pictured above: APANO and partners testifying for COFA tuition equity (HB 4099)
The 2020 Legislative Session opened on February 3, and we are excited about a number of bills this session that have the potential to benefit Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Read on for more information on some of the bills we’re supporting this session.
Equity in Oral Health
Increasing access to oral health care and reducing health inequities is a consistent priority for our members. HB 4127 will support oral health for kids through curriculum standards and directing state agencies to support school-based oral health care. Another important bill, SB 1549, will permanently authorize dental therapists, who are oral health care professionals who can provide preventive and routine dental care, often practicing in community settings with an emphasis on culturally-appropriate care.
Despite the model minority myth, the educational experiences of AAPI students are complex, with many facing challenges barriers to higher education. HB 4099 would help COFA citizens who move to Oregon for higher education afford college by making them eligible for in-state tuition rates. HB 4061 would establish a task force to begin identifying solutions that will help set up all AAPI students for success in Oregon’s public colleges and universities.
APANO works to build up small businesses in our community. HB 4033 would support small businesses like these by providing assistance that addresses challenges faced by small businesses, including those owned by people of color, with an emphasis on access to capital.
We also are supporting the Oregon IDA Initiative. Individual Development Accounts are a matched savings program to build assets so low and moderate income Oregonians can save to achieve their dreams of higher education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, and other goals.
Last session, we worked to ensure that everyone is eligible to drive lawfully to go about their everyday activities. However, fines from traffic citations unrelated to public safety can trap drivers in a cycle of debt and result in the loss of their license. HB 4065 would end this practice and help keep low-income Oregonians financially stable.
Increasing equity and affordability in utility regulation is an important part of our environmental justice work. HB 4067 would authorize the Public Utilities Commission to establish a low income ratepayer class to reduce energy cost burdens that strain families’ budgets. It would also provide resources for frontline communities to engage in utility regulatory processes.
While data collection on Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the criminal justice system is limited, we recognize the serious inequities in this system that are particularly harsh toward black, indigenous, and people of color involved in the system. This year, we are supporting Equal Access to Justice (HB 4004), which is a small move forward to reform public defense services.
Over the coming year, we will work with members and partners to develop our priorities for the 2021 legislative session and beyond toward our vision of racial justice to create a state where all Asian and Pacific Islander Oregonians can thrive.
For more information, please contact Jenny Lee, Advocacy Director, at [email protected]
This programming message brought to you by APANO Communities United Fund, a 501(c3) nonprofit organization.