While the regular legislative session in Washington state is rapidly coming to its April 25 closing date, it will likely be extended to a special session to allow our elected officials to finish their work of passing budgets and policies in this very busy and consequential year. Meanwhile in Oregon, the session is scheduled to run through June 28, and with two months remaining, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Response to the pandemic and attention to the accompanying recession have been a priority in both states, and the decisions that are made this session will shape relief efforts and the economy for years to come. It is more pivotal than ever to make your voice heard! And with the legislative sessions being held largely via virtual video conference, it is easier than ever for PROTEC17 members to show support or opposition to a bill, submit public comment, or provide testimony.
Bills related to the four political priorities that PROTEC17 laid out at the beginning of the year continue to move, albeit slowly. You can find highlights of some of the bills we are tracking below. For more details, or for a complete list of our 2021 legislative priorities, visit our website at: protec17.org/political-action.
We are tracking bills in Olympia related to Public Health, transportation, capital gains, workers’ rights, and safe communities, see below:
- House Bill (HB) 1135 and Senate Bill (SB) 5165 are two funding packages that would appropriate money for transportation infrastructure projects for the next 16 years. While differing in amounts, the packages would provide vital spending for projects that directly affect PROTEC17 members. We support both of these bills.
- SB 1297 – the Working Families Tax Credit has passed and is making its way to the Governor’s desk. This bill is a significant win for working people, particularly lower income earners, and will provide much needed tax relief.
- SB 5051 and HB 1054 are two police reform bills that would provide greater oversight for tactics and misconduct helping make our communities safer.
- The capital gains tax bill (SB 5096) is still alive. If passed, it would implement a tax on extraordinary wealth in an attempt to fix our upside-down tax code where the wealthy pay the smallest percentage of tax relative to their incomes.
In Oregon, we are tracking bills and issues related to union organizing, protection from retaliation and harassment in the workplace, police oversight, wildfire safety rules for workers, and expansion of the Oregon Family Medical Leave Act, detailed here:
- HB 3029 would allow for electronic signatures in union organizing campaigns, and would be a significant step towards modernizing what is often a cumbersome process of organizing new employees in Oregon.
- SB 621 would allow the police oversight board passed by Portland voters in the fall to go into effect. PROTEC17 is supporting this bill because we believe it provides important police oversight and reform and is an important step to increasing the safety of Portland’s BIPOC citizens.
- SB 483 provides protection from retaliation if an employee has recently raised health and safety concerns in the workplace. We consider this an important worker protection step that is especially relevant during the pandemic, but will be valuable in the future for increasing safety and the power of whistleblowers.
- SB 477 would lower the “severe and pervasive” standard for proving workplace harassment as established in 2019’s major SB 726, which greatly increased workers’ ability to take action against employers for such conduct.
- HB 2474 expands coverage under the Oregon Family Medical Leave Act. It would include school closures as a qualifying event, allow coverage to part-time employees, and modernize the definition of family and the use of gendered terms amongst other improvements.
- A workgroup of stakeholders is meeting with the goal of establishing safety rules around outdoor worker exposure to wildfire smoke and extreme heat. While Washington and California have guidelines in place on these subjects, Oregon currently lacks rules. PROTEC17 is participating in these meetings and we hope to provide member testimony in the process.
If you would like more information about the bills we are tracking, please visit protec17.org/political-action.