PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following Tuesday’s launch of the Oregon Legislature’s 35-day short session, House Democrats and Republics have prospectively released legislative agendas, outlining the issues each party intends to prioritize during the session.
The legislative short session is routinely held every two years and was primarily developed to help implement budget adjustments. As state Rep. Dan Rayfield takes on his new role as the first chamber elected House Speaker in nine years, many are wondering what issues will be at the forefront of the session.
According to the individual releases, House Democrats have stated they hope to “continue last session’s work, supporting those who’ve been impacted most by the pandemic and ensuring that every Oregonian has the opportunity to prosper,” while House Republicans are focused on “solutions-oriented proposals for the 2022 Legislative Session to help Oregonians with issues state leadership has failed to address, while fixing problems created by laws passed last year.”
House Democrats announced their legislative agenda in a release on Tuesday, which outlined their intention to use the session to help lower the cost of living, address homelessness, increase access to healthcare and childcare, support students and teachers in the classroom, shift the focus of community safety from small infractions to violent crime and prioritize solutions to the impacts of climate change.
“We need to build an economy and support system that works for all of us, not just big corporations,” House Majority Leader Julie Fahey stated. “That means investing in skills training for workers, reducing barriers for people starting and expanding their small businesses, and making sure the playing field is level between those small businesses and large corporations.”
With the primary purpose of the short session slated to be focused on budget adjustments, House Democrats have proposed investments in affordable housing and workforce and pipeline development in an effort to take on the unprecedented rise in homelessness and workforce shortages.
“With targeted workforce investments this session, we’ll be able to support those who’ve been on the frontlines through this pandemic, like teachers, childcare providers and health care workers, so that we can continue delivering critical services to Oregon families,” Representative Tawna Sanchez said. “We’ll also use the state budget to help bring down the cost of living, including investing in housing and healthcare. We’ll also act to quickly address the homelessness crisis impacting every community in the state.”
The full legislative agenda proposed by House Democrats can be viewed here:
According to a “session preview” released Tuesday, House Republicans announced a solutions-based approach to tackling the short session, which they said would focus on ‘fixing failures’ in education, tax hikes and community safety, which they claim have been exacerbated by Democrat-led legislation.
“The short session is about budgetary and technical fixes to legislation from the long session,” House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson said. “Previous actions from Democrats have created problems in education causing students to struggle socially and academically. The Governor is overruling Oregonians by commuting the sentences of rapists and murders at a time when rising crime rates threaten community safety. Inflation means now is the time to alleviate the financial burden the state placed on Oregonians with years of tax hikes, fee increases and regulations.”
She also stated the House Republicans will use the 2022 Legislative Session “to fix failures from Democrat leadership by restoring education standards, holding state government accountable and enabling our law enforcement to do its job.”
“We will push to remove roadblocks to health care access and preserve Oregon’s natural environment while protecting the way of life of communities relying on these resources,” Breese-Iverson said. “We will give Oregonians the freedom to recover financially from government-mandated shutdowns by fighting the state’s regulatory burdens and mandates.”
While it is clear there are still some lingering tensions between the two parties, according to the House Republic preview, the new Democratic leadership may offer a clean slate for the short session.
“Previous Democrat leaders lost the trust of House Republicans and Oregonians because of broken promises and partisan power-plays,” Breese-Iverson explained. “We look forward to working with their new leadership but will be judging their actions and not their words.”
A copy of the session preview put forth by House Republicans can be viewed here.