The 2015 Oregon Legislative Session has wrapped up 5 months of intensive budget and policy making, APANO’s major goals have been achieved.  Our priorities have developed from years of listening circles, community forums, and one on one conversations with members like you that have surfaced issues that affect our Asian & Pacific Islander children and families.  With our vision for racial justice, health equity and strong families, and a growing base of member-leaders, APANO has led and supported campaigns that are transforming Oregon into a state where all people have the rights, resources and recognition needed to thrive.  Check out our member profiles on our social media to see the inspiring stories and personal connections to these issues.  We hope you will take pride in our gains and accomplishments that are the result of our collective, growing policy advocacy.  Here are some of our biggest highlights:

Education Equity for ELL Students – ELL students have grown 120 percent in the last decade to over 57,000 in Oregon, and experience significant disparities in academic achievement and graduation rates.  HB 3499 creates a comprehensive intervention that will increase transparency and create systemic supports for school districts that bring needed focus and urgency to ELL students.  HB 3499 includes $12.5 million dollars to improve ELL services.

Healthcare Access – Oregon has reduced the uninsured by 63% with healthcare reform, yet communities of color, immigrants, refugees and low-wage workers are over represented among the 5% who remain uninsured.  With the Oregon Health Equity Alliance, we won HB 2934, HB 2522 and budget allocations support to expand access and design new programs to better serve our communities, particularly the estimated 2,000 COFA Pacific Islanders excluded from Medicaid, 6,000 low-income Legal Permanent Residents (immigrants) who face the 5 Year waiting period for Medicaid, 20,000 undocumented low-income children and 50,000 working adults who make too much for Medicaid and make too little to afford the high cost of health insurance on Cover Oregon.  We will continue to fight for solutions to ensure all Oregonians, regardless of citizenship, have access to healthcare.

Reproductive Justice – We are working to every woman and person who can get pregnant can choose their own path to a healthy life, and ensuring they have equal access the full range of reproductive healthcare.  Oregon has a patchwork of restrictions that impact low-income, immigrant, rural and young persons that undermine their ability to prevent an unintended pregnancy or carry a healthy pregnancy to term.  While SB 894 did not pass this session, a bill that would fill gaps in Oregon law and ensure access to the full range of reproductive healthcare – including safe, legal abortion – we brought our values and stories to the legislature in a powerful new way to raise visibility and build support for 2016.

Paid Sick Leave – When we or our families get sick, we don’t want to risk our jobs or going to work sick to get better.  A handful of paid sick days a year will help keep our workers, families, workplaces, schools and communities healthier.  Currently 47% of Oregonians who work in private sector jobs, and 80% of low-wage workers lack paid sick time.  SB 454 builds on our successes in Eugene and Portland, establishing paid sick leave for over 500,000 working Oregonians.

Voting Rights – Voting is a fundamental right of citizenship and a direct indicator of community health and opportunity.  Despite our growing numbers, Asian & Pacific Islanders have faced historic discrimination and lack of access to democracy.  We helped win Oregon’s new Motor Voter law, HB 2177, that will enfranchise over 20,000 API voters, about 50% of the unregistered yet eligible API voters in our state.

Looking ahead, APANO will be deeply engaged in the policy implementation process, to ensure the rules and regulations are accountable to the vision of our legislative wins.  We’ll be expanding our community organizing and leadership development to bring more APANO members into the work, and help identify our next round of priorities for 2016.  Thank you for your support and contributions to these big wins!  Contact Kathy Wai our Policy Advocacy Coordinator to learn more about our upcoming HEART campaign kathy@apano.org 971-340-4861.