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Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn, shares a legislative update with the Woodburn community

As another month in the Legislature has passed, we are now over halfway through the 2017 Legislative session. I have been working hard this month to pass legislation that will protect and benefit our community.

In April, I focused on how to best protect our small business owners and workers here in OCOURTESY PHOTO - Teresa Alonso Leonregon. I held a Small Business Saturday in Woodburn with Congressman Kurt Schrader where we toured locally-owned businesses in downtown Woodburn to hear how we can help them thrive. Afterward, we were joined by elected officials from across the state to eat lunch, shop and support our small businesses. Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to join us. Oregon's small businesses are the backbone of our economy and a vital part of our community. I urge everyone to shop locally whenever possible.

This past month, I worked hard to pass House Bill 3087 through committee to continue my support for the economic empowerment of Oregonians. This bill creates a paid family and medical leave insurance program to provide employees with a portion of their wages while taking time off after having a child or taking care of a parent or family member who has fallen ill.

Growing up, my family often had to choose between paying bills or staying home with a sick child. This bill ensures that hardworking Oregonians don't have to make terrible trade-offs and can instead be financially stable during the first months of parenthood or during unexpected illness.

April is an important month for the Legislature because it marks the first bill deadline, meaning that any bill which has not passed through its first committee is not going to become law this session. I am excited to announce all three of my personal priority bills, HB 2864, HB 3184 and HB 3185, passed through committee. These bills all tackle different ways that we can improve education for Oregonians — from increasing financial literacy of vulnerable populations to enhancing family engagement from pre-kindergarten to college, and giving our community colleges and universities the tools they need to be more equitable and inclusive.

These bills have been my priority this session because, as a lifelong advocate for accessible education, I believe the best way to support our community is by allowing our community members to empower themselves through learning opportunities.

As always, hearing from constituents has been my favorite part of the past month. At "Tea with Teresa" in Salem I heard from two of my constituents who are blind and advocate for increased accessibility for the blind community. I truly appreciate learning about new ways that I can support my constituents as a legislator and hope to hear from you about the issues that impact your lives.

If you missed Small Business Saturday or "Tea with Teresa," don't worry! I will be hosting "Tea with Teresa" again this month at 5:30 p.m. May 9 at El Sarandeado (320 N. Pacific Highway) in Woodburn.

Teresa Alonso Leon is the representative for Oregon House District 22, which encompasses Woodburn, Gervais and North Salem.

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