Historic Wins for the API Community
A groundbreaking legislative session adjourned on June 30, and Oregon has once again showed the rest of the country what a progressive agenda that helps families can look like in the face of the Trump administration.
APANO began the 2019 legislative session with an ambitious agenda, and monitored many bills that would benefit the lives of our Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Four out of our six major priorities passed this session. This is a huge victory that would not have been possible without our volunteers, members, and a broad swath of coalition partners who led the way in partnership with communities across the state. While two walkouts by the Senate Republicans threatened the fate of our policy priorities, we ultimately saw a historic slate of policies pass by the time the legislature adjourned.
APANO’s Priority Agenda
In 2019, we saw the passage of the following priority bills:
- Stable Homes (SB 608): Provides protections against no-cause evictions and reduces economic evictions by limiting rent increases, making Oregon the first in the country to have a statewide rent control law.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave (HB 2005): Creates a family and medical leave insurance program to provide partially or fully compensated time away from work to take care of loved ones through birth or an adoption, treatment for an illness, or to get care for yourself.
- Driver’s Licenses for All: (HB 2015) ensures that every Oregonian, regardless of documentation, has the means to take their children to school, work, and their places of worship, and are able to be active members of our communities by securing a driver’s license.
- Cleaning Up Dirty Diesel (HB 2007): Improves air quality for the Oregonians most impacted by dirty diesel engines in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties by phasing out these toxic vehicles. It also authorizes the use of funds received from the Volkswagen lawsuit to be dedicated to a Clean Diesel Engine Fund to replace old and dirty burning diesel trucks.
While these bills will profoundly benefit the lives of API Oregonians, some major pieces of priority legislation were left unfinished, including jurisdictional transfer of neglected state highways and dental coverage and tuition equity for Oregon’s Compact of Free Association (COFA) residents. (Read on for more on these bills below.)
Other notable victories that APANO supported
- Student Success Act (HB 3427): Generates over $2 billion in new revenue for pre-K through 12th grade education, with significant provisions for equity in education. A petition has already been filed for the law to go to the ballot. Should the measure qualify for the ballot, the election will be held on January 21, 2021.
- Census Funding: Secured a contribution of $7.5 million from the state for Hard to Count Campaign via United Way to help us count every Oregonian in the 2020 Census.
- Prescription Drug Label Translation (SB 698): Requires translations on prescription drug labels so that patients and caregivers can safely take and administer medication.
- Oregon Voting Rights Act (HB 3310): Gives community members and education districts the ability to change local elections to better represent the voting rights of communities of color.
- Pre-Paid Postage for Ballots (SB 861): Starting in 2020, all mail-in ballots in Oregon will be free to return through the mailbox. No stamps are necessary!
- Improving Hate Crimes Statutes (SB 577): Modernizes Oregon’s hate crimes law and better protect vulnerable members of our communities, including those targeted on the basis of gender identity, and enhances data collection and reporting to give law enforcement the tools they need to tackle bias crimes.
- Earned Income Tax Credit (HB 2164): Renews and raises the state Earned Income Tax Credit by 1 percent.
- No Nuclear Weapons Resolution (SJM 5): Oregon became the second state in the nation to officially support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
- Safe Community Highways for All (HB 2846) would have established a coordinated process to transfer control of neglected state highways to local communities to create safer roads. While the bill did not pass this session, we are excited that the Portland City Council adopted the 82nd Avenue plan this May that will improve safety, access, and transit in the Jade District.
- COFA equity legislation: We did not see the passage of a dental care program for COFA residents, but HB 2706 directs the state to complete a study by April 2020 about establishing a program. In-state tuition for COFA residents (SB 277) did not move forward this year. We are committed to working with our COFA partners to secure more equitable policies that will improve health and increase access to education.
APANO in the Capitol
APANO staff worked throughout the session to move our legislative agenda forward. In April, we held our 10th Lobby Day of Action in Salem, with over 60 APANO members and staff attending. We led with a “Our Families, Our Health” message: APANO believes that families should have access to health, education, safe roads, and time to take care of loved ones. In addition to our lobby day, APANO staff and members actively participated throughout the session, submitting written testimony, lobbying individual legislators, testifying in-person at hearings, signing many letters of support, participating in coalitions, and supporting our partners’ lobby days and rallies.
Mark your calendar: You can be a part of these efforts by joining us for APANO’s 2020 Lobby Day on February 17, 2020. We are excited to see what we can achieve next session. Sign up here to stay informed on our advocacy work.