The Oregon legislature is currently meeting until late June for the 2023 session. PROTEC17 is closely following developments that may impact members, and is providing input on bills and subjects as they arise. Among the bills and issues we’re tracking are: 

Making safer worksites by increasing employer penalties for safety violations: Senate Bill (SB) 592 would require Oregon OSHA to issue penalties in line with Federal standards for workplace safety violations. Oregon currently has some of the lowest penalties in the country, and this has often resulted in quite small penalties for situations that led to preventable accidents. Additionally, SB 592 would require a comprehensive inspection of a facility if there are three or more incidents within a year. 

Lowering barriers to public employees joining a union: House Bill (HB) 2573 would allow for the use of electronic signatures as a showing of interest for union organizing in the public sector. Currently, organizers must collect physical copies of signed cards from employees, which can be a significant obstacle when working with employees in remote locations, and became especially difficult during the pandemic. 

Improving Oregon’s mental health care capacity: We are tracking the latest proposals from the governor at the time of publication around increased funding for mental health programs across the state, but particularly as it relates to our newly organized Portland Street Response members. We hope that this additional funding can help the Portland Street Response both significantly expand and set appropriate wages to recruit the staff that will be required to provide these critical services. 

Stabilizing funding for parks: Oregon statute currently allows for special taxing districts under a limited set of conditions, but this does not permit the creation of a taxing district by cities. HB 3515 would allow voters of Portland to create a special taxing district under the oversight of City Council that would have the authority to raise revenues separately from City funds. PROTEC17 has a strong interest in measures that would stabilize funding for the public services members provide, and we’re optimistic that creating special taxing districts may provide this benefit. 

If you would like more information about the 2023 session, please contact Oregon Legislative Advocate Elliot Levin ().