July 20, 2017

Legislative Highlights and Wins from 2017

APANO went into the 2017 legislative session in Salem with three priorities: 1) establish ethnic studies in K-12 classes across Oregon; 2) protect and expand reproductive health care access; and 3) fight for tenants and renters.

With the legislative session having officially ended, we are thrilled to announce that two of three issues areas passed the Senate and the House and were signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

This is a huge victory that would not have been possible without our volunteers and members, many of whom came to the Capitol to testify on multiple occasions--sometimes even on short notice!

Here are some of the major highlights:

Bills Passed and Signed:

APANO's Main Priorities

  1. Ethnic Studies - New K-12 social studies standards will be developed and adopted by State Board of Education by 2020. APANO was one of the leaders on this campaign and the bill originated, in part, due to the efforts of ALLY (Asian Leaders for the Liberation of Youth).
  2. Reproductive Health Equity Act - Oregon ensures full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, for people regardless of income, gender identity, documented status, and type of insurance. This is a massive win and represents a struggle that took years--and countless partners and members, including We are BRAVE and Oregon Pro-Choice Coalition, to name a few--to pull off.

Other Notable Victories

  • Cover All Kids (Oregon Latino Health Coalition): 17,000 children, previously excluded due to citizenship, will now have health care starting in 2018.
  • English Language Learner Funding: Continued $12.5M funding for HB 3499 interventions in low performing districts.
  • COFA Healthcare (COFA Alliance National Network): Continued $4.0M funding for over 1,000 COFA Oregon residents.
  • Tribal History & Sovereignty Education - Standards for K-12 curriculum in consultation with Oregon Tribes and Native communities.
  • End Profiling (Unite Oregon): Robust data and accountability infrastructure to address racial profiling
  • A More Humane Drug Approach -- reclassifies possession of several hard drugs from a felony to misdemeanor for first-time drug offenses, reducing punishments and expanding access to drug treatment.
  • Protecting Family Privacy - Prohibiting government from sharing certain confidential information of immigrant families for the purposes of federal immigration enforcement.
  • Transportation Package - Major new investments in public transit, could have been better but still worth celebrating. Check out OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon's analysis.
  • APANO Roots to Rise Capital Campaign - $300,000 for the ROSE/APANO Mixed Used Development on 82nd Ave, and a new Cultural Center!

APANO Lobby Day

This was one of our biggest and most high profile lobby events ever, in part because Governor Kate Brown came in person and spoke with our lobby day participants. We had over 100 participants from all over Oregon and the day began with the Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, observing APANO’s presence in the Capitol and our impact. APANO members met with dozens of offices--both Republicans and Democrats--on both the House and Senate side. Hear what they took away from the day:

I learned a great deal from my experience lobbying in Salem. Before attending, I had felt kind of overwhelmed about the political process which made me feel disempowered about it all. That day, I got a sense of how bills and policies are drafted and the overall legislative process. While the idea of meeting with my representatives was also overwhelming, I again left feeling empowered and it was something I wanted to do again--like a very tangible way of affecting change (or at least trying to!). -- Laina

Final Highlights

APANO began a conversation with House and Senate Leadership, both Democrats and Republicans, on what it is like to be a person of color and especially a woman of color in Salem during the legislative session. This is an ongoing conversation that APANO continues to participate in so that in addition to the bills APANO advocates for, we can also work for an Oregon State Capitol that is more inviting to people of color, as well as more diverse.

In 2017, the Oregon House of Representatives received a small but mighty infusion of diversity in an otherwise white legislature, with the additions of Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland), Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D - North Portland), Rep. Janelle Bynum (D- Gresham) and Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon (D - Woodburn). The passage of Ethnic Studies and expanded Native American studies in Oregon couldn’t have happened without their support and perspective, demonstrating the greater need for legislators of color and a legislator of Asian Pacific Islander descent in a State Legislature that currently has none.