Child Welfare System
  • Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program
  • Challenges and Solutions for Businesses and Child Care
  • Co-Location of Affordable Housing and Child Care


2:30-5:00 p.m.

Joint Information Management and Technology,

  • Curry County, Oregon - Ransomware Attack
  • MOVEit File Transfer Software - Data Breaches
  • Briefing: Broadband in Oregon
  • Organizational Structure for Information Technology - Oregon Executive Branch
  • Update on implementation of House Bill 2049 (2023) - Oregon Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (Written Report)

Senate Rules and Executive Appointments

  • Executive Appointments (See Agenda for list of appointees seeking confirmation.)

House Behavioral Health and Health Care

  • Aid and Assist and the Impacts to Local Government Services
  • Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) Profit Update

Note: This Committee will meet again on Friday at 11:30.

House Education

  • Medicaid funding for Special Education and other Medicaid Billable Areas That No Longer Have Limitations
  • Measure 98 implementation/CTE
  • Summer Learning
  • Cascade Head Biosphere Collaborative


Thursday, September 28

8:30-11:00 a.m.

Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education

  • Various Grant Requests and Reports
  • See agenda for the list of reports and grants requests to be considered.

Senate Labor and Business

  • Overview of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries
  • Paid Leave Oregon Implementation
  • Oregon Employment Department: Modernization
  • State of Oregon’s Economy and Workforce

House Housing and Homelessness

  • (8:35 AM) House Bill 2001 (2023) and Executive Order Implementation
  • (9:00 AM) Housing Production Advisory Council
  • (9:25 AM) Housing-Related Interim Workgroups
  • Portable Rental Application System
  • Urban Unincorporated Areas
  • Landlord Registry
  • Elder Housing
  • Short-term Rentals

House Judiciary

  • Department of Corrections: The Gender Informed Practices Assessment Report (GIPA), Pursuant to HB 5202-A (2022)
  • Public Defense Services Update
  • Crime Rates and Recidivism Rates: Current Data and Trends
  • Community Corrections: Funding Models and Population Needs
  • Industrial Hemp Regulations and Enforcement: Collaboration Between Department of Agriculture and Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to Sunset per HB 3000 (2021)

House Revenue

  • 8:35 - 8:50 County Assessment Function Funding Assistance Panel TBD
  • 8:50 - 9:30 Taxation of Agricultural Machinery & Equipment
  • 9:30 - 10:30 Oregon’s Small Business Ecosystem


11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Joint Legislative Audits

  • State of Oregon Statewide Single Audit for Fiscal Year 2022 (2023-29)
  • Pharmacy Benefit Managers Performance Audit (2023-25)
  • Pay Equity Advisory Report (2023-11)

Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources

  • Various Grant Requests and Reports
  • Go to the Agenda for a list of the grant requests and reports.

Senate Energy and Environment

  • Oregon Climate Snapshot
  • Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program
  • Biennial Zero Emission Vehicle Report
  • The Evolving Transmission Grid
  • Lessons Learned and Next Steps from Decarbonizing the Gas Grid: Lessons from Denmark and Sweden
  • Introduction to Potential Member Legislative Concepts for the 2024 Session

Senate Human Services

  • Capacity for Timely Licensure of Social Workers and Counselors
  • Child Welfare Temporary Lodging Update
  • Psych Under 21 Benefit: New Strategy to Deliver High Quality, Flexible Supports to Children, Youth and Families Impacted by Complex Mental and Behavioral Health Needs
  • SB 91 (2023) Implementation Update
  • Involuntary Commitment of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Youth Voices Any current or former youth with experience receiving child welfare services is invited to submit written or verbal testimony to the Committee at this time on any topic they choose. Those who choose to participate may submit written testimony rather than verbal, and written comments will be included in the public record.

House Economic Development and Small Business

  • (11:35 am – 12:30 pm) Update from the Semiconductor Industry
  • (12:30 pm – 1:10 pm) Perspectives from the Portland Central City Task Force
  • (1:10 pm – 1:50 pm) Perspectives on State and local Taxes
  • Public Comment (1:50 pm – 2:00 pm) Public Testimony on Economic Development and Small Business

House Emergency Management, General Government, and Veterans

  • State Resilience Officer Updates and Emergency Support Function Briefing
  • Oregon Department of Emergency Management Update
  • Veteran Housing and Homelessness Briefing
  • Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) Update and Classification Briefing

House Rules

  • State of Local Journalism
  • Secretary of State Update


2:30-5:00 p.m.

Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety

  • Various Agency Reports—See agenda for a list of reports.
  • Informational hearing on Community Corrections

Senate Education

  • Student Loans: Return to Repayment
  • Direct Admissions
  • SB 819 Implementation
  • Introduction of New University Presidents (PSU, EOU, UO)

Senate Finance and Revenue

  • 2:35 - 3:10 Dependents in the Personal Income Tax System Legislative Revenue Office
  • 3:10 - 4:00 Review of Oregon Tax Reform Efforts Legislative Revenue Office

House Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water.

  • Senate Bill 789 (2023) Canola Workgroup Update
  • Agricultural Impacts of Grasshopper Crisis
  • Water Infrastructure Needs Assessment
  • State Beaver Action Plan Implementation

House Climate, Energy, and Environment

  • Clean Energy Plan Update
  • EPA's Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program
  • Update to SB 762 (2021) and SB 80 (2023) Wildfire Funding
  • The Future of Electric and Zero-Emission Vehicles and Funding
  • Climate-friendly, Equitable Communities Implementation

House Higher Education

  • Effects of Pac 12 Exits on University of Oregon and Oregon State University
  • Financial Aid Programs
  • Introduction of New University Presidents (PSU, EOU, UO)


Friday, September 29

8:30-11:00 a.m.

Joint Ways and Means

  • Grant Requests forwarded by subcommittees
  • Reports forwarded by subcommittees.

See agenda for the list of reports and grants requests to be considered.

11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

House Behavioral Health and Health Care

  • Drug Addiction and Recovery Act (Measure 110) Update
  • Oregon Health Care Market Oversight Program Overview
  • Oregon Health Plan Redeterminations Update
  • Section 1115 Waiver Implementation Update
  • Basic Health Plan Update

Note: This committee also met on Wednesday afternoon.

2:30-5:00 p.m.

Joint Committee on Transportation 

  • Presentation of 2023 Highway Cost Allocation Study
  • Presentation of House Bill 2017 Section 75 Report
  • Structural Challenges in Funding + Maintaining the Transportation System
  • Update from Transportation Subcommittee
  • Update from Counties/Utilities Work Group


Return to Repayment Begins in October

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, a big, difficult change is about to occur for many thousands of Oregonians.  After a three-year hiatus provoked by the pandemic and its economic disruptions, those who have taken out student loans will again have to repay them.  They’ve of course known that this day would come someday, but it will be a shock nonetheless.

As I’m sure you know, the Biden Administration had hoped to reduce the shock by forgiving some of their debt outright (up to $10K for everyone, up to $20K for those from lower-income families and had been eligible for Pell Grants when in you'll find it  That proved impossible when the Supreme Court ruled that the Administration did not have the authority to do that.

Fortunately, the Administration had also been working on changes to some of the student loan programs—notably Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness—in ways that can provide substantial help and that appear to be within its legal authority.

Once it’s fully rolled out in six months, the new SAVE program will allow many borrowers to limit their monthly payments to 5% of their monthly income (under the current income-based repayment plan, it’s 10%). This program will of course be most helpful for those with high debt loads and moderate incomes, but that will include many. Here are more details about the SAVE plan

And here’s a link to the StudentAid.Gov website, which should be every borrower’s first port of call.

I’m happy to report that I learned from a newsletter reader that when she looked into the SAVE Plan, using the link provided in the newsletter, she learned that her payments will be dramatically lower than she had feared.  It was a huge relief for her.

As I mentioned last month, I’m proud to say that we in Oregon have created a Student Loan Ombuds Office, which is shaping up to be a real treasure-trove of information, support, and advocacy.  If borrowers run into any problems with their lenders, or find themselves the victims of fraud, this is the place to go.  Please check out the links, and share them with those who might need them.

I’ve asked our State Student Loan Ombuds, Lane Porter, to appear before the Senate Education Committee this Thursday to brief the committee and answer any questions. She’ll be joined via Zoom by Austin Reid, the student loan expert for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), who will be providing a national perspective.  If you want to watch the hearing live or recorded, you’ll find the link on this page. If you’d like to watch a webinar on Return to Repayment that Austin did for NCSL members, you’ll find it here. 

Finally, here’s a very useful FACT SHEET ON RETURN TO REPAYMENT that the excellent people in our Senate Majority Office did, with help from the inestimable Emory Mort from my office.  It’s a great resource.

If you have any questions about Return to Repayment, please do send me an email.


Got a Kid Who Wants to Be Governor?

Here in Oregon we don’t usually have elections for statewide office in even-numbered years.  Our primary and general elections for Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney-General will all be in 2024. (The Governor and Labor Commissioner were just elected in 2022, so they won’t be up again until 2026.

But there is an exception!  Each year, odd-numbered or even-numbered, Oregon’s schoolchildren elect Oregon’s Kid Governor! Initiated by the late Secretary of State Dennis Rchardson, Oregon’s Kid Governor® (ORKG) is a statewide civics program for 5th graders managed by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. It is an affiliate of Kid Governor®, an award-winning civics program created by the Connecticut Democracy Center (CTDC).

Our Kid Governor is always a 5th grader. Timed to coincide with Election Day in November, ORKG offers each elementary school in Oregon the opportunity to enter one 5th grade student candidate into a statewide election that other 5th graders vote in. Classes can nominate a classmate to run for office, vote in the election or both. The election is held to coincide with election day in November.  (The election is also open to home schoolers.)

ORKG candidates work with their classmates to create a campaign video outlining:

  • Why they want to be Oregon Kid Governor
  • Their leadership qualities and skills
  • A community issue that they want to address and why it's important
  • A 3-point plan that will help 5th graders across Oregon make a difference on that issue

From the pool of nominees, a selection committee will choose the final 7 candidates and the Secretary of State’s Office will post the videos online. During Election Week, registered classes watch and analyze the campaign videos and vote for the platform and candidate they want to support. The candidate with the most votes statewide is then named Oregon Kid Governor.

The winning candidate serves a one-year term with all the benefits and responsibilities of being Kid Governor. These duties include sharing their issue statewide with constituents, writing posts for an official blog, meeting with students and adults across the state, and participating in events with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.

Our current Kid Governor is Lea Andrus from Sherwood, and her platform was on promoting kindness and preventing bullying. Watch her video here.  Lea came to the Senate Education Committee last year to testify on a bill related to bullying, and I can tell you that we can be very proud to have her as our Kid Governor.  You can learn more about Lea and read her blog at the Oregon Kid Governor Website.

Please help spread the word!  For more information or to register and access the program’s Civics lesson plans, go to the program website,


Some Additional Links to Stories of Interest

  • The Capital Chronicle recently reprinted a commentary from the Pew Charitable Trusts, congratulating Oregon for making Natural Climate Solutions an important part of our climate action agenda (via HB 3409 this past session).
  • And on a related note, here’s a story from OPB’s Cassandra Profita on how natural climate solutions can benefit ranchers and farmers, "How 'Carbon Farming' Could Help Oregon Reach Its Climate Goals."(It includes some quotes from me.)
  • And here’s a follow-up interview with Jeanne Carver, owner of the Imperial Stock Sheep Ranch in Central Oregon, who’s featured in Cassandra’s article.
  • This Wednesday the Governor will be holding a signing ceremony for SB 85, which is designed to prevent environmental degradation and unregulated water use by Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), extremely large dairies and beef/poultry meat operations. Making sure that these operations are acting responsibly has been a real priority of mine for the last few years, so this ceremony will be particularly exciting. In addition, we just learned this week that two proposed extremely large poultry operations won’t be going forward as a result of the passage of SB 85. (They would not have been able to meet the new water-protection standards.) The Statesman-Journal published a story about this latest development on Friday.  (It may be restricted to subscribers.) 
  • As co-chair of a national legislative task force on higher education, I was on a panel last month exploring “a bipartisan vision to improve higher education.” Here’s an opinion piece by the head of the Lumina Foundation that appeared in Forbes describing the panel.
  • If you haven’t seen this article from The Nation on the controversies surrounding Measure 110 in Oregon, you should. While acknowledging the many challenges that we’re experiencing right now, they make a convincing case that recriminalization is not the answer. 

COVID Related:

COVID Related:

  • The new COVID vaccine is now available here in Oregon. Oregon’s public health officials are encouraging everyone to consider getting vaccinated for COVID, flu, and RSV.  Here’s an article from the Capital Chronicle.
  • Interested in seeing the science behind the CDC’s decision to authorize the new vaccine? Here you go.
  • As you’ve probably seen, COVID cases and hospitalizations are rising around the country. Though hospitalizations and deaths are much, much lower than they were at this time in years past, they are definitely higher than they were last spring. If you’d like to see the details, you can follow the stats at the CDC website here.
  • Wastewater analyses show that the “COVID Bump” may be leveling off.
  • Your vaccine questions answered, from the Washington Post. 
  • And here’s a helpful perspective on our current COVID situation from The New Yorker’s Dhruv Kullar. 
  • As we hear that the federal government will be making additional COVID tests available free of charge starting tomorrow (see, are you wondering whether or not you should throw out your old ones that have passed their expiration dates? Check this out.



dembrow signature

Senator Michael Dembrow
Senate District 23

mail: 900 Court St NE, S-407, Salem, OR, 97301