Who said we can’t get things done in 35 days?! That’s right, Oregon’s 2022 short legislative session lasted a little over a month and in that a cascade of bills addressing pandemic recovery and worker’s protections were passed. Here is a wrap up of the bills we supported that passed:
Senate Bill 1510: Transforming Justice
This landmark bill implements targeted strategies to address the disproportionate impacts of systemic racism on Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Some of the strategies include: preventing unnecessary workplace visits by parole and probation officers, enabling some people on parole and probation to report remotely, requiring culturally specific and trauma-informed training for probation and parole officers, and following state (not federal) drug laws to be consistent with state cannabis laws.
Senate Bill 1536: Emergency Heat Relief
In 2021, at least 91 people around the state died in their homes because of heat illness. This bill will invest in air conditioning, air filters, and cooling centers for Oregonians vulnerable to extreme heat.
Senate Bill 1586: Clean Up Workplace Fairness Act
This bill brings the Workplace Fairness Act (the one that required employers to have a written harassment or discrimination policy) statute in line with the intent of the Act by clarifying that employers cannot insist that workers request confidentiality in settlements as a condition of settlement- which employers had been doing to avoid any daylight on their misdeeds. It also adds a $5,000 penalty when employers violate sections of this law.
Senate Bill 1579: Equity Investment Act
A big one if you were following Oregon cannabis industry news! This bill creates the Economic Equity Investment Program administered by Business Oregon with a $15M fund providing grants to culturally-responsive community-based organizations serving individuals suffering from two or more economic equity risk factors.
House Bill 4002: Farmworker Overtime
Farmworker overtime passed! This means, starting in January 2023, agriculture workers will start to earn overtime after 55 hours of work. 2 years later, the threshold drops to 48 hours, and then finally in 2027 these workers will earn time and a half after 40 hours, ending the racist exclusion of agriculture workers from overtime protections.
House Bill 4005: Child Care for Oregon
This bill allocates $100 million in an effort to stabilize the state’s child care workforce and help parents in search of reliable child care options.
House Bill 4074: Prevent Human Trafficking in Cannabis
This legislature allocated $6 million to community-based groups to help with the humanitarian crisis in illegal marijuana farming and distribution in Oregon. It will also create a new law starting Jan. 1, 2023 that states cannabis workers can report suspicious activity if they believe their employer is involved in human trafficking.
House Bill 4086: Worker’s Comp Modernization
This bill expands retaliation protections, updates language around disability and expands the definition of family member.
Congratulations to the teams driving each and every one of these bills. We encourage folks to research each one and consider volunteering their time. The bill’s passage is really just the start. The next process is rulemaking, which will turn these words into a program that puts families in their own homes, helps people launch businesses, and does so equitably for the communities who usually don’t get to achieve the stability and resilience of their peers.