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    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.

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    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

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    Sunlight is the best disinfectant

    At yesterday’s House Revenue Committee meeting we heard testimony on House Bill 2077, which would shine a light on corporate income tax information so we can understand the taxes these companies pay and the subsidies Oregon gives them to operate in our state. Witnesses raised important questions about whether Oregonians are getting their money’s worth from tax breaks the state provides given the key need for investment in things like strong public schools. I, for one, think a strong public education system is the best economic development investment that Oregon can make. I want to make sure that the tax breaks we provide to businesses make sense in this time of inadequate funding for schools.

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    Here’s what we know:

    1. Oregon’s corporate taxes are some of the lowest in the country. Many large and out-of-state corporations pay very little to support crucial public services, either by simply paying Oregon’s low corporate minimum or by using loopholes to avoid paying Oregon income tax altogether. We need clearer information about the income taxes big corporations pay and don’t pay so we can see if existing laws make sense and if Oregonians are getting a good value from past policy choices.

    2. Oregon schools are severely underfunded. Between the 2007-08 and 2013-14 school years, our public schools lost nearly 3,400 teachers and 1,200 instructional assistants due to budget cuts. These cuts led to increased class sizes – Oregon now has one of the largest average class sizes in the country – and one of the shortest school years in the United States. Because of Oregon’s short school year, by the time our students complete 12th grade, many will have received a full year less instructional time than the national average.

    Here’s what we want to see happen:

    The passing of HB 2940 and HB 2077 will allow the legislature to evaluate whether our current policies are creating the intended outcomes and will allow legislators to create more sound plans to return funding to our schools and other crucial services.

    Please join me in fighting for a fair and transparent tax policy in Oregon. Our kids are depending on it.

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    Funding Our Schools

    Care about education funding? Then you will want to think about this. Every year the State of Oregon spends millions of dollars on tax incentives and tax breaks to businesses. On Wednesday, March 11th, the House Revenue Committee will hold hearings on two bills intended to help the legislature make sure Oregon is getting an appropriate level of benefit from our investment in these incentives and tax breaks.

    HB 2940 would require the state to make clear the amount of property tax breaks we provide to large businesses as economic development incentives, the tax revenue we forego as a result, and what our community gets in return. This information will help the Legislature assess whether the state’s investment in various business incentive programs is the best use of community resources.

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    Ann speaks with Lake Grove Elementary students at the Capitol.