I would like to close out my week by sharing with you some of what has been happening here in Salem.
From the Floor
Some big things happened on the House Floor over the past few weeks. Some particularly newsworthy items include bills dubbed “Motor Voter” and “PIP”.
This bill will be signed into law on March 16th. The aim of this legislation is to increase voter registration by removing barriers and making the process more simple, convenient and secure. Currently, more than 300,000 citizens are eligible to vote, but are unregistered. These people are very often students and working parents, who move often and simply do not update their voter registration. This does not require anyone to vote and the ability to opt of registration is also available. This bill removes the barriers that exist to voting, ensures a more democratic process and elections will truly reflect the voices of Oregonians.
This bill was signed into law yesterday by Governor Kate Brown. Currently, 500,000 Oregonians are paying for uninsured motorist coverage on their auto insurance. Due to a loophole in the law, they will never be able to collect on this coverage. SB 411 closes that loophole by allowing an injured person to access the maximum available liability coverage in addition to their underinsured motorist coverage. This ensures that families will not face undue financial hardship after an auto accident.
East Multnomah County Legislation
I had the honor to Co-Chief Sponsor two bills with my colleagues Senator Monnes Anderson and Representative Gorsek that will bring much needed resources to east Multnomah County. Both of these bills are with the Senate awaiting a work session, but I am hopeful for their passage and for what they will mean for the Gresham area and our neighbors.
This bill would contribute funding to the Boys & Girls Club Rockwood to establish a permanent facility on the site of the former Drake’s Seven Dees Nursery. This site is visible, centrally located and by re-purposing the facility the cost of construction is much lower than it would be otherwise. The Boys & Girls Club is a well-respected organization and they bring important programs to youth who are often underserved. This facility will allow children and teens a place to build healthy relationships, receive academic support, prevention and intervention services for those impacted by violence, drugs and alcohol, or mental health issues, along with a whole host of other benefits. The Boys & Girls Club Rockwood also supports parents, who will know that their child is involved in a positive program, in a safe environment while they are working to provide for their families.
This bill would secure funding for this multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional team. EMGET is very important to me, as it evolved under my watch as Gresham Police Chief. EMGET has a ten year history of growth and success. EMGET is not just enforcement, it is outreach, prevention, intervention and youth engagement services aimed at improving the lives of young people and the safety of all citizens in east Multnomah County.
I want to extend my gratitude to the people who came down to testify in favor of these bills including:
- Erin Hubert - CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Portland Metropolitan Area (BGCP)
- Traci Rose - Chief Communications and Development Officer, BGCP
- Mike Reese - Board Chair for BGCP, Retired Portland Police Chief
- Bryan Gastelum-Plata - Youth of the Year, BGCP
- Erik Kvarsten - City Manager, Gresham
- Sgt. David Schmidt - Sgt. in charge of EMGET
- Joe McFerrin II - Director, Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center
- Nathan Vasquez - Multnomah Co. District Attorney
- Mariel Mota - Community Leadership Development Coordinator, Rosewood Initiative
- Tracey Freeman - Senior Manager, Probation and Accountability Services Multnomah Co. Dept. of Community Justice, Juvenile Services Division
It was extra special for me to, once again, interact with my co-workers from the City of Gresham. My former boss, City Manager Erik Kvarsten, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Nathan Vasquez and a big “shout out” to Sergeant David Schmidt who now is the leader of the East Metro Gang Enforcement Team. They are all doing a tremendous job keeping Gresham safe. Finally, a special thanks to Eric Chambers, the Intergovernmental Relations Director for the City of Gresham for all of his behind the scenes work on these bills. We all now need to keep our fingers crossed in anticipation of receiving the funding for both of these bills.
I was also given the opportunity over these last three weeks to sit at the table with House Democratic Leadership. I can best describe this as the “think tank” for prioritizing all the legislative action for the House Democrats. From sending bills to committees, strategically assigning members as speakers on the House floor during session, to coordinating communications, this was a fascinating “behind the scenes” look at how the Legislature functions. I was honored to attend.
Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance
Many of you know women’s health and wellness is very important to me. This is a bi-weekly gathering of legislators, interested citizens and community advocates who meet to discuss issues related to women. Special attention is given to domestic violence related bills that are currently on the docket for legislative actions, as well as conversation around services needed, preventative solutions, shelters and the safety and protection of victims. Even though “women” is part of the title, men are also welcome at the table.
Last week, Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis gave the State of City address in Council Chambers, if you missed it, you can read the transcript here.
Thank you all for your continued support and for raising your concerns, questions and ideas. Never hesitate to contact me or my staff, if we can be of assistance.