Published: April 10, 2019

April Legislative Update: Focus Narrows to a Few Key Priorities

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2019 legislative session, and legislators are focusing in on key pieces of legislation that will have a big impact on SEIU members.

Through our union’s political program, members are focused on funding strong contracts and protecting standards and benefits in our work. Our signature event of the legislative session will be the Rally for Revenue and a Fair Contract on Monday, May 20th at the Capitol. Register today!

Here are updates on some of our major legislative priorities:

Revenue to fund a strong contract

Legislators released a plan this week that would generate over $2 billion for the K-12 budget by raising taxes on corporations.

How this impacts you

  • For over three decades, as a result of a cap on property taxes that sucked $4 billion out of the funding stream for schools, Legislators have raided the State’s general fund to pay for K-12 education. This pits the needs of schools against the needs of every other State agency and program.
  • A $2 billion revenue increase for K-12 will relieve the pressure on the overall budget, preventing cuts and other austerity measures that impact SEIU members directly.
  • This “pressure relief” will enable us to bargain contracts with economic gains, such as cost of living increases (COLAs) and additional steps in the pay scale, that would not be possible without additional revenue in the budget.

The details

  • The proposed revenue measure would place a moderate tax on businesses with more than $1 million in Oregon-based sales each year.
  • To offset any potential cost increase to consumers, the measure also includes a reduction in personal income taxes.
  • Revenue generated by the measure is dedicated to the K-12 education budget.

The revenue mechanism is still being negotiated, so the details are dynamic.

State Agencies and Higher Education

HB 2016 (Public Worker Protection Act): HB 2016 codifies best practices in labor management. It dedicates time for workers to receive representation from their union, and it improves communications channels while protecting workers from harassment by anti-union organizations like the Freedom Foundation. The bill passed out of the House on March 27 and is now awaiting consideration in the Senate. We expect it will have another hearing in the new few weeks.

HB 3075 (Double Coverage): Our bill to protect double coverage voted out of committee on April 2 and sent to the House Committee on Rules. We will be working with our coalition partners to make necessary amendments to the bill before moving it to the Senate.

Care Providers

SB 669 (private home care reform): This bill, the top priority in the Care Agenda, would create universal standards for public and private homecare providers rather than the existing dual system that leaves private healthcare consumers and workers vulnerable. The bill was moved to Ways and Means as expected. We continue to work with key stakeholders on amendments that will ensure the passage of the bill.