• Comments off

    Preventing Abuse, Protecting Oregonians

    Before this legislative session began, we heard about some serious and disturbing cases of sexual harassment and assault here in Oregon and elsewhere in the country. I made a commitment to use my seat in the Legislature this session to prevent assault and harassment, and to help Oregonians seek justice. So far, with the help of a team of dedicated allies, we’ve made great progress. We’ve passed a couple of important bills, and we have several more in process. Here’s an update on what we’ve been working on:

    • Preventing Workplace Harassment: Requiring business that seek to contract with the State of Oregon to adopt strong anti-discrimination policies, clear response channels, and protections for whistle blowers. In addition, this bill will require government contractors to provide their employees equal access to healthcare benefits regardless of gender identity. HB 3060 – ready for Governor Brown’s signature.
    • Protecting Survivor Autonomy: Ensuring that survivors of campus sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking are not forced by their school to participate in an investigation. HB 2972 – signed by Governor Brown!
    • Lowering Barriers to Reporting Abuse: Ensuring that if a minor reports a sexual assault, they won’t get in trouble for having had alcohol. Minors shouldn’t be discouraged from reporting sexual violence because they’re afraid of being prosecuted for drinking. SB 762 – passed the Senate and awaiting vote in the House.
    • Fighting Victim-Blaming: Prohibiting the use of evidence about a victim’s sexual history in a civil case concerning sexual assault. Such evidence is often used to discredit survivors and blame them for their own assault. SB 261 – passed the Senate and awaiting vote in the House.
    • Defending Vulnerable Workers: Protecting janitorial and cleaning workers from sexual assault by requiring better training and accountability for their employers. These workers often work alone in big facilities, and are at high risk of abuse. HB 3279 – awaiting committee vote.
    • Restoring Justice for Survivors: Enabling survivors of sexual assault or abuse to receive damages at the level a jury finds appropriate under the circumstances. HB 2807 – awaiting vote in the Senate.

    Stories of harassment and assault, both in the workplace and elsewhere, remind us that we must do more to protect Oregonians and help survivors recover. I’m proud to be working with my colleagues to support these important bills.

    3060 cosponsors

    Some of my fellow co-sponsors of HB 3060, a bill that requires government contractors to do more to prevent sexual harassment, assault, and other discrimination in the workplace.

  • Comments off

    Preventing Violence

    This session, I have been working very hard to prevent domestic and sexual violence and ensure justice for those who have been wronged.

    HB 2955 increases penalties for strangulation in domestic violence settings, as strangulation has a strong link to domestic homicide and other severe crimes. HB 2972 protects victims of sexual assault on college campuses by prohibiting disciplinary actionagainst the victim if they choose not to proceed with a campus investigation or adjudication into the incident. HB 2129 limits restrictions of noneconomic damages of wrongdoing in civil suits. Lastly, HB 3279 takes steps to regulate fly by night janitorial contractors in order to prevent the all-too-often crime of sexual assault of janitorial staff.

    I’m very proud to work on legislation that ends violence and gives much needed support to victims of wrongdoing.

    2972 testimony

    Providing Testimony on HB 2972


  • Comments off

    A Smarter Approach to Criminal Justice

    Many Oregonians face unjustly harsh penalties and stiff prison sentences for crimes that can often be better addressed by alternative sentencing programs. These penalties often have a disparate impact on our most vulnerable communities, and we need to do better. This session, I have been working to reform Oregon’s criminal justice system.

    That is why I am sponsoring several bills that will work to reduce costs, lower prison populations, and increase fairness. Senate Bills 302 and 303 make needed changes to the Controlled Substances Act to ensure fair penalties for marijuana possession. HB 2355 defelonizes certain lesser crimes and creates a pathway for data collection of officer-involved stops. Lastly, HB 3078 reduces sentences for property-related felonies and other crimes when drug counseling is a better alternative.

    I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advocate for these bills. By supporting common sense legislation, we can protect Oregonians and improve public safety while reducing recidivism and cutting costs.



  • Comments off

    Barbur Boulevard Road Safety Improvements

    The Oregon Department of Transportation has identified steps to improve road safety for drivers and cyclists on parts of SW Barbur Boulevard. One component of this proposal, outlined in the image below, would add new buffered bike lanes and improve traffic patterns on Barbur near SW Capitol Highway, a notoriously dangerous stretch of road. This proposal is the result of community outreach and strategic thinking, and it represents an affordable, pragmatic approach that will keep people safe and help them get where they need to go.


  • Comments off

    Progress on Gun Safety

    Today, alongside 30 colleagues in the Oregon House of Representatives, I voted to protect our kids and families from gun violence by voting yes on House Bill 4147. This bill will extend the time for completing a background check before a buyer may purchase a firearm from three to ten days. This extension will help us weed out more dangerous people and prevent them from buying guns.

    According to FBI data, from 2010 to 2014, gun dealers throughout the United States allowed 15,729 guns to be sold to prohibited people after a background check was not completed within three business days.

    An analysis of Oregon State Police data found that these “default proceed” sales are more than five times more likely to be associated with a prohibited purchaser than sales where the purchaser’s background check is resolved within three days.

    In 2014, there were 497 deaths due to firearms in Oregon.

    These are sobering reminders that we need to take reasonable steps to keep guns away from dangerous people. House Bill 4147 is one such step.

  • Comments off

    Melissa’s Law

    Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 1571 out of committee. Known as “Melissa’s Law,” this bill will help protect rape victims and their families in the aftermath of an assault. The bill is named in memory of Melissa Bittler, a Portland teen who was tragically murdered by a serial rapist in 2001. Responding to pressure from the Legislature last year, Oregon state police conducted an inventory of untested sexual assault kits across the state. The inventory revealed that more than 5,000 kits were sitting untested on evidence shelves. Melissa’s Law would create state-wide procedures around the handling and testing of sexual assault kits to ensure the timely testing of every victim’s kit, so that perpetrators may be identified and prosecuted.

    I am a co-chief sponsor of Melissa’s Law and had the opportunity to sit down with Katu News to talk about the bill. You can watch the entire segment, featuring the incredibly brave sexual assault survivor and chief advocate of the bill, Brenda Tracy, below.

  • Comments off

    Protecting Kids and Families

    October is domestic violence awareness month and I was pleased to join in celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Clackamas Women’s Services, a nonprofit that helps families and seniors escape abuse and violence. At a time when Clackamas County struggled from strong political divisions, I worked with CWS, our sheriff’s office, and county commissioners to create A Safe Place Family Justice Center.

    A Safe Place helps survivors get the counseling, legal help, housing, job referrals, and other services they need to move forward with their lives. This one-stop service center model was inspired by work in Multnomah County at the Gateway Center, as well as similar work around the country. It has helped hundreds of survivors.

    Now two more counties are looking at creating family justice centers. As a one-time board member for CWS and long-time advocate for survivors of abuse, I want to support their efforts. Oregon will be a safer place when more families can benefit from services like those at A Safe Place in Clackamas County.

    Melissa Erlbaum, Executive Director of CWS, Me, and Sheriff Craig Roberts at the CWS 30th Anniversary Gala last weekend.

  • Comments off

    Session Highlights

    The 2015 legislative session just ended, and we made good progress on our priorities. Here are some of the highlights, plus links to key bills we passed:

    Strengthening Education

    We took important steps to improve Oregon’s education system by

    • Making historically large investments in early learning, our K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities (HB 5016, HB 5017, HB 5024, SB 5507)
    • Supporting career and technical training and science and math education (CTE-STEM) so students can prepare for good jobs (HB 3072, HB 5016, SB 81)
    • Helping students who learn at an accelerated pace access appropriate challenges and earn college credit (SB 418)
    • Ensuring that students can afford lunch so they can focus on learning at school (HB 2545)
    • Protecting the confidentiality of student data so companies do not buy and sell it (HB 2715, SB 187)
    • Helping school districts identify students with dyslexia so schools can ensure these students’ success (SB 612)

    Helping Workers and Businesses Thrive

    We all want Oregonians to be able to provide for their families and enjoy the dignity of having a job. This session the Legislature advanced these goals by

    • Helping low-income people access child care so they can work, and by easing the financial cliff that hurts some people when they get a job (HB 2015, HB 2171)
    • Enabling workers to take time off to care for a sick child or recover from illness (SB 454)
    • Helping Oregonians save for retirement (HB 2960)
    • Adopting targeted incentives to spur job growth in the clean energy, food production equipment, and film sectors (HB 2941 and HB 3125)
    • Clarifying tax policy so Oregon can attract and retain technology jobs (SB 611)
    • Supporting transportation investments – this is a good step, but we need a robust transportation package (HB 5030, HB 5040)
    • Creating clear rules for the cannabis sector to help create good jobs, protect safety, and appropriately regulate this $1 billion/year market (HB 3400, HB 2041, SB 460, SB 844, and SJR 12)

    Protecting our Environment

    We took steps to protect Oregon’s environment this session by

    • Requiring a phase-out of toxic chemicals from children’s products (SB 478)
    • Improving Oregon’s pesticide spray laws to better protect people and drinking water – we have more work to do here, but this is progress (HB 3549)
    • Supporting expansion of our clean energy economy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (SB 324)
    • Encouraging cleanup and re-use of brownfield properties (HB 2734)

    Helping Vulnerable People

    We are helping keep vulnerable Oregonians safe and secure by

      • Supporting creation of affordable apartments and preserving the ones we have (HB 2629, SB 5506, HB 2198)
      • Enabling survivors of sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence to obtain confidential help and protective orders (HB 3476 and HB 2628)
      • Keeping guns away from domestic violence perpetrators and other dangerous people (SB 525, SB 941)
      • Enabling women to obtain a year’s supply of birth control so they can avoid unintended pregnancy (HB 3343)

    Strengthening our Justice System

    After tragic events around the country, we worked to ensure our justice system is fair for all Oregonians by

    • Preventing unfair profiling by police of people of color (HB 2002)
    • Creating a framework for communities to require on-duty law enforcement officials to wear body cameras (HB 2571)
    • Allowing community members to record the conduct of on-duty police officers (HB 2704)
    • Reclassifying marijuana offenses and helping people expunge offenses for conduct that is no longer illegal (HB 3400, SB 844)

    Improving Government Effectiveness

    We are helping our government operate more fairly and efficiently by

    • Improving information that lawmakers and the public receive about tax credits before creating or expanding tax credits so we can use credits wisely (HB 3542).
    • Streamlining the process to access social services to improve efficiency and reduce costs (HB 2219)
    • Requiring the Legislature to hold hearings around Oregon to ensure the redistricting process is conducted in a fair and reasonable manner (HB 2974)
    • Helping Oregonians register to vote so they can help shape a strong future for our state (HB 2177)

    We accomplished a lot this legislative session, but there is more left to do. Please reach out to our office over the interim about issues that are important to you so we can work together to address them. Thanks.

    Members of the Committee to Implement Measure 91 (Rep. Peter Buckley, Rep. Carl Wilson, Rep. Andy Olsen, and Rep. Ken Helm) marking the close of our 2015 Legislative Session, with photo bomb by Rep. John Davis

  • Comments off

    A picture is worth a thousand words

    At this moment in our country and in our state, we need to make sure that Oregonians feel safe interacting with law enforcement. That is why I am supporting legislation that will help law enforcement agencies effectively implement on-body cameras for police officers, and another bill that will make it legal for citizens to record video of public safety officers’ interactions with their community. In the last year we have seen how these videos, when available, can help us get to the bottom of what really happened in controversial confrontations with law enforcement. In fact, just yesterday the video of a shooting in South Carolina submitted by a bystander is helping ensure the case closes with the most just resolution.

    Click below to read the proposed bills:
    House Bill 2571: Body Cameras
    House Bill 2704: Citizen Recording

  • Comments off

    Supporting Survivors

    Yesterday was an important day for survivors of sexual assault and for Oregon’s college students. The Oregon Alliance to End Violence Against Women hosted a Survivor Safety Rally on the Capitol’s front steps. We rallied in support of House Bill 3476, heard later in the day before the House Judiciary Committee.
    advocate privilege rally

    House Bill 3476 would protect the privacy and confidentiality of sexual assault and domestic violence victims who seek counseling and support services, including on college campuses. Oregonians understand we need to do something to reduce sexual violence in our state, including on our college campuses.


    A key reason survivors do not come forward or get help is fear that their painful, personal stories will become public without their consent. House Bill 3476 would protect survivor-advocate confidentially. During the hearing on HB 3476 we heard powerful testimony from victims, advocates, and law enforcement in support of the bill.
    Click here to watch the hearing.

    Many thanks to everyone who contributed to yesterday’s important activities.