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The Senate president pro tem has served in the Legislature for 17 years

PARIS ACHEN - Senate President Pro Tem Diane RosenbaumSenate President Pro Tem Diane Rosenbaum, whose district represents Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and Oak Grove, has decided against seeking reelection in 2016, after 17 years in the Oregon Legislature.

"I'm really proud of having accomplished what I set out to do here, especially two things: setting up state sick leave and more recently, a minimum wage increase that's going to provide real help to hundreds of thousands of people," the Portland Democrat said. "I just feel it's the right time for me, having played a leadership role, to be able to take some time for myself."

Rosenbaum said she plans to travel with her husband, attorney Jas Adams, and spend more time with her 93-year-old father. After some time off, she said she might opt to return to politics but denied rumors she is interested in running for Secretary of State.

"I'm always keeping my eyes open for other opportunities, including politics," she said.

Rosenbaum has championed the labor movement since before she won her first legislative seat, representing Southeast Portland in 1999 in the Oregon House of Representatives.

She led two successful campaigns to boost the state's minimum wage in 1996 and later in 2002, when she served in the House.

While in the legislature, she served as president of the National Labor Caucus of State Legislators.

She was a chief sponsor for legislation requiring employers to pay sick leave. The Legislature's passage of the measure in 2015 made Oregon the fourth state with mandatory sick leave.

When a three-tier minimum wage plan passed both chambers last month, Rosenbaum was one of the few Democrat senators who stood up and spoke to extol the bill's virtues.

"It is shameful that today, right now, in this state we have over 100,000 Oregonians and 100,000 more of their families struggle to get by at $9.25 an hour at less than $75 a day who are not able to feed themselves, let alone feed their kids or pay their rent," Rosenbaum said.

"It's is my belief this bill is the most important vote we'll cast this session," she said.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, one of the lawmakers who spearheaded this session's minimum wage bill, recognized Rosenbaum Wednesday when Gov. Kate Brown signed the legislation.

"My inspiration throughout this struggle, and also the effort to pass paid sick leave, has been our Senate President Pro Tem and former Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum," Dembrow said. "As many of you know Diane has been a warrior for working Oregonians for many, many years, and we owe here enormous thanks."

Rosenbaum served as speaker pro tem in 2007 and 2008 and then was elected to Senate, where she rose to the position of majority leader in 2010. She ascended to the Senate president pro tem position in September and also serves on the Senate Rules Committee, which screens executive appointments.

After surviving breast cancer, Rosenbaum won passage of legislation requiring breast cancer screening and treatment and increased access to contraceptive care. Planned Parenthood recognized her for that accomplishment with the Pro-Choice Champion Award in 2013.

Leaving the Legislature "is bittersweet," Rosenbaum said, "but again, I'm proud of my record of achievement considering that the things I care about I have been able to work on and succeed."

By Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau Reporter
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