Oregon lawmakers of color unveil 2021 agenda
Lawmakers from Oregon's racial and ethnic minorities have laid out their agenda for a session that reflects their record numbers in the state Legislature.
The agenda announced by the Black, Indigenous, People of Color Caucus consists of 40 bills covering policing and criminal justice, economic opportunity, education, health care, human services and housing, tax issues and the political process.
The 2021 Legislature has 12 members of color — nine in the House and three in the Senate — out of a total of 90. The nationwide protests after the May 25 death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer have called attention to racial justice issues, including Oregon's history of discrimination against people of color.
Sen. James Manning Jr., a Democrat from Eugene who is now Senate president pro tem, said the agenda is a step toward resolving many of those longstanding issues.
"Members of the BIPOC caucus and increasingly the general public are aware of the legacies of racial inequality in Oregon," Manning said. "We are excited by the prospect of using 2021 to write a new chapter in that history, demonstrating a model of lawmaking with an intentional eye towards equity. We welcome the support of our legislative colleagues, allies and stakeholders as we chart this new path for our communities."
Manning is the third senator of color to be president pro tem, who presides over the chamber in the absence of the president. The others were Mae Yih of Albany (1993) and Margaret Carter of Portland (2005 and 2007).
In addition to Manning, Lew Frederick and Kayse Jama, Democrats from Portland, sit in the Senate. All are Black. Jama, the newest, was appointed to the two years remaining in the term of Shemia Fagan, who is now secretary of state.
The new members in the House are Reps. Wlnsvey Campos of Aloha, Khanh Pham of Portland and Ricki Ruiz of Gresham. They join Reps. Teresa Alonso Leon of Woodburn, Janelle Bynum of Clackamas, Diego Hernandez of Portland, Mark Meek of Oregon City, Andrea Salinas of Lake Oswego and Tawna Sanchez of Portland. All are Democrats.
Salinas, now the House majority whip, said other crises during the past year have shown the vulnerabilities of communities of color and the need to deal with disparities.
"The past year has brought new attention to the racial inequities in our criminal justice system and exposed the ways in which structural inequities have made BIPOC communities particularly vulnerable to dangers like the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires across the state," she said.
"Intentional policymaking can address those inequities and build the resilience of these communities to support a better future for all Oregonians. We look forward to carrying forward this work in 2021 and beyond."
A list of priorities, as released by the Black, Indigenous, People of Color caucus, is below. Some are listed by Legislative Counsel numbers, which refer to drafts that are public only if members choose to share them. All bills are assigned different numbers when they are introduced in each chamber for referrals to committees; those are public.
Police Accountability: Hold police officers accountable to the community for racist conduct and behaviors that disproportionately target BIPOC populations.
LC 742: Police munitions
LC 825: Qualified immunity
LC 949: Anti-racist background check
SB 621: Civilian oversight board
SB 593: Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Changes
Criminal Justice Reform: Eliminate legalized slavery in Oregon's prison system; eliminate wealth transfers from our communities through the justice system.
LC 858: Make probation fee collection requirement optional
LC 2552: Incarcerated workers dignity bill
LC 1467: Cannabis Equity Act
Economic Opportunity: Provide targeted support for BIPOC workers and BIPOC-owned small businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
LC 2594: Farmworker and outdoor worker protections
HB 2935: Crown Act
LC 2849: Raising the Oregon minimum wage
HB 2568: Vendor Access to Economic Opportunity Act
Education: Remove student achievement barriers at all levels by enhancing school environments, reducing over-testing and prioritizing student voices.
LC 2876: The Student Voice bill
LC 1621: Exclusionary discipline
HB 2937: School bias crime
HB 2570: Computer science state plan
LC TBD: Ethnic studies requirement for general education in higher education
SB 609 Early education wrap-around services and learning expectations
BIPOC Health care Access: Expand and invest to provide access to culturally sensitive, linguistically appropriate mental, behavioral, physical and telehealth BIPOC providers and acknowledge racism as a public health crisis.
HB 2359: Health Care Interpretation Accountability Act
HB 2361: Behavioral health BIPOC workforce shortage
LC 2564: RHEC expansion
HB 2949: Mental health workforce expansion
Housing and Homeownership: Expand options for building housing and attaining homeownership. Provide communities a voice in property development
LC 2830: Ridding Oregon of no-cause eviction
HB 2096: Agricultural worker housing tax credit
SB 78: Addressing racial disparities in homeownership
LC 2303: Down payment assistance for BIPOC families
Expand Access to Democracy: Ensure equitable access to the ballot and voting rights and ability to run for office.
LC 2276: Campaign finance reform
HB 2366: Restore voting rights for incarcerated
LC 951: 17-year-olds voting in the primary election as long as they turn 18 by the general election.
Equitable, Welcoming, and Transparent Government: Make the Capitol more accessible to community, lobbyists, non-native English speakers and potential legislators
LC 2327: Rename Columbus Day to be Indigenous People's Day
LC 1249: Legislator pay
LC TBD: Racial equity office
LC 2236 Changing the state song
Revenue Reform: BIPOC communities are disproportionately affected by an inequitable tax system.
HB 2839: Disconnection from CARES Act tax breaks
HB 2577: End rolling connect to federal tax code
HJR 10: Kicker reform to Earned Income Tax Credit
LC 2727: Ending offshore corporate tax loopholes (complete reporting)
Protect and Expand Critical Social Services: Ensure equitable services and supports for the most vulnerable among us.
LC 2754: Illumination of implicit bias in the child welfare system.
LC TBD: Discount utility rates for low-income families
LC 2638: Healthy Homes weatherization program to expand access
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