Oregon’s 2023 legislative session has ended, and through the advocacy of our members managed to pass the majority of our priority bills. We secured bargaining pots for state employees and homecare/personal support workers that places our members in a position to bargain for historic contracts.
Our coalition work helped secure major wins in housing, climate justice, reproductive justice, and other areas that impact our members and our communities. Many of our key bills for different sectors also advanced to the governor to become law. You can find out more in our sector-by-sector breakdown below.
At the same time, this session will always be marred by a historic walkout that stalled work in the Senate for six weeks. The walkout forced legislators as well as our political staff and member advocates to scramble to salvage as many bills as possible before the constitutionally-required end of session on June 25th. While we did a good job of catching up, the walkout killed bills that were important to our members due to procedural deadlines – like a priority bill to help fix Oregon’s broken homecare commission, a bill to expand PERS benefits for Oregon State Hospital workers, and a bill that would have helped thousands of Oregon families who fall prey to predatory debt collectors.
We will be back at the Capitol in February for the “short session” where we will resume fighting for the bills that didn’t advance this year and advocating for the interests of SEIU members. If you’d like to get involved with our political work, become a CAPE contributor today! You can sign up to give to CAPE, our member-driven political action committee, here.
The budget is the moral document of the state. Prior to the legislative session, Governor Kotek released her recommended budget (also known as the Governor’s Recommended Budget or GRB) for the 2023-2025 biennium. It’s worth pointing out that the legislature goes through several steps before reaching a final legislatively adopted budget (or the LAB) before the constitutionally mandated Sine Die on June 25, 2023. The GRB establishes the baseline for discussion and debate to determine the state’s financial priorities for the next biennium.
Largely due to a strong economic rebound after the global pandemic, the Oregon Legislature adopted a much larger budget than initially anticipated. The unemployment rate is at an all-time low and total personal income in Oregon increased 19.8 percent from the end of 2019 through the end of 2022. Additionally, the state experienced the 11th strongest growth across the country.
Last year you may recall concerns about a looming economic recession on the horizon. With roughly $3.4 billion in pandemic-era federal funds set to expire, Oregon was entering a challenging and complex budget environment. The GRB included a path to make targeted investments because of prudent budget management to build historic reserves in recent years.
However, after the May Revenue Forecast report drafted by the Office of Economic Analysis, the clouds parted and revealed favorable conditions for state revenue and economic activity. Rather than seeing major cuts to state agency budgets, the legislature balanced the state budget by making minor cuts in areas and restoring funding for essential positions across agencies. This is a huge win for our members and means we can continue to deliver essential state services because SEIU Makes Oregon Work.
Through our members’ advocacy, we were able to secure a historic $450 million salary pot for state workers. This places us in a position to bargain for the strong contract our members deserve.
Long-Term Care and Developmental Disability Services
- $65 Million for bargaining for homecare workers, personal support workers, and personal care attendants. This is the biggest salary pot in homecare history and means big raises for HCW/PSW/PCAs. The care provider Lobby day and rally were critical to this monumental win – thanks to everyone who helped secure this historic investment in our workers.
- $10 Million for Adult Foster Home bargaining. Agency budgets from OHA and ODHS did not include much needed rate increases for AFH providers, despite SEIU 503 advocacy that they be included. While the $10 million investment will allow for meaningful rate increases for providers, it falls short of the $30 million request we advocated for this session.
- $20 Million for Essential Worker Healthcare Trust. This investment will allow the trust to continue providing high-quality healthcare to long-term care front-line workers and allow the trust to expand coverage to thousands more eligible employees. Oregon’s contribution combined with employer contributions allow the trust to pull down federal matching funds resulting in significantly improved benefits and reduced costs for workers. The EWHCT started providing health benefits in 2023 and has been tremendously successful in improving access to healthcare for workers as well as offering the benefits of worker retention to employers.
- A “Budget Note” or Legislative direction to ODHS to do a Medicaid rate and wage study across all home and community-based programs. This study is something we have been asking for all year, and will help our union and the Legislature get the data and information we need to drive for more coordination across the programs that impact our members. This is a key part of our strategy to tackle the massive problem of private agencies that is impacting our PSW members.
- Senate Bill 104 (Important fixes to “Agency with Choice” for PSWs): This bill will improve support for PSWs and the clients who need more help with self-direction, and should offer improvements to the onboarding, selecting, and managing of PSWs.
- Senate Bill 99 (LQBTQIA2S+ Bill of Rights for Older Adults): A bill of rights that will help provide protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and HIV status in long-term care settings as well as improve access and gaps in services and equity in State programs. This bill advances the goals of equity and inclusion in our state. SEIU 503 submitted this testimony in support of the bill.
Not Moving Forward
- Senate Bill 570 (“Agency with Choice” for Homecare workers): This bill would have created a new type of homecare agency centered around good jobs and client-driven, high-quality homecare services. It would have offered a pro-worker alternative for workers frustrated by the shortcomings of the Home Care Commission. We worked hard to push this bill during the session, but resistance from ODHS and a large fiscal impact statement attached to the bill prevented it from moving forward. Passing this bill in the 2024 short legislative session will be our top priority.
- Senate Bill 602 (Long Term Care Workforce Board): This bill would have created a workforce standards board for a broad list of Medicaid-funded services. The board would bring together workers, employers, and people who depend on Medicaid services to discuss workforce issues and make recommendations on how to recruit, train, and retain a high-quality direct care workforce. The bill would also help set standards and wages across the long-term care spectrum. Despite not passing this session, we made progress toward a future wage board by having a successful hearing and gaining support from community partners and legislators. While Oregon’s sb 602 failed this session, several other states recently passed similar laws, including CO, MN, and NV. We will learn from them and come back next session to try again.
- House Bill 2500 (Mileage Expenses for Homecare/Personal Support Workers): This bill would have required the state to cover mileage expenses for homecare and personal support workers who travel more than 15 miles to their client’s home or between clients. SEIU 503 provided testimony in support of this important initiative. SEIU will work with other stakeholders in a workgroup to address this need outside of the legislative session.
- House Bill 2495 (New rates for APD Adult Foster Homes): This bill would have helped struggling AFH providers afford the cost of providing care, stabilize providers, and increase the capacity of Oregon’s long-term care system overall. This bill passed out of committee on 3/29 and died in Ways and Means. We will continue to advocate for bigger increases and reimbursement rate methodologies that adequately reflect the cost of providing high-quality 24-hour care in Adult Foster Homes.
Fair Shot for All
- SB 337 (In Defense of Humanity: Directs Public Defense Services Commission to study ways to improve provision of public defense services within this state): Passed! 17-8 in the Senate. 34-16 in the House.
- HB 2002 (Reproductive & Gender Justice: Speaker’s bill to bring forward a package of policies to close gaps in insurance coverage for both reproductive and gender-affirming care, protect patients and providers, address network adequacy issues, and ensure full compliance and proper implementation of existing sexual and reproductive health policies and mandates): Passed! 17-3 in the Senate. 35-12 in the House.
Not Moving Forward:
- SB 612 (Indigenous Language Justice: Establishes Indigenous Language Justice Fund): Did Not Pass as a bill, however, we were able to secure $2.5 million in funding for Indigenous interpreters.
- SB 911 (Indigenous Language Justice: Creates Commission for Indigenous Communities): Did Not Pass.
- SB 817 (In Defense of Humanity: Expands eligibility for pre-plea probation): Did Not Pass.
- HB 2467 (In Defense of Humanity: provides forgivable loans to eligible public defense attorneys for outstanding student loans): Did Not Pass.
- SJR 33 (Reproductive & Gender Justice: will amend Oregon’s constitution to ensure that everyone has equal rights to make private decisions and access healthcare regardless of our gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity): Did Not Pass.
- SB 611 (Reasonable Rent Limit: caps rent increases at 10%): Passed! 17-8 in the Senate. 32-18 in the House.
- HB 2001 (Housing Package which includes the following components of SB 799: stop fast-track evictions and prevent landlords from refusing payments when people have the money or rent assistance comes through. For a full list of components, please click here): Passed! 21-7 in the Senate. 50-9 in the House.
- HB 5511 (Rent Assistance: $55 million): Passed! 21-2 in the Senate. 41-12 in the House.
Not Moving Forward
- HB 3169 (Rental Data Market: develop a statewide central landlord registry at OHCS): Did Not Pass. We will regroup and come back with this in a future session.
- SB 907 (Provides employees with the right to refuse to perform tasks assigned by their employer under certain circumstances): Passed!
- SB 546 (Calls for the disclosure of all chemical ingredients and bans the worst known carcinogens in personal care products and cosmetics): Passed!
- HB 3043 (Protects our kids by allowing OHA to consider removing classes of harmful chemicals in toys): Passed!
- SB 488 (Requires Covanta Marion incinerator, which burns both municipal and medical waste to meet the stricter federal emissions limits for hospital, medical, or infectious waste incinerators): Passed!
Not Moving Forward
- HB 3016 (Establishes Community Green Infrastructure Grant Program): Did Not Pass.
- SB 426 (Protects students by limiting exposure to toxins and builds on best practices of integrated pest management in school districts): Did Not Pass.
- SB 530 (Establishes state policy regarding natural climate solutions to fund and direct state agencies to provide incentives and technical support to forest owners, farmers, and ranchers to implement natural climate solutions on natural and working lands): Did Not Pass.
- HB 3579 (Requires Oregon Department of Administrative Services to adopt rules to govern procurements of clean energy technology): Did Not Pass.
- HB 2804 (Workload Models at ODHS): This bill will require ODHS to create workload models for each of their programs, which will pave the way for us to have real data and information about workload and advocate for more sustainable workloads for our members. The bill passed the Senate Floor on June 24, 2023, with 17 Ayes, 8 Nays, and 5 Absent. HB 2804 will now go to the Governor’s desk for a signature.
- SB 692 (Anti-Harassment and Discrimination): This bill will require DAS to create a formal tracking system for claims of discrimination and harassment across state agencies, and better train investigators. This bill came after years of advocacy of our members about issues across agencies with discrimination and harassment. Governor Kotek signed SB 692 on June 6, 2023. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2024.
- SB 851 (Model Workplace Bullying Policies): This bill will compel the Bureau of Labor and Industries shall prepare a model respectful workplace policy that employers may adopt. The legislation is intended to address and prevent hostile work environments that subject employees to the experience of workplace bullying severe enough to cause physical or psychological harm.
Not Moving Forward
- HB 2578 (Mandatory Reporter Training): This bill would have required ODHS to develop a training for mandatory reporters to Child Welfare in order to reduce call volumes at the child abuse hotline (ORCAH). While the bill did not move forward this session, it started an important conversation about workload at ORCAH and in Child Welfare, as well as inherent bias in the child welfare system.
- HB 2701 (High Risk, High Stress PERS for Oregon State Hospital): The General Government committee held a public hearing on the bill on Thursday, March 30. There was a strong showing from SEIU and AFSCME members to show support for the bill. While the bill did not move forward this legislative session, the political team worked to garner bipartisan support and neutralize any opposition to the bill. HB 2701 failed to get scheduled for a hearing and work session in the Joint Ways and Means Committee. We plan to bring the bill back in the short session in February of 2024 as one of our top priorities.
- HB 2697 (Hospital Staffing) Oregon has had a nurse staffing law on the books since 2001, with significant amendments over the years. Throughout efforts to improve the law, many of the staff who provide care in our state have been left out of consideration when it comes to safe and effective staffing of Oregon’s hospitals. Throughout the session, SEIU members stepped up to advocate for a voice in staffing and better enforcement of plans that meet the needs of our patients and the entire care team.
- With the passage of House Bill 2697 all hospital workers will see some big wins for safer staffing. Professional, Technical and Service workers won a voice in hospital staffing plans with the creation of new committees. CNA were included in new patient ratios for acute care hospitals, with 1 to 7 ratios for days and evenings and 1 to 11 for night shift. Many of these provisions represent the first time in the nation that hospital staff have won these standards.
- HB 3396 House Bill 3396 addressed a collection of important issues; addressing challenges health systems are facing to ensure that patients are in the appropriate care setting, allocating funding to support health care workforce training and clinical placements.
- Joint Task Force on Hospital Discharge Challenges. The Joint Task Force on Hospital Discharge Challenges, established by House Bill 3396, is a group responsible for addressing issues related to hospital discharge and post-acute care settings in Oregon. The task force consists of both voting and nonvoting members, including representatives from the Legislative Assembly and other individuals with relevant expertise, including space for SEIU represented workers and employers.
- Funding for Clinical Placements. The legislation will allocate $15 million to support clinical placements, which we hope to see matched in some form by the federal government. This will provide a much-needed boost to training the next generation of health care workers who are desperately needed to improve staffing levels.
- Funding for Joint Labor Management Training Programs in Health Care. SEIU jointly operates two health care worker training programs through the RISE Partnership and the Shirley Wave Education Fund. House Bill 3396 allocates $5 million to support employers participating in a labor-management training trust to expand on-the-job training, apprenticeship opportunities and other programs that support the development of health care professionals.
- HB 2045 (Cost Growth Target) House Bill 2045 exempts the cost of front-line worker compensation from accountability measures that are part of the state’s Cost Growth Target program. By excluding wages and benefits for frontline workers who make less than $200,000 a year in total compensation hospitals have to cut waste not workers.
- SB 1089 (Universal Health Care) Senate Bill 1089 establishes the Universal Health Plan Governance Board within the Department of Consumer and Business Services. The SEIU Local 503 Universal Health Care Committee and President Mike Powers presented testimony and advocacy on behalf of this concept. Josefina Riggs, a caregiver from Central Oregon, testified that, “While my job provides health insurance, like many Oregonians I still struggle with costs. I am a breast cancer patient, whose treatments left me in debt an additional $7,000 even after some forgiveness. Like many Oregonians I care for my health coverage cannot keep up with the rising cost of our care.”
Not Moving Forward:
- HB 2008 (Family Financial Protection Act) House Bill 2008, the Family Financial Protection Act, would do some very important things to give consumers more protection against unfair debt collection practices while also making it easier to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while paying off their debts. SEIU local 49 member Wally Walls testified in front of a packed house of local 49 members describing how medical debt and garnishment was a constant struggle as a young worker. He encouraged the legislature to pass HB 2008 saying, “I hope that you will support HB 2008 to allow people to stay in their housing and keep food on the table while still taking steps to repay their debts.” The Family Financial Protection Act will be back in a future session of the Oregon legislature.
- SB 273 (University Governance): Passed. Makes several amendments to the current governance structure at our state’s public universities that will make them more representative of and responsive to all stakeholders (students, staff, faculty, etc.) Details on changes here. Members Rob Fullmer and Mark Dunbar played key roles in advocating for and advancing these changes.
- HB 5025 (Higher Education Coordinating Commission Budget). Member Thuy Tran from Portland State University played a critical role in advocacy work on this issue; as well was Jackson Stalley from WOU vía a TRU coalition group formed with AFT Oregon and AAUP.
- $100M additional funds to the Oregon Opportunity Grant – received $100M.
- $25M set aside for PSU and the TRUs – received $18M.
- $1.05B for the PUSF – received $1.06B
- SB 272 (Refugee Tuition Equity): Passed. Exempts students who legally entered the U.S. as a refugee from nonresident tuition rates.
- SB 424 (Transcript Access): Passed. Prohibits colleges and universities in Oregon from refusing to provide transcripts to current or former students because they owe a debt to the institution.
- SB 449 (Foster Children Tuition): Passed. Permits adopted former foster children to have an amount of tuition and fees waived if attending a post-secondary institution for purposes of obtaining an undergraduate degree.
Not Moving Forward:
- HB 2262: Did not pass. Would have provided universities with funds to hire a Benefits Navigator to help students access government benefit programs such as SNAP and OHP
- HB 2263: Did not pass. Would have established a Task Force to study student housing.
- HB 2265: Did not pass. Would have established a Task Force to study the funding of Higher Education.
- SB 262: Did not pass. Would have eliminated the Oregon Promise Grant and redirected funds to the Oregon Opportunity Grant. Also would have expanded eligibility for the Oregon Opportunity Grant.
- HB 2004 (Ranked Choice Voting): Passed. Creates a ballot measure to be voted upon by Oregon Voters during the 2024 election that will establish Ranked Choice Voting as the voting method for congressional, statewide, county, and local elections.
- HB 2107 (Automatic Voter Registration Expansion): Passed. Expands automatic voter registration to the Oregon Health Authority under certain circumstances – allows voter registration to automatically take place when citizens apply for the Oregon Health Plan.
Not Moving Forward:
- HB 2003 (Campaign Finance Reform): Did not pass. Would have made numerous changes to current campaign finance law including limits on financial contributions, establishing transparency requirements, and establishing a public financing program.
- SB 1: Passed. Directs the Department of Revenue to develop a schedule allowing personal income taxpayers to voluntarily report taxpayers’ self-identified race and ethnicity identifiers. This could help inform future revenue policymaking through a racial equity lens.
- HB 3235: Passed. Creates the “Oregon Kid’s Credit”, a refundable tax credit available to Oregon families with dependents under six years of age.
Bills of Concern:
- SB 4: Passed. Directs the Oregon Business Development Department to develop a grant and loan program to support businesses applying for financial assistance under the federal Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act. This bill in and of itself is not harmful, but it does include $255M in Research & Development (R&D) tax credits to incentivize semiconductor manufacturers (most notably, Intel) continuing to house operations in Oregon. While this may sound positive, the reality is that R&D tax credits provide more resources and handouts to large corporations instead of struggling Oregon families.
Bills of Concern:
HB 3227: Passed. Makes changes to the Custodians’ Civil Service Law which directly impacts our custodial members at Portland Public Schools. The bill amends the law to call for “assessments” instead of “examinations” during the hiring process, allows for members of the Custodial Civil Service Board to live outside of the school district, and increases the population threshold for this law from 300,000 to 475,000. PPS made an attempt to repeal the law in its entirety but we were persistent with legislators about the importance of this law to our members and insisted that it remain in statute.