PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon’s House of Representatives is only two weeks into the 2023 legislative session, but House Speaker Dan Rayfield, a Democrat from Corvallis, said Tuesday that lawmakers are already moving forward on their earliest priorities. 

In the first couple months of the session, Rayfield said the House will focus on the issues of housing and semiconductors. 

He said lawmakers want to deliver on their promise to address homelessness and housing. They want to move housing packages forward in the next couple of months and will work with the governor to do so. 

Gov. Tina Kotek detailed her budget priorities for the next two years on Tuesday and recommends $770 million for new affordable housing, $118 million for preserving current affordable housing, $4 million for manufactured housing and $2.2 million for the Housing Production and Accountability Office. 

“Our opportunity to pair up with some of the governor’s tasks along with some of our early investments makes an incredible amount of sense,” Rayfield said. “We’re going through the process of evaluating the governor’s package with those groups of legislators to determine OK, what can we move right now?” 

Rayfield did not provide details on what they’d specifically prioritize in a spending package, but he did say both Republicans and Democrats know that in addition to housing the homeless and creating more housing, “skyrocketing rent” is something they need to address. 

He said there are active conversations about rent prices that are going on now, but it’s difficult to say what will gain traction in the session. 

As for semiconductors, the other issue the House is prioritizing in the first month or two of the session, Rayfield said lawmakers need to move fast so they can “sweeten” the packages they’ll use to apply for CHIPS Act dollars

The CHIPS Act, or Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act, was passed in 2022 by the federal government to increase semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. Part of the act includes semiconductor manufacturing grants, research investments and an investment tax credit for chip manufacturing. 

Rayfield and other lawmakers have made it clear they want more semiconductor jobs in Oregon and will work toward securing federal dollars to do so. Oregon will need to apply for the funds. 

“Sometime in March they’ll start accepting applications. So, that really dictates how quickly we move within the legislature, which is why this is in the first chapter of the session,” Rayfield said. 

In addition to semiconductors and housing, lawmakers will be closely watching the economy as a predicted recession approaches. They’ll determine if or how the state’s reserve fund can be used to support Oregonians through that time. 

Moving forward, Rayfield expects other packages the House will prioritize this session include ones on reproductive health and gun violence prevention. He thinks they’ll also discuss using federal funds for improving HVAC systems in schools and irrigation districts. 

Conversations about the Interstate 5 Bridge, ranked choice voting and campaign finance reform are also “on the docket” Rayfield said. 

“There’s a lot of conversations that are just starting and the question is, in that middle period, what rises to the top in that vetting process?” he said.