Oregon doubling down on equity for all
In "Lawmakers make strides for transparency, equity" (July 11 Tribune editorial), we were pleased to see the editorial board highlight important policy gains this session, wins that will make a real difference in the lives of Oregonians. More specifically communities of color, women, LGBTQ people, and immigrants and refugees.
When the legislative session kicked off in February, all eyes were on Oregon. Progressives across the nation waited to see if we'd stand up to the Trump administration and fight back against draconian rollbacks to human and worker rights.
As the federal government attempts to undo decades of progress on health care, reproductive rights and protections for immigrant communities, Oregon is doubling down — not just pushing back, but also pushing forward.
As noted by the editors, addressing the harmful practice of profiling by police is a powerful example of leadership and a major win for our state. Greater accountability means people won't have to live in fear and entire communities aren't cast as suspect because of their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
Here are two more policy wins on the Fair Shot for All agenda that lawmakers in Salem passed this session, pushing our state and our nation forward.
n Cover All Kids (SB 558): For the first time in their lives, more than 17,000 kids across Oregon finally will have health coverage. For too long, these kids were excluded from the Oregon Health Plan because of their residency status, putting their health and their futures on the line. Illness does not discriminate and access to health care is a right, not a privilege. By investing in every kid who calls Oregon home, we have corrected a longstanding injustice in our health care system and moved one step closer to a stronger and more equitable economy, where every child has the health care they need to reach their full potential.
n Reproductive Health Equity (HB 3391): Building on Oregon voters' strong commitment to reproductive rights for more than 40 years, lawmakers passed the most comprehensive reproductive health care bill in the nation. This bill protects reproductive health coverage for millions of Oregonians, and assures that tens of thousands left out by federal law are covered in Oregon. The decision about whether and when to become a parent is one of the most important decisions that we all face. Oregonians now will have access to the affordable reproductive health care coverage they need to make this decision — regardless of income, type of insurance, citizenship status or gender identity. Recognizing the urgent need to protect reproductive freedom, lawmakers safeguarded the right to abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and protected no-cost coverage for preventive reproductive health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
We applaud lawmakers for rising to the challenge and standing up for the diverse, forward-looking Oregonians who elected you.
As the Trump administration and Washington, D.C., politicians push an agenda that jeopardizes our rights and divides our communities, we know the fight is far from over. But while the current political climate throws a spotlight on the divide, the truth is, the issues we face aren't new. Longstanding inequalities are embedded in nearly all our social and political institutions.
The Fair Shot for All coalition will continue to advocate for legislation on our agenda that didn't get done this session. Policies that will help lift up our communities that have struggled for generations, like paid family and medical leave insurance and tenant protections for the four in 10 Oregonians who rent their homes. We urge readers to join us as we fight forward to help create the Oregon we all believe in.
Kayse Jama is executive director of Unite Oregon. Mary Nolan is executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.