July 3, 2019
The 2019 Oregon Legislative Session has come to a close!
2019 Interfaith Advocacy Day, March 4, Salem
Dear friends,

The 2019 Legislative Session came to a close on Sunday, June 30. It was certainly an unpredictable session, as the Legislature attracted national attention due to members of the Senate walking out of the Capitol on two separate occasions. It was also an exciting session, as a number of landmark pieces of legislation were heard, voted on and passed!

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon's advocacy efforts are driven by the neighbors and clients we serve in the our direct service programs. As always, thank you for your support!

Britt Conroy
Public Policy Director
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

Ethan Livermore 
Public Policy Associate
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
Ethan and Britt advocating in Salem!
Here is how Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon's Legislative Priorities fared during the 2019 Session:
Help End Child & Youth Homelessness

  • Homeless Students: EMO drafted language included in the Student Success Act (HB 3427), passed in May, which will foster partnerships between schools and communities to close the achievement gap for homeless students.

  • Second Home Funding: EMO secured $300,000 for Second Home, our program that matches unaccompanied homeless high school students with volunteer home providers in their community.
Representative Carla Piluso (right) during the 2019 Legislative Session
Welcome the Stranger: Stand with Refugees & Immigrants

  • HB 2508, The Welcoming Refugees Bill: This session, EMO was a part of the Refugee Resettlement Collaborative, a group of resettlement agencies who came together to advocate for extended case management services for our refugee communities. Together, we secured $2 million to continue service for our refugee communities in the face of federal budget cuts. This is a huge win for ALL of our communities around Oregon, and it cements welcoming new neighbors as an Oregon value!

  • The Immigrant Defense Fund: EMO and our partners fought for better legal representation for our immigrant neighbors who face legal hardships. This effort provides $2 million to ensure that immigrants have proper legal defense. This victory will help families stay together and make communities stronger in Oregon!
Oregon Governor Kate Brown
Fully Fund Medicaid

  • HB 2010: Expanding Medicaid across the state was another priority EMO supported at Interfaith Advocacy Day in March. HB 2010 funds much of the program for the next six years through various health care taxes. Although HB 2269 did not pass, which would have required large employers who don’t provide health care for their employees to start contributing either by directly paying for medical care or by contributing to a health care fund, the Legislature did pass SB 770, which will set up a task force to take a look at universal health care in Oregon.

  • HB 2270: In more efforts to find money for Medicaid, legislators took aim at the Tobacco Tax. The bill includes an increase in the tax on cigarettes from $1.33 to $2 a pack and creation of an e-cigarette tax. Backers predict it will raise $340 million between 2019 and 2021. This was a bill that came down to the final hours of the session; after complications in Senate chambers, it passed 18-8 with four legislators not present.
Other important legislation considered during the 2019 Session.
Supporters of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill
HB 2020, the Clean Energy Jobs Bill. There is a lot to be said about this legislation, and the battle for it during the session. It was the center of controversy and scrutiny from both inside the Capitol and members of the public, and it became a central rallying point for industry and environmental advocates alike. The legislation would have put into place a carbon capping program that would have been one of the first in the country. But after passing the House floor with 6.5 hours of debate, and then the Senate walkout that followed, the Clean Energy Jobs bill was eventually retired for the session in the final days of the Legislative Assembly. Although this was a major loss, legislators and environmental advocates have expressed their lasting commitment to push for creation justice in future sessions.

HB 2015 , Driver Licenses for All , will eliminate the requirement that a person provide proof of legal presence before the Department of Transportation issues a noncommercial driver license, noncommercial driver permit or identification card. This legislation cleared both chambers, going 39-21 in the House and 17-10 in the Senate.

HB 2007, Retire & Retrofit Dirty Diesel, prohibits titling of certain motor vehicles powered by certain model year diesel engines. It passed both chambers on a 44-15 vote in the House, and a 16-11 vote in the Senate.

Other major pieces of housing legislation passed this session. SB 608 , which passed in February, provides protections against spikes in rent increases and also protects renters from the threat of no-cause evictions. Another major success in housing was $50 million for emergency rent assistance and shelter through EHA/ SHAP included in SB 5512 . Included in HB 5005 is $150 million in general obligation bonds to build more affordable housing to rent and sell through the LIFT program.

SB 1008, Juvenile Justice , benefits youth in Oregon’s judicial system. The reforms in SB 1008 include placing a youth accused of any crime in the juvenile justice system instead of the adult justice system. Secondly, the bill establishes a process in which all youth who are convicted in adult court have access to a “second look” hearing halfway through their sentence. This enables the judge to determine if the youth has taken responsibility for a crime and been rehabilitated. If so, the youth is allowed to serve the remainder of their sentence under community-based supervision. Third, it requires an additional review by a judge before a youth with a long prison sentence is transferred into an adult facility. Finally, SB 1008 eliminates life without parole sentences for youth.

Although it did not make it out of the Ways and Means Committee, advocates took one step closer to securing tuition relief for Compact of Free Association (COFA) Islanders this session. SB 263 would have qualified a student who legally entered United States under the COFA treaty for exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at public universities and is eligible to receive state and university scholarships or other financial aid.

Safe Gun Storage was one of a number of gun safety legislation bills that were introduced in the 2019 Legislative Session. Although the bills had solid support from many legislators as well as from community members and advocacy organizations, supporters were not able to advance gun safety legislation this year. As this issue is of great importance to our communities around Oregon, we look forward to following and supporting future efforts for common sense gun safety.

EITC, HB 2164 , extends several tax credits scheduled to expire, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The bill also modestly increases the Oregon EITC, a tax credit that benefits one out of four children in Oregon. This bill cleared both chambers with wide margins of support, 47-12 in the House and 23-4 in the Senate.

And finally, Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) reform made progress in the capitol this session compared to the past year, but still did not pass. HB 3349 proposed reforms to the costly, inequitable and ineffective housing subsidy. HB 3349 would have shifted $150 million from housing subsidies for Oregon’s richest households to investments in affordable home ownership and homeless services with an emphasis on families with children. It would have taken $150 million from the $1 billion MID and redirected it to affordable housing and homeless services for homeless youth and families. Although it did not make it to a floor vote this session, we look forward to contributing to efforts to see it passed in future sessions.
Legislation EMO was thrilled to see pass:

SB 1013, which removes "future dangerousness" as a factor for a jury to determine when deciding on a sentence of death.

School Meals: An investment in providing school lunches to students has been included in education reforms this session. Roughly 30 percent of the tax included in the Student Success Act will fund career-technical education programs and free meals at schools for low-income students.

HB 3293 s trengthens protections against sexual harassment and assault and extends statute of limitations. This bill received bipartisan support, passing through the Capitol on a 56-1 vote in the House with three members excused, and a 28-0 vote in the Senate with one member excused.

HB 2005, Paid Family Medical Leave, allows Oregon workers up to 12 weeks for family leave or medical leave or to address a domestic violence situation. Passing with strong bipartisan support, 45-13 out of the House and 21-6 on the Senate floor, this bill is a huge victory for working Oregonians!

SB 664 will require school districts to provide education about the Holocaust and genocide beginning with 2020-2021 school year. The bill was championed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and passed without a single vote in opposition.
Faith in Action
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon's advocacy efforts are driven by the neighbors and clients we serve in the our direct service programs.
A Safe, Stable Place to Call Home
Oregon is in a housing crisis.   Your support helps   make possible four housing ministries that offer stability and hope to those in need.
  • Second Home works with partners and volunteer home-providers to find stable housing for young people who want to finish their high school education;
  • Patton Home offers housing to 63 low-income residents;
  • Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees resettlement program helps refugees find housing and start new lives in Oregon; and 
  • Metro HomeShare helps Home Providers stabilize and retain their housing, while offering access to affordable rent or services to Home Seekers 
New Beginnings  
EMO seeks to protect family and community well-being by standing with our immigrant neighbors through three direct service programs:

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
503-221-1054 | emo@emoregon.org | emoregon.org