November Legislative Days are Here

Senate President Rob Wagner

Legislative Days Start Monday

Hello Senate District 19 and beyond,

The next set of interim legislative days begin this week (November 6-8) and legislators are back in the Capitol Building receiving public input and developing the legislation we will introduce in the 2024 legislative session.

Committee agendas are online now and can be viewed at All of the committee hearings are in person and the Capitol is open, so feel free to come to Salem if there is an issue you are passionate about, or just to interact with your elected legislators.

Last month, Speaker Dan Rayfield and I created the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response. The co-chairs are Senate Democratic Leader Kate Lieber and Representative Jason Kropf — both former prosecutors in Oregon. In its first meeting legislators heard from practitioners, services providers, and researchers about Oregon’s existing public health infrastructure and its role as part of our response to the drug crisis. The meeting on November 6 will focus on the state’s public safety response and hear from law enforcement on how we can empower them to get drugs off our streets and people in crisis into treatment.

Our 2024 legislative session is a "short" session of just 35 days, which means legislators will be focusing on just the critical issues facing Oregon. We will continue working toward comprehensive solutions to the drug crisis, both from a public safety perspective and a public health perspective. We will also consider legislation to improve the availability of affordable housing and fine-tune our budget and policies.

I hope many of you will be able to join us in Salem this week!

wash county dems

Spent some time with my good friends in the Washington County Democrats during a dinner last week.

Portland Public Schools Strike

I represent communities in six public school districts, including Portland Public Schools. Having had 4 kids pass through our local schools, and having chaired a local public school board, I have been paying close attention to the ongoing contract negotiations at Portland Public Schools.

Oregonians agree that our kids need a world-class education if they’re going to compete in the 21st Century economy. That's why the Legislature prioritized education funding this year: higher education, Pre-K, and the largest K-12 budget in Oregon history. Education advocates, including Portland Public Schools, asked us for a $10.3 billion budget and legislators were proud to give schools exactly the budget they requested. The Legislature then allocated hundreds of millions of dollars on top of that for critical programs through the Student Success Act and Early Literacy Funds we know students need to succeed.

It’s now up to school districts to make sure the impact of taxpayer dollars is felt in the classroom. I come from a family of educators. Both of my amazing sisters teach in Portland Public Schools, and I know how hard teachers work and how deeply teachers care about the wellbeing and education of the children in their care. I support the right of educators to use collective action in these negotiations. Teachers and classified school professionals in every district across Oregon need support to continue to create a wonderful future for our students.

Wagner pps

Me with my wonderful sisters from this weekend.

Out in the Community

Since my last newsletter, I was grateful to be able to spend lots of time out in my community meeting with constituents, talking to advocates and speaking about issues important to my community and our state. I always say that legislators do their best work when they are talking with real people about the big issues. I know the stories and perspectives I heard from the dozens of people I was able to meet with over the past month will help me as I strive to represent my district in the Oregon Senate. Here is just small window into the many meetings I've had over the past several weeks:

American Cancer Society 

Thank you to the American Cancer Society for inviting me to speak at their Oregon Cancer Policy Forum earlier this month. As many do, I have a personal connection to cancer: I have family members who have been diagnosed with cancer and my father was a cancer doctor for 30 years. This year we made strides in cancer research and funding, including expanding access to breast cancer screenings (SB 1041) and addressing a gap in coverage for firefighters and their workers compensation coverage (HB 4113). 

There is always more we can do to support the people and organizations on the front lines in the fight against cancer and I'm committed to standing beside them in that fight.

American Cancer

West Linn City Council 

In early October, I was pleased to testify in front of the West Linn City Council and provide a legislative update on the work we have been doing in Salem. I was happy to report that during session we were able to pass legislation to tackle issues like homelessness, education, jobs and the Oregon CHIPS act, access to gender affirming and reproductive health care, and addiction and community safety.

During session I was also able to advocate for $5 million to help the city of West Linn replace its water line — infrastructure that is critical for the people who live and work here. I want to thank Mayor Bialostosky and Council President Mary Baumgardner for letting me provide this legislative update and for all the work he and the City Council is doing for the city.

West Linn City Council

Coalition of African and African-American Pastors

I spent an afternoon recently with the Coalition of African and African American Pastors alongside my colleagues Speaker Dan Rayfield, Senator Lew Frederick, Senator Kayse Jama, Senate President Pro Tempore James Manning Jr., and former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith.

CAAAP came together during the COVID-19 pandemic and has done incredible work in the Portland community especially around implementing strategies and emergency resources to support the health of the Black community. I’m excited to continue working and building relationships with this group of inspiring leaders and focus on the issues we all care about — public engagement, health, and community development. Thank you to CAAAP for inviting me to join them for lunch and I look forward to future conversations.

CAAAP meeting

Portland Community College

It was an amazing day at Portland Community College celebrating the grand opening of the new Opportunity Center at 42nd Ave in NE Portland. A big part of the facility is the welcoming center, which houses the operations of PCC, Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), and Multnomah County Health Department, providing education and social services to move people into careers with economic mobility.

I was glad to be able to join President of PCC Dr. Adrien Bennings, PCC Board Members Tiffani Penson & Kien Truong, and Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal at this event with the community.

Portland Community College ribbon

Capitol Accessibility, Maintenance and Safety (CAMS)

We have heroes working at the Capitol building every day — well, underneath it — and I was thrilled to see their work first-hand this week. Construction crews continue to dig deep below the Capitol building as part of the years-long CAMS Project. In addition to improving the accessibility and functionality of our historic Capitol building, the project — led by the indefatigable Jodie Jones — will seismically secure the structure so it will survive when "the big one" hits.

We owe the hundreds of construction workers who have been a part of the CAMS Project a great debt as they work through the rain, mud and cold to project our Capitol and the people within it.


A Moment of Recognition

Lastly, I was honored to receive two awards over the past few weeks from organizations I deeply respect. The first was the 2023 Perseverance Award from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which I shared with House Speaker Dan Rayfield. OLCV is an important partner in the legislative process whose members always have the best interests of the environment at heart.

I also received the Howard Cherry Award for Community College Advocate of 2023 from the Oregon Community College Association. My ties to community colleges runs deep: I worked for and on behalf of community colleges for many years and my wife Laurie is the current board chair for Portland Community College. To be honored for my work by many of the same people whom have inspired me over the years was truly a special moment for me. Many thanks to these two organizations for the work they do on behalf of our state.


cherry award

Recognitions like these always make me reflect on my career. While achievements often go to individuals, the truth is that only together is anything important ever accomplished. We've all had mentors to guide us along the way, family and friends to pick us up when we stumble, and colleagues who help us get the work done. These awards are a recognition of how much my life has been blessed by others and I want to honor them here.


Headlines from your Capitol

Statesman Journal: How destructive could ‘the big one’ be? A new UO earthquake center will study impacts

The University of Oregon's newly launched earthquake research center will bring together 16 institutions in the effort of researching earthquakes, their risks and impacts, and, in particular, "The Big One."

Oregon Public Broadcasting: State money isn’t coming to end Portland teachers strike, lawmakers say

As Portland Public Schools teachers strike for a second day in a row, key Democratic lawmakers say not to expect Salem to come to the rescue.

Willamette Week: Legislative Aides Ratify First-in-the-Nation Union Contract

The aides who staff Oregon’s 90 lawmakers (60 in the House, 30 in the Senate) have voted to accept a contract that will make Oregon’s legislative staff the first in the nation to unionize.

Oregon Capitol Chronicle: Earl Blumenauer to retire, dealing blow to Oregon’s seniority in Congress

Earl Blumenauer is calling it quits after 27 years in Congress, clearing the way for new federal representation for east Portland and dealing another blow to the state’s seniority in the U.S. House. 

If you would like to contact the Senate President's Office, send an email or call and either myself or a staff member will assist you. If you are a constituent coming to Salem and want to arrange a meeting, I'm always happy to meet, so please let us know well in advance as my schedule fills up quickly.

phone: 503-986-1600
address: 900 Court St NE, S-201, Salem, OR, 97301