March marked the halfway point of the 2023 Legislative Session. I wish I could report that it is all downhill from here, but as the end of the session approaches, things will undoubtedly get more contentious.
Just like any business, the Legislature has deadlines. These deadlines help prioritize bills and keep the process moving by “thinning the herd” of bills that can pass and become law. Several of my bills were amongst those thinned. The most disappointing was my bill to protect North Coast jobs from a devastating Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) proposed by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).
House Bill 3585 would have required the ODF to better balance the economic value of working forests and environmental protection. Around 300 North Coast timber jobs could be lost under the current HCP. Local law enforcement and school budgets would be devastated by decreased tax revenue.
I, along with other Representatives and Senators from the Coast, wrote Governor Kotek a letter urging her to work with the Department of Forestry to reverse course. It has been nearly a month, and we have not heard from the Governor.
Safe School Package
Last week, I joined my House Republican colleagues in supporting the Safe Schools Package following the tragic school shooting in Nashville. The seven-bill package would have funded school resource officers, invested in school safety technology, and studied ways to secure our schools.
The Nashville Police Chief said the shooter decided against attacking a different school because it had “too much security.” I envision a world where every Oregon school possesses an abundance of security measures that act as a deterrent. That is why I sponsored HB 3350. The bill would examine ways to protect our children by hardening schools and providing them with security like I have at the Capitol. The presence of even a single school resource officer might have significantly altered the outcome and perhaps even averted the tragedy entirely.
The Majority party blocked all but one. It is deeply frustrating that politics is getting in the way of protecting our schools.
I noted that things would undoubtedly get more contentious as we head into the latter half of the Legislative Session. Here are two of the most controversial bills. I have more comprehensive comments in my newsletters (sign up here: www.oregonlegislature.gov/javadi).
HB 2002 – “Gender-affirming care” and Anti-Parental Rights
This bill would expand the use of taxpayer dollars spent on “gender-affirming care” for minors. It would expand abortion, including repealing all parental notification requirements for minors seeking abortions.
The bill even repeals the crime of concealing the birth of an infant. According to ORS 167.820, someone commits this crime by concealing the corpse of a newborn child with the intent to conceal its birth or to prevent a determination of whether it was born dead or alive.
Many European countries are going in the exact opposite direction as this bill wants to go when it comes to “gender-affirming care” because they do not see sufficient data or evidence to support these procedures. For example, the Norwegian Health Investigation Board recently determined that puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery are experimental and not evidence-based.
These procedures are life and body-altering. We must proceed with extreme caution.
HB 2005 – Omnibus Gun Bill
This bill would do three things if passed:
1. Criminalize the possession of unserialized or homemade firearms
2. Ban 18, 19, and 20-year-olds from buying or possessing a firearm, including hunting rifles
3. Allow local governments to establish more gun-free zones
We don’t have any reason to believe this bill would have stopped the shooting in Nashville. At a time when there are bills in the Legislature to lower the voting age to 16, ban flavored tobacco to stop minors from smoking it, and allow a minor at any age to get an abortion without parental consent, HB 2005 wants to raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21. We need to figure out who is an adult in Oregon. I don’t believe we should pick and choose who gets to exercise their constitutional rights.
Homelessness & Housing
The House passed House Bills 2001 and 5019 to dedicate about $200 million toward the critical homeless problem in the state. That money is projected to house about 1,200 people currently without homes, prevent homelessness for more than 8,000 and expand shelter capacity by 600 beds within one year.
I voted yes, not because I believe this will single-handedly solve the homelessness problem, but because it is a step in the right direction to build more homes and get some of our neighbors off the streets. When we talk about homelessness, we cannot continue spending money on housing without addressing the underlying drug issues. We must reform Measure 110, so there is accountability for those refusing the state’s help.
Constructing buildings in hazard zones carries inherent risks, but some coastal communities like Rockaway Beach and Seaside are entirely within tsunami hazard zones. These communities require workforce housing, but existing regulations prevent it. In response, I have introduced HB 3442, a bill to promote housing in these communities. If passed, this bill would provide coastal cities with increased opportunities to construct housing without incurring the exorbitant costs associated with land production or rezoning.
The bill passed out of the Housing and Homelessness Committee with only one no vote. I expect the bill will be voted on by the entire House of Representatives sometime next week.
As always, I welcome your feedback in input. It helps me better represent our community. Email me at Rep.CyrusJavadi@oregonlegislature.gov or call my office at 503-986-1432.
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